A son of Acheron by Gorgyra1 or by Orphne.2 Servius3 calls him a son of Styx. He tended the orchards of Hades. When Persephone was in the lower world, and Hades gave her permission to return to the upper, provided she had not eaten anything, Ascalaphus declared that she had eaten part of a pomegranate. Demeter4 punished him by burying him under a huge stone, and when subsequently this stone was removed by Heracles, she changed Ascalaphus into an owl. According to Ovid, Persephone herself changed him into an owl by sprinkling him with water of the river Phlegethon.
There is an evident resemblance between the mythus of Ascalabus and that of Ascalaphus. The latter seems to be only a modification or continuation of the former, and the confusion may have arisen from the resemblance between the words ἀσκάλαξος (askalaxos), a lizard, and ἀσκάλαφος (askalaphos), an owl.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 5.3.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses v, 540.
- on Virgil's Aeneid iv, 462.
- according to Pseudo-Apollodorus, l.c., ii, 5.12
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.