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Iris

Ιρις

The Wind-Footed Goddess

Iris

Goddess of the Rainbow
Iris and Styx
Iris and the Birth of Apollon
Iris and Demeter
Iris and the Trojan War
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Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris is the daughter of Thaumas (a son of the Sea) and the Okeanid, Elektra (Electra), and sister of the Harpies (Okypete (Ocypete) and Aello). She flies upon the wind and moves like a blast of bright air. Her primary role is to be the messenger of the Immortals, especially Zeus. She is called 'The Rainbow, Iris' thus implying that her presence is a sign of hope or perhaps symbolizing a bridge from heaven to earth.

Iris and the Harpies

When Jason and the Argonauts were seeking the Golden Fleece, they came to the island of the blind seer, Phineus, who was being punished by having the Harpies steal his food. Two of the sons of Boreas (North Wind), Kalais (Calais) and Zetes set a trap for the Harpies but the bird-like sisters were very swift and the winged brothers could only claw at the fleeing women with their fingertips. Iris rushed into the fray and chided the brothers for trying to harm the Harpies because they were there to punish Phineus at the behest of Zeus and it was not the heroes' duty to hurt them. Iris swore a sacred oath on the river Styx that if the brothers would stop their pursuit of her sisters, Phineus would no longer be tormented. Thus Phineus, although he was still blind, was freed from one aspect of his curse and allowed to eat once more in peace. In the Catalogues of Women, the author states that Hesiod credits Hermes, and not Iris, for turning Kalais and Zetes away from the Harpies.

Iris and Styx

Few of the Immortals ever venture to the home of the dreaded Oath River, Styx, but when the need arises, Iris goes to Styx for a pitcher of her scared water so the gods of Mount Olympos (Olympus) can pour the water and swear their most binding oaths.

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Iris and the Birth of Apollon

When Leto was ready to give birth to Apollon, she was attended by many of the goddesses but the goddess of Childbirth, Eileithyia (Eilithyia), was deliberately distracted by Hera so that she would not know of Leto's needs. Leto was in labor for nine days and nights before the goddesses in attendance sent Iris to Mount Olympos to fetch Eileithyia. Iris drew Eileithyia aside so that Hera would not interfere and told her Leto's plight. Eileithyia immediately went to Leto … Apollon was born without further delay. Hera did not prevent the birth of Apollon but she managed to make Leto suffer needlessly as punishment for Zeus's infidelity.

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Iris and Demeter

Most of the Immortals took the word of Iris as the commandment of Zeus but one of the few occasions where the goddess was rebuffed was when Iris begged Demeter to put aside her anger and rejoin the eternal gods on Mount Olympos. Zeus had arranged the kidnapping of Demeter's daughter, Persephone, and Iris was the first goddess he sent to try and placate Demeter's anger. One by one, the gods and goddesses went to Demeter but it was her mother, Rheia (Rhea), who finally convinced her that her best chance of seeing Persephone again was to return to Mount Olympos as Zeus wished.

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Iris and the Trojan War

Iris played a significant role in the Trojan War but not as a fighter or meddler … she faithfully relayed the will of Zeus to the other Immortals who were fighting and meddling. Sometimes she would assume the guise of a man or woman and at other times she would reveal herself in all her glory.

After Aphrodite had been wounded by the vicious attack of Diomedes, Iris rushed to her side and assisted her into Ares's war chariot so that the injured goddess might escape further harm.

Iris took no side in the war and advised both armies as Zeus commanded. She helped the Trojan commander, Hector and likewise his most hated enemy, Achilles with equal faithfulness … Iris relayed tactical information to Hector about how to best delegate authority in his diverse army … she also helped Achilles by going to the house of Boreas (North Wind) to ask the Winds to desist so Achilles could light the funeral pyre of his fallen companion, Patroklos (Patroclus).

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The Romans had a goddess named Iris and she was also identified with the rainbow but the Roman Iris had a distinctly negative countenance and was the portent of sadness and doom.

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