Lelantos's daughter is the nymph Aura (Breeze). Nonnus says that her mother, or at least his wife, is the Oceanid Periboia. But elsewhere, he calls Aura the "daughter of Cybele"

Cybele is a Phrygian goddess from Asia Minor (Anatolia) that got integrated into Greek Mythology. Could Nonnus have meant Aura was born in the land where Cybele was from?

1 Answer 1


The source material for this seems to me to be ambiguous and inconclusive.

Popular Conclusion

With the exception of Theoi.com, and Wikipedia, virtually every dictionary and encyclopaedia featuring Aura that I've come across names her simply as the daughter of the Titan Lelantos [Lelantus] by the Oceanid Periboia [Periboea]; and I can see why they would. This is based on Nonnus' Dionysiaca 48.245-248, which William Henry Denham Rouse (1942) translates1 as follows, describing Aura as:

a younger Artemis, this daughter of Lelantos; for the father of this stormfoot girl was ancient Lelantos the Titan, who wedded Periboia, a daughter of Oceanos...

The Nickname from Her Father

In the original Greek this is rather a bit more lyrical, with the phrases ordered a bit differently into a fairly complex tangle of sobriquets and adjectives. The epithet Lelantiás is what has been translated as "daughter of Lelantos". This is then followed by the elaboration that:

  • there was a Titan who was wedded, or betrothed, to Periboia;
  • now Periboia had, in turn, been engendered by Okeanos [Oceanus]
  • while the aforementioned Titan, who himself was "born of old" (or "born with seniority"), is Lelantos;
  • and this Lelantos had engendered the "manlike", "stormfoot" hunter-maiden Aura, who is akin to Artemis.

Nonnus uses the word Lelantiás for Aura again in Lines 571 & 917 of the same book, both of which instances Rouse interprets as a patronymic rendered as "Lelantos's daughter". In Line 421 Artemis refers to Aura as "Lelantos's lass/girl {in the sense of a kid/child}" and in Line 444 Nemesis unambiguously says that Lelantos is Aura's father.

The Nickname from Kybele

In Dionysiaca 1, Nonnus announces (in Lines 27-28) that his epic will at some point feature Aura, whom he goes on to describe as "the desirable boar-slayer Kybelída". Tales of Dionysus: The Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis: A Group Translation (2022),2 makes this "Cybele's daughter" while in Rouse's rendition it is basically the same: "daughter of Cybele".

The only other instance of this particular form of the word that I've found in Greek is in the same poem (in Line 152 of Book 21) where the Bakkhai [Bacchae], a group of frenzied women in the retinue of Dionysos [Dionysus], are called, according to Rouse's translation, "the army of Cybelid women", or, going by the Tales of Dionysus version,3 "the Cybelian warriors."

In Line 214 of Book 14 a word which, grammatically, is almost exactly the same, is used for the Titaness Rhea, wherein the reference is translated as "Cybelid Rheia" in Rouse's version, and as "Cybelian Rhea" in Tales of Dionysus.4

Back again in Book 48, Nonnus refers (in Line 866) to Nikaia [Nicaea], another huntress from the same region as Aura, as Dionysos' Kybeleída nýmphen, which both the Tales of Dionysus5 and Rouse translate as "his own Cybeleïd nymph".

The same passage later points out that both Aura and Nikaia are Phrygians with whom Dionysos consorted. Nonnus nowhere tells us anything about Nikaia's parentage, but we know from Photius' Bibliotheca that this nymph is, as it happens, Kybele's daughter, sired by the Phrygian river Sangarios [Sangarius]. So perhaps this is what Nonnus is alluding to when he says that Nikaia is Kybeleída.

The word, however, in this form and others previously mentioned, is open to interpretation, and does not literally mean "daughter of Kybele." Rather it is simply "of [belonging to] Kybele," just as Lelantiás means "of Lelantos," although from context we've seen that in the case of the latter word, Nonnus clearly does mean "offspring of Lelantos" when he uses it.

The Bakkhai of Book 21 are Kybelída because they are adherents of or associated with Kybele on account of the strong connection between this goddess and their god Dionysos, part of whose army they form. And Rhea is "Cybelid" because both in the Dionysiaca and in Ancient Greek religion in general, the Titaness and the Phrygian goddess are often equated with each other.

You May Have a Point

Your guess may well be spot on: Even though "Cybelid" or "Cybelian" could be a matronymic, as Tales of Dionysus and W.H.D. Rouse have interpreted the word in Dionysiaca 1, it maybe just means that Aura was from Phrygia, like Kybele, and associated with the rites of this deity's cult. The 10th century AD encyclopaedia called the Suda defines Cybelian as having to do with precisely such cult rites; with the Titaness Rhea; and/or with the "Kybela mountains of Phrygia, where she used to be worshipped."

The most natural reading would appear to be that Nonnus mentions Periboia (who never occurs anywhere else in Greek myth apart from her split-second cameo in Dionysiaca 48) in order to fill out Aura's family tree, i.e.: "the huntress was the daughter of the Titan Lelantos; and her mother, by the way, was an Oceanid named Periboia."

But the text never does explicitly say that Lelantos' wife necessarily was Aura's mother. And while the term Kybelída is somewhat indeterminate, like Lelantiás, it could validly be a parental tag, making it so that Periboia was Aura's stepmother, while Kybele was the huntress's biological mother. Taking both of the relevant Aura passages (from Books 1 & 48) into consideration, I think it could go either way.


1. In Nonnos: Dionysiaca, with an English Translation by W.H.D. Rouse; Mythological Introduction & Notes by H.J. Rose; & Notes on Text Criticism by L.R. Lind, in Three Volumes, 1940-1942. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, & William Heinemann Ltd, London.

2. Published by University of Michigan Press, USA; Book 1, pp. 41-64, translated by Douglass Parker.

3. Book 21, pp. 346-355, translated by Zachary Puckett.

4. Book 14, pp. 252-264, translated by Michael B. Lippman.

5. Book 48, pp. 694-724, translated by Stanley Lombardo.

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