Niobe and her daughter, Uffizi

A mortal woman in Greek mythology, Niobe (Νιόβη), daughter of Tantalus and either Euryanassa, Eurythemista, Clytia, Dione, or Laodice, and the wife of Amphion, boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life (Apollo would have spared his life, but had already released the arrow), and Artemis, her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept, or committed suicide. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

Mount Sipylus has a carving of a female face on it that the locals claimed was Niobe, though it was probably originally intended to be Cybele. The rock appears to weep because it is porous limestone and rainwater seeps through the pores.

Aedon was the queen of Thebes who attempted to kill the son of her rival, Niobe, also her sister-in-law (Aedon was married to Zethus), and accidentally killed her own daughter, Itylus instead and thus, the gods again changed her into a nightingale.

Artemis , slayer of the Niobids , Running Niobid, The Dying Niobid

Children of Niobe, 1954 , Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988)


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