Today, in the concluding chapter of Histoire de la magie, I encountered a passing reference to Ixion and how he attempted to rape Hera but was tricked by Zeus into assaulting a fake Hera made from a cloud. Having only the vaguest recollection of this particular myth, I looked it up to get the details. The Hera-shaped cloud apparently became in some way a real woman who went on to bear children to both Ixion and Athamas, and this cloud-woman's name was Nephele (from nephos, "cloud").
The Wassons reproduce in their book the illustration I discovered for them in the late Professor A. B. Cook's Zeus: an Etruscan mirror-back dating from 500 B.C., which shows the Greek hero Ixion tied to a wheel. No one had previously noticed the mushroom growing at Ixion's feet . . . . In punishment for Ixion's attempt to rape the Goddess Hera, her husband the Almighty God Zeus soon sent him spinning through space, spread-eagled to a fiery wheel. Yet meanwhile Ixion had, in his delirium, mistaken a cloud for Hera, and begotten on it a son named Centaurus; which same Centaurus (an aberrant, rather than a delinquent) is said to have later fathered the Hippo-Centaurs -- half men and half stallions -- be debauching a herd of Magnesian mares.
Ixion is wearing a pair of wings, and the mirror's circular border is decorated with a length of ivy. The wings plainly refer to the famous erotic charm mentioned by Theocritus, which made a member of the opposite sex fall madly in love with whoever tied a live wryneck to a fire-wheel -- the fire-wheel being an instrument for kindling fire by friction -- and sent it whizzing giddily around. . . . The wryneck (a peculiar bird, which hisses like a serpent) was sacred to the erotic God Dionysus, and gave him the surname 'Iynges' ('of the wryneck').
These birds get their English name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180°. When disturbed at the nest, they use this snake-like head twisting and hissing as a threat display. It has occasionally been called "snake-bird" for that reason. . . . Its sound is described as a repetition of the sounds que, que, que, many times in succession, rapid at first, but gradually slowing and in a continually falling key.