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THE DIOSKOUROI (Dioscuri) were the star-crowned, twin gods of St. Elmo's fire--an electrical discharge which appears on the rigging of ships portending deliverance from a storm. They were also gods of horsemanship and protectors of guests and travellers.
The twins were born as mortal princes, sons of the Spartan queen Leda by Zeus and her husband Tyndareus. Because of their kindness and generosity they were apotheosised at death. Polydeukes (Polydeuces), being a son of Zeus, was at first the only one offered this gift but he insisted it be shared with his twin Kastor (Castor). Zeus agreed, but in order to appease the Fates, the twins had to spend alternate days in heaven and the underworld.
The Dioskouroi were also placed amongst the stars as the constellation Gemini (the Twins). The division of their time between heaven and the underworld might be a reference to the heavenly cycles--for their constellation is visible in the sky for only six months of the year.
The Dioskouroi were depicted as youthful horsemen with wide-brimmed traveller's hats.
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