Eirene: Greek Goddess of Peace

Greek goddess of peace who was sheThe goddess of peace in Greek mythology is Eirene. She is the personification of peace and is likewise considered the goddess of peace and tranquility, and serenity. She is portrayed in art as a young woman holding various things, such as a torch or rhyton, a cornucopia, and a scepter. 

Keep scrolling down and learn more details about the Greek goddess who is worshipped not just by Greeks but also by Romans.

Who Is the Greek Goddess of Peace?

Eirene is the Greek goddess of peace and the spring season. She is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, the father of all the gods on Mount Olympus, and Themis, the goddess of justice and good counsel.

Eirene in The Illiad

Eirene was one of the members of the Horae, the deities of seasons and the natural portions of time, together with her sisters Dike, the goddess of justice, and Eunomia, the goddess of good order and lawful conduct.

Goddess of peace name can also be spelled “Irene” or “Irini.” Hora Thallo, which means “Green shoot,” was the epithet that Hesiod uses to describe her that links her to springtime, hence her being known as the goddess of spring.

Following Homer’s Iliad, the Horae are the keepers of the gates to Mount Olympus, such that Eirene is also believed to be a goddess of entrance ways and, in connection with the seasons, perhaps a gateway to the next season.

Eirene is a peacemaker and serves as an excellent balance to her fellow Greek gods and goddesses, whose jealousy and infidelities frequently caused disagreements and war. Eirene’s archetype is the ability to mediate between different groups. Additionally, she could quickly assess the situation, understand the point of view of both parties, and assist them in finding a middle ground where they can both agree to resolve their disputes.

Worship of Eirene

Athenians respected the goddess Eirene, in the same way, that Romans well regarded Pax. They built an altar for Eirene after a naval victory over Sparta in 375 BC. They did this to thank and honor her for the peace that resulted from winning the victory.

Although she was not counted as a major goddess of Greek mythology, she became an important one. They also initiated a cult, and after 371 BC, they honored her by performing an annual state sacrifice to her to celebrate the Common Peace.

In Agora of Athens, they constructed a dedicated statue to pay tribute to her. The goddess was portrayed carrying the child Plutus on her left arm. Plutus was the son of the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. The goddess was missing her right hand, which formerly held a wand. She can be seen staring affectionately at Plutus, who is gazing back at her. This statue symbolizes Plenty (Plutus) prospering under the care of Peace.

It was created by Cephisodotus the Elder, who was the father or uncle of the famous sculptor Praxiteles. The statue was made of bronze, and some citizens of Athens depicted it on coins and vases. Nonetheless, the figure is currently lost, although the Romans made a copy of it in marble.

The best surviving copies of it can be now found in Munich Glyptothek, which was initially in the Villa Abani collection located in Rome but was looted and brought to France by Napoleon I. The statue was taken back by Ludwig I of Bavaria after the fall of Napoleon I.

Meanwhile, the Romans first depicted Eirene’s Roman equivalent, Pax, on their coinage known as an Antonianus, minted in 137 BC. This was created to honor a treaty between Epirus and Rome following the Samnite wars and was issued during Emperor Maximian’s rule. However, they did not specifically use her image or her name; they only used the goddess’ symbols that time until after 44 BC. The coins appeared to have a woman surrounded by farm animals, whereas the other side showed the two soldiers facing each other while holding a sacrifice: a pig. She also appeared on the coinage with Emperor Augustus on the obverse side.

They also believe that the goddess was the patroness of prosperity and wealth because, at times of peace, people have the chance to plow the fields and can take part in trading, unlike during war, which creates famine and destruction just like what can still be seen today.

Political Connection

When Emperor Augustus established the new imperial cult, some believe that Pax could have been used more as a political image than an actual goddess. Emperor Augustus frequently used religious gatherings and events to impose his political messages. However, this approach was not a new concept. It traces its roots to Greek origins, having been used by Alexander the Great and afterward by Pompey and Julius Caesar.

Some territories in ancient Lusitania were renamed after the goddess of peace roman and Augustus himself; for instance, “Pax Julia” was renamed “Pax Augusta.” Augustus also tried to start a cult of Pax in provinces like Gaul and Spain. His rule highlighted the idea of peace for Roman citizens and for conquered peoples. He used this as a way of bringing harmony and strengthening his power.

The successors of the emperor during the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to use this concept, but the goddess’ image was slowly modified while Claudius was seated on the throne; Pax became more of a winged figure. However, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, the one who established the Flavian dynasty and ended the civil war of the “Year of the Four Emperors,” the worship of Pax continued.

This is where goddess Pax continued to be linked to the god Janus, as shown in the illustration of the temple Janus Quadrifons that can be found near the Forum Pacis. The closing of the gates was perceived as the end of the war and the beginning of peace. The temple was commissioned by Augustus during the first year of his reign.

Pax Romana

Pax and Augustus became closely associated with the period known as Pax Augusta, but later scholars labeled this as “Pax Romana.” The Pax Romana or the “Roman Peace” is the period from 27 BCE to 180 CE where the Roman Empire experienced a 200-year time of extraordinary peace and economic prosperity, which extended to their neighboring territories, such as Iraq in the east, England in the north, and Morocco in the south. Pax Romana means that stability and peace were attained through the power of the emperor to control turmoil in the empire and overcome foreign threats.

The period of Pax Romana is where the Roman Empire reached its climax in terms of land area and population. Its population was believed to have swelled to an estimated 70 million people. However, the government maintained stability, law, and order, and the citizens were secure.

This was when Rome saw several accomplishments and advances, especially in art and engineering. The Romans created an extensive system of roads to help maintain their growing empire. These roads expedited the movement of troops and facilitated communication. They also built aqueducts that carried water overland to cities and farms.

It is during the reign of Octavian when the Pax Romana began. Upon the death of Julius Caesar, civil war flared up in Rome. This is where the Second Triumvirate emerged, composed of Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian, who was the nephew of Julius Caesar.

This new triumvirate reigned in Rome for a decade, but conflicts eventually emerged, and Octavian defeated Lepidus and Antony. In 27 BCE, Octavian was triumphant and received the holy title of Augustus. He used the influence of the goddess Peace to lay the groundwork and achieve the harmony and stability of the Pax Romana.

If today’s idea of peace was the lack of war, chaos, and turmoil, it is believed that the Roman word for peace (Pax) can be seen as more of a treaty. This treaty resulted in the conclusion of the war and led to the surrender and submission to Roman superiority.

Roman Equivalent

Goddess Eirene from ancient Greek mythology has a Roman equivalent, the goddess Pax. Pax is the Latin word for “peace.” She is the personification of peace in Roman mythology. She was identified as the daughter of Jupiter, the Roman king god, and the goddess Justice. Pax is depicted in art holding olive branches as a peace offering, and a caduceus, cornucopia, scepter, and corn.

During the reign of Emperor Augustus, worshipping Pax became popular because the ruler used her imagery to make a political calm and help stabilize the empire after several years of chaos and civil war in the previous republic. Augustus erected an altar in the Campus Martius to worship her; it is called Ara Pacis or Ara Pacis Augustae, translated as the Altar of Augustan Peace.

The altar was commissioned by the Roman state on the fourth of July in 13 BC. The other reason behind this was to honor the return of Augustus to Rome after spending three years in Spain and Gaul. The monument was consecrated on January 30, 19 BC.

The Ara Pacis Augustae was initially located in the northern region of Rome and then re-assembled in its current location. It is now called the Museum of the Ara Pacis. The farm animals depicted on the Ara Pacis or the altar of goddess Eirene symbol show the abundance of food and animals during the period of Pax Romana.

Keeping the Peace

To sustain the peace that they are experiencing, Romans habitually sacrificed animals to Pax. The goddess was also portrayed with twins to represent the peace, harmony, and fruitfulness that was achieved through Pax Romana. In addition, every third of January, there was a festival that was held for Pax.

Emperor Vespasian also commissioned a great temple for her during his reign and called it Templum Pacis or Temple of Peace, which was also known as the Forum of Vespasian. It was built in 71 AD in Rome. It was located on the southeast side of the Argiletum, facing Velian Hill, toward the popular Colosseum. It was stated that Emperor Domitian was mainly responsible for the temple’s completion and not Vespasian. This subject remains controversial in the world of archeology nowadays.

Templum Pacis was considered part of the Imperial Fora or “a series of monumental fora (public squares) constructed in Rome over a period of one and a half centuries.” However, this was not formally considered a forum due to a lack of evidence that it served a political function; this is the reason why it is called a temple.

To be able to build this grandiose monument, it is said that Vespasian acquired funds by sacking Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman wars. The temple became important to Vespasian and vital to the publicity of the Emperor. It thus became a symbol of the peace and abundance that he brought to the empire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is the Goddess of Calm?

The goddess of calm is Galene in ancient Greek religion. She was a minor goddess personifying calm, calm weather, or calm seas. According to Hesiod, Galene was one of the 50 Nereids, the sea nymphs who were the daughters of Nereus, the “Old Man of the Sea,” and Oceanid Doris. However, according to Euripides, her parents were Pontus and Callimachus, and they referred to her as Galenaia or Galeneia.

Galene has a statue that was said by Pausanias to be an offering at the temple of Poseidon in Corinth, next to Thalassa. She also gained currency in the 18th century but was referred to as Galatea, her alternative name. She was also believed to be a maenad in a vase painting.

Who Is the Goddess of Joy?

Euphrosyne is the goddess of joy, mirth, and good cheer in ancient Greek mythology and religion. She was also called Euthymia or Eutychia. Her name is the female version of Euphrosynos, a Greek word that means merriment.

Euphrosyne has two sisters, Aglaea and Thalia. According to Hesiod, they were the daughters of the Greek god Zeus and Oceanid Eurynome. Another alternative parentage may be Helios and Naiad Aegle, Zeus and Eurymedousa or Euanthe, and Dionysus and Kronois. However, in other accounts, their parents were the primordial gods, Erebus, the personification of darkness, and Nyx, who personifies night.

Euphrosyne was one of the members of the Charites, the goddesses of charm, beauty, goodwill, and creativity. These goddesses were created to provide the world with goodwill and pleasant moments according to the Greek poet Pindar. They usually attended to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty.

In art, Euphrosyne was commonly illustrated as dancing with the other Charites, her sisters Thalia and Aglaea. One of the well-known pieces of the sculptor Antonio Canova in white marble representing the three Charites was given to Joh Russell, the sixth Duke of Bedford. Meanwhile, in 1766, the painter Joshua Reynolds painted Mrs. Mary Hale as Euphrosyne. In literature, John Milton invoked Euphrosyne in his poem “L’Allegro.”

Who Is the Goddess of Harmony?

In ancient Greek mythology, Harmonia is the immortal goddess who personifies harmony and agreement. Her Greek opposite is Eris, whereas her Roman counterpart is Concordia whose counterpart is Discordia.

Harmonia’s parents were Ares and Aphrodite, which was mentioned in one account. In other accounts, she was the daughter of Zeus and Electra and was from Samothrace, and her brother was Iason, the founder of the mystic rites that were celebrated on that island.

She was mentioned as the wife of Cadmus very often, which also described her as a Samothracian relating to Cadmus’ journey to Samothrace. Cadmus, after being initiated in the mysteries, saw Harmonia and carried her off with the help of Athena. They had children named Polydorus, Ino, Agave, Antonoe, Semele, and Illyrius.

Cadmus conquered the enemy from Illyria following his leaving in Thebes, and he became king of the Illyrians, but later, he was turned into a serpent. In Harmonia’s grief, she stripped herself and asked Cadmus to come to her. As Cadmus embraced her, the gods also turned her into a serpent, unable to stand looking at her in her bewildered state.

Conclusion

Eirene, the Greek goddess who personifies peace, was an important goddess in Athens during ancient times.Greek goddess of peace what was her name

  • Eirene is the Greek goddess who personifies peace.
  • The goddess of peace was worshipped by the Greeks.
  • The goddess Pax is Eirene’s Roman equivalent.
  • Pax was extensively used to achieve harmony in the Roman Empire.
  • Worshipping Pax greatly affected the political condition of the Roman Empire and inspired the end of a civil war, thus bringing back prosperity.

She was adopted by Romans through Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, who greatly influenced the political aspect of the empire and eventually made it triumphant.

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