Common Myths

Quite a few of the Greek myths tell how certain animals, flowers and other things came into being. We know most of these objects, but not many know how they came by their name. You've already read about the laurel tree, here are a few more examples.



Syrinx was a nymph, whom Pan desired. He chased her through fields and valleys and finally cornered her on a river's bank. In her panic the nymph changed into a stand of reeds. Pan smiled and cut teh reed into several lenghts and tied them together. This way he could always play syrinx.


Amethyst was a young girl who rose early to get some water from the well. Here she met Dionysos and his leopards. The big cats ran towards the girl, to devour her. The gods intervened and changed her quickly into a lump of rock-crystal. Dionysos, feeling guilty wroung a hand ful of grapes over the rock, staining it with their juice for all eternity.


Arachnea was a common girl whose skills in spinning and weaving surpassed all. Challenged she said she could do this even better than Athena. Disguised as an old woman Athena warned her of the dangers of hubris. Arachnea persisted and Athena accepted the challenge. Arachnea's work didn't please the goddess, who beat her with the shuttle. The girl hanged herself and was transformed by Athena into the first spider, so she and her descendants could weave for all eternity.