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The Hours



Harmony, Justice and Peace

The Hours

Hours in The Iliad [reference]
Other Text References
Immortals Index
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The Hours [Horae] are the three daughters of Zeus and Themis ... Eunomia [Harmony], Dike [Justice] and Eirene [Peace].

The Hours assist their father Zeus by organizing the seasons and adding balance to nature ... for that reason, they are sometimes called the Seasons. Just as their names imply, the Hours give harmony, justice and peace to all who honor and respect them ... there is however the potential for divine wrath for those who ignore their authority. As the daughters of Zeus, the Hours hold considerable influence over the way their father rewards and punishes his subject mortals.

One of the responsibilities of the Hours is the security of the vast sky and Mount Olympos. The Hours guard Mount Olympos with a dark veil and open and close the gates of the sky for the Immortals as they travel to and from their domains.

Of the three Hours, it would seen that Dike is the most important because without Justice, there can be no Harmony or Peace. Zeus has promised that the leaders of cities and states who give straight judgments will flourish and have prosperity but those who do not deal justly with their people and their neighbors will be afflicted with cruel wars and in addition to having to live lives of hardship, the wrongdoers will be further punished by having their descendants become obscure.

The personal relationships of the Hours with the other Immortals are only partially revealed in the Iliad. We see the Hours personally attending Hera when they open the gates of the sky as the goddess zooms from her home on Mount Olympos to Mount Ida to distract Zeus from the battle for Troy.

There are several examples of the proper ways to honor the Hours in Greek literature. The poet Hesiod wrote the poem Works and Days as a way to offer advice to his younger brother, Perses. Hesiod mentions all types of practical ways to become a good farmer and neighbor but one of the most touching bits of advice he gives to Perses is to "listen now to Dike, ceasing altogether to think of violence." What better way to approach any problem?

The Athenian comic poet Aristophanes was celebrated for his biting wit but he also had some poignant moments embedded in his plays. In the play Eirene [Peace], Aristophanes has the goddess trapped in a pit and then rescued by the play's chorus who are representative of the people of Greece. When Eirene is finally free, she will not speak to the people ... she whispers to Hermes and then he relates her words to the audience. The symbolism is hard to miss ... after Eirene has been betrayed one time too many she will no longer favor us with her life sustaining voice.

The Hours

The Horae dancing with other goddesses.

The Hours in the Iliad

[from four different translations]

Richmond Lattimore

Loeb Classical Library

Robert Fagles

Robert Fitzgerald



Other Text References


Works and Days

Catalogue of Women

[Loeb Classical Library vol. 503, Hesiod II]


Homeric Hymn to Apollon III

The Histories by Herodotus

Description of Greece by Pausanias

Library of History by Diodorus Siculus

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