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Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Page: 76

The Keres, who are frequently mentioned by Homer, were the goddesses who delighted in the slaughter of the battle-field.

ATE.

Ate, the daughter of Zeus and Eris, was a divinity who delighted in evil.

Having instigated Hera to deprive Heracles of his birthright, her father seized her by the hair of her head, and hurled her from Olympus, forbidding her, under the most solemn imprecations, ever to return. Henceforth she wandered among mankind, sowing dissension, working mischief, and luring men to all actions inimical to their welfare and happiness. Hence, when a reconciliation took place between friends who had quarrelled, Ate was blamed as the original cause of disagreement.

MOMUS.

Momus, the son of Nyx, was the god of raillery and ridicule, who delighted to criticise, with bitter sarcasm, the actions of gods and men, and contrived to discover in all things some defect or blemish. Thus when Prometheus created the first man, Momus considered his work incomplete because there was no aperture in the breast through which his inmost thoughts might be read. He [150]also found fault with a house built by Athene because, being unprovided with the means of locomotion, it could never be removed from an unhealthy locality. Aphrodite alone defied his criticism, for, to his great chagrin, he could find no fault with her perfect form.[50]

In what manner the ancients represented this god is unknown. In modern art he is depicted like a king's jester, with a fool's cap and bells.

EROS (Cupid, Amor) AND PSYCHE.

According to Hesiod's Theogony, Eros, the divine spirit of Love, sprang forth from Chaos, while all was still in confusion, and by his beneficent power reduced to order and harmony the shapeless, conflicting elements, which, under his influence, began to assume distinct forms. This ancient Eros is represented as a full-grown and very beautiful youth, crowned with flowers, and leaning on a shepherd's crook.

In the course of time, this beautiful conception gradually faded away, and though occasional mention still continues to be made of the Eros of Chaos, he is replaced by the son of Aphrodite, the popular, mischief-loving little god of Love, so familiar to us all.

In one of the myths concerning Eros, Aphrodite is described as complaining to Themis, that her son, though so beautiful, did not appear to increase in stature; whereupon Themis suggested that his small proportions were probably attributable to the fact of his being always alone, and advised his mother to let him have a companion. Aphrodite accordingly gave him, as a playfellow, his younger brother Anteros (requited love), and soon had the gratification of seeing the little Eros begin to grow and thrive; but, curious to relate, this desirable result only continued as long as the brothers remained together, for the moment they were separated, Eros shrank once more to his original size.

[151]

By degrees the conception of Eros became multiplied and we hear of little love-gods (Amors), who appear under the most charming and diversified forms. These love-gods, who afforded to artists inexhaustible subjects for the exercise of their imagination, are represented as being engaged in various occupations, such as hunting, fishing, rowing, driving chariots, and even busying themselves in mechanical labour.


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