Who is Lelantos in Greek Mythology?
In Greek mythology, Lelantos (Lelantus) was the son of Coeus and Phoebe and was a Titan deity. Leto and Asteria’s sibling, he was. According to the Dionysiaca of Nonnus, he was the spouse of Periboa and had a daughter, Aura (early 5th century AD). He became the Titan of air, hunter’s skill of pursuing prey, and the unseen since his name meant “something that goes unnoticed.” Leto’s male counterpart appears to be Lelantos, and his daughter, the virgin huntress Aura (“Breeze”), appears to be Leto’s daughter Artemis.
Introduction to Lelantos
Very little is known of the Titans, much less, the younger Titans, those who were believed to have dominion over the world’s more natural features such as the sea, the earth, the sky or in today’s episode, the air.
Lelantos, a more ethereal god than we’ve come to expect, was thought to have been formless, or at least, moved unseen through the world, much as the wind does. Yet, as we still today feel the wind through our hair or against our skin, the ancient Greeks once attributed such a sensation to the presence of Lelantos.
As far as the etymology of his name goes, Lelantos was believed to have derived from the Greek words lêthô, lanthanô, and lelathon, meaning to either escape or to move unseen. This would make sense given Lelantos’ association with the wind, that which is unseen.
It might also link in with Lelantos’ association with hunting, where he was also believed to be a deity who assisted hunters in the wild, aiding them in their attempts to move upon prey without detection.
Family Tree of Lelantos
Despite being relatively unknown in the mythology, his parentage would suggest otherwise. His father was said to have been the Titan Coeus, he who was a Titan of inquisitive minds and questioning, as well as one of the four essential pillars of the world during the reign of the once almighty Cronus.
Lelantos’ mother meanwhile was Phoebe, the Titan goddess of bright intellect. With this in mind, it would suggest that Lelantos was something of a long-lost sibling of the Titans Leto and Asteria, however, an accurate family tree of the wind deity is yet to be established, especially given how he appears to be overlooked by many Greek writers and poets.
In this, there may be a suggestion that as the air—¬¬or a physical representation of it—Lelantos was not necessarily born to the world, but was always a part of it, having manifested from the atmosphere. Though, this would contradict his classification as a second-generation Titan.
Another interesting idea presents Lelantos as the male counterpart to the Titan Leto, the goddess of motherhood. This comes about because Aura, the daughter of Lelantos was considered to be the counterpart to Leto’s daughter Artemis. Sources, however, are not concrete on this idea and no writer makes any real association to such a claim.
The closest we get to any writer exploring Lelantos at all is the epic Greek poet Nonnus, who speaks of the god in his Dionysiaca, though even here, much of the focus is aimed towards his daughter Aura. We are told,
“There in Phrygia grew Aura the mountain maiden of Rhyndacus and hunted over the foothills of rocky Dindymon. She was unacquainted with love . . . like a younger Artemis, this daughter of Lelantos; for the father of this storm foot girl was ancient Lelantos the Titan, who wedded Periboea, a daughter of Oceanus; a manlike maid she was, who knew nothing of Aphrodite.”
Here, we are told of Aura, the daughter of Lelantos who Nonnus explains was like a younger version of Artemis. It is by a daughter of Oceanus in Periboea, that Lelantos was believed to have been married to, and it was through her that Aura was conceived.
There is an implication here by Nonnus that Aura was by no means a looker. Indeed, he specifies that Aura had the look and build of a man and that she knew nothing of Aphrodite, or that she was far from beautiful.
Whilst not specified here by Nonnus, we also understand that Aura did indeed take after her father, for whilst he was considered to be a god of the winds, she was once considered to be a goddess of the breeze.
This is concurrent with other offspring of deities who would either adopt a portion of their parents’ dominion or usurp the entire dominion for themselves.
In Aura’s case, it would seem she only embraced a portion of her father’s power—the breeze to be more specific and did not appear to possess the ambition to seek more.
Lelantos Influence on Greek Mythology
Lelantos certainly falls into one of the more awkward and shamefully overlooked periods of Greek Mythology.
As a second-generation Titan, he wasn’t recognised as a primordial or any sort of originator and he didn’t serve in any capacity during the great Titanomachy. Essentially, Lelantos would be one of the many Titans who were ultimately overshadowed by the dominion of Zeus.
However, you might say that his invisibility during this period is quite fitting to his character—a god who, like the air, goes unseen. Moreover, given that he was believed to be the aid of hunters, or an essence that represented their necessary stealth and vigilance that a hunter would require, him being relatively removed from the narrative would make sense and may even have been by his design.
Indeed, it is believed by some scholars that the presence of Lelantos could have been more significant, but because he personified the formless state of the wind, he would not have been perceived.
It’s not uncommon that in a world as vast and vivid as Greek Mythology that some gods would outshine others and some, like Lelantos, would get left by the wayside. It’s an unfortunate truth when we look at any ancient mythology that there may be no retribution for some of these sidelined deities, especially with the more interesting ones such as Lelantos.
Indeed, the only surviving account of Lelantos does appear to be from Nonnus’ Dionysiaca, but beyond this, we may never know the true meaning behind Lelantos as either a god who aided hunters or a god who controlled the winds.
Art Credits: Johan Bass.