A family, a class of people, or a tribe, said to have been descended from Thalassa or Poseidon.1 It is probably owing to this story about their origin, that Eustathius2 describes them as marine beings without feet, the place of the hands being occupied by fins, though in the same page he also states that originally they were the dogs of Actaeon, who were changed into men. The following are mentioned as the names of individual Telchines: — Mylas,3 Atabyrius,4 Antaeus, Megalesius, Hormenus, Lycus, Nicon, Simon,5 Chryson, Argyron, Chalcon.6
The accounts of the Telchines are very few and scanty, and in them they appear in three different relations:
1. As cultivators of the soil and ministers of the gods; and as such they came from Crete to Cyprus and from thence to Rhodes, or they proceeded from Rhodes to Crete and Boeotia. Rhodes, and in it the three towns of Cameirus, Ialysos, and Lindos (whence the Telchines are called Ialysii7), which was their principal seat and was named after them Telchinis (Τελχινίς; Sicyon also was called Telchinia8), was abandoned by them, because they foresaw that the island would be inundated, and thence they scattered in different directions: Lycus went to Lycia, where he built the temple of the Lycian Apollo. This god had been worshiped by them at Lindos (Ἀπόλλων Τελχίνιος, i.e. Apollo Telchinius), and Hera at Ialysos and Cameiros (Ἥρα τελχινία, i.e. Hera Telchinia); and Athena at Teumessus in Boeotia bore the surname of Telchinia. Nymphs also are called after them Telchiniae. Poseidon was entrusted to them by Rhea, and they in conjunction with Capheira, a daughter of Oceanus, brought him up.9
Rhea, Apollo and Zeus, however, are also described as hostile to the Telchines,10 for Apollo is said to have assumed the shape of a wolf and to have thus destroyed the Telchines,11 and Zeus is said to have caused their destruction by an inundation.12
2. As sorcerers and envious daemons.13 Their very eyes and aspect are said to have been destructive.14 They had it in their power to bring on hail, rain, and snow, and to assume any form they pleased;15 they further mixed Stygian water with sulphur, in order thereby to destroy animals and plants.16
3. As artists, for they are said to have invented useful arts and institutions and to have made images of the gods. They worked in brass and iron, made the sickle of Cronus and the trident of Poseidon.17 This last feature in the character of the Telchines seems to have been the reason of their being put together with the Idaean Dactyls, and Strabo18 even states that those of the nine Rhodian Telchines who accompanied Rhea to Crete, and there brought up the infant Zeus, were called Curetes.
- Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 55; Nonnus. Dionysiaca xiv, 40.
- on Homer, p. 771.
- Hesychius, s.v.
- Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v. Ἀτάβυρον.
- Tzetzes. Chiliades vii, 124 ff.; xii, 835; Zenobius, 5, par. 41.
- Eustathius on Homer, p. 772; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 55.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses vii, 365.
- Eustathius on Homer, p. 291.
- Diodorus Siculus, l.c.; Strabo. Geography xiv, p. 653; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 19.1.
- Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, i, 1141.
- Servius on Virgil's Aeneid iv, 377; comp. Eustathius on Homer, p. 771.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses vii, 367.
- Suidas, s.v. Βάσκανοι καὶ γόητες; Strabo, l.c.; Eustathius on Homer, pp. 941, 1391.
- Ovid, l.c.; Tzetzes. Chiliades xii, 814.
- Diodorus Siculus, l.c.
- Strabo. Geography xiv, p. 653.
- Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, l.c.; Callimachus. Hymn to Delos, 31.
- Geography x, p. 472
- 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.