Agathodaemon

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Roman marble sculpture of Agathodaemon restored with an unrelated head, as "Antinous Agathodaemon", purchased in Rome ca. 1760, (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)[1]

In ancient Greek religion, Agathos Daimon or Agathodaemon (Greek: ἀγαθὸς δαίμων, "noble spirit") was a daemon or presiding spirit of the vineyards and grainfields and a personal companion spirit, [2] [3] similar to the Roman genius, ensuring good luck, health, and wisdom.

Classical period[edit]

Though he was little noted in Greek mythology (Pausanias conjectured that the name was a mere epithet of Zeus),[4] he was prominent in Greek folk religion;[5] it was customary to drink or pour out a few drops of unmixed wine to honor him in every symposium or formal banquet. In Aristophanes' Peace, when War has trapped Peace (Εἰρήνη Eirene) in a deep pit, Hermes comes to give aid: "Now, oh Greeks! is the moment when, freed of quarrels and fighting, we should rescue sweet Eirene and draw her out of this pit... This is the moment to drain a cup in honor of the Agathos Daimon." A temple dedicated to him was situated on the road from Megalopolis to Maenalus in Arcadia.[6]

Agathos Daimon was the spouse or companion of Tyche Agathe (Τύχη Ἀγαθή "Good Fortune"; Latin, and dialect, Agatha); "Tyche we know at Lebadeia as the wife of the Agathos Daimon, the Good or Rich Spirit."[7] His numinous presence could be represented in art as a serpent or more concretely as a young man bearing a cornucopia and a bowl in one hand, and a poppy and an ear of grain in the other. The agathodaemon was later adapted into a general daemon of fortuna, particularly of the continued abundance of a family's good food and drink.

Late antiquity[edit]

In the syncretic atmosphere of Late Antiquity, Agathodaemon (Koine Greek: Ἀγαθοδαίμων) could be bound up with Egyptian bringers of security and good fortune: a gem carved with magic emblems bears the images of Serapis with crocodile, sun-lion and Osiris mummy surrounded by the lion-headed snake Cnum–Agathodaemon–Aion, with Harpocrates on the reverse.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The torso of an Apollo was found in the Tiber at Rome and was restored as an Antinous with a head found separately; it was purchased through Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi, about 1760; formerly exhibited in the Neues Palais, Potsdam (Arachne Projekt); noted in Karl Otfried Müller, Nouveau manuel complet d'archéologie ou traité sur les antiquités grecques... (1841:vol. I:298) and in Bouillon II:51.
  2. ^ Hor. Ep. ll, 2, 187.
  3. ^ Tibull. IV, 8
  4. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, viii. 36. § 3
  5. ^ Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Folk Religion. (Columbia University Press), 1981:33, 70, 73.
  6. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Agathodaemon", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1, Boston, p. 65 
  7. ^ Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 3rd ed. 1922:355ff, 543.
  8. ^ Illustrated in W. Fauth, Helios Megistos: zur synkretistischen Theologie der Spätantike (Leiden: Brill) 1995:85.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Theoi.com: Greek and Latin sources in translation