World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Iris (mythology)

Article Id: WHEBN0000086020
Reproduction Date:

Title: Iris (mythology)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Herakles (Euripides), 7 Iris, Eros, Harpy, The Birds (play)
Collection: Deities in the Iliad, Greek Goddesses, Messenger Goddesses, Rainbow
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Iris (mythology)

Iris
Goddess of the Rainbow
Morpheus and Iris, by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, 1811
Abode Not specified
Symbol rainbow
Consort Zephyrus
Parents Thaumas and Electra
Siblings Arke, Aello, Celaeno and Ocypete
Children Pothos
Roman equivalent Arcus
Iris, by Luca Giordano
Iris stands behind the seated Juno (right) in a Pompeii fresco

In Greek mythology, Iris (; Greek: Ἶρις)[1] is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. She is also known as one of the goddesses of the sea and the sky. Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other,[2] and into the depths of the sea and the underworld.

Contents

  • In classical literature 1
    • Epithets 1.1
  • Representation 2
  • Derivations 3
    • In language 3.1
    • Namesake 3.2
    • Artwork 3.3
    • Fictional adaptations 3.4
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

In classical literature

According to Hesiod's Theogony, Iris is the daughter of Thaumas and the cloud nymph Electra. Her sisters are Arke and the Harpies; Aello, Celaeno, and Ocypete.

Iris is frequently mentioned as a divine messenger in the Iliad which is attributed to Homer, but does not appear in his Odyssey, where Hermes fills that role. Like Hermes, Iris carries a caduceus or winged staff. By command of Zeus, the king of the gods, she carries an ewer of water from the River Styx, with which she puts to sleep all who perjure themselves. According to Apollonius Rhodius, Iris turned back the Argonauts Zetes and Calais who had pursued the Harpies to the Strophades ('Islands of Turning'). The brothers had driven off the monsters from their torment of the prophet Phineus, but did not kill them upon the request of Iris, who promised that Phineus would not be bothered by the Harpies again.

Winged female figure holding a caduceus: Iris (messenger of the gods) or Nike (Victory)

Iris is married to Zephyrus, who is the god of the west wind. Their son is Pothos (Nonnus, Dionysiaca). According to the Dionysiaca of Nonnos, Iris' brother is Hydaspes (book XXVI, lines 355-365).

In Euripides' play Heracles, Iris appears alongside Lyssa, cursing Heracles with the fit of madness in which he kills his three sons and his wife Megara. In some records she is a sororal twin to the Titaness Arke (arch), who flew out of the company of Olympian gods to join the Titans as their messenger goddess during the Titanomachy, making the two sisters enemy messenger goddesses. Iris was said to have golden wings, whereas Arke had iridescent ones. She is also said to travel on the rainbow while carrying messages from the gods to mortals. During the Titan War, Zeus tore Arke's iridescent wings from her and gave them as a gift to the Nereid Thetis at her wedding, who in turn gave them to her son, Achilles, who wore them on his feet. Achilles was sometimes known as podarkes (feet like [the wings of] Arke.) Podarces was also the original name of Priam, king of Troy.

Iris also appears several times in Virgil's Aeneid, usually as an agent of Juno. In Book 4, Juno dispatches her to pluck a lock of hair from the head of Queen Dido, that she may die and enter Hades. In book 5, Iris, having taken on the form of a Trojan woman, stirs up the other Trojan mothers to set fire to four of Aeneas' ships in order to prevent them from leaving Sicily.

Epithets

Iris had numerous poetic titles and epithets, including Chrysopteron (Golden Winged), Podas ôkea (swift footed) or Podênemos ôkea (wind-swift footed), Roscida (dewey), and Thaumantias or Thaumantos (Daughter of Thaumas, Wondrous One). Under the epithet Aellopus (Ἀελλόπους) she was described as swift-footed like a storm-wind.[3] She also watered the clouds with her pitcher, obtaining the water from the sea.

Representation

Iris is represented either as a rainbow, or as a beautiful young maiden with wings on her shoulders. As a goddess, Iris is associated with communication, messages, the rainbow and new endeavors.

Derivations

In language

  • The word iridescence is derived in part from the name of this goddess.
  • The adjective for a rainbow is iridal.
  • "Arco iris" and "arco-íris" are the words for "rainbow" in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, where "Arco" means "bow" in English.
  • The iris of the eye is named after her, to reflect the many colours of the eye.

Namesake

Artwork

  • In 1946, Iris was depicted on a 50-franc airmail stamp in France. This was accompanied the same year by a 40-franc airmail stamp depicting a centaur shooting an arrow into the sky.

Fictional adaptations

See also

Notes

  1. ^ R. S. P. Beekes has rejected previous Indo-European derivations and suggested a Pre-Greek one (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 598).
  2. ^ The Iliad, Book II, "And now Iris, fleet as the wind, was sent by Jove to tell the bad news among the Trojans."
  3. ^ Homer uses the form Ἀελλόπος, Iliad viii. 409

References

  • Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, 1996, ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Iris" pp. 237–238
  • Peyré, Yves, "Iris." 2009. In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology (2009-), ed. Yves Peyré. http://www.shakmyth.org/myth/129/iris
  • Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Iris"

External links

  • "Iris" from Theoi.com
  • Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns, and Homerica by Hesiod (English translation at Project Gutenberg)
  • The Iliad by Homer (English translation at Project Gutenberg)
  • The Argonautica, by c. 3rd century BC Apollonius Rhodius (English translation at Project Gutenberg)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.