Monday, 3 March 2014

The Daimones

 The Daimones are a strange class of divinities in the Greek religion, they are like immortal spirits or conscious personifications more than ‘gods’ or ‘goddesses’; this is not to say that a Daimon could not be classified or worshiped as a god as well (like all categories in Greek myth, there is a lot of leeway). Daemons can be male or female (Daimonoi) and are considered good (Daimones Agathoi) or harmful (Kako Daimones).   Many of the Kako Daimones were the spirits released from the jar given to Pandora.
Daimones can be personifications of emotions, or actions or of places.  The Nymphoi and male nature spirits such as the Satyroi could also be classified as types of Daimones. 

Many Daimones came into existence shortly after the creation of the universe, far before the Olympians and even the titans were born.  Daimones were not usually worshiped by the ancient Greeks though they were often called upon in ritual and day-to-day life and were often given offerings and poured libations, asking for blessings to the avoidance of ills.  Daimones also appear in poetry and writing where they are often used as literary tools and descriptive devices.

There are a very great many Daimones, some have well-formed personalities and have stories, families and even cult practices while others are little more than an idea.   Some are quite famous, others incredibly obscure.  The following are a random selection of twenty-five; chosen for no other reason then they caught my eye scrolling through the list…(well, except for Eris, I couldn’t leave her out).

  • Akhlys is the Daimonai of the mist that clouds over the eyes at death.  She is likely one of the many Daimon-children that Nyx bore, either on her own or with her consort Erebos. 
  • Ania is the Daimonai of grief and is another child of Nyx. 
  • The Arai are a type of Daimon, there are no set number of these beings, they are the spirits of curses and were invoked in spells.
  • Arete is the Daimonai of virtue and excellence.  She was the tutor of Herakles who fought for him against Kakia, the Daimonai of vice.
  • Deipheus is the Daimon of the preparation of bread for a meal, he is also an attendant of Demeter.  That there is a daemon for this action shows the importance of bread-making in early society.
  • Dysnomia is a daughter of Eris and is the Daimonai of lawlessness and the act of going against what is best for the community, where the community is understood to be the city-state, to which loyalty was of paramount in importance.
  • Eris is the Daimonai of discord and revels in causing strife among men and gods.  It was the slight of failing to invite her to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus that lead to the Trojan War and the death of countless men, heroes and demigods.
  • The Erotes are a class of Daimones that represent the various aspects of love.  They are often seen as winged youths and in later art cherubic infants armed with bows.  Some of the Erotes include Eros son of Ares and Aphrodite, Daimon of love and love-at-first-sight; Hymen the Daimon of marriage; Himeros of longing;  Hedylogos of sweet talk; and Anteros who is described as either the daimon of intense desire or revulsion. 
  • Euphosyne is the Daimonai of good cheer
  • Eusebia is the Daimonai of Piety
  • Horkos is the Daimon son of Eris who represents the punishment of perjury
  • Kalokagathia is the Daimonai of Nobility (both the virtue and of blood-right)
  • Keraon is the Daemon of mixing wine and an attendeant of Dionusos. 
  • Lita are a class of Daimonoi, they are the spirits of prayers
  • Luyssa is the Daimonai of rage
  • The Moiria are the three Daimonoi of  fate.  They are daughters of Nyx and among the oldest beings in the universe, even the gods are bound to their will.  They are Klotho who spins the threads of each life, Lakheis who decides the length of it and Atropos who cuts it.
  • Nemesis is the Daimonai of righteous justice , she portioned out happiness and sorrow and was the instrument by which the gods brought men low or raised them high.  
  • Nike is the winged Daimonai of Victory
  • Oneiroi are the Daemones of dreams and the son of the Daemon of sleep Hypnos.
  • Pistis is the Daemon of trust               
  • Poine is the Daemon of vengeance                 
  • Proioxis is the Daimonai of pursuit in battle, the drive that makes one run into battle even knowing it means death.  
  • Thantos is the Daemon of Death
  • Tykhe is the Daimonai of Fortune and is known much better in her Roman incarnation Lady Fortuna. 
  • Zelos , the Daemon of  rivalry who along with his sister Bia, Daimonai of violence sided with Zeus against the titans and in return were made his attendants.  He is the son of the titan Pallas and the River Styx.


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