Cimmeria

Cimmeria is the land that extends furthest west into the River Oceanus; it is approximately equivalent to the modern-day Iberian peninsula. Much of this region is mountainous and shrouded in perpetual shadow or mist, but the southern coast has a mostly normal climate.

Kings of Cimmeria
When Perseus slew the Gorgon Medusa, two fully-grown children sprang from her corpse: Pegasus the winged horse, and Chrysaor, a man who bore a golden falchion in his fist. Using his magic falchion and his natural born gift for tactics and leadership, Chrysaor united the many tribes of Cimmeria under a single king. He founded the city of Tartessus as his new capital, and introduced the worship of the Olympian gods. Chrysaor wed the Oceanid nymph Callirhoe, who bore him two sons: Geryon, a triple-bodied monster, and Eurytion, a normal-looking son. 

Callirhoe was inconsolable after Chrysaor's death, and pined away in grief. (She now wanders the shores of Ocean as a shade, unable for some reason to join her husband in the underworld.) As eldest son, Geryon inherited the throne, as well as his father's golden falchion. Eurytion, who had little to no ambition to rule, was content to serve as his elder brother's chief herdsman. Despite his monstrous appearance, Geryon was a relatively popular ruler, and with the help of his advisor Philomeleides, ruled the kingdom in peace and prosperity until the arrival of Heracles. This hero severely wounded Eurytion while stealing Geryon's cattle, and left the prince for dead. (Heracles also slew Eurytion's two-headed watchdog Orthrus, the child of Echidna and Typhon.) Menoetes, who was pasturing Hades's herd nearby, took word of these crimes to Geryon. The king pursued Zeus's son, but was slain by him as well. Heracles then attempted to slay Menoetes for his interference, but Persephone pleaded on his behalf, so the infernal herdsman escaped with his life and some crushed ribs.

(Unknown to all but his own descendants, Eurytion survived, and fled the country with his young son Eurynomous in order to seek a more peaceful life as a merchant-trader. See Geryon's Heir, below, for more on his descendants.)

Geryon left two grown, gigantic sons, Atlas (the elder, who looked human) and Ladon (who was monstrous like his father), who attempted to defend their birthright against various warlords who sought to seize the throne for themselves. Both princes soon fell in battle, leaving their younger sister Erytheia, a mere child (and apparently a normal human), as Geryon's sole surviving heir. Philomeleides went into hiding with the princess in order to save her life, and has spent the last several years teaching her strategy and statecraft in the hope that she would someday be strong enough to reclaim her father's crown.

Meanwhile, Cimmeria was plagued with chaos and civil war until the warlord Polyporthis destroyed or subdued all his remaining rivals and became the first new king of Tartessus. This usurper suppressed the Olympian cults and promoted the worship of the Titans in their place. He even went so far as to claim the name Cronos, and that of Rhea for his queen, Laphria. Their son, Broteas, is a grown man, but has not yet wed; the king seeks a match that will further cement his and his son's claim to the throne. (The prince lacks a god's name, in order to avoid using one of Cronus's sons, the outlawed Olympians.) Meanwhile, the prince amuses himself with any woman who catches his eye--he has raped several of Artemis's virgin followers (for which She has asked Kynthia to punish him).

Polyporthis employed a seer, Persephatta, to help him foresee possible threats to his power. However, this witch was recently slain by Kynthia and Ophiophane. This has only heightened the king's paranoia about the Ophidians.

Chrysaor's decendants
(Roman numerals indicate the order of succession.)

Chrysaor (I) + Callirhoe [Oceanid] > Geryon and Eurytion
Geryon (II) + Chalciope [nymph?] > Atlas (III), Ladon (IV), and Erytheia (Ophiophane)
Eurytion + Ophira [descendant of Helios] > Eurynomous
Eurynomous + Chryse > Diodorus, Thersites, Megera, Echephron, Alexiares, Kynthia, Philomela, and Thaumas [see Kynthia's Family Tree]
Ophiophane + Hermes > Norax [yet to be born]

Geryon's Heir
Erytheia was only 10 when her father was slain by Heracles. By the time she went into hiding a year or two later, she had started to manifest a Medusa-like gaze, and was nicknamed "Ophiophane" ("snake-faced") as a result. She has since come to terms with this monstrous power, and now embraces the nickname. Although she is half a century old, she has not noticeably aged since reaching adulthood, so still looks like a beautiful, nubile, young woman.

With Philomeleides's help, she has recruited a small army supporting her right to the throne, who call themselves Ophidians after their leader's new name. Most of these rebels are people who were displaced in some way by the current regime: farmers whose lands were taken, renegade Olympian priests, and so on. Ophiophane's main base of operations is the Snake Pit, a fortified camp hidden in the forested hills a few days' walk from the shores opposite Tartessus. 

Ophiophane recently discovered that her uncle Eurytion survived Heracles' raid and raised a family at the other end of the Mediterranean. One of Eurytion's granddaughters, Kynthia, passed through Cimmeria on her way to Erytheia, the island of the Hesperides (for which Ophiphane was originally named). While among the Ophidians, Kynthia helped her cousin locate her father's missing golden falchion. She also introduced Ophiophane to the god Hermes, who had taken an interest in the princess and her ambitions.

Ophiophane will need an heir to keep the crown in the family, and Hermes is willing to give her one as well as to lend his cunning to help her regain the throne. (Philomeleides had long stressed the need to keep her royal bloodline pure, so Ophiophane came to the god as a maiden.) She is fated to bear Hermes a son, Norax, who will found Nora, the first city in Sardinia. However, only a very few entities know of this fate, one of them being Prometheus.

Ophiophane must marry a mortal after she takes her throne (though not right away), because Hermes will not stay with her forever. Her consort is unlikely to be any of the Ophidians named so far (and might not even be Cimmerian).

Races of Cimmeria
The native people of Cimmeria are dusky-skinned, with dark hair and eyes. In contrast, Chrysaor's army consisted chiefly of Hyperboreans, most of whom had fair skin, blond hair, and blue, green or gray eyes. These followers became the ruling class under Chrysaor. In the generations since that first unification, the two races have interbred, and many foreigners (mostly Phoenicians) have settled in Cimmeria, so the population's coloration now runs the full range from very fair to medium dark. However, most of the ruling class remain fair-skinned, while most of the poorer masses remain dark.

Chrysaor's direct descendants (including Ophiophane and Kynthia) are fair-skinned but have inherited Queen Callirhoe's brunette hair. Polyporthis is of mixed blood, though more fair than dark, and took a nearly pureblooded Cimmerian as his queen in order to strengthen his popularity with the common folk; as a result, his son Broteas is far more obviously of mixed race.

Tartessus and Cotinusa
Cimmeria is ruled from the port city of Tartessus, located on the western cape of the island of Cotinusa, which lies just off the mainland coast, about 200 miles west and north of the Straits of Gibraltar. The island is named for its rich olive groves.

The palace and temples lies on the acropolis overlooking the city, while Geryon's towering tomb (which even Polyporthis lacks the nerve to raze) is located in the lower city. The city is famed for a secret tree that takes diverse forms, a different one each growing season. The tree is well hidden, and few know its location; these include Ophiophane and selected Ophidians. (Geryon's sword was hidden beneath this tree until very recently.)

The other chief landmark of the city are the Pillars of Cronus, two large (~12 ft. tall) bronze columns which originally stood in Cronus's temple on the acropolis. When Heracles visited Cimmeria, he carried these pillars down to the harbor as a demonstration of his superior strength. Because of this, they are now called the Pillars of Heracles, though the king's Titan cult insists on calling them by their old name. (Under Polyporthis, Heracles's cult is suppressed every bit as much as his Olympian father's. The Ophidians also consider this cult to be an enemy, because it worships the murderer of the rightful king of Cimmeria.)

After Geryon's death, some of the residents of Tartessus began to worship Heracles as a god. Most of these folk are fishermen, who offer sacrifices at the Pillars of Heracles when they return safely from a voyage. Some members of this cult also worship as a sacred spring near the eastern end of the island. This spring ebbs at flood tide and flows at ebb tide. A grove of white poplars, sacred to Heracles, surrounds the spring. With the outlawing of the Olympian gods, the Heracles cult has been forced into hiding, but fishermen still make sacrifices at the Pillars.

Perhaps ironically, Cotinusa is also home to a shrine to Heracles, which was built soon after the Labor he performed here. This shrine is located near the eastern cape, at the far end of the island from the western-facing port of Tartessus. It has fallen into disuse in recent years, since Polyporthis outlawed the worship of the pantheon ruled by Heracles's father.

A slightly larger island, Erytheia, lies about a half-day's sail due southwest of Cotinusa. This is the site of the Garden of Hera, where the Apples of the Hesperides grow. Very few have visited the island and returned to tell of it; most fall prey to the dragon Ladon, or to Hera's jealous anger. (Philomeleides is one such survivor. Born Garanus, he acquired his current name, "beloved of the apple nymphs," from his youthful dalliance with the three Hesperides.)

Artemis's Agenda
Artemis has involved her champion, Kynthia, in Cimmerian politics for two reasons: freeing Prometheus, and exacting vengeance on Polyporthis.

Although Artemis is Zeus's favorite daughter, she could not interfere directly with her father's ban on Prometheus. Breaking the Titan's adamant chains required a weapon of the same material: Chrysaor's golden falchion. Kynthia has fulfilled this mission by helping Ophiophane find and claim the weapon; Hermes then took the princess to Caucasus to perform the deed.

Artemis cares less about Ophiophane's birthright than she does about punishing Polyporthis for his hubris--the man has outlawed the Olympian religion, and he has adopted the names of a Titan (Cronus) who was deposed and imprisoned in Tarterus by those same gods. In addition, his heir Broteas deserves punishment for deflowering maiden nymphs who served Artemis. However, the goddess is somewhat preoccupied with the war at Troy, so is relying on mortal agents to mete out justice. With Ophiophane now in possession of the adamant sickle and Hermes's favor, the princess can now make her move against Polyporthis. Artemis believes, however, that Kynthia's help will be necessary once more before Ophiophane can take the throne; therefore, she intends to maneuver her champion back to Cimmeria.

Cimmerian Tribes
See Cimmerian Tribes for more information about the peoples who make up Chrysaor's kingdom and their neighbors in Iberia.

Ċ
Tim Emrick,
Nov 27, 2015, 10:42 AM
ą
Tim Emrick,
Aug 1, 2015, 5:49 PM
Ċ
Tim Emrick,
Nov 27, 2015, 10:42 AM
Comments