The "kobalos" (pl. "kobaloi") was a sprite from
Greek mythology, a mischievous creature fond of tricking and frightening mortals. [Roby, John (1829). "Traditions of Lancashire". Quoted in Hardwick 139. The sources spell the word khobalus.] Greek myths depict the "kobaloi" as "impudent, thieving, droll, idle, mischievous, gnome-dwarfs",Brown 230.] and as "funny, little triksy elves" of a phallic nature.Brown 230–231.] They were companions of Dionysusand could shapeshift as Dionysus in the guise of Choroimanes-Aiolomorphos. [Brown 231.] According to one myth, they robbed Herakleswhile he slept. He captured them in revenge but took pity on them when he found them amusing. In one version of the myth, Herakles gave them to the Lydian queen Omphaleas a gift. The "kobaloi" were thought to live in Euboeaor near Thermopylai.
Parents used tales of the "kobaloi" to frighten children into behaving. [Davis 61.] The term also means "impudent knave, arrant rogue" in ancient Greek, and such individuals were thought to invoke "kobaloi" spirits. [Liddell and Scott.] Depictions of "kobaloi" are common in ancient Greek art. Brown has speculated that their inhuman features show that the "kobaloi" are non-Hellenic in origin. They are perhaps
The "kobalos" is related to two other Greek sprites: the "
kabeiroi" (pygmies with large phalluses) and the " kerkopes". The "kobalos" and "kabeiroi" came to be equated. Other European sprites may derive from belief in "kobaloi". This includes spirits such as the Lancashire boggart, Scotch bogie, French goblin, Medieval gobelinus, German kobold, and English Puck. [Hardwick 139.] Likewise, the names of many European spirits may derive from the word "kobalos". The word entered Latin as "cobalus", then possibly French as "gobelin". From this, the English "goblin" and Welsh "coblyn" may derive. [Franklin 108.]
* Brown, Robert (2004 [xxxx] ). "The Greek Dionysiak Myth", Part 2. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 076618465X.
* Davis, William Stearns (1914). "A Day in Old Athens: A Picture of Athenian Life". Boston, Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon.
* Franklin, Anna (2002). "Goblin", "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies". London: Paper Tiger. ISBN 1843402408.
* Hardwick, Charles (1980  ). "Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore, (Chiefly Lancashire and the North of England:) Their Affinity to Others in Widely-distributed Localities; their Eastern Origins and Mythical Significance". London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co.
* Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott (1940). "A Greek-English Lexicon", revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198642261. [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2358260 Online version] accessed
25 February 2008.
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