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. 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 Horae dancing with other goddesses.
The Hours in the Iliad
[from four different translations]
- Iliad - book 5, lines 749 and 750 - Hera laid the lash swiftly on the horses; and moving of themselves groaned the gates of the sky that the Hours guarded, those Hours to whose charge is given the huge sky and Olympos, to open up the dense darkness or again to close it.
- Iliad - book 8, lines 393 and 394 - Hera laid the lash swiftly on the horses; and moving of themselves groaned the gates of the sky that the Hours guarded, those Hours to whose charge is given the huge sky and Olympos, to open up the dense darkness or again to close it.
- Iliad - book 8, line 433 - So she [Hera] spoke [to Athene], and turned back again her single-foot horses, and the Hours set free their [Hera's and Athene's] flowing-maned horses from the harness, and tethered them at their mangers that were piled with ambrosia and leaned the chariot against the shining inward wall.
Loeb Classical Library
- Iliad - book 5, line 749 - And Hera swiftly touched the horses with the whip, 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.
- Iliad - book 8, line 393 - And Hera swiftly touched the horses with the whip, 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.
- Iliad - book 8, line 433 - So she [Hera] spoke [to Athena], and turned back her single-hoofed horses. Then the Hours unyoked for them [Hera and Athena] their fair-maned horses, and tethered them at their ambrosial mangers, and leaned the chariot against the bright entrance wall ...
- Iliad - book 5, line 859 - A crack of the whip—the goddess Hera lashed the team, and all on their own force the gates of heaven thundered open, kept by the Seasons, guards of the vaulting sky and Olympus heights empowered to spread the massing clouds or close them round once more.
- Iliad - book 8, line 449 - A crack of the whip—the goddess Hera lashed the team, and all on their own force the gates of heaven thundered open, kept by the Seasons, guards of the vaulting sky and Olympus heights empowered to spread the massing clouds or close them round once more ...
- Iliad - book 8, line 498 - So she [Hera] complied [with Zeus's command] and turned their [Hera's and Athena's] racers back. The Seasons loosed the purebred sleek-maned team, tethered them to their stalls, piled on ambrosia and leaned the chariot up against the polished walls that shimmered in the sun.
- Iliad - book 5, line 856 - Then at the crack of Hêra's whip over the horses' backs, the gates of heaven swung wide of themselves on rumbling hinges—gates the Hours keep, for they have charge of entry to wide heaven and Olympos, by opening or closing massive cloud.
- Iliad - book 8, line 444 - Hêra flicked at the horses with her whip, and 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.
- Iliad - book 8, line 488 - And she [Hêra] turned the horses back. Then acting for the goddesses [Hêra and Athêna] the Hours unharnessed those fine horses with long manes and tied them up at their ambrosial troughs. Against the glittering wall they stood the car, its tilted pole upended ...
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, and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Kronos, 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 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 ...
- fragment 6, line 3 - She [Aphrodite] clothed herself with garments which the Graces and Hours had made for her and dyed in flowers of spring — such flowers as the Hours wear — in crocus and hyacinth and flourishing violet and the rose's lovely bloom, so sweet and delicious, and heavenly buds, the flowers of the narcissus and lily. In such perfumed garments is Aphrodite clothed at all seasons.
Homeric Hymn to Apollon III
- line 194 - Meanwhile the rich-tressed Graces and cheerful Hours dance with Harmonia and Hebe and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, holding each other by the wrist.
The Histories by Herodotus
- book 8.77 - They [the Greeks] then were making their preparations [against the Persians] thus in the night without having taken any sleep at all: and with regard to oracles, I am not able to make objections against them that they are not true, for I do not desire to attempt to overthrow the credit of them when they speak clearly, looking at such matters as these which here follow:
- "But when with ships they shall join the sacred strand of the goddess,
- Artemis golden-sword-girded, and you, wave-washed Kynosura,
- Urged by a maddening hope, having given rich Athens to plunder,
- Then shall Dike [Justice] divine quell Riot, of Insolence firstborn,
- Longing to overthrow all things and terribly panting for bloodshed:
- Brass shall encounter with brass, and Ares the sea shall empurple,
- Tinging its waves with the blood: then a day of freedom for Hellas
- Comes from wide-seeing Zeus and from Nike [Victory], lady and mother."
- Looking to such things as this, and when Bakis speaks so clearly, I do not venture myself to make any objections about oracles, nor can I admit them from others.
Description of Greece by Pausanias
- Pausanias - book 1 [Attica], 40.4 - After this when you have entered the precinct of Zeus called the Olympieum you see a note worthy temple. But the image of Zeus was not finished, for the work was interrupted by the war of the Peloponnesians against the Athenians, in which the Athenians every year ravaged the land of the Megarians with a fleet and an army, damaging public revenues and bringing private families to dire distress. The face of the image of Zeus is of ivory and gold, the other parts are of clay and gypsum. The artist is said to have been Theokosmos, a native, helped by Pheidias. Above the head of Zeus are the Hours and Fates, and all may see that he is the only god obeyed by Destiny, and that he apportions the seasons as is due. Behind the temple lie half-worked pieces of wood, which Theokosmos intended to overlay with ivory and gold in order a complete the image of Zeus.
- Pausanias - book 1 [Attica], 8.2 - After the statues of the eponymoi come statues of gods, Amphiaraus, and Eirene [Peace] carrying the boy Plutus [Wealth]. Here stands a bronze figure of Lykurgos [the Athenian orator], son of Lykophron, and of Kallias, who, as most of the Athenians say, brought about the peace between the Greeks and Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes. Here also is Demosthenes, whom the Athenians forced to retire to Kalauria, the island off Troezen, and then, after receiving him back, banished again after the disaster at Lamia.
- Pausanias - book 2 [Corinth], 13.3 - I will now add an account of the most remarkable of their famous sights. On the Phliasian citadel is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary that from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorities call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions [Iliad, book 4, lines 2 ff. - Loeb, Lattimore, Green translations] in the duel between Menelaos and Alexandros [Paris], saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Hell [Odyssey, book 11, line 603 - Loeb, Lattimore translations], that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen [a poet with no extant works], in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Hours, and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honors that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants.
- Pausanias - book 2 [Corinth], 17.4 - The statue of Hera is seated on a throne; it is huge, made of gold and ivory, and is a work of Polykleitos. She is wearing a crown with Graces and Hours worked upon it, and in one hand she carries a pomegranate and in the other a scepter. About the pomegranate I must say nothing, for its story is somewhat of a holy mystery. The presence of a cuckoo seated on the scepter they explain by the story that when Zeus was in love with Hera in her maidenhood he changed himself into this bird, and she caught it to be her pet. This tale and similar legends about the gods I relate without believing them, but I relate them nevertheless.
- Pausanias - book 2 [Corinth], 20.5 - A little farther on is a sanctuary of the Hours. On coming back from here you see statues of Polyneikes, the son of Oedipus, and of all the chieftains who with him were killed in battle at the wall of Thebes. These men Aeschylus has reduced to the number of seven only, although there were more chiefs than this in the expedition, from Argos, from Messene, with some even from Arkadia. But the Argives have adopted the number seven from the drama of Aeschylus, and near to their statues are the statues of those who took Thebes: Aigialeus, son of Adrastus; Promachos, son of Parthenopaeus, son of Talaus; Polydoros, son of Hippomedon; Thersander; Alkmaeon and Amphilochus, the sons of Amphiaraus; Diomedes, and Sthenelus. Among their company were also Euryalos, son of Mekisteus, and Adrastus and Timeas, sons of Polyneikes.
- Pausanias - book 3 [Lakonia], 18.10 - It is supported in front, and similarly behind, by two Graces and two Hours. On the left stand Echidna and Typhaon, on the right Tritons. To describe the reliefs one by one in detail would have merely bored my readers; but to be brief and concise, for the greater number of them are not unknown either, Poseidon and Zeus are carrying Taygete, daughter of Atlas, and her sister Alkyone. There are also reliefs of Atlas, the single combat of Herakles and Kyknos, and the battle of the Centaurs at the cave of Pholos.
- Pausanias - book 3 [Lakonia], 19.4 - On the altar are also Demeter, the Maid [Persephone], Pluto [Hades], next to them Fates and Hours, and with them Aphrodite, Athene and Artemis. They are carrying to heaven Hyakinthos and Polyboea, the sister, they say, of Hyakinthos, who died a maid. Now this statue of Hyakinthos represents him as bearded, but Nikias [fl. 320 BCE], son of Nikomedes, has painted him in the very prime of youthful beauty, hinting at the love of Apollon for Hyakinthos of which legend tells.
- Pausanias - book 3 [Lakonia], 19.5 - Wrought on the altar is also Herakles; he too is being led to heaven by Athene and the other gods. On the altar are also the daughters of Thestius, Muses and Hours. As for the Zephyros [West Wind], how Apollon unintentionally killed Hyakinthos, and the story of the flower, we must be content with the legends, although perhaps they are not true history.
- Pausanias - book 5 [Elis 1], 11.7 - On the uppermost parts of the throne Pheidias has made, above the head of the image, three Graces on one side and three Hours on the other. These in epic poetry [Theogony, line 901] are included among the daughters of Zeus. Homer too in the Iliad [book 5, lines 470 ff. - Loeb, Lattimore, Green translations] says that the Hours have been entrusted with the sky, just like guards of a king's court. The footstool of Zeus, called by the Athenians thranion, has golden lions and, in relief, the fight of Theseus against the Amazons, the first brave deed of the Athenians against foreigners.
- Pausanias - book 5 [Elis 1], 15.3 - Well, there is in the Altis, when you are about to pass to the left of the Leonidaeum, an altar of Aphrodite, and after it one of the Hours. About opposite the rear chamber a wild olive is growing on the right. It is called the olive of the Beautiful Crown, and from its leaves are made the crowns, which it is customary to give to winners of Olympic contests. Near this wild olive stands an altar of Nymphs; these too are styled Nymphs of the Beautiful Crowns.
- Pausanias - book 5 [Elis 1], 17.1 - These things, then, are as I have already described [the purification rituals of the Elean umpires for the Games of the Maidens]. In the temple of Hera is an image of Zeus, and the image of Hera is sitting on a throne with Zeus standing by her, bearded and with a helmet on his head. They are crude works of art. The figures of the Hours next to them, seated upon thrones, were made by the Aeginetan Smilis [circa 580-540 BCE]. Beside them stands an image of Themis, as being mother of the Horae. It is the work of Dorykleidas, a Lakedaemonian by birth and a disciple of Dipoenus and Skyllis.
- Pausanias - book 7 [Achaea], 5.9 - There is also in Erythrae a temple of Athene Polias and a huge wooden image of her sitting on a throne; she holds a distaff in either hand and wears a firmament on her head. That this image is the work of Endoeus we inferred, among other signs, from the workmanship, and especially from the white marble images of Graces and Hours that stand in the open before the entrance. A sanctuary too of Asklepios was made by the Smyrnaeans in my time between Mount Koryphe and a sea into which no other water flows.
- Pausanias - book 8 [Arkadia], 31.3 - By the side of Demeter there is also a Herakles about a cubit high. This Herakles, says Onomakritos in his poem, is one of those called Idaean Daktyls. Before it stands a table, on which are carved in relief two Hours, Pan with pipes, and Apollon playing the harp. There is also an inscription by them saying that they are among the first gods.
Library of History by Diodorus Siculus
- book 1.96.9 - And near these regions, they say, are also the "Shades," which is a temple of Hekate, and "portals" of Kokytos and Lethe, which are covered at intervals with bands of bronze. There are, moreover, other portals, namely, those of Aletheia [Truth], and near them stands a headless statue of Dike [Justice].
- book 5.72.5 - To Zeus also were born, they say, the goddesses Aphrodite and the Graces, Eileithyia [goddess of childbirth] and her helper Artemis, the Horae [Hours], as they are called, Eunomia [Harmony] and Dike [Justice] and Eirene [Peace], and Athene and the Muses, and the gods Hephaistos and Ares and Apollon, and Hermes and Dionysos and Herakles.
- book 5.73.6 - And as for the Hours, as they are called, to each of them, according as her name indicates, was given the ordering and adornment of life, so as to serve to the greatest advantage of mankind; for there is nothing which is better able to build a life of felicity than obedience to law [Eunomia] and justice [Dike] and peace [Eirene].
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