Primal Elements (page 9, with art)

Chapter 1: The Early Gods

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Hesiod, Aspis (Shield of Herakles248-57

And behind them the dusky Fates, gnashing their white fangs, lowering, grim, bloody, and unapproachable, struggled for those who were falling, for they all were longing to drink dark blood. So soon as they caught a man overthrown or falling newly wounded, one of them would clasp her great claws about him, and his soul would go down to Hades to chilly Tartarus. And when they had satisfied their souls with human blood, they would cast that one behind them, and rush back again into the tumult and the fray. Greek Text

Chest of Kypselos from temple of Hera at Olympia (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)

Pausanias Description of Greece 5.19.6

Polyneices, the son of Oedipus, has fallen on his knee, and Eteocles, the other son of Oedipus, is rushing on him. Behind Polyneices stands a woman with teeth as cruel as those of a beast, and her fingernails are bent like talons. An inscription by her calls her Doom [Ker], implying that Polyneices has been carried off by fate, and that Eteocles fully deserved his end. Greek Text

Detail with Eteokles, Polyneikes and a Ker, from reconstruction of chest of Kypselos by W. von Massow, “Die Kypseloslade,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung vol. 41 (1916), pl. 1.

Kypria fr 9 PEG Poetae Epici Graeci 1, pp. 49-50, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig, 1987.

Philodemos fr 10 PEG – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, pp. 50-51, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig, 1987.

Homer, Iliad 4.440-43

and Discord that rageth incessantly, sister and comrade of man-slaying Ares; she at the first rears her crest but little, yet thereafter planteth her head in heaven, while her feet tread on earth. Greek Text

Homer, Iliad 11.3-14

and Zeus sent forth Strife unto the swift ships of the Achaeans, dread Strife, bearing in her hands a portent of war. And she took her hand by Odysseus’ black ship, huge of hull, that was in the midst so that a shout could reach to either end, both to the huts of Aias, son of Telamon, and to those of Achilles; for these had drawn up their shapely ships at the furthermost ends, trusting in their valour and the strength of their hands. There stood the goddess and uttered a great and terrible shout, a shrill cry of war, and in the heart of each man of the Achaeans she put great strength to war and to fight unceasingly. And to them forthwith war became sweeter than to return in their hollow ships to their dear native land. Greek Text

Homer, Iliad 24.27-30

but they continued even as when at the first sacred Ilios became hateful in their eyes and Priam and his folk, by reason of the sin of Alexander, for that he put reproach upon those goddesses when they came to his steading, and gave precedence to her who furthered his fatal lustfulness. Greek Text

Kypria, Epitome pp. 38-39 PEG – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig, 1987.

Loukianos DMar 7.1Dialogi Marini (Dialogues of the Sea-gods)



Galene, did you see what Eris did yesterday at the Thessalian banquet, because she had not had an invitation?

No, I was not with you; Posidon had told me to keep the sea quiet for the occasion. What did Eris do, then, if she was not there?

Thetis and Peleus had just gone off to the bridal chamber, conducted by Amphitrite and Posidon, when Eris came in unnoticed—which was easy enough; some were drinking, some dancing, or attending to Apollo’s lyre or the Muses’ songs—Well, she threw down a lovely apple, solid gold, my dear; and there was written on it, FOR THE FAIR. Greek Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 92

JUDGMENT OF PARIS: Jove is said to have invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis all the gods except Eris, or Discordia. When she came later and was not admitted to the banquet, she threw an apple through the door, saying that the fairest should take it. Juno, Venus, and Minerva claimed the beauty prize for themselves. Latin Text

ApE 3.2 – Apollodoros, Epitome

For one of these reasons Strife threw an apple as a prize of beauty to be contended for by Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Greek Text

Pausanias 5.19.2

Ajax is fighting a duel with Hector, according to the challenge, and between the pair stands Strife [Eris] in the form of a most repulsive woman. (Greek Text).

Detail with Hektor, from reconstruction of chest of Kypselos by W. von Massow, “Die Kypseloslade,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung vol. 41 (1916), pl. 1.

Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum St 1807: Attic red-figure calyx krater with Eris and Themis at Judgment of Paris

General view and detail of Eris and Themis from Compte-rendu de la Commission Impériale Archéologique pour l’année 1861: Atlas (St. Petersburg 1862), pl. 3.

Beazley Archive Pottery Database


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#Eris, #Ker

Artistic sources edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, October 2017

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, University of Georgia, June 2020

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