Guide for Reading Myths

© 2006, John Opsopaus

The sources for the myths are listed in my (somewhat subjective) order of preference, with those listed first being most relevant to the Pythagorean Tarot; further, primary sources are given preference over secondary.  Note!  This guide in incomplete; I have made it available in the hope that it may be of some use to people exploring the mythological background of the Pythagorean Tarot.

In this guide I have used the following abbreviations:

A:  Apollodorus, Bibliotêkê (cited by book, chapter and section)

B:  Bulfinch, Age of Fable (cited by chapter)

Ga:  Gantz, Early Greek Myth (cited by page)

G:  Graves, Greek Myths (cited by chapter)

H:  Hyginus, Fabulae (cited by fable number)

K:  Kerényi, Gods of Greeks (cited by chapter and section)

KH:  Kerényi, Heroes of the Greeks (cited by chapter and section)

O:  Ovid, Metamorphoses (cited by book and line)

T:  Hesiod, Theogony

TW:  Hesiod, Works & Days (cited by line)

Many of these myths can be found in many other books, such as Rex Warner’s Stories of the Greeks.

0. Idiot

Hera drives Dionysos mad

Orphic myth of birth of Dionysos [K 252-9]



Resurrection of Glaucos [A iii.3.1]

Wagner’s Parsifal

1. Magician

Hermes’ Birth [Homeric Hymn IV to Hermes]

2. Empress

Demeter and Persephone [Homeric Hymn II to Demeter]

Demeter and Iasion

Aphrodite and Anchises

Fate of Zeus’s paramours

Innana/Astarte/Ishtar & Dumuzi/Tammuz

Aphrodite, Ares & Harmonia


3. Emperor

Innana & Dumuzi (see 2. Empress)

Zeus and Leto (Birth of Apollo and Artemis)

Leda and the Swan (Birth of Dioscuri)

4. High Priestess

Isis Restores Osiris

Isis Kills Ra

Birth of Hecate

5. High Priest

Jupiter & Saturn

Myths of Helios

Apollo & Daphne

Helios or Apollo & Clytiê

6. Love

Inanna (Ishtar) & Dumuzi (Tammuz) (see 2. Empress)

Artemis & Actaeon

Artemis & Orion

Apollo in Love with Artemis

Apollo & Cyrene (see 9. Fortitude)

Apollo & Coronis

Asclepius & Orion

7. Temperance

Apollo & Coronis (see 6. Love)

Triple Birth of Dionysos

Demeter Tempers Triptolemos [Homeric Hymn II to Demeter]

Medea and the Cauldron of Regeneration

Hemaphroditus (see High Priestess)

Ishtar & Tammuz (see 2.Empress)

Aphrodite & Adonis

8. Victory

Plato’s Phaedrus

Ares, Aphrodite and Harmonia (see 2. Empress)

9. Fortitude

Apollo & Cyrene

Hercules & the Nemean Lion

Leda and the Swan (see 3. Emperor)

Europa and the Bull


10. Fortune

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (carm. 1, 2)

Ixion and Hera

Amalthea & Zeus

11. Old Man

Cronos & Ouranos

Cronos & Zeus

Rhea Raises Zeus

Saturn’s Golden Age

Saturn in Hyperborea (see 5. High Priest)

Wagner’s Parsifal (Act II)

12. Hanged Traitor


Prometheus’ Theft of Fire and Punishment

Prometheus in the Titanomachy

Prometheus and the First Sacrifice

Prometheus and Pandora [HW 42-105]

The Flood of Deucalion

Prometheus Unbound & the Secret of Thetis

Prometheus & Athena [G 39.i]

Heracles and the Apples of the Hesperides

Odin on Yggdrasill

Osiris in the Tree

Innana in the Underworld

13. Death

Heracles’ Descent

Orpheus’ Descent

Theseus & Peirithoos’ Descent

Hades’ Loves

Narcissus [O 3.339-512]

Amalthea & Zeus (see 10. Fortune)

14. Devil

Hephaistos’ Fire Stolen by Prometheus

Hephaistos Binds Hera

Hephaistos Binds Aphrodite & Ares

Aphrodite, Ares & Harmonia (see 2. Empress)

Harmonia’s Necklace

Wagner’s Siegfried (Act I, scene 3)

Birth of Athena

Birth of Hephaistos

Birth of Erikhthonios

Pandora [HW 42-105]

Athena & Arakhne

Hephaistos Thrown from Heaven by Hera

Hephaistos Thrown from Heaven by Zeus

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde

Odysseus’ Descent

Aeneas’ Descent

Dante’s Inferno

Ninurta (Nabu) Defeats Asag

15. Tower

Semele & Zeus (see 7. Temperance, Triple Birth of Dionysos)

The Labyrinth of Minos

Calypso’s Cave [Odyssey 1.50ff]

Danaê & Zeus

16. Star

Dante’s Inferno (canto ?end)

Pandora (see 12. Hanged Traitor)

Amalthea & Zeus (see 10. Fortune)

Pelops & Rhea

Tantalus in the Underworld

Epic of Gilgamesh (tablet 10)

Odysseus’ Descent (see 14. Devil)

Myth of Er in Plato’s Republic (Bk. 10)

Etana and the Eagle

17. Moon

Birth of Hecate (see 4. High Priestess)

Medea’s Cauldron of Rejuvenation (see 7. Temperance)

Circe [Odyssey, Bk. 10]

Babylonian Creation Epic

Artemis & Orion (see 6. Love)

Heracles and the Lernean Hydra

Epic of Gilgamesh (tablets 9, 11)

Etana & the Eagle (see 16. Star)

18.  Sun

Apollo defeats the Python

Gilgamesh defeats Humbaba

Dumuzi escapes the Galla

Etana [Dalley 190-200]

Helios informs of rape of Persephone

Unsuccessful loves of Apollo

Birth of Apollo and Artemis

Mating of Apollo and Artemis

Birth of Heracles

The Dioscuri

Romulus and Remus

Hjuki and Bil

Gilgamesh in Garden of the Gods

Gilgamesh and the Plant of Life

Odysseus and the Cattle of the Sun

Odysseus and Calypso

19.  Angel

Semelê and the birth of Dionysos [O 3.253-315, K 16.2, B 21, G 14]

Tantalos and Pelops [Ga 531-6, O 6.401-11, G 108]

Achilles discovered [A iii.13.8, B 27, G 160]

Dionysos dismembered by the Titans [K 16.1-2, H 167, G 27]

Inô and Melikertês [A iii.4.3, K 16.4]

Mêdea’s rejuvenations [O 7.160-349, B 17, Ga 365-8, G 155]

Purrha and Deukaliôn [O 1.163-415, B 2, K 13.7, G 38]

Demeter and Persephone [O 5.346-678, Homeric Hymn 2, K 14.1, G 24]

20.  Justice



The Odyssey

Themis & Astraea (Dikê)

Mêtis and birth of Athena


21. World

Hermaphroditus [K 10.2, O 4.285-388]

Etana (see 18.Sun)


Orphic Theogony (G 1.1, Ga 741-53)

The Anzu Bird and the Tablet of Destiny [Dalley 205-7]

Gilgamesh and the Plant of Life (see 18.Sun)

Inanna and the Halub  (Huluppu) tree [Wolkstein & Kramer 3-9]

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Last updated: 2006-05-18.