In Greek mythology
, also Iapetos
(Ἰαπετός), was a Titan
, the son of Uranus
, and father (by an Oceanid
) of Atlas
, and Menoetius
and through Prometheus, Epimetheus and Atlas
an ancestor of the human race.
Myth of Iapetus
Iapetus is the one Titan
mentioned by Homer
in the Iliad
(8.478–81) as being in Tartarus
Iapetus' wife is normally a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys named Clymene or Asia.
In Hesiod's Works and Days Prometheus is addressed as "son of Iapetus", and no mother is named. In Aeschylus's play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a brother). However, in Horace's Odes, in Ode 1.3 Horace describes how "audax Iapeti genus/ Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit"; "The bold offspring of Iapetus [i.e. Prometheus]/ brought fire to peoples by wicked deceit".
Since mostly the Titans indulge in marriage of brother and sister, it might be that Aeschylus is using an old tradition in which Themis is Iapetus' wife but that the Hesiodic tradition preferred that Themis and Mnemosyne be consorts of Zeus alone. But it would have been quite within Achaean practice for Zeus to have taken the wives of the Titans as his mistresses after throwing down their husbands.
Pausanias (8.27.15) writes:
- As I have already related, the boundary between Megalopolis and Heraea is at the source of the river Buphagus. The river got its name, they say, from a hero called Buphagus, the son of Iapetus and Thornax. This is what they call her in Laconia also. They also say that Artemis shot Buphagus on Mount Pholoe because he attempted an unholy sin against her godhead.
Buphagus is a tributary of the river Alpheus, Thornax is a mountain between Sparta and Sellasia, and Pholoe is a mountain between Arcadia and Elis.
Stephanus of Byzantium quotes Athenodorus of Tarsus:
- Anchiale, daughter of Iapetus, founded Anchiale (a city near Tarsus): her son was Cydnus, who gave his name to the river at Tarsus: the son of Cydnus was Parthenius, from whom the city was called Parthenia: afterwards the name was changed to Tarsus.
This may be the same Anchiale who appears in the Argonautica (1.1120f):
- And near it they heaped an altar of small stones, and wreathed their brows with oak leaves and paid heed to sacrifice, invoking the Mother of Dindymum, Most Venerable, Dweller in Phrygia, and Titias and Cyllenus, who alone of many are called dispensers of doom and assessors of the Idaean Mother, – the Idaean Dactyls of Crete, whom once the nymph Anchiale, as she grasped with both hands the land of Oaxus, bare in the Dictaean cave.
Iapetus and Japheth
Iapetus has (for example, by John Milton
) been equated with Japheth
), the son of Noah
, based on the similarity of their names and on old Jewish traditions, that held Japheth as the ancestor of the Greeks
, the Slavs
, the Italics
, the Teutons
etc. (see Josephus
, Antiquities of the Jews
). The myth of Deucalion
opposes this allegation. (Similarly Ham, son of Noah
was equated with "Jupiter Ammon", i.e. the Egyptian god Amun
Sib. Or. III.133 makes Iapetus one of the three sons of Gaia and Uranus, along with Cronus and Titan, who each received a third division of the Earth. Similar legends in Judaeo-Christian writings attribute such a three-fold division to Noah's three sons Ham, Shem and Japheth.