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In Greek mythology, Adrasteia (/ˌædrəˈstə/; Greek: Ἀδράστεια (Ionic Greek: Ἀδρήστεια), "inescapable"; also spelled Adrastia, Adrastea, Adrestea, Adastreia or Adrasta) was a Cretan nymph, and daughter of Melisseus, who was charged by Rhea with nurturing the infant Zeus in secret, to protect him from his father Cronus.[1]

She is known to have been worshipped in hellenised Phrygia (north-western Turkey), probably derived from a local Anatolian mountain deity. She is known from inscriptions in Greece from around 400 BCE as a deity who defends the righteous.[2]

Adrastea may be interchangeable with Cybele, a goddess also associated with childbirth. The Greeks cultivated a patronic system of gods who served specific human needs, conditions or desires to whom one would give praise or tribute for success in certain arenas such as childbirth.[3]


Zeus's nurse[edit]

Both the early 3rd-century BC poet Callimachus, and the mid 3rd-century BC poet Apollonius of Rhodes, name Adrasteia (here possibly another name for Nemesis) as a nurse of the infant Zeus.[4] According to Callimachus, Adrasteia, along with the ash-tree nymphs, the Meliae, laid Zeus "to rest in a cradle of gold", and fed him with honeycomb, and the milk of the goat Amaltheia.[5] Apollonius of Rhodes, describes a wondrous toy ball which Adrasteia gave the child Zeus, when she was his nurse in the "Idean cave".[6]

According to Apollodorus, Adrasteia and Ida were daughters of Melisseus, who nursed Zeus, feeding him on the milk of Amalthea.[7] Hyginus says that Adrasteia, along with her sisters Ida and Amalthea, were daughters of Oceanus, or that according to "others" they were Zeus's nurses, "the ones that are called Dodonian Nymphys (others call them the Naiads)".[8]

Epithet for other goddesses[edit]

Adrasteia was also an epithet of Nemesis, a primordial goddess of the archaic period. (Her name appears as a-da-ra-te-ja in Mycenaean Pylos.)[9] The epithet is derived by some writers from Adrastus, who is said to have built the first sanctuary of Nemesis on the river Asopus,[10] and by others from the Greek verb διδράσκειν (didraskein), according to which it would signify the goddess whom none can escape.[11][12]

Adrasteia was also an epithet applied to Rhea herself, to Cybele, and to Ananke, as her daughter.[13] As with Adrasteia, these four were especially associated with the dispensation of rewards and punishments.

In The Dialogue of the Sea-Gods, Poseidon remarks to a Nereid that Adrasteia is a great deal stronger than Nephele, who was unable to prevent the fall of her daughter Helle from the ram of the Golden Fleece.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tripp, s.v. Adrasteia, p. 13; Smith, s.v. Adrasteia 1; Apollodorus, 1.1.6; Hyginus, Fabulae 182 (Smith and Trzaskoma, p. 158).
  2. ^ Proclus, "WikiSource: ProclusPlatoTheologyVolume1.djvu p. 336", in Taylor, Thomas, The Six Books of Proclus, the Platonic Successor, on the Theology of Plato, 4, p. 260
  3. ^ Jordan, (2002).
  4. ^ Gantz, p. 42; Hard, p. 75.
  5. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus 46–48.
  6. ^ Hard, p. 197; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 3.132–136.
  7. ^ Apollodorus, 1.1.67.
  8. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 182 (Smith and Trzaskoma, p. 158).
  9. ^ Margareta Lindgren. (1973). The People of Pylos: Prosopographical and Methodological Studies in the Pylos Archives: part II. Uppsala.
  10. ^ Strabo, xiii, p. 588.
  11. ^ Valeken, ad Heroditus, iii, 40.
  12. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Adrasteia (2)", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, p. 21
  13. ^ Abril Cultural, ed. (1973). Dicionário de Mitologia Greco-Romana (in Portuguese). Editora Victor Civita. p. 134. OCLC 45781956.
  14. ^ Lucian of Samosata, Dialogue of the Sea-Gods, 9.


External links[edit]

  • Guide to the Pergamon Museum By Königliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin (Germany).Pergamon-Museum