In Greek mythology, Eleos[pronunciation?] (Ancient Greek Ἔλεος m.) was the personification of pity, mercy, clemency, and compassion (not to be mistaken for Soteria). There is not one distinctive way to depict the goddess because she was seen as an entity rather than a person like that of Zeus and other popular gods and goddesses. The only factor that has stayed constant when depicted in art is that she is shown as a young woman with a blue veil or dress. The Athenians were her only worshippers. Statius states that "tears flow upon her altar", that she had no images in her likeness, and that she was only known to the needy. She was believed to be the child of Erebus and Nyx. Her brothers and sisters are thought to be:
- Hemera (Goddess of the day)
- Aither (God of light)
- Hypnos (God of sleep)
- Eris (Goddess of strife)
- Nemesis (Goddess of retribution)
- Eros (God of procreation)
- Apate (Goddess of deceit)
- Thanatos (God of non-violent death)
- Moros (God of doom)
- Momos (God of ridicule)
- Dolos (God of trickery)
- Oizys (Goddess of misery)
- Hybris (Goddess of insolence)
- Geras (God of old age)
- Philotes (Goddess of friendship)
- Sophrosyne (Goddess of moderation)
- Epiphron (God of prudence)
- Kharon (the ferryman of the dead)
- The Moirai (the Fates)
- The Erinyes (the Furies)
- The Keres (Goddesses of violent death)
- The Oneiroi (spirits of dreams)
- The Hesperides (Goddesses of the evening)
There was an altar in Athens dedicated to Eleos, at which children of Heracles sought refuge from Eurystheus' prosecution. Adrastus also came to this altar after the loss of the battle of Seven Against Thebes, praying that those who died in the battle be buried. Eleos was only recognized in Athens, where she was honored by the cutting of hair and the undressing of garments at the altar. Anyone who wanted to be Athens' ally had to approach her altar as a suppliant.
Eleos was depicted in few scripts and plays. One example is in "Odysseus's Bow", by Bay B. Boothe Jr.,Eleos is shown speaking to Zeus. She begs Zeus to show Odysseus mercy in his old age and to allow him to pass into the after life. Zeus reluctantly agrees and the Moirae is able to cut Odysseus' life string and he passes of old age.
In Roman mythology, Clementia was the goddess of forgiveness and mercy. Clementia was seen as a good trait within a leader, it also the Latin word for "humanity" or "forbearance". This is opposed to Saevitia which was savagery and bloodshed. She was the Roman counterpart of Eleos.
- (Goddesses of Justice): Astraea, Dike, Themis, Prudentia
- (Goddesses of Injustice): Adikia
- (Aspects of Justice): (see also: Triple deity/Triple Goddess (neopaganism))
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- Eleos at theoi.com
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- Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 17. 1
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- Scholia to Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, 258
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- "Odysseus's Bow." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
- "Clementia." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.
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