June 14th, 2010 by sabrina
Leto (pronounced LEE-toe) is the Greek Goddess of motherhood and the oracles of the day. She is the daughter of the Titans Phoebe and Koios, sister of Asteria, Goddess of the oracles of the night. Leto’s role as Goddess of oracles, symbolized by her modest dress and veil, was overshadowed when she became a mother, and most mentions of her in myth are in relation to her children. Where her sister Asteria had fled from Zeus’s lustful attentions, Leto went to him willingly, and may even have been married to him before Hera. When she was pregnant with Zeus’s children, the twins Artemis and Apollo, Hera chased her relentlessly and threatened anyone who thought to help Leto. Finally, her sister Asteria, who had turned into an island rather than submit to Zeus, offered her a place to give birth.
There are several versions of the myths surrounding the births of the twins. In one, Artemis was born first and then assisted her mother with the birth of Apollo. Some sources add to this that Artemis was born nine days before Apollo. In another version, Leto was attended by the Titan Goddesses Dione, Rhea, Theia, Themis, and Amphitrite. The Goddess of childbirth, Eileithyia, who usually came to oversee births, had not heard Leto’s calls because she was with her mother Hera on Mount Olympus, and Hera did not want her to help Leto. The assembled Goddesses sent Iris, Goddess of rainbows and the messenger of the Gods, to bring Eilithyia, and when she finally arrived the twins were born.
From this point forward, Leto was almost always mentioned in conjunction with one or both of her children. Leto’s name, which means “unseen,” is also seen as Latona (Roman version), and epithets used for her include Koieis, Koiogeneia, Koiogenes (all meaning “daughter of Koios”), Khryselakatos (with golden spindle), Phystie (grafter), Dark-gowned, Dark-veiled, August, Glorious, Queenly, Bright-haired, Lovely-haired, Rich-haired, Gold-tressed, Neat-ankled, Slim-waisted, Far-famed, and Twin-bearing.
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