Castor & Pollux | Greek Heroes

Castor & Pollux Greek Mythology

Castor (Latin: Castōr; Greek: Κάστωρ, Kastōr, lit. "beaver") and Pollux (Latin: Pollūx) or Polideuces (Greek: Πολυδεύκης, Poludeukēs, "very sweet wine") were two twin brothers in Greek and Roman mythology, sons of Leda with Tyndareus and Zeus, respectively, siblings of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, and half-brothers of Timandra, Phoebe, Heracles, and Philonoe.

They were known collectively in Greek as Dioskuros (Greek: Διόσκουροι, Dioskouroi, "sons of Zeus"; Latin: Dioscūrī) and in Latin as the Twins (Gemini) or Castores. They are also sometimes referred to as Tindáridas (Greek: Τυνδαρίδαι, Tundaridai; Latin: Tyndaridae), a reference to Castor's father and Polux's adoptive father.

In the myth, the twins share the same mother, but have different fathers - meaning that Pollux, being the son of Zeus, was immortal, while Castor was not. Upon the latter's death, Pollux asked his father to let his brother share the same immortality, and thus they would have been transformed into the constellation of Gemini.

The two are considered to be patron saints of navigators, for whom they appear in the form of the Santelmo fire. In some versions Pollux was mortal, but being the son of Zeus he received the gift of divinity (immortality).

Polux/Pollux is the brightest star in the constellation Gemini and the 17th brightest in the entire sky. Alpha Germinorum, known as Castor, is the second brightest star in the constellation of Gemini.

Also quoted in the Bible "And three months later we set sail in a ship from Alexandria which had wintered on the island, whose insignia was Castor and Pollux." (Acts of the Apostles 28:11)


Because he was the son of a god, Pollux was bestowed with the gift of immortality. Because they were inseparable, when Castor died, Pollux refused immortality as long as he remained separated from his brother. Since Zeus, their father, could not convince Hades, the god of the dead to bring Castor back to life, it was decided that the two brothers would spend half the year in hell, and half on Olympus.

There is another version in which Zeus transforms Castor and Pollux into the constellation Gemini.

It all started with Leda, who had recently betrothed Tyndareus, heir to the kingdom of Sparta. Zeus, fascinated by the beauty of the young woman, wishes to unite with her, even though he knew he would not be accepted, she being newly married. Thus, Zeus assumes the form of a beautiful swan and approaches Leda as she was bathing in a river.

The young woman places the animal in her lap and caresses it. Months later, Leda falls down in pain and realizes that two eggs have hatched from her womb: from the first, Castor and Helen are born, and from the second, Pollux and Clytemnestra. In each egg, a child of Zeus, Helen and Pollux, immortals, while their siblings, children of Tyndareus, mortals like any human being.

Despite being children of different fathers, Castor and Pollux became known as the Dioskurs (sons of Zeus) and grew up together, hanging the most beautiful friendship between them. Taken by Hermes to the city of Pelene, in Peloponnese, the brothers soon proved to be strong and courageous. Castor specialized in taming horses and Pollux became an excellent fighter.

The Peloponnese region where they lived was plagued by pirates who incessantly pillaged the islands and frightened the people with their unbridled violence. Castor and Pollux decided to rid the peninsula of the threat and defeated the enemy alone and unarmed, a feat that made them known throughout Greece as great heroes.

Barely had they returned from the war against the pirates, Castor and Pollux are called to the land of Chalidon, where their parents met, to kill a huge and terrible boar, sent by Aphrodite as revenge against the people of the region, who had not paid her due homage.

When they find themselves victorious, the brothers are again summoned to another mission: to conquer the Golden Fleece on the journey with Jason and the Argonauts who were to defeat the terrible Cyclops.

Abduction of Hilaria and Phoebe

The great battle that would determine their destinies took place against two other twin brothers: Idas and Linceu, heirs to the kingdom of Messenia and engaged to Hilariah and Phoebe.

The Dioskurs have fallen madly in love with the two young women and try to kidnap them, thus facing the fury of the Messenians. In the combat between the two pairs, Idas strikes Castor with a fatal spear, and he dies.

Tormented by the loss of his brother, Pollux pleads with Zeus to give Castor back his life. Moved by such brotherhood, the Lord of the Gods proposes the only solution to save the young man: Pollux must share his immortality with his brother, alternating with him one day of life and one day of death.

Pollux agrees without hesitation and from that moment on, the brothers began to live and die alternately. To celebrate such a proof of brotherly love, Zeus catapulted the Diascuros into the constellation of Gemini, where they could not be separated even by death.