Arion (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, Arion or Areion (/əˈrən/, Ancient Greek: 'Ἀρίων, Ἀρείων, gen.: Ἀρίωνος, Ἀρείωνος[1] means "moon-creature on high"[2]) is a divinely-bred, extremely swift immortal horse which, according to the Latin poet Sextus Propertius, was endowed with speech.


Arion's siring by Poseidon in stallion form varies by author: according to the Pseudo-Apollodorus, the horse was foaled by Demeter while she was "in the likeness of a Fury";[3] Pausanias reported that, according to Antimachus, the horse was the foal of Gaia, the Earth, herself. According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, Arion was begotten by loud-piping Zephyrus on a harpy (probably Podarge).[4]


In the Epic Cycle Arion was mounted most notably by Adrastus, king of Argos. The earliest literary mention of Arion is in Homer's Iliad (Book XXIII, ln. 346). Statius also made mention of the horse in his 1st-century Latin epic poem the Thebaid (Book VI, 301).


On the subject of Arion, Homer said in the Iliad:[5]

"... there is no man that shall catch thee by a burst of speed, neither pass thee by, nay, not though in pursuit he were driving goodly Arion, the swift horse of Adrastus, that was of heavenly stock ...”


Pseudo-Apollodorus (Book III, Ch. 6, sect. 8) recounts that in the defeat of the Argives, the same battle in which Eteocles and Polynices slew each other, Adrastus alone among the Argive leaders survived, saved by his horse Arion that Demeter, in the likeness of a Fury, had conceived by Poseidon. The scholiasts of the Iliad (XXIII, 347) and of Lycophron (153) attribute to him the same origin.


Pausanias says:[6]

"Demeter, they say, had by Poseidon a daughter, whose name they are not wont to divulge to the uninitiated, and a horse called Areion. For this reason they say that they were the first Arcadians to call Poseidon Horse."

In support of the lineage they advance, Pausanias reports, the Arcadians cite some verses from the Iliad (23.346 quoted above) and the Thebaid (an early Greek epic of uncertain authorship, of which only fragments remain). Pausanias says that "in the Thebaid it is said that Adrastus fled from Thebes: 'Wearing wretched clothes, and with him dark-maned Areion' ".[7] Latin scholia assert that these verses indicate that Neptune was Arion's sire. But Pausanias goes on to quote Antimachus of Colophon as saying that Arion was a child of the Earth (Gaia):[8]

"Adrastus, son of Talaus, descendant of Cretheus,
The very first of the Danai to drive his famous horses,
Swift Caerus and Areion of Thelpusa,
Whom near the grove of Oncean Apollo
Earth herself sent up a marvel for mortals to see."

According to Pausanias, Heracles, waging war with the Eleans, acquired this horse from Oncus. The son of Zeus would have thus ridden upon Arion when he seized Elis. Thereafter, Heracles gave Arion to Adrastus; this is why Antimachus said of Arion: "Adrastus was the third lord who tamed him."[9]

In popular cultureEdit

  • Arion appears in Rick Riordan's fantasy novel The Son of Neptune, in which he is mastered by the Roman demigod Hazel Levesque, daughter of Pluto (Hades in Greek Mythology). Hazel encounters a caged Arion in the headquarters of the Amazons in Seattle, and successfully manages to both feed and then ride him. He subsequently appears in the remaining installments of the Heroes of Olympus series. According to Percy, the horse usually 'cusses like a sailor'.
  • Japanese advertisements for the Mitsubishi Starion describe the name as referring to a star, and Arion.
  • Arion is featured in Wizard101. This version is a humanoid horse who is the son of Poseidon: Earth Shaker and the brother of Lamia. The players fight him in Atlantea within the "dungeon zone" of Aquila.


  1. ^ Leaf, 23.346
  2. ^ Robert Graves (1960). The Greek Myths. Harmondsworth, London, England: Penguin Books. pp. s.v. Bellerophon. ISBN 978-0143106715.
  3. ^ Apollodorus, Library 3.6.8
  4. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus. Fall of Troy, Book 4.569 ff
  5. ^ Homer, Iliad 23.346
  6. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.25.7
  7. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.25.8
  8. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.25.9
  9. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.25.10


  • Apollodorus. Apollodorus, The Library, with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.
  • Leaf, Walter, The Iliad, Edited, with Apparatus Criticus, Prolegomena, Notes, and Appendices, Vol I, Books I–XII, second edition, London, Macmillan and Co., limited; New York, The Macmillan Company, 1900. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Internet Archive.
  • Pausanias. Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918
  • Sextus Propertius, Elegies (II, 34).
  • Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.
  • Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Ari'on" 2.
  • Statius, Thebaid (IV, 43; VI, 424 and following verses).

External linksEdit