Eurotas and Eos

Copyright vaggelis vlahos

Eurotas is a river god, King of Laconia, son of King Myles, and paternal grandson of King Lelex and Queen Cleocharia (who was also a Naiad). Unusually for a deity, he had a mortal lineage.

Though he didn’t have any male heirs, he and his wife, Queen Clete, had a daughter named Sparta. The famous city of Sparta was named for her, though it was alternately called Lacedaemon, after her husband and uncle.

In order to channel away the stagnant marsh water from the plain of Lacedaemon, Eurotas cut through the sea to create a canal, and named the resulting river after himself. This is the real-life Eurotas (a.k.a. Vrodamas) Canyon, a ravine wherein the river cuts through the foothills of the Taygetos Mountains, after shifting direction in the west of the valley.

The name Eurotas may be related to the word eurys (wide).

Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn, whose name fittingly means “dawn.” Her name in Roman mythology is Aurora, and Ushas in Vedic Hinduism. She appears in one of my all-time favouritest opening lines, in Volume II of The GULAG Archipelago:

“Rosy-fingered Eos, mentioned so often in Homer and called Aurora by the Romans, caressed, too, with those fingers the first early morning of the Archipelago.”

Every morning, Eos arose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, a Divine personification of the sea. Her siblings are Helios, god of the Sun, and Selene, goddess of the Moon. Her parents are Hyperion and Theia, both Titans. Since her parents are siblings, she only has one set of grandparents, Uranus and Gaia.

Eos is always described as having the abovementioned rosy fingers, with which she opened the gates of the heavens for the Sun to rise.  Homer describes her with a saffron robe embroidered or woven with flowers. On Attic (Ancient Greek) vases, she’s depicted as a beautiful woman with large wings and a tiara or diadem.

Eos was believed to be the creator of all the planets and stars, with her tears creating the morning dew. She had at least five children by two different men; among her children are Eosphoros (the Morning Star) and Zephyrus, Boreas, and Notus (the Winds). According to some traditions, Aphrodite cursed Eos to perpetually be in love after Eos slept with Aphrodite’s sweetheart Ares.

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2 thoughts on “Eurotas and Eos

  1. Pingback: A to Z Reflections 2017 « Onomastics Outside the Box

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