1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ixion

IXION, in Greek legend, son of Phlegyas, king of the Lapithae in Thessaly (or of Ares), and husband of Dia. According to custom he promised his father-in-law, Deïoneus, a handsome bridal present, but treacherously murdered him when he claimed the fulfilment of the promise. As a punishment, Ixion was seized with madness, until Zeus purified him of his crime and admitted him as a guest to Olympus. Ixion abused his pardon by trying to seduce Hera; but the goddess substituted for herself a cloud, by which he became the father of the Centaurs. Zeus bound him on a fiery wheel, which rolls unceasingly through the air or (according to the later version) in the underworld (Pindar, Pythia, ii. 21; Ovid, Metam. iv. 461; Virgil, Aeneid, vi. 601). Ixion is generally taken to represent the eternally moving sun. Another explanation connects the story with the practice (among certain peoples of central Europe) of carrying a blazing, revolving wheel through fields which needed the heat of the sun, the legend being invented to explain the custom and subsequently adopted by the Greeks (see Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte, ii. 1905, p. 83). In view of the fact that the oak was the sun-god’s tree and that the mistletoe grew upon it, it is suggested by A. B. Cook (Class. Rev. xvii. 420) that Ἰξίων is derived from ἰξός (mistletoe), the sun’s fire being regarded as an emanation from the mistletoe. Ixion himself is probably a by-form of Zeus (Usener in Rhein. Mus. liii. 345).

“The Myth of Ixion” (by C. Smith, in Classical Review, June 1895) deals with the subject of a red-figure cantharus in the British Museum.