The word Despoina (Template:Polytonic) -mistress- is derived from the Mycenean Greek *des-potnia (from PIE *dems-potni meaning "absolute ruler"). The masculine form is δεσπότης, from *dems-pota-, related to *potis (lord, powerful).[1] Related words are the Mycenean Greek potnia and Posedao (Poseidon).

Greek mythology Edit

In Greek mythology, Despoina, Despoena or Despoine, was the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon and sister of Arion.[2] She was the goddess of mysteries of Arcadian cults and she was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter.

In the myth, Demeter was searching for her lost daughter Persephone when Poseidon saw and desired her. To avoid him, she took the form of a mare, but he took the form of a stallion and forced his attentions on her. From this union Despoina was born, as was the fabulous horse Arion (Template:Polytonic). Due to her anger at this turn of events, Demeter took on the epithet Erinys, or raging.


Despoina became worshipped in an important sanctuary at Lykosoura west to the town of Megalopolis. The altars of both of the Goddesses, Despoina and Demeter, were placed in the front of the Dorian temple of Despoina. In the portico there was a tablet with the inscriptions of the mysteries. There was also an altar of Poseidon Hippios (horse). Despoine was her surname among the many, just as they surnamed Demeter's daughter by Zeus Kore (the maid).[4] Therefore she was a Chthonian deity and her character resembled Persephone's one.


Despoina was also used as an epithet for several goddesses, especially Aphrodite, Persephone, Demeter and Hecate.[5][6] Persephone (the maid) and Demeter were the goddesses of the Eleusinian mysteries,identified as the two potniai (mistresses) in a Linear B inscription at Pylos.[7] At Olympia they were called Despoine (Template:Polytonic:the mistresses).[8] These epithets may recall the mistress of the labyrinth[9] (or the lady: potnia) who presised over the palace of Kronos.[10][11]

Other Uses Edit

  • In Byzantine Greek 'despoina' was a feminine court title meaning "lady", while the masculine 'despotes' meant "lord".
  • In Modern Greek the title "despoinis" means "Miss" and can be used to address young ladies and waitresses amongst others.
  • Despina, a satellite of Neptune, was named after the goddess Despoina.

Notes Edit

  1. Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. Pausanias, 8.42.1.
  3. Pausanias."Description of Greece".Chapter VII Arcadia.chapter 25.7
  4. Pausanias 8.37.1,8.38.2 [1]
  5. Hathorn, p.113.
  6. H.Robin,H.J.Rose.THe rootledge handbook of greek mythology.p 102
  7. Chadwick.J.The Mycenean world.1976.UP Cambridge ISBN 0-521-08558-6
  8. Pausanias.Description of Greece.5.15.4
  9. Kn Gg 702 (Linear B-Mycenean Greek tablet):da-pu2-ri-to-jo ,po-ti-ni-ja
  10. R.Wunderlich."The secret of Creta". Efstathiadis group. Athens 1987. p 143
  11. Karl Kerenyi:Dionysos.The archetypal image of indestructible life. Part I iiiThe Cretan core of Dionysos myth.Priceton University Press.1976 p 89,90

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

bs:Despina (mitologija) bg:Деспина (митология) ca:Despina de:Despoina el:Δέσποινα (μυθολογία) es:Despoina fr:Despina hr:Despina (mitologija) it:Despena he:דספינה (מיתולוגיה) lt:Despina pt:Despina ru:Деспина sr:Деспина (митологија) sh:Despina (mitologija)

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