Turtle, Zeus and the Curse

23 May 2020  Sat

Turtles are frequently depicted in popular culture as easygoing, patient, and wise creatures. Due to their long lifespan, slow movement, sturdiness, and wrinkled appearance, they are an emblem of longevity and stability in many cultures around the world. They have an important role in mythologies around the world.

In ancient Greek a tortoise was known as Chelone – The Turtle Goddess. Chelone is an Oread nymph (mountain nymph) of Arcadia in Greek mythology. The Aesop fable tells a story of Zeus and the turtle and how the turtle ended up with a huge, ugly and hard shell. This fable exists in many different versions spanning hundreds of years, but the basic plot in each is the same.

Zeus invites the animals to his wedding. All the animals attend except the turtle, who either skips the wedding altogether or shows up incredibly late. When Zeus, later, asks the turtle why she did not attend; she replies with some proverbial expression similar to the English, “There’s no place like home.” Zeus gets angry at the turtle and makes her carry her home with her wherever she goes.

The tortoise was the symbol of the ancient Greek city of Aegina, on the island by the same name: the seal and coins of the city shows images of tortoises. The coin shown above is an ancient stater of Aegina. The coin depicts a turtle seen from above and a large skew pattern on the reverse. This silver stater was probably issued around 445-431 BC.

Image Courtesy: icollector.com

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