Mythology & Beliefs: Hecate
In Greek and Roman Mythology, Hecate was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.
Hecate in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（Ἑκάτη), a mysterious divinity, who, according to the most
common tradition, was a daughter of Persaeus or Perses and
Asteria, whence she is called Perseis. (Apollod. 1.2.4;
Apollon. 3.478.) Others describe her as a daughter of Zeus
and Demeter, and state that she was sent out by her father
in search of Persephone (Schol. ad Tleocrit. 2.12); others
again make her a daughter of Zeus either by Pheraea or by
Hera (Tzetz. ad Lyc. 1175; Schol. ad Theocrit. 2.36) ; and
others, lastly, say that she was a daughter of Leto or
Tartarus. (Procl. in Plat. Cratyl. p. 112 ; Orph. Argon.
975.) Homer does not mention her. According to the most
genuine traditions, she appears to have been an ancient
Thracian divinity, and a Titan, who, from the time of the
Titans, ruled in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea, who
ebestowed on mortals wealth, victory, wisdom, good luck to
sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the
flocks of cattle; but all these blessings might at the same
time be withheld by her, if mortals did not deserve them.
She was the only one among the Titans who retained this
power under the rule of Zeus, and she was honoured by all
the immortal gods. She also assisted the gods in their war
with the Gigantes, and slew Clytius. (Hes. Th. 411-452;
Apollod. 1.6.2.) This extensive power possessed by Hecate
was probably the reason that subsequently she was confounded
and identified with several other divinities, and at length
became a mystic goddess, to whom mysteries were celebrated
in Samothrace (Lycoph. 77; Schol. ad Aristoph. Pac. 277) and
in Aegina. (Paus. 2.30.2; comp. Plut. de Flum. 5.) For being
as it were the queen of all nature, we find her identitied
with Demeter, Rhea (Cybele or Brimo); being a huntress and
the protector of youth, she is the same as Artemis
(Curotrophos); and as a goddess of the moon, she is regarded
as the mystic Persephone. (Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 25, with the
commentat.; Paus. 1.43.1.) She was further connected with
the worship of other mystic divinities, such as the Cabeiri
and Curetes (Schol. ad Theocrit. 2.12; Strab. x. p.472), and
also with Apollo and the Muses. (Athen. 14.645; Strab. x.
p.468.) The ground-work of the above-mentioned confusions
and identifications, especially with Demeter and Persephone,
is contained in the Homeric hymn to Demeter; for, according
to this hymn, she was, besides Helios, the only divinity
who, from her cave, observed the abduction of Persephone.
With a torch in her hand, she accompanied Demeter in the
search after Persephone; and when the latter was found,
Hecate remained with her as her attendant and companion. She
thus becomes a deity of the lower world; but this notion
does not occur till the time of the Greek tragedians, though
it is generally current among the later writers. She is
described in this capacity as a mighty and formidable
divinity, ruling over the souls of the departed ; she is the
goddess of purifications and expiations, and is accompanied
by Stygian dogs. (Orph. Lith. 48; Schol. ad Theocr l.c. ;
Apollon. 3.1211; Lycoph. 1175; Horat. Sat. 1.8. 35; Verg. A.
6.257.) By Phorcos she became the mother of Scylla.
(Apollon. 4.829 ; comp. Hom. Od. 12.124.) There is another
very important feature which arose out of the notion of her
being an infernal divinity, namely, she was regarded as a
spectral being, who at night sent from the lower world all
kinds of demons and terrible phantoms, who taught sorcery
and witchcraft, who dwelt at places where two roads crossed
each other, on tombs, and near the blood of murdered
persons. She herself too wanders about with the souls of the
dead, and her approach is announced by the whining and
howling of dogs. (Apollon. 3.529, 861, 4.829; Theocrit. l.c.
; Ov. Ep. 12.168, Met. 14.405; Stat. Theb. 4.428 ; Verg. A.
4.609; Orph. Lith. 45, 47; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1197, 1887;
Diod. 4.45.) A number of epithets given her by the poets
contain allusions to these features of the popular belief,
or to her form. She is described as of terrible appearance,
either with three bodies or three heads, the one of a horse,
the second of a dog, and the third of a lion. (Orph. Argon.
975, &c.; Eustath. ad Hom. pp. 1467, 1714.) In works of art
she was some-times represented as a single being, but
sometimes also as a three-headed monster. (Paus. 2.28.8.
30.2.) Besides Samothrace and Aegina, we find express
mention of her worship at Argos (Paus. 2.30.2.) and at
Athens, where she had a sanctuary under the name of
Ἐπιπυργιδία, on the acropolis, not far from the temple of
Nice. (Paus. 2.30.2.) Small statues or symbolical
representations of Hecate (ἑκάταια) were very numerous,
especially at Athens, where they stood before or in houses,
and on spots where two roads crossed each other; and it
would seem that people consulted such Hecataea as oracles.
(Aristoph. Wasps 816, Lysistr. 64; Eur. Med. 396; Porphyr.
de Abstin. 2.16; Hesych. s. v. Ἑκάταια). At the close of
every month dishes with food were set out for her and other
averters of evil at the points where two roads crossed each
other; and this food was consumed by poor people. (Aristoph.
Pl. 596 ; Plut. Synmpos. 7.6.) The sacrifices offered to her
consisted of dogs, honey, and black female lambs. (Plut.
Quaest. Rom. 49; Schol. ad Theocrit. 2.12 ; Apollon.
3.1032.) - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and
mythology, William Smith, Ed.
Hecate in Wikipedia
Hecate or Hekate (ancient Greek Ἑκάτη, Hekßtē, pronounced /
ˈhɛkətiː/ or /ˈhɛkət/ in English) is a chthonic Greco-Roman
goddess associated with magic and crossroads.
She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony. An
inscription from late archaic Miletus naming her as a
protector of entrances is also testimony to her presence in
archaic Greek religion....
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