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One of the Gray Sisters

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Enyo and her sister Pemphredo are called the Graiai ... the Gray Sisters ... so named because they were gray from birth.

Enyo and Pemphredo are ancient goddesses ... they are the daughters of Keto and Phorkys who were children of Pontos [Sea] and Gaia [Earth]. Other notable children of Keto and Phorkys are Medusa, Sthenno and Euryale, better known as the Gorgons.

There is some confusion as to the attributes and character of Enyo. The poet Hesiod insists that she is rather lovely and fair-cheeked ... in his poem Theogony, Enyo is said to be robed in saffron and her sister Pemphredo is clad in beauty ... according to Hesiod they were not ugly or hostile. However, when we encounter Enyo in the Iliad, she is leading the Trojans into battle with Ares [god of war] ... her fierce warcraft is compared to that of the Grim Goddess, Athene.

Seven hundred years after Homer and Hesiod gave their accounts of Enyo and Pemphredo, Apollodorus of Athens portrayed the Graiai as not only gray but old women from birth. There were now three sisters with the implication that there were more but they were not named. The three sisters that were named by Apollodorus were Deino, Enyo and Pemphredo ... they were hideous with only one tooth and one eye between them.

The Graiai reluctantly played a crucial role in the murder of their sister, Medusa. Without the forced assistance of the Graiai, Perseus would not have been able to decapitate Medusa ... the fact that he was a son of Zeus also played an important part in Perseus's success. Perseus presumably took the eye and tooth of the Graiai as ransom until they revealed the location of the Nymphs who could supply him with the Cap of Hades [to make him invisible], a pair of winged sandals [for flying] and a kibisis [a bag to carry Medusa's severed head] ... to complete his preparations, Perseus was given a sword [or sickle] by the god Hermes for the actual decapitation of Medusa. It seems rather odd that Enyo would betray Medusa in such a way but Perseus was a son of Zeus and nothing can stand between Zeus and his desires.

In her warlike manifestation, Enyo is often confused with the Roman goddess, Bellona.

Enyo in The Iliad

[from four different translations]

Richmond Lattimore

Loeb Classical Library

Robert Fagles

Robert Fitzgerald

Other Text References


Description of Greece by Pausanias

The Library by Apollodorus of Athens

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