Harmony, Justice and Peace
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 (Olymous). 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 in The Iliad
(listed by book and line from four different translations)
- 05.749 - As Hera lashed her horses to leave Mount Olympos, moving of themselves groaned the gates of the sky that the Hours guarded
- 05.750 - The Hours are charged with the huge sky and Olympos, to open up the dense darkness or again to close it
- 08.393 - As Hera lashed her horses to leave Mount Olympos, moving of themselves groaned the gates of the sky that the Hours guarded
- 08.394 - The Hours are charged with the huge sky and Olympos, to open up the dense darkness or again to close it
- 08.433 - When Hera returned to Mount Olympos in her chariot, the Hours freed her horses from the harness and put them in their mangers which was piled with ambrosia and leaned the chariot against the shining inward wall
Loeb Classical Library
- 05.749 - As Hera lightly whipped her horses to leave Mount Olympus, and of themselves groaned on their hinges the gates of heaven which the Hours had in their keeping, to whom are entrusted great heaven and Olympus, whether to throw open the thick cloud or shut it
- 08.393 - As Hera lightly whipped her horses to leave Mount Olympus, and of themselves groaned on their hinges the gates of heaven which the Hours had in their keeping, to whom are entrusted great heaven and Olympus, whether to throw open the thick cloud or shut it
- 08.433 - When Hera returned to Mount Olympos in her chariot, the Hours unyoked her horses and tethered them at their ambrosial mangers and leaned the chariot against the bright entrance wall
- 05.859 - As Hera lashed her team to leave Mount Olympus, and on their own force the gates of heaven thundered open, kept by the Seasons, guarding the vaulting sky and Olympus heights, empowered to spread the massing clouds or close them round once more
- 08.449 - As Hera lashed her team to leave Mount Olympus, and on their own force the gates of heaven thundered open, kept by the Seasons, guarding the vaulting sky and Olympus heights, empowered to spread the massing clouds or close them round once more
- 08.498 - When Hera returned to Mount Olympos in her chariot, the Hours loosed the purebred team and tethered them to their stalls, piled on ambrosia and leaned the chariot against the polished walls
- 05.856 - As Hera cracked her whip over her horses' backs to leave Mount Olympus, the gates of heaven swung wide of themselves on rumbling hinges, the gates which the Hours keep, for they have charge of entry to wide heaven and Olympos, by opening or closing the massive cloud
- 08.444 - As Hera flicked at her horses with her whip in order to leave Mount Olympus, moving of themselves the gates of heaven grated a rumbling tone; their keepers are the Hours by whom great heaven and Olympos may be disclosed or shut with looming cloud
- 08.488 - When Hera returned to Mount Olympos in her chariot, the Hours unharnessed the fine horses and tied them up at their ambrosial troughs and leaned the chariot against the glittering wall
Other Text References
- line 901 - Zeus married Themis who bare the Hours: Eunomia, Dike and blooming Eirene, who mind the works of mortal men
Works and Days
- line 213 (Dike) - Dike (Justice) beats Gbrios (Outrage) when she comes at length to the end of the race
- line 220 (Dike) - There is a noise when Dike (Justice) is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgments, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her.
- line 228 (Eirene) - But they who give straight judgments to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it; Eirene (Peace), the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them.
- line 256 (Dike) - And there is virgin Dike (Justice), the daughter of Zeus, who is honored and reverenced among the gods who dwell on Olympos (Olympus), and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Kronos (Cronos), and tells him of men's wicked heart, until the people pay for the mad folly of their princes who, evilly minded, pervert judgment and give sentence crookedly.
- line 275 (Dike) - But you, Perses, lay up these things within your heart and listen now to Dike (Justice), ceasing altogether to think of violence.
- line 278-279 (Dike) - For the son of Kronos (Cronos) has ordained this law for men, that fishes and beasts and winged fowls should devour one another, for Dike (Justice) is not in them; but to mankind he gave Dike which proves far the best.
- line 283 (Dike) - For whosoever knows the right and is ready to speak it, far-seeing Zeus gives him prosperity; but whoever deliberately lies in his witness and forswears himself, and so hurts Dike (Justice) and sins beyond repair, that man's generation is left obscure thereafter.
Catalogue of Women
(Loeb Classical Library vol. 503, Hesiod II)
- fragment 155.144 - (very fragmented) ... it lies there ... Seasons bore ... and he will delight ...