In Greek mythology, Stilbe is a naiad, a water nymph. In myth, she is a minor character in which little more than her name and her familial ties are known. She is the daughter of the river god, Peneus. By Apollo, she is the mother of twins: Kentauros, a centaur, and Lapithus, a man. She is also the mother of the nymph Chariclo (who became the wife of Kheiron the centaur) by Cychreus, though in some accounts, Chariclo was also a daughter of Apollo. Through her daughter, Chariclo, she is also the maternal grandmother of the famous prophet, Tiresias (a character from Homer’s Odyssey as well as the tragedy of Oedipus Rex).
One of the intricacies of writing within the mythological framework is interweaving new characters with original characters, some of which are more familiar and established than others. In the Sons of Apollo series, I have used a combination of pre-existing mythological characters as well as some of my own creation.
Stilbe is both, a pre-existing character as well as one whom I have further developed and given a more prominent role for the series. Though still a supporting cast member in the Sons of Apollo series, through her role as the Oracle of Apollo, she becomes a pivotal player as well as a catalyst connecting both the events that transpire in the original myths to the events that happen in the Sons of Apollo series, as well as connecting the characters from the original myths to the characters in the Sons of Apollo series through their relationships to her. Some of the ways I have elaborated her character are as follows:
First, is her identity as a naiad. Though interpretations of nymphs vary in literature, I have defined a naiad as a water deity, specifically as an Elemental, neither mortal nor immortal but a being whose life is tied to some element or location in nature, in Stilbe’s case, her spring. In Greek mythology, water deity are protean in nature, meaning they can change form. This ability is epitomized in the story of Proteus, a sea god who had the power to tell the future of any who could hold onto him through his various transformations. Though this ability is not attributed specifically to Stilbe in mythology it is common among water deity in general. I have used this characteristic to explain Stilbe’s ability to conceive a child of another race. This fits with the mythology since this is the same reason given for the births of many of the races and creatures of myth, and is an element of many of the origin myths specific to centaurs.
Second is the role I assigned to her as the Oracle of Apollo. There is an interesting metaphor in the comparison between the protean nature of water and the future. As water changes state from gas to liquid to solid, the future changes as individuals make the choices, decisions and actions that shape their destiny. It became a convenient parallel to assigning Stilbe the roll as the Oracle of Apollo, besides simply the fact that she bore him twin sons.
A third element that is related to her protean nature as a water deity is the fact that anciently the Oracle was referred to as Pythia, a title meaning pythoness. This title is a reference to the myth of Apollo conquering the python which inhabited Mount Parnassus which is the site of the Delphic Oracle and considered to be the center of the world. For a water deity to have changed into a serpent to avoid compliance or capture fit within the existing mythology. I assigned the title as a nickname given to Stilbe by Apollo.
Stilbe’s connections to the race of centaurs are also two fold. Not only through her son, Kentauros, but also through her daughter Chariclo who was the wife of Kheiron, the centaur trainer of many Greek heroes (including Jason, Hercules and Achilles). So, her character not only has convenient ties to the race, but a vested interest in their future since many of them are her descendants. Having her character serve as the Oracle who saw their future as well as the mother of the race, intensified her motivations to see the race justified even if only in tale.
Another connection in mythology that is important to note is that her daughter Chariclo was the mother of the famous prophet Tiresias. It made sense to me that the most famous prophet of myth would have an Oracular grandmother.
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