Get to Know the Kouretes – Minor Gods of Greek Mythology

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Most of us know the Olympian Gods and Goddesses of Greek Mythology, such as Zeus, Athena, and Aphrodite. However, there are other gods and goddesses that don’t seem to play as big of a role in the stories but that are still part of some of the myths and legends. For example, some of the islands and different regions of Greece may have there own special collection of gods and goddesses. On the island of Crete, the Kouretes are among these.

In Greek mythology, the Kouretes were gods. They were creators of rustic arts such as beekeeping, metalworking, hunting and shepherding. The Kouretes lived in the wild mountainside. They also originated the first orgiastic war-dance performed by warriors and gods. It was a dance done by the young people in Euboia and Krete.

Kouretes Daktyloi

The Daktyloi were members of the Kouretes who were considered to be sprites. They were often thought of as smaller in size but also very protective. Rhea was the mother of Zeus. She feared Zeus’s father Kronos and his cannibalistic behavior toward his children. She was able to save Zeus by tricking Kronos into swallowing a stone. As a baby, Zeus was then taken by his mother to Crete to be protected by the Kouretes Daktyloi. They were able to protect the infant Zeus by drowning out is crying with their clashing of shields and spears. This was done as part of a frenzied dance they were known for performing.

Five Daktyloi

The Five Daktyloi were considered to be very similar to the original Kouretes. In fact, each of the give were considered to be identical to one another. Each of the Five Daktyloi had an equal number of sisters, which were referred to as  Kekatrides. When the sisters were together, it is said they appeared to represent each of the ten fingers on a person’s hands.

Marriage of the Kouretes

The men and women of the Kouretes had a tradition of joining together for marriage. It is considered to be a folding of the hands or a finger to finger happy union. These marriages were known for producing offspring known as rustic Oreiades as well as Satyroi to be part of the Kouretes tribes. There were hundreds of young Kouretes. It is said they married their sisters Meliai who were Ash-Tree Nymphs. It is from the branches of the Meliai where the first spears were created.

Other Information About the Kouretes

In some of the stories, however, the Kouretes weren’t only considered gods and goddesses. Some of the stories say that they have a partial demonic nature. The Kouretes were the only half demonic and half divine beings in Greek mythology. They are considered part of the cult known as Great Mother in Asia. At one time, the Kouretes were considered to be deities of procreation. As the Greek religion formalized, they decreased in importance and were given a subordinate position. In art, they are represented with a sword and shield. The Kouretes Daktyloi are often depicted performing their sacred dance that was done to save Zeus. A dominating female figure is often shown with them. This is believed to be Zeus’s mother Rhea.

As you can see, there are some stories associated with the Kouretes. Since the Cave of Zeus, where the King of the Gods is said to have lived in exile to hide from his father (Kronus), is located on Crete, it makes sense that Zeus, Kronus, and Rhea are all intertwined with the stories of the Kouretes.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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