Geras

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Geras, detail of an Attic red-figure pelike, c. 480–470 BC, Louvre

In Greek mythology, Geras /ˈɪərəs/ (Ancient Greek: Γῆρας, romanizedGễras), also written Gēras, was the god of old age. According to Hesiod, Geras was a son of Nyx.[1] Hyginus adds that his father was Erebus.[2] He was depicted as a tiny, shriveled old man. Gēras's opposite was Hebe, the goddess of youth. His Roman equivalent was Senectus. He is known primarily from vase depictions that show him with the hero Heracles; the mythic story that inspired these depictions has been lost.

Geras as embodied in humans represented a virtue: the more gēras a man acquired, the more kleos (fame) and arete (excellence and courage) he was considered to have. In ancient Greek literature, the related word géras (γέρας) can also carry the meaning of influence, authority or power; especially that derived from fame, good looks and strength claimed through success in battle or contest. Such uses of this meaning can be found in Homer's Odyssey, throughout which there is an evident concern from the various kings about the géras they will pass to their sons through their names.[3] The concern is significant because kings at this time (such as Odysseus) are believed to have ruled by common assent in recognition of their powerful influence, rather than hereditarily.[4][5] The Greek word γῆρας (gĕras) means "old age" or in some other literature "dead skin" or "slough of a snake"; this word is the root of English words such as "geriatric".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hesiod. Theogony, 225.
  2. ^ Hyginus, Preface.
  3. ^ "The Internet Classics Archive | The Odyssey by Homer". classics.mit.edu. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  4. ^ For an example of this, see Homer, The Odyssey, 24.33-34
  5. ^ Thomas, C. G. (1966). "The Roots of Homeric Kingship". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. 15 (4): 387–407. ISSN 0018-2311. JSTOR 4434948.
  6. ^ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/geriatric