Eos

Eos (Greek Ηώς, or Έως “dawn”) is, in Greek mythology, the Titanic goddess[1] of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the Ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the sun.

The Greek worship of the dawn as a goddess is believed to be inherited from Indo-European times. The name Eos is cognate to Latin Aurora, to Vedic Ushas and to English Easter.

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[edit] Eos in Greek literature

As the dawn goddess, Eos opened the gates of heaven[2] (with “rosy fingers”) so that Helios could ride his chariot across the sky every day. In Homer (Iliad viii.1; xxiv.695), her yellow robe is embroidered or woven with flowers (Odyssey vi:48 etc); rosy-fingered and with golden arms, she is pictured on Attic vases as a supernaturally beautiful woman, crowned with a tiara or diadem and with the large white-feathered wings of a bird.

Quintus Smyrnaeus pictured her exulting in her heart over the radiant horses (Lampos and Phaithon) that drew her chariot, amidst the bright-haired Horae, the feminine Hours, climbing the arc of heaven and scattering sparks of fire (Posthomerica 1.48).

She is most often associated with her Homeric epithet “rosy-fingered” (rhododactylos), but Homer also calls her Eos Erigeneia:

“That brightest of stars appeared, Eosphoros, that most often heralds the light of early-rising Dawn (Eos Erigeneia).”
Odyssey 13.93

Hesiod wrote: “And after these Erigeneia [“Early-born”] bore the star Eosphoros (“Dawn-bringer”), and the gleaming stars with which heaven is crowned.”

Theogony 378-382

Thus Eos, preceded by the Morning Star (Venus), is seen as the genetrix of all the stars and planets; her tears are considered to have created the morning dew, personified as Ersa or Herse.

[edit] Genealogy

Eos is the daughter of Hyperion and Theia (or Pallas and Styx) and sister of Helios the sun and Selene the moon, “who shine upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven” Hesiod told in Theogony (371-374). The generation of Titans preceded all the familiar deities of Olympus, who supplanted them.

[edit] Lovers

Eos is free with her favors and had many consorts, both among the generation of Titans and among the handsomest mortals. With Astraios, she bore all the winds and stars. Her passion for the Titan Orion was unrequited. Eos kidnapped Cephalus, Clitus, Ganymede, and Tithonus to be her lovers. Eos’ most faithful consort was Tithonus, from whose couch the poets imagine her arising. When Zeus stole Ganymede from her to be his cup-bearer, she asked for Tithonus to be made immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus indeed lived forever but grew more and more ancient, eventually turning into a cricket.

In the more restrictive Hellenic world, Apollodorus, a later Greek poet, claimed, in an anecdote rather than a myth, that her disgraceful abandon was a torment from Aphrodite, who found her on the couch with Ares.[3]

[edit] Children

Eos and the slain Memnon on an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 490–480 BCE, the so-called

Eos and the slain Memnon on an Attic red-figure cup, ca. 490–480 BCE, the so-called “Memnon Pietà” found at Capua (Louvre).

According to Hesiod (Theogony 984ff) by Tithonus Eos had two sons, Memnon and Emathion. Memnon fought among the Trojans in the Trojan War and was slain. Her image with the dead Memnon across her knees, like Thetis with the dead Achilles and Isis with the dead Osiris, are icons that inspired the Christian Pietà.

The abduction of Cephalus had special appeal for an Athenian audience because Cephalus was a local boy,[4] and so this myth element appeared frequently in Attic vase-paintings and was exported with them. In the literary myths[5] Eos kidnapped Cephalus when he was hunting and took him to Syria. The second-century CE traveller Pausanias was informed that the abductor of Cephalus was Hemera, goddess of Day.[6] Although Cephalus was already married to Procris, Eos bore him three sons, including Phaeton and Hesperus, but he then began pining for Procris, causing a disgruntled Eos to return him to her — and put a curse on them. in Hyginus’ report[7] telling Cephalus accidentally killed Procris some time later after he mistook her for an animal while hunting; in Ovid’s Metamorphoses vii, Procris, a jealous wife, was spying on him and heard him singing to the wind, “Aura”, but thought he was serenading his ex-lover Aurora (Eos).

[edit] Etruscan interpretations

Among the Etruscans, the generative dawn-goddess was Thesan. Depictions of the dawn-goddess with a young lover became popular in Etruria in the fifth century, probably inspired by imported Greek vase-painting.[8] Though Etruscans preferred to show the goddess as a nurturer (Kourotrophos) rather than an abductor of young men, the late Archaic sculptural acroterion from Etruscan Cære (Cerveteri), now in Berlin, showing the goddess in archaic running pose adapted from the Greeks, and bearing a boy in her arms, has commonly been identified as Eos and Cephalus.[9] On an Etruscan mirror Thesan is shown carrying off a young man, whose name is inscribed TINTHU[N].[10]

[edit] Roman interpretation

Eos depicted in a painting entitled Dawn by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1881.

Eos depicted in a painting entitled Dawn by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1881.

Her Roman equivalent is Aurora, her Etruscan equivalent is Thesan. The Dawn became associated in Roman cult with Matuta; later known as Mater Matuta she was also associated with the sea harbors and ports. She had a temple on the Forum Boarium. On June 11, the Matralia was celebrated at that temple in honor of Mater Matuta; this festival was only for women in their first marriage.

[edit] List of consorts and children

The following are lovers of Eos, described in various myths, and her children by them.

  1. With Astraios
    1. Boreas
    2. Eurus
    3. Eosphoros
    4. Hesperos
    5. Notus
    6. All the stars/planets
    7. Zephyrus
  2. With Tithonus
    1. Emathion
    2. Memnon
  3. With Cephalus
    1. Phaëton
    2. Tithonos
  4. With Zeus
    1. Ersa
    2. Carae

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