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In Greek mythology, Horkos (Greek: Ὅρκος, "oath")[1] personifies the curse that will be inflicted on any person who swears a false oath.[2] In his Works and Days, Hesiod states that the Erinyes (Furies) assisted at the birth of Horkos, "whom Eris bore, to be a plague on those who take false oath".[3]

Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as the son of Eris ("strife") and brother of Ponos ("toil"), Limos ("starvation"), the Algea ("pains"), the Hysminai ("fightings"), the Makhai ("battles"), the Phonoi ("murders"), the Androktasiai ("man-slaughters"), the Neikea ("quarrels"), the Pseudologoi ("lies"), the Amphilogiai ("disputes"), Dysnomia ("lawlessness"), Atë ("ruin"), and Lethe ("forgetfulness").[4]

One of Aesop's Fables tells the story of a man who took out a deposit from a friend with the intention of keeping it for himself. When the friend asked him to swear an oath regarding the deposit he recognised the danger and prepared to leave town, and while on the road he met a lame man who was also on his way out of town. When asked, the lame man said that he was Horkos (Oath), and that he was on his way to track down wicked people. The man asked Horkos how often he returned to the city, to which he replied, "I come back after forty years, or sometimes thirty." Believing himself to be free from danger, the man returned to his friend the following morning and without hesitation swore that he had never received the deposit. Within the day, Horkos had found him and dragged him to the edge of a cliff and, protesting, the man asked how the god could have said he was not coming back for thirty years when in fact he did not even grant him a day's reprieve. Horkos replied, "You also need to know that if somebody intends to provoke me, I am accustomed to come back again the very same day."[5]


  1. ^ ὅρκος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Hard, Robin and Jennings Rose, Herbert (2004). The Routledge handbook of Greek mythology. Routledge. p. 31. 
  3. ^ Evelyn-White, H.G. (trans.) (1914). Works and Days. p. 804. 
  4. ^ Evelyn-White, H.G. (trans.) (1914). The Theogony of Hesiod. p. 226. 
  5. ^ Gibbs, Laura (trans.) (2002). Aesop's Fables. Oxford University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-19-284050-9. 


  •  This article incorporates text from Theogony, by Hesiod, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, a publication from 1914 now in the public domain in the United States.

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