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Hyas

From Academic Kids

Hyas, in Greek mythology, was a son of the Titan Atlas by Aethra (one of the Oceanids). He was a notable archer who was killed by his intended prey. Some stories have him dying after attempting to rob a lion of its cubs. Some have him killed by a serpent, but most commonly he is said to have been gored by a wild boar. His sisters, the Hyades, mourned his death with so much vehemence and dedication that they died of grief. Zeus, in recognition of their familial love, took pity upon them and changed them into stars - the constellation Hyades - and placed them in the head of Taurus, where their annual rising and setting are accompanied by plentiful rain.

Or so the story goes. The mythological use of Hyas is simply to provide a male figure to consort with the archaic rain-nymphs, the Hyades, a chaperone responsible for their behavior, as all the archaic sisterhoods— even the Muses— needed to be controlled under the Olympian world-picture. And also to give these weepy rain-nymphs something to be weeping about, mourning for a male being an acceptably passive female role in the patriarchal culture of the Hellenes. Hyas has no separate existence, even the alternative accounts of his demise being somewhat conventional and interchangeable— except as progenitor of the Hyantes.

The Hyantes, descendants of Hyas— in truth of the Hyades themselves, for the fertility of rain-nymphs needs no male consort— were the original ("Pelasgian") inhabitants of Boeotia, from which country they were expelled by the followers of Cadmus. Into late Classical times (as by Pausanias, for example), Cadmus was remembered as having been a Phoenician, or at least as at the head of a Phoenician army, and there may be a nugget of political reality at the heart of the old myth, of a Phoenician colony established along the Boeotian coast that displaced some of the area's aboriginal inhabitants, while it absorbed others.

Some of the Hyantes emigrated to isolated and pastoral Phocis, where they founded Hyampolis, or at least that gave a good explanation for its name, and some, it was said, fled to Aetolia, another region that retained a primitive character into Classical times. The poets use the adjective Hyantius as equivalent to Boeoticus, partly as a demonstration of how conversant they were with such arcane details:

"Thus, then, Hyantius to his Partners spake,
That trod the Mazes of the pathlesse Wood:
My Friends our nets and javelins reake with blood:
Enough hath been the fortune of this day:" (Ovid)

That's Actaeon, grandson of Cadmus, speaking, who came to a somewhat Hyantean end himself, you will recall. Namers of butterflies, such as Euchloe hyantes hyantes a Pierid of the Fremont National Forest [1] (http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/fremont/bugs/), also have a decided Classical bent when it comes to naming their quarry.

Reference

  • Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, 1898.

Hyas is a genus of spider crabs, such as H. araneus, the Great Spider Crab found in the Atlantic and the North Sea, on almost all the coasts of the British Isles, for example, though more spottily distributed in the south and west

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