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Melisseus

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Melisseus ("bee-man"), the father of the nymphs Adrasteia and Ide (or Aega, according to Hyginus) who nursed the infant Zeus on Crete, was the eldest and leader of the nine Kuretes of Crete. They were chthonic daimones of Mount Ida, who clashed their spears and shields to drown out the wails of infant Zeus, whom they received from the Great Goddess, Rhea, his mother. Melisseus was the son of Uranus and Gaia.

When he came to maturity, Zeus rewarded his nymph nurses with the horn of Amaltheia, the cornucopia or horn of plenty that is always full of food and drink. Callimachus' Hymn to Zeus, full of witty and learned detail on the god's infancy, is at pains to show by etymologies that the mythic figures and geographical features obtained their names, and thus their very identities, through their participation in Zeus'early life. Other poets concur. A less Olympian-minded culture might have suggested that the horn was not actually Zeus' to give, and that it belonged already to the ancient and fertile Minoan-Mycenean nymphs of Crete.


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