Horae

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In Greek mythology the Horae or Hours (Greek: Ὧραι, Hōrai, "seasons") were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. [1] They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddessess of order in general and natural justice. "They bring and bestow ripeness, they come and go in accordance with the firm law of the periodicities of nature and of life", Karl Kerenyi observed: "Hora means 'the correct moment'."[2] Traditionally they guarded the gates of Olympus, promoted the fertility of the earth, and rallied the stars and constellations.

The course of the seasons was also symbolically described as the dance of the Horae, and they were accordingly given the attributes of spring flowers, fragrance and graceful freshness. For example, in Hesiod's Works and Days, the fair-haired Horai, together with the Charites and Peitho crown Pandora—she of "all gifts"— with garlands of flowers.[3] Similarly Aphrodite, emerging from the sea and coming ashore at Cyprus, is dressed and adorned by the Horai,[4] and, according to a surviving fragment of the epic Cypria,[5] Aphrodite wore clothing made for her by the Charites and Horai, dyed with spring flowers, such as the Horai themselves wear.

The number of Horae varied according to different sources, but was most commonly three, either the trio of Thallo, Auxo and Carpo, who were goddesses of the order of nature; or Eunomia, Diké, and Eirene, who were law-and-order goddesses.

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The earliest written mention of horai is in the Iliad where they appear as keepers of Zeus's cloud gates.[6] "Hardly any traces of that function are found in the subsequent tradition," Karl Galinsky remarked in passing.[7] They were daughters of Zeus and Themis, half-sisters to the Moirae.[8] The Horae are mentioned in two aspects in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns. In one variant emphasizing their fruitful aspect, Thallo, Auxo, and Carpo—the goddesses of the three seasons the Greeks recognized: spring, summer and autumn—were worshipped primarily amongst rural farmers throughout Greece. In the other variant, emphasising the "right order" aspect of the Horai, Hesiod says that Zeus wedded "bright Themis" who bore Eunomia, Diké, and Eirene, who were law-and-order goddesses that maintained the stability of society. They were worshipped primarily in the cities of Athens, Argos and Olympia.

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