Who is Leutogi? Polynesian Mythology

Leutogi is a key figure in Polynesian mythology, originating from the Samoan Islands. The story of the goddess is an interesting one with lessons and morals to be learned from it. 

Read on to find out more about Leutogi the Polynesian goddess of bats. 


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Who is Leutogi?

Princess Leutogi was the goddes of bats
Princess Leutogi was the Polynesia goddess of bats

The story of Leutogi is one of a princess-turned goddess in the Polynesian islands, and begins with the tale of the Tuitoga (King of Tonga) and a Samoan princess. The princess, Leutogi (full name Leutgitupa’itea), was ordered to become the second wife of the king of Tonga, albeit against her will. 

It was hoped that this would bring peace and order between the two warring nations, but unfortunately they continued to quarrel even after Leutogi agreed to marry the king of Tonga. 

Leutogi was kind-natured, and this was seen as a weakness by many of the people of Tonga. The king’s first wife particularly took a strong dislike to Leutogi. 

The princess decided to stay away from the town where she was being held, in order to avoid the disdain of the inhabitants. Instead she took to exploring the beautiful scenery of Tonga. 

Whilst out exploring one day, she encountered an injured bat, who she tried to nurture back to good health. Leutogi’s overseer (who was ordered by the king to watch over the princess) was disgusted by her compassion and tried to immediately kill the bat.

Princess Leutogi stood her ground and protected the injured bat. She would visit the bat regularly at night to feed it fruit until it was fully healed. 

When the bat’s wing was better, she took it back into the wild and, with great sadness, released the creature to its natural habitat.

Leutogi visited the injured bat during the night
Leutogi visited the injured bat during the night

The Tongan king noticed Leutogi’s compassion, and ordered the princess to look after his son, a notoriously spoiled prince. She would arduously care for the boy day and night, and longed for simpler times that she would spend with the bat. 

One evening, she felt a presence call her from the coasts of Tonga, and risked encountering the spirits of the night to get there. On the beach, she saw the bat that she had once cared for, and she read stories to it like they had done in previous, happier times. She would continue to visit the bat in the evenings, and the bat would bring his friends along to enjoy her company. 

Princess Leutogi regularly wished and prayed for a family that cared for her, and one day when she returned from visiting the bats, she discovered that the Prince of Tonga had died. Leutogi felt remorseful, and the Queen blamed her for not looking after the Prince properly. 

The King of Tonga ordered the execution of Leutogi, and a fire was lit around her as the villagers watched on. Leutogi came to accept her fate, and began to sing a childhood song to bring her some peace. Out of nowhere, a cloud of bats swarmed across the village and extinguished the fire, wreaking havoc on the townsfolk in the process. 

The king feared for his life, and exiled Leutogi to a nearby uninhabited, barren island in the hope that she would starve to death. It was there that Leutogi’s status was elevated from princess to goddess. She became the Samoan goddess of bats and fertility, and is revered in both Tongan and Samoan folklore for her resilience, compassion, and perseverance. 

Bat Mythology

Leutogi longed to return to Samoa
Leutogi longed to return to Samoa

Bats play an important role in a number of mythologies and folktales around the world. For more other stories about bat gods, check out our other articles below:

Who was the Greek god of bats?

Dionysus turned the Minyades into bats as punishment
Dionysus turned the Minyades into bats as punishment

In Greek mythology, bats were associated with the underworld, and the main Greek deities associated with bats were Hades and Persephone. 

The Minyades (the three daughters of Minyas) also had a strong association with bats. This is because Dionysus punished the sisters for failing to worship him by turning them all into the winged mammal. 

Get in Touch

Do you know of any stories related to Leutogi? Perhaps you have another bat god that you’d like to share stories of. If so, let us know in the comment section below!

For any enquiries, contact me at richard@mythologyplanet.com

To research the story of Leutogi, I encountered the great video below from the YouTube channel ‘Legends From The Pacific’. If you have a moment, check them out and show them some love, they have all kinds of interesting folk tales from across the Pacific region. 

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