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Rhode

by Dr Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.
According to Hesiod Rhodea was one of the oldest daughters of Tethys and Oceanus. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter she was playing with the other nymphs, accompanying Persephone. But in the later myths Rhode is usually mentioned as the daughter of Poseidon and the Rhodian nymph Halia and even she was presented as the daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Sometimes Rhode is incorrectly denoted also as the daughter of Aphrodite, due to the lack of understanding between the names Rhode and Rhodos, who was the son of Aphrodite and Hermes.

The mythical story of Rhode is connected with the island Rhodes, which took its name after her. She became the protector-goddess of the whole island and the wife of the Sun-god Helius, to whom Rhodes was a personal property and also his most important cult center.

The names Rhode, Rhodes, Rhodia are derived from the Greek word - to'rodon - a rose, - í rodi' - a rose bush, a rose, - rodoeia - pink. In reality the island Rhodes is the home of the red and pink hibiscus, which belongs to a typical local vegetation and which has similar flowers as the roses.

The first inhabitants of the island Rhodes were according to the old myths the Telchines, the sons of the Sea and the deities of the Clouds, the Rain and the Wizards, but they left this place because they were expecting some floods. The myth is saying, that Helius elevated the island from the depths of the sea, when the gods were apportioning the earth amongst themselves. When Rhodes came out of the waves, Helius (besides his other wives) took the nymph Rhode, who conceived from him the daughter Elektryo and also seven sons. Their daughter died as a virgin and she was worshipped like a half-goddess, while their sons became well-known astronomers and the rulers of the island. The Rhodians were saying, that one of them - Aktis - left to Egypt, where he was the founder of Heliopolis and where he was teaching astrology. It was also said, that on his honor (or on his fathers' honor) the Rhodians created Collosus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The goddess Rhode and the stories about her family took an important place in the Rhodian local mythology, where a female deity was worshipped from prehistoric times. But the goddess' name was not always the same, because besides Rhode she was also called Halia or Leukothea - by the name of Rhode's mother, who threw herself in the sea - or by the name of Rhode's daughter - Elektryo. Finally, inhabitants of the ancient towns of Rhodes - Ialysos, Kamiros and Lindos - were worshipping Ialysa, Kamira and Linda - the daughters of Danaos, who gave their names to those cities. These girls (named sometimes also the Telchines' daughters) according to a myth died in Rhodes, when Danaos was sailing with his daughters from Lybia to Greece and when he stopped in Rhodes he founded there a sanctuary to the goddess Athena.

The dynasty of Danaos is associated with the Mycenean period. Really, there are the remains and findings from the Mycenean cemeteries near of Lindos in Aspropilia and an evidence for the presence of the Mycenean settlements in the Acropolis of Ialisos, which was called Achaia. But there is a supposition, that the founder of the sanctuary of Athena in Lindos was the despot Kleoboulos at 7th century BCE. Later on, the cult of Athena spread over all the island and replaced probably the old local deities. The mythological story about Rhode and Helius took place in Rhodes mainly during the Late Classical and Hellenistic time, when the position of Helius in the Greek religion was attested by some philosophic ideas in the the 5th century BCE.


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