Personification of Starvation
|Member of the Family of Eris|
|Siblings||Lethe, Ponos, Algos, Hysminai, Machai, Phonoi, Androktasiai, Neikea, Amphillogiai, Pseudea, Logoi, Dysnomia, Atë, Horkos|
Limos (//; Ancient Greek: Λιμός means 'starvation'), Roman Fames //, is the "sad" goddess or god of starvation, hunger and famine in ancient Greek religion. They were opposed by Demeter, goddess of grain and the harvest with whom Ovid wrote Limos could never meet, and Plutus, the god of wealth and the bounty of rich harvests.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, Limos is the child of the goddess Eris ("Discord"), who was the daughter of Nyx ("Night"). Limos' siblings include Toil (Ponos), Forgetfulness (Lethe), Stories (Logoi), Lies (Pseudea), Oaths (Horkos), Quarrels (Neikea), Disputes (Amphillogiai), Manslaughters (Androktasiai), Battles (Hysminai) and Wars (Makhai), Anarchy (Dysnomia), Pains (Algea), and Ruin (Ate).
- And hateful Eris bore painful Ponos ("Hardship"),
- Lethe ("Forgetfulness") and Limos ("Starvation") and the tearful Algea ("Pains"),
- Hysminai ("Battles"), Makhai ("Wars"), Phonoi ("Murders"), and Androktasiai ("Manslaughters");
- Neikea ("Quarrels"), Pseudea ("Lies"), Logoi ("Stories"), Amphillogiai ("Disputes")
- Dysnomia ("Anarchy") and Ate ("Ruin"), near one another,
- and Horkos ("Oath"), who most afflicts men on earth,
- Then willing swears a false oath.
The gender of Limos is not consistent in surviving literature. The gender of Limos seems to have varied depending on dialect, as it was feminine in Doric Greek and masculine in Attic Greek, and accordingly personified as a goddess in Sparta. In a temple of Apollo at Amyclae, near Sparta, Limos was presented with a woman's form. as she was in the temple of Athena Chalcioecus, in Sparta. Callimachus, who preserves one of the versions of Limos' only notable myth, has the deity as a male one. What the gender of this deity would be to Homer is indeterminable.
The Roman poets, who wrote in Latin, used the feminine noun Fames.
Sentinel of Hades
In Virgil's Aeneid, Limos is one of a number of spirits and monsters said to stand at the entrance to the Underworld. Seneca the Younger writes that she "lies with wasted jaw" by Cocytus, the Underworld river of lamentation.
They walked exploring the unpeopled night,
Through Pluto's vacuous realms, and regions void,
As when one's path in dreary woodlands winds
Beneath a misty moon's deceiving ray,
When Jove has mantled all his heaven in shade,
And night seals up the beauty of the world.
In the first courts and entrances of Hell
Luctus/ Penthus (Sorrows) and vengeful Curae (Cares) on couches lie:
There sad Senectus/ Geras (Old Age) abides, Morbus/ Nosos (Diseases) pale,
And Metus/ Deimos (Fear), and Fames/ Limos (Hunger), temptress to all crime;
Egestas/ Aporia (Want), base and vile, and, two dread shapes to see,
Labor/ Ponos (Bondage) and Letum/ Thanatos (Death): then Sopor/ Hypnos (Sleep), Death's next of kin;
And Gaudia (Dreams of Guilty Joy). Death-dealing Bellum/ Polemos (War)
Is ever at the doors, and hard thereby
The Eumenides'/ Furies' beds of steel, where wild-eyed Discordia/ Eris (Strife)
Her snaky hair with blood-stained fillet binds.
The foul pool of Cocytus' sluggish stream lies here;
here the vulture, there the dole-bringing owl utters its cry,
and the sad omen of the gruesome screech-owl sounds.
The leaves shudder, black with gloomy foliage
where sluggish Sopor/ Hypnos (Sleep) clings to the overhanging yew,
where sad Fames/ Limos (Hunger) lies with wasted jaws,
and Pudor/ Aedos (Shame), too late, hides her guilt-burdened face.
Metus/ Deimos (Dread) stalks there, gloomy Pavor/ Phobos (Fear) and gnashing Dolor/ Algos (Pain),
sable Luctus/ Penthus (Grief), tottering Morbus/ Nosos (Disease)
and iron-girt Bella/ Enyo (War); and last of all slow
Senectus/ Geras (Old Age) supports his steps upon a staff.
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Limos is said to make her home in a freezing and gloomy wasteland at the farthest edge of Scythia, where the soil is barren and nothing grows. Demeter seeks her opposite's help there after being angered by the Thessalian king Erysichthon, who cut down a grove that was sacred to the goddess. By way of an oread nymph (as the two can never meet in person), Demeter bids Limos curse Erysichthon with never-ending hunger. The nymph beholds the fearsome spirit in a stony field:
Her hair was coarse, her face sallow, her eyes sunken; her lips crusted and white; her throat scaly with scurf. Her parchment skin revealed the bowels within; beneath her hollow loins jutted her withered hips; her sagging breasts seemed hardly fastened to her ribs; her stomach only a void; her joints wasted and huge, her knees like balls, her ankles grossly swollen.
Limos does as Demeter commands; at midnight she enters Erysichthon's chamber, wraps the king in her arms and breathes upon him, "filling with herself his mouth and throat and lungs, and [channeling] through his hollow veins her craving emptiness". Thereafter, Erysichthon is filled with an unquenchable hunger which ultimately drives him to eat himself.
|Look up Limos in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Hesiod, Theogony 227
- Ovid (1998). Metamorphoses. Translated by Melville, A.D. (trans.). Oxford University Press. pp. 195–197.
- Hesiod, Theogony 227
- Caldwell, p. 42 lines 226-232, with the meanings of the names (in parentheses), as given by Caldwell, p. 40 on lines 212–232.
- Hesiod, Theogony 226–232 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Kilarski, pp 72-73
- Hopkinson, p. 135
- West 1966, p. 231
- Hodkinson and Powell, p. 102
- A Latin Dictionary s.v. fames
- Virgil (1916). Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Translated by Fairclough, H.G. Harvard University Press.
- Virgil, Aeneid 276
- Seneca the Younger (1917). Seneca: Tragedies. Translated by Frank Justus. Harvard University Press.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens 691
- Virgil, Aeneid 268–281
- Seneca, Hercules Furens 686–696
- Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.791 ff.
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- West, Martin, Theogony: Edited with Prolegomena and Commentary by M. L. West, 1966, Clarendon Press.