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Personification of Old age
Pelike Geras Louvre G234.jpg
Geras, detail of an Attic red-figure pelike, c. 480–470 BC, Louvre
Personal information
ParentsNyx[1] and Erebus[2]
SiblingsMoros, Keres, Thanatos, Hypnos, Oneiroi, Oizys, Hesperides, Moirai, Nemesis, Apate, Philotes, Momus, Eris, Styx, Dolos, Ponos, Euphrosyne, Epiphron, Continentia, Petulantia, Misericordia, Pertinacia
Roman equivalentSenectus

In Greek mythology, Geras /ˈɪərəs/ (Ancient Greek: Γῆρας, romanizedGễras), also written Gēras, was the god of old age. 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.


According to Hesiod, Geras was a son of Nyx.[3] Hyginus adds that his father was Erebus.[4]

Hesiod's account[edit]

And Nyx (Night) bore hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bore Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery) and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bore the Moirai (Destinies) and ruthless avenging Keres (Death Fates), Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos, who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bore Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Apate (Deceit) and Philotes (Friendship) and hateful Geras (Age) and hard-hearted Eris (Strife).[5]

Hyginus's account[edit]

From Nox/Nyx (Night) and Erebus [were born]: Fatum/Moros (Fate), Senectus/Geras (Old Age), Mors/Thanatos (Death), Letum (Dissolution), Continentia (Moderation), Somnus/Hypnos (Sleep), Somnia/Oneiroi (Dreams), Amor (Love)—that is Lysimeles, Epiphron (Prudence), Porphyrion, Epaphus, Discordia/Eris (Discord), Miseria/Oizys (Misery), Petulantia/Hybris (Wantonness), Nemesis (Envy), Euphrosyne (Good Cheer), Amicitia/Philotes (Friendship), Misericordia/Eleos (Compassion), Styx (Hatred); the three Parcae/Moirai (Fates), namely Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos; the Hesperides.[6]

Cicero's account[edit]

Their [Aether and Hemera's] brothers and sisters, whom the ancient genealogists name Amor/Eros (Love), Dolus (Guile), Metus/Deimos (Fear), Labor/Ponus (Toil), Invidentia/Nemesis (Envy), Fatum/Moros (Fate), Senectus/Geras (Old Age), Mors/Thanatos (Death), Tenebrae/Keres (Darkness), Miseria/Oizys (Misery), Querella/Momus (Complaint), Gratia/Philotes (Favour), Fraus/Apate (Fraud), Pertinacia (Obstinacy), the Parcae/Moirai (Fates), the Hesperides, the Somnia/Oneiroi (Dreams): all of these are fabled to be the children of Erebus (Darkness) and Nox/Nyx (Night).[7]


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.[8] 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.[9][10] 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".[11]


  1. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 225
  2. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface; Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.17
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 225
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface
  5. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 211–255
  6. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface
  7. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.17
  8. ^ "The Internet Classics Archive | The Odyssey by Homer". Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  9. ^ For an example of this, see Homer, The Odyssey, 24.33-34
  10. ^ Thomas, C. G. (1966). "The Roots of Homeric Kingship". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. 15 (4): 387–407. ISSN 0018-2311. JSTOR 4434948.
  11. ^ "Definition of GERIATRIC". Retrieved 16 December 2021.