THE FIRST FIVE CHILDREN OF AEOLUS: SISYPHUS AND HIS GRAND-SON BELLEROPHON, ATHAMAS, MAGNES, SALMONEUS AND CRETHEUS

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In this page will be studied some descendants of Aeolus and Enarete including Sisyphus and Bellerophon. Sisyphus symbolizes the sense of effort and his grandson Bellerophon the work necessary to overcome the illusion illustrated by the Chimera

To fully understand this web page, it is recommended to follow the progression given in the tab Greek myths interpretation. This progression follows the spiritual journey.
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Persephone supervising Sisyphus pushing his rock in the Underworld

Persephone supervising Sisyphus pushing his rock in the Underworld – Staatliche Antikensammlungen

In the lineage of the Titan Oceanus, the first six labours of Heracles concern the theoretical part of the beginning of the work of purification-liberation. Now we are putting our interest on the other main branch, Titan Iapetus’ lineage and the ascension of the planes of consciousness.
Remember that it includes two major sub-branches: that of the Pleiades which describes the planes of consciousness and that of Deukalion and of his two children, Hellen and Protogenia, which concerns the human realisations in the ascent of these planes. (Hellen must not be confused with the wife of Menelaus, Helen).
The posterity of Protogenia «what is born ahead» is dedicated to the presentation of the conquests or realisations of higher states of consciousness achieved by dauntless initiates and seekers who open the paths to the future.
The posterity of Hellen «the evolution towards a greater liberation-individuation» concerns the ordinary seekers. In Homer’s work, the term «Hellenes» seems to be reserved to the seekers, but later it referred to all the Greeks.

Hellen marries the nymph Orseis, «the one who dashes» or «awakens», who gave him a son, Aeolus, «the one who is always in movement» or «the one who walks towards freedom or unity in consciousness».
The branch of Hellen thus describes the path to «awakening». This hero reigned in Phthia «the consciousness that penetrates the inner being». It is a city of South Thessaly, the province of seekers who «intensely aspire to liberation».
His son Aeolus «the one who is always in movement» or «the one on his way towards the liberation of consciousness» succeeded him at the head of the Kingdom, reigning over Thessaly and Magnesia, in the provinces of «the inner quest» and of «the aspiration».

Aeolus married Enarete, thus heading towards «that at which one excels» or even towards «the qualities of the body, of the soul and of the intelligence». She is the daughter of Deimachus «the one who kills the fight», that is to say the one who ceases to give priority to fighting against one’s imperfections or even who stops the movement of opposition and of reactivity to the outside. (Let us remember here the mistake of Euripides who confuses this Aeolus with the one Ulysses met in the Odyssey.)

In this chapter, we will look at the five first children of Aeolus and Enarete (Cf. Family trees 10, 11 & 12) – there are seven in total – of whom the lineage describes the experiences which can constitute the horizon for the ordinary seekers in the ascending process of the planes of consciousness as defined by the Pleiades. We mentioned them quickly in chapter 4 of volume 1.

According to the tradition, the couple Aeolus-Enarete had seven sons and five daughters.
The names of five of the sons and of three of the daughters are well established in the Catalogue of Women, one of the most reliable sources. They are Sisyphus, Athamas, Salmoneus, Cretheus and Perieres, and, for the daughters, Pisidice, Alcyone and Perimede. Nevertheless, the manuscript was damaged and a doubt remains about the names of the two other sons. Apollodorus calls them Deion and Magnes. If Deion seems to meet the approval of all the mythologists, it is not the same for Magnes. Minuas has been suggested instead but his descent is of no interest from our point of view. (Timothy Gantz, in Early Greek Myth, p 324, mentions this hypothesis from Martin West.)
However, the name given by Pausanias, Aethlius, seems to fit better as his posterity includes great heroes like Meleagros and Diomede who would match better with the lineage of Aeolus. Nevertheless, the Catalogue of Women mentions him as the child of Zeus and Calyce, thus as grandson of Aeolus.
Note on the other hand that the Deion-Ulysses filiation is little attested. Homer names only his grandfather Arcisius (son of Zeus for Ovid and son of Cephalus and Procris for Hyginus, the only author who relates him to Deion).
In this study, we kept Apollodorus’ lists as much for the sons than for the daughters, to which the author adds Calyce and Canace.

Order of succession

The Mythology’s texts give us few elements regarding the order of succession in Aeolus’ children. Although incomplete, the most plausible is that of the Catalogue of Women (EHEES or EVOHEES)
The Catalogue of Women, fragment 10a, verse 25, gives the following order for those mentioned in it as «the Kings of justice»: Athamas, Cretheus, Sisyphus, Salmoneus, Perieres and (Deion?). Athamas’ position at the top of the list is quite logical as the name of his daughter Helle sends us back to his great-grandfather Hellen, the founder of the lineage, representing the ordinary seekers. Furthermore, the first experience often takes place in childhood before the development of the intellect. The work on the illusions, with Sisyphus, would come in third position after the first experience of illumination and would be followed with Salmoneus by the fall due to spiritual pride. However, this order does not seem totally coherent with the provinces of the heroes’ residencies, nor with the union of Cretheus and his niece (his brother’s daughter Salmoneus), union which would let us suppose that Salmoneus was older than Cretheus. This question needs to be clarified.)

Regarding the sons, the lineages of the two last ones, Perieres and Deion, give clear enough indications for them to be put at the end of the list.
For Sisyphus, who is for us the symbol of «the mental effort» towards knowledge, to be placed at the beginning of the list seems coherent. That he would be followed or preceded by Athamas, who represents the very first experience which occurs in a state of near unconsciousness, seems equally logical. The positions of Magnes «the aspiration» (character related to the myth of Perseus) and of Salmoneus, symbol of spiritual pride, are less obvious.

The names of the different cities and provinces in which the feats of the heroes or of their progenies are taking place can bring some complementary indications.
Sisyphus is the founder of Ephyra (ancient name of Corinth) «what approaches the just movement». Nevertheless, the fight against illusions of which his grandson is a symbol, will continue long after the experience of illumination and that is why some say that he inherited this city after the disappearance of Medea. Thus The Catalogue of Women places him after Cretheus in the lineage in which Jason appears. Sisyphus can therefore occupy a different place according to the type of illusions concerned.
Athamas is related to Boeotia, province of the beginners, and his lineage unambiguously concerns the beginnings of the path marked by the growth of the inner being (some say that he raised Dionysus with his wife Ino).
Magnes, Salmoneus and Cretheus, are all three related to Thessaly, province of those «who intensely seek liberation», that of the ordinary seekers. Salmoneus left Thessaly «filled with pride» to go to Elide, the province of the Union, where the city of the spiritual «winners», Olympus, is located. This migration results from spiritual pride (the arrogance of those who imagine that, after some spiritual experience, they are far more advanced than they really are), pride for which he had to pay a high price as Zeus struck him and all his people.
Magnes, «the aspiration», can appear anywhere (if one considers him as a child of Aeolus), the aspiration being a permanent feature of the spiritual path. Through his children, he is indirectly related to the myth of Perseus and thus to the fight against vital greed, fears and doubts, which we saw in the previous chapter.
It is in the lineage of Cretheus that the first great experience occurs. The Catalogue of Women puts him in second position after Athamas.
Nevertheless, as all the characters at the beginning of the series concern different problems, their exact place is relatively indifferent.

For this study, we shall keep the following order:
Sisyphus: the effort of knowledge related to the intellect and the mental capacity to fight illusions.
– Athamas: the first contacts with the psychic being
– Magnes: the aspiration, prerequisite to engaging on the path
– Salmoneus: the spiritual pretention.
– Cretheus: the first great spiritual experience
– Perieres: the one without ego or desire
– Deion: the experiences of the One consciousness
If one had to insert Aethlios in this list in place of Magnes, he would appear just before or just after Perieres.

The five daughters of Aeolus represent «goals» towards which the seeker must tend to, rather than experiences. It doesn’t seem possible to place them in the succession of the sons. They are Alcyone, Canace, Pisidice, Perimele and Calyce. We shall study them in the next tome.

Sisyphus

Mythology being intended to assist the seekers of truth or at least those who guide them, the authors have not seen fit to dwell on the planes of consciousness in which ordinary humanity functions. The latter is satisfied with life when it responds to the needs of the body, feeds its vital nature with more or less elaborate and subtle sensations, and uses its mind to consolidate as well as he can a social life where it can affirm its ego, justifying its actions and affirming its opinions as truths. Few thousands of years ago, the Vedas already proclaimed: «men are livestock for the gods».

The Elders considered the seekers being part of the current phase of mental evolution, on the way towards something beyond the intellect, and thus addressed their spiritualisation from that plane and by the means of its powers. Far from rejecting the mind, on the contrary, they were aspiring to its full development.
That is why the two first Pleiades (daughters of Atlas), Alcyone and Celaeno, who relate to a subconscious evolution (as they were both married to Poseidon) are not directly involved in the great myths.
Alcyone – not be mistaken for the daughter of Aeolus of the same name – appears in the myth of Œdipus where she illustrates the entry into discernment. The halcyon being a bird that makes its nest on the edge of the waves, Halcyone thus marks a transition phase. She had a son, Hyrieus, who represents a just movement in a state of openness. We associated Alcyone to the mental physical plane.
Celaeno married Poseidon and gave him a son, Lycos, «the light that precedes dawn» who had no posterity. She is the symbol of the mental vital plane.

Mythology really begins with the third Pleiad, Merope, who married Sisyphus. (The Sisyphus-Merope union appears in the work of Hellanicus and of Pherecydes, two reliable sources of the 5th century BC.)
Merope is the symbol of the intellect, third plane of the evolution of mental consciousness, after the vital mental and the physical mental planes (cf. chapter 4, Tome 1). It is the plane of the mind which corresponds to the force of separation, of detachment from the Absolute, and must give man the possibility to individualise through the beginning of a reflexive consciousness. It has received different names such as the mind of reason, the intellect, or even the logical mind. It is usually associated with the left brain. Its complementary part, who resonates with the forces of reunification or of identification, is the intuition, which is associated to the right brain.

The name Merope simultaneously means «mortal» – in reference to the humanity which progresses in «duality», as