Niobe (Classical Greek: Νιόβη; Romaniz.: Nióbē) is a character from Greek Mythology, daughter of Tantalus and Dione and wife of Amphion, king of Thebes.
Tantalus, her father was the son of Zeus (Jupiter to the Romans) and Plota, princess of Lydia and daughter of Himas. Her mother was Dione, daughter of Atlas; Tantalus and Dione were also the parents of Pelope.
Mythology says that because she was very fertile, Niobe had fourteen children (seven male and seven female), who became known as "niobides." The people of Thebes gathered together in the city of Thebes.
The people of Thebes gathered to pay tribute to Leto (Latona for the Romans). Behold, Niobe appeared insulting the goddess, who only had two sons, Apollo and Artemis, these being Niobe's uncles, since the queen was Zeus' granddaughter and her father Zeus' son. The queen said:
"What madness is this? To prefer beings you have never seen to those you have before your eyes! Why should Leto be worshiped, and I not? [If I were to lose some of my children, I would hardly be as poor as Leto, with her only two. Suspend this solemnity...remove the laurel from your foreheads...Do not continue this worship!" And the people obeyed.
Leto was indignant at the audacity of the mortal, and begged vengeance from his sons, who were archers. Apollo and Artemis then killed all seven sons of Niobe. When she heard, mourning her sons along with their sisters, she exclaimed:
" Cruel Leto! Quench all your hatred in my anguish! Let thy hard heart rejoice, as I carry to the grave my seven sons. But where is your triumph? Stripped as I am, yet I am richer than you, who have overcome me." No sooner had she finished saying these words than new arrows fell, killing all the young daughters but the youngest, Cloris. The desperate mother pleaded:
"Spare me this one, the youngest! Spare me one among so many!" But the fatal arrow had already been shot.
The fact made Zeus sympathetic to Niobe's pain and turned her into a rock, but she still mourned the loss of her children by constantly pouring water into a spring.