King Aeacus and the Myrmidons , Frans Francken the younger
The Myrmidons (or Myrmidones, Μυρμιδόνες, the name literally means "ant-people") were an ancient nation of Greek mythology. The story of their origins was first mentioned by the poet Ovid. Initially, the Myrmidons were simple worker ants on the island of Aegina.
Hera, queen of the gods, sent a plague to kill all the human inhabitants of Aegina because the island was named for one of the lovers of Zeus. King Aeacus, a son of Zeus and the intended target of Hera along with his mother, prayed to his father for a means to repopulate the island. As the ants of the island were unaffected by the sickness, Zeus responded by transforming them into a race of people, the Myrmidons. They were fierce and hardy as ants, and intensely loyal to their leader.
After a time, Aeacus exiled his two sons, Peleus and Telamon, for murdering their half-brother, Phocis. Peleus went to Phthia and a group of Myrmidons followed him to Thessaly. Peleus's son, Achilles, brought them to Troy to fight in the Trojan War.
Another tradition states that the Myrmidons had no such remarkable beginnings, but were merely the descendants of Myrmidon, a Thessalian nobleman, who married Peisidice, the daughter of Aeolus, king of Thessaly. Myrmidon was the father of Actor and Antiphus. As king of Phthia, Actor (or his son) invited Peleus to stay in Thessaly.
Myrmidones in popular culture
In Grant Morrison's comic book The Invisibles, the humans who serve the Archons and have given themselves up for bodily modification are known as Myrmidons.
In Blizzard Entertainment's WarCraft real-time strategy computer game series, the Myrmidon is a powerful amphibious unit of the Naga race, which appears for the first time in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
Myrmidons are also a unit of strong undead warriors in the Myth: the Fallen Lords RTS game.
The Myrmidon is a Terran space fighter craft in the space simulation Freespace by Volition.
In the strategy video game Fire Emblem, there is a controllable unit called the myrmidon, a swordfighter from the East.
In the simulation game Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, the Myrmidon is a small, fast attack tank that mounts powerful Particle Projection Cannons.
In the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons_&_Dragons, a Myrmidon represents a relative skill level of the fighter character class (sixth level fighter).
In Magic: The Gathering, the Myr are a race of robotic creatures with a variety of useful abilities.
The Myrmidons is a drinking club for Old Etonians at Merton College, Oxford.