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Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux)

Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux

The Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux are the twin sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

  • Gender – Male
  • Race – Human/ Demi God
  • Occupation – Princes/Adventurers
  • Religion – Hellenic Pantheon 
  • Allies – 
  • Enemies – 
  • Base of operations – Sparta
  • Nationality – Spartan
  • Languages – Greek
  • Alignment –
  • Affiliation (s) – Argonauts
  • Significant others – Helen, Clytemnestra (Sisters),

Origins

They are called the Dioscuri , meaning the “youths of Zeus”. Zeus disguised himself as a swan and seduced Leda. Thus Leda’s children are frequently said to have hatched from two eggs that she then produced. Tyndareus, Leda’s mortal husband, is then father or foster-father to the children. Polydeuces was fathered by Zeus, while Leda and her husband Tyndareus conceived Castor. This explains why only Polydeuces was granted immortality.

Helen looks down from the walls of Troy and wonders why she does not see her brothers among the Achaeans. The narrator remarks that they are both already dead and buried back in their homeland of Lacedaemon.(see below)

Connections with Sparta

The Dioscuri and their sisters grew up in Sparta, in the household of Tyndareus. Sparta’s unique dual kingship reflects the divine influence of the Dioscuri. When the Spartan army marches to war, one king remains behind at home, accompanied by one of the Twins. “In this way the real political order is secured in the realm of the Gods”.

Dioscuri as adventurers

  • They accompanied Jason on the Argo; during the voyage, Polydeuces killed King Amycus in a boxing match.
  • When Astydameia, queen of Iolcus, offended Peleus, the twins assisted him in ravaging her country.

Dioscuri as saviours

When Theseus and Pirithous kidnapped their sister Helen and carried her off to Aphidnae, the twins rescued her and counter-abducted Theseus’ mother, Aethra. The mounted horsemen who rode out to save their abducted sister Helen from Theseus could be expected to show up to succour their votaries, as when the Locrians of Magna Graecia attributed their success at a legendary battle on the banks of the Sagras to the intervention of the Twins.

Mortality and immortality

Castor and Polydeuces abducted the Leucippides (“white horses”) Phoebe and Hilaeira,the daughters of Leucippus. When they encountered their analogous twin brothers of Thebes, Idas and “lynx-eyed” Lynceus, bound for revenge, Castor, the mortal brother, fell, and Polydeuces, the immortal twin, survived, yet they were not separated. Polydeuces persuaded Zeus to share his gift with Castor. Accordingly, the two spend alternate days as gods on Olympus and as deceased mortals in Hades.

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