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Title: Telchines  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Thalassa (mythology), Pontus (mythology), Minos, Gorgon, Poseidon
Collection: Ancient Tribes in Rhodes, Fictional Characters Who Use Magic, Greek Mythology, Monsters, Mythological Peoples, Rhodian Mythology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In Greek mythology, the Telkhines{telk-ine-s} (Greek: Τελχῖνες Telkhines) were the original inhabitants of the island of Rhodes, and were known in Crete and Cyprus.


  • Mythology 1
  • Names 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Their parents were either Pontus and Gaia, or Tartarus and Nemesis, or else they were born from the blood of castrated Uranus along with the Erinyes.[1] In another story there were nine Telkhines, children of Thalassa and Pontus; they had flippers instead of hands and the heads of dogs and were known as fish children.[2]

They were regarded as excellent metallurgists: various accounts[3][4] state that they were skilled metal workers in brass and iron, and made a trident for Poseidon and a sickle for Cronus, both ceremonial weapons.[5] By some accounts, their children were highly worshiped as gods in the ancient Rhodes towns of Ialysos (Ἰαλυσός), Kamiros (Κάμειρος) and Lindos (Λίνδος).

The Telkhines were entrusted by Rhea with the upbringing of Poseidon, which they accomplished with the aid of Capheira (Καφείρα), one of Oceanus' daughters.[3] Another version says that Rhea accompanied them to Crete from Rhodes, where nine of the Telchines, known as the Curetes, were selected to bring up Zeus.[6]

The Telkhines were associated and sometimes confused with the Cyclopes, Dactyls and Curetes.[7]

They were believed to bring about hailstorms, snow, and rain at will, to assume any shape they pleased,[8] and produced a substance poisonous to living things.

The gods (Zeus, Poseidon or Apollo) eventually killed them because they began to use magic for malignant purposes;[9] particularly, they produced a mixture of Stygian water and sulfur, which killed animals and plants[10] (according to Nonnus, they did so as a revenge for being driven out of Rhodes by the Heliadae).[11] Accounts vary on how exactly they were destroyed: by flood,[9] or Zeus's thunderbolt,[12] or Poseidon's trident,[13] or else Apollo assumed the shape of a wolf to kill them.[14] They apparently lost one of the titanomachias, the battles between the gods and the Titans.


The following individual names are attested in various sources:[15][16][17][18][19]

  1. Aktaios (Actaeus)
  2. Argyron
  3. Atabyrius
  4. Chalcon
  5. Chryson
  6. Damnameneus
  7. Damon or Demonax
  8. Hormenius or Ormenos
  9. Lykos (Lycus) or Lyktos
  10. Megalesius
  11. Mylas
  12. Nicon
  13. Simon
  14. Skelmis

Known female Telkhines were Makelo, Dexithea (one of Damon's daughters)[20] and probably Lysagora (the attesting text is severely damaged).[21] Ovid in his Ibis mentions that Makelo, like the other Telkhines, was killed with a thunderbolt;[22] according to Callimachus[23] and Nonnus,[13] however, Makelo was the only one to be spared. According to Bacchylides,[21] the survivor is Dexithea. Bacchylides also mentions that Dexithea later had a son Euxanthios by Minos.[24] This Euxanthios is also known from Pindar's works.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Tzetzes on Theogony 80
  2. ^ Eustathius on Homer, p. 771
  3. ^ a b Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 55. 5 ff
  4. ^ Strabo, Geography 14. 2
  5. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 4 to Delos 28 ff
  6. ^ Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 19
  7. ^ Strabo, Geography 10. 3. 7
  8. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 55.
  9. ^ a b Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 365 ff
  10. ^ Strabo, Geography 14. 2. 7
  11. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 36 ff
  12. ^ a b Pindar, Paean 5
  13. ^ a b Nonnus, Dionysiaca 18. 35
  14. ^ Servius' on Aeneid IV. 377
  15. ^ Eustathius on Homer p. 772
  16. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 36
  17. ^ Tzetzes' commentary on Theogony 80
  18. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Ataburon
  19. ^ Hesychius s. v. Mylas
  20. ^ Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 75
  21. ^ a b Bacchylides, Fragment 1
  22. ^ Ovid, Ibis, 475
  23. ^ Callimachus, Aitia Fragment 3. 1
  24. ^ Confirmed by the account of Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 1. 2

External links

  • The Theoi Project, "Telkhines"
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