0

Which are considered the Greek god counterparts for day and night? For daybreak and nightfall?

From what I've gathered:

  • Day/Night: Hemera/Nyx
  • Daybreak/Nightfall: Eos/Astraeus

But then, where do the Hesperides fit in? They seem to represent the same thing (nightfall) as Astraeus. How are they different than Astraeus? Also, do the Hesperides have a daybreak counterpart the way Astraeus does?

1 Answer 1

3

When talking about Ancient Greek (and Roman) beliefs, it's sometimes important to separate the god of something from a personification of that thing. For example, Hades and Persephone are deities who have power over death, while Thanatos is the personification of death itself; Apollo is a god with solar associations (depending on the time period), while Helios literally is the sun.

Hemera and Nyx are mainly personifications. Hemera is just the Ancient Greek word for "day", and Nyx is the Ancient Greek word for "night". These entities were Day and Night, rather than gods who had power over day and night, and are sometimes better translated that way. There's not much mythology about them, and it's unclear if they were really worshipped.

Astraeus and Eos are borderline, sometimes treated as deities in their own right, and sometimes as personifications of nightfall and daybreak. (Homer, for example, refers to Eos in both ways.) There are indications that they were actually given offerings and such, at least in some time periods.

The Hesperides, finally, are mostly associated with their Garden. There was no ancient consensus about what their individual names were, or even how many they were; what's important is that they tend the garden with the magical golden apples, far off in the west. Their name means "Children of Evening" or "Children of the West" and some authors will link them to different aspects of the sunset, evening, or the west, but like most nymphs they're a literary device more than anything else. Some authors may have invented opposite nymphs to represent aspects of morning, but I'm not aware of any that ever became as famous as the Hesperides.

2
  • Just beginning my mythology journey. I wasn't aware of this personification/god distinction. Very helpful. As a follow-up, are you aware of a Greek "god of" day/night, or did the Greeks only have personifications?
    – lowndrul
    Jun 23 at 17:57
  • 1
    @lowndrul In some eras, Apollo and Artemis were associated with day and night respectively (like how they were associated with the sun and moon), but I'm not aware of a god who specifically ruled over them the way Poseidon ruled over the sea. From a cultural perspective, the Greek gods tend to rule over things that are unpredictable: storms, the sea, death. Storms seem to strike randomly, so it makes sense to ask Zeus not to destroy you specifically—but night and day are constants and no amount of prayer will change them.
    – Draconis
    Jun 23 at 18:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.