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Epithet: Zeus Aegidukhos

September 10, 2011

Other spelling variations:  Aegiduchos, Aegiochos, Aigidouchos or Aigiochos

Meaning “bearer of the aegis” (aigis) with which Zeus strikes terror into the impious and his enemies.  The Aegis is variously defined as a thunder shield or breast plate,  but it also denoted stormy weather.

Others derive the surname from aix and ochê, and take it as an allusion to Zeus being fed as a child by the goat Amaltheia. When he reached maturity, Zeus created his aegis from her hide and the horn of plenty (keras amaltheias or cornucopia) from one of Amaltheia’s horns.

Others say that the aegis is made from the skin of the Gorgo Aix (Aex) slain by Zeus at the start of the Titan war.  The shield was covered in her goatish-hide, rimmed with serpents and bore her terrifying visage upon it.  I like this explanation better because it never sat right with me that Zeus skinned his nursemaid for his shield then but her in the stars to commemorate her actions.   You just don’t skin someone who has fed you.  It isn’t hospitable…

Sometime after he gained his father’s throne, Zeus gave his aegis to Athene.  However, some say that Athene’s aegis is actual the skin of the winged giant, Pallas, whom she killed when he tried to rape her during the Titan war, and whose wings she fastened to her own feet.  (Though I’ve never heard of her wearing wings.)   Personally I like the idea of Athene having her own shield which she then decorated with Medusa’s head.  It seems more like who I perceive Athene to be instead of receiving her “father’s” cast off weaponry.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 6:04 AM

    Really fascinating! I had written a bit regarding the aegis in regards to the relationship between Zeus, Athena and Apollon…more notabably emphasizing a key difference in the relationship Athena bears to Zeus versus that of Apollon regarding the aegis (taking the one myth you cited here) where Apollon may weild his father’s aegis from time to time but it is not part of his personal arsenal. So I loved reading these distinctions and the alternative myths in this post!

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    • September 12, 2011 8:54 AM

      I don’t think I’ve heard of Apollon wielding Zeus’ aegis. Share the post?

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      • September 12, 2011 3:20 PM

        It is mentioned in the Iliad…Apollon takes up the aegis of Zeus to bring terror to the Achaeans at the fore of the Trojan forces when Zeus decided to let the Trojans get the upper hand for a brief time.
        It is actually a chapter in my book rather than a post but when I get around to transcribing that onto my website I will share the link 🙂

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        • September 12, 2011 3:58 PM

          Ah. I personally think that Homer used a lot of poetic license in his writings although I know many Hellenics disagree with me. I just don’t think he is a good authority on anything. YMMV

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        • September 12, 2011 6:31 PM

          I agree that any poet will use peotic license, but usually a good poet is less heavy handed with what privilidges they take or else risk rendering their work unrelatable to the cultus of the deities involved. So it is just determining how much of a grain of salt we personally wish to attribute to such works. That said Apollon has a distinctive militaristic character that regularly opperates in bolstering the spirit of the forces while striking fear into the enemy for which he was called Marshaller of the Host, and is also refered to as Boedromios whichi s believed to stem from “boe” a war cry associated with striking fear. Therefore the principle by which Homer depicts Apollon leading forth with the aegis is not so outrageous. Nevermind the fact of the close relationship of Apollon and Athena, and the sacredness of the goat in his Doric cultus 🙂 But in any case my original point being that both Athena and Apollon share a very interesting relationship with Zeus that in turn seems to interrelate with each other, by which a temporary useage of the aegis by Apollon as depicted poetically is quite different than the aegis that Athena and Zeus both weild. On a related note it is not unheard of for Apollon to use items of his father even as Athena would. Both Athena and Apollon according to Pausanias I believe (though I can be getting him confused with Diodoros Siculus LOL) mentioned both deities hurling the thunderbolts of their father 🙂 Man I really need to get that chapter transcribed now with all the footnotes LOL! Anyway I just find the whole subject interesting…which led to my comment in interest to what you rose in this subject!

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  2. September 12, 2011 7:01 PM

    Interesting. Apollo is not one I have studied. I’ve got the impression from him that while he will happily protect my son, he is not interested in anything at all from me beyond that. So I thank him every once in a while and leave it at that.

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  1. PBP: Goat of Zeus « 4 of Wands

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