Mythology Mondays: Laelaps

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first two books, Lightning in the Dark and Storm in the Mountains are out now.

 

There are two kinds of people in the world: dog people and cat people. I am a dog person. I married a man who thought he was a cat person owing to the fact that he always had cats growing up. His mother is a cat person. He was a dog person just waiting for a dog to be in his life. We now have two large, ridiculous dogs and everyone is happy about it except my mother-in-law.

This post is not about my crazy dogs. This post is about Laelaps, the hurricane dog of Greek mythology.

Laelaps is a female in some stories and a male in others. I am going to refer to Laelaps as a she because I like imagining a powerful female dog running around causing a bit of panic.

Laelaps chasing the Teumessian Fox.
Laelaps chasing the Teumessian Fox.

Laelaps originally belonged to Zeus. She was a fierce hunting hound who, once set on her prey, never failed to catch it.

Zeus stumbled upon the maiden Europa picking flowers one day and he decided that he must have this woman as his own. To those of you who have been paying attention, this should come as no big shock. Instead of declaring his intentions, like a normal person, Zeus decided on his usual practice of transforming himself into something, this time a white bull, and seducing (or perhaps pestering) Europa until she climbed up on his back and he kidnapped her.

Zeus set Europa up as the Queen of Crete and gave her three gifts. One of the gifts was his beloved hound, Laelaps. Europa named the son that she bore after riding the white bull Minos. Minos inherited not only the kingship of Crete, but also the hound, Laelaps.

I was unable to find exactly how Procris ended up with Laelaps, but at some point Minos gifted the hound to Procris who took it home to please his wife, Kephalos, after they had an argument about being on a “break.”

 

It is possible that Artemis, goddess of the hunt, may have gifted Laelaps to Procris, but accounts differ.

About this time, the Teumessian Fox was terrorizing Thebes. The mythical fox was a monster that could never be caught. To appease it, the people of Thebes fed it a small male child once a month. As you can imagine, the people of Thebes tired of this arrangement very quickly. They appealed to Kephalos who sent Laelaps after the fox.

The hound who always catches its prey chasing after a fox who could never be caught created an unsolvable conundrum. The hound chased the fox for many days. Zeus grew tired of this and turned both animals to stone. He put them in the sky as the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor where they chase each other forever.

In Storm in the Mountains, Marina meets the Remnant of Laelaps on one of her adventures.

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