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according to Wikipedia, Ananke is

the personification of inevitability, compulsion and necessity. She is often depicted holding a spindle. One of the Greek primodorial deities, Ananke marks the beginning of the cosmos along with her father and consort, Chronos, the personification of time. She is also the mother of the Fates.

Is there a Greek god/goddess/deity of freedom. Or is freedom a peculiarly modern Western concept that has no purchase on the ancient Greek imagination and so no personification of such?

If so, what is the closest approximation?

  • Great question. I'd say that the Western concept of freedom arises from Ancient Greece! (See my answer) – DukeZhou Jan 17 '18 at 18:20
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Freedom is definitely an important concept in Ancient Greece, which is reflected in the status of independent city-states throughout it's early history (prior to Athenian hegemony, Alexander, Roman Empire, etc.) The word democracy is based on the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule by the people". This freedom was, of course, qualified, and only extended fully to landowners.

See: ἐλευθερία, ἐλευθ-ερία, ἐλευθ-έρια (festival)

The name is said to be an epithet of Artemis, who was quite free in the sense that she was the goddess of the wilderness, and never subject to a husband's rule. Similarly, Eleutheria has been linked to Aphrodite, also quite unrestrainable.

Libertas is the Roman equivalent, and was the inspiration for Lady Liberty.


Eleuthereus is also an epithet of Dionysus, as the one who "sets free" Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.38.8, referring to his ecstatic rites.

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As DukeZhou mentions, the Statue of Liberty is partly modeled on the Greek Goddess Eleutheria, who personifies liberty. The Goddess, Libertas, is the Roman variant.

Lady Liberty’s name comes from the Roman goddess Libertas, but she had a Greek precursor, the goddess Eleutheria (meaning “freedom” or “liberty” in Greek). Zeus in his role as protector of political freedom also was known as Zeus Eleutherios (“Zeus the Liberator”), in whose name a stoa at the Agora in Athens was built after deliverance from the Persians. Eleutheria was actually an epithet of Artemis, for whom we have much mythology, but no mythology in her aspect as Eleutheria survives, only her face on some coins.
SOURCE: Independence Day Mythology: Our Goddess Liberty

This was the goddess people brought their slaves to before freeing them:

Having escorted the Republic into being, her role then evolved into one of overseeing the manumission of slaves. In the city of Rome, the master would take his slave before the Temple of Liberty, where a Roman official pronounced the slave free while touching him with a rod called the vindicta, in honor of Vindicus.
SOURCE: ibid.

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