Document belonging to the Greek Mythology Link, a web site created by Carlos Parada, author of Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology
Characters • Places • TopicsImagesBibliographyPDF Editions
Copyright © 1997 Carlos Parada and Maicar Förlag.

Eirene 1

Eirene 1 (Peace), one of the HORAE, holds the child Plutus (Wealth).
8629: Eirene and Plutos. Kephisodotos, Roman copy of Greek original c. 370 BC. München Glyptothek (Royal Cast Collection, Copenhagen).

Eirene 1 is Peace.

Great blessing

The Titaness Themis is said to have laid down all laws and ordinances established by custom; this wisdom, some believe, she receives from Zeus while she sits leaning towards him in Olympus. From the union of these two, Eirene 1 (Peace), who is one of the Seasons or Hours, was born, having in her the heavenly qualities of what is calm, quiet and still. That is why Eirene 1, whom Zeus loves, provides always with gentleness. Since she attends the works of mortals, Eirene 1 has been called the fairest of the goddesses; and those who live according to her instructions dwell in ease, seeing their cities flourish, enjoying prosperity, and being loved by the gods. For Peace is regarded, along with her sisters Justice and Order (Eunomia), as the secure foundation of cities, and as the one who opens all gates leading to prosperity and anything derived from it. That is why artists has shown her as the nurse of Wealth, and poets have called her the nurse of Demeter, the MUSES' dearest friend, the great blessing of mankind, and the foe of all sorrows.

Lessons of Necessity

Yet, to those undeveloped in their tastes, she might appear as a boring goddess, deprived of every kind of excitement, and closing the way to Fame and even greater prosperity. And following these bizarre ideas, they may cast away all her blessings, and after banishing her, embark in war or other forms of wicked violence. But when Peace, who is brought by Love, leaves, and Zeus decrees war against the violent, they, falling under the compelling power of Necessity (Ananke), lose initiative in their own lives. And being forgotten by the MUSES, who depart with their friend, they must lead a life in ugliness. And he who takes his lessons from Peace, both without and within, is free from toil and grief, whereas those who banish her learn from sorrows and Necessity, who knows no law. And when a whole land casts Peace away it founds itself in an upside-down world:

"In peace sons bury their fathers, in war fathers bury their sons." (Herodotus, History 1.87.4).

… with different signals and sounds:

"In peace the sleeper is waked not by the trumpet, but by the cock." (Plutarch, Parallel Lives Nicias 9.5).

… although it is also said that the cocks are those who:

"… arouse us for battle by inducing an eagerness for valour." (Plutarch, Moralia 1049a).

But regardless of the role of the cocks during peace-time and war-time, some have noticed that even though it is the young who are buried in war, it is nevertheless they who want war, whereas the elderly, tamed by Old Age, usually prefer Peace. For Youth, they believe, relying mainly on strength, easily gives herself to violent dealings.

Peace disturbed

War itself may be called necessary or inevitable, but it is seldom called desirable. That is why those who, right or wrong, by necessity or by ambition, advocate for war, proclaim at the same time that war must be, not for its own sake but for the sake of Peace, just as business is for the sake of leisure, or necessary things for the sake of higher things. Everyone knows that war is followed by Peace and yet, it has been remarked, there are such states that survive war but perish in peace-time or fall into disorder on account of the inability of their citizens to properly employ leisure, which is to business as Peace is to war. For peaceful leisure, they add, which is the enjoyment of prosperity, tend to make them insolent. And since insolence contributes to disturb Peace, it has been deemed desirable and of the utmost importance, that those who enjoy prosperity and are therefore more influential, be self-restrained, compassionate and just:

"The evil workings of Envy are warded off, if a man who attains the summit and dwells in peace escapes dread arrogance." (Pindar, Pythian Odes 11.55).

For Peace cannot be without Justice, and none of them will remain if disorder prevails. That is why the three sisters Eirene 1, Dike and Eunomia are often mentioned in the same breath; and when one leaves, the others follow. These three sisters are venerated practically by all. For it is never declared that it is a good thing to scorn Justice, destroy Peace, or live in disorder. Yet some apparently believe that the goddesses can be separately worshipped, since it is heard, for example, that Peace must be banished for the sake of Justice, or that Justice must be suspended in order to preserve Order. This is an illusion, and a most peculiar way of looking at things, since the three sisters are inseparable. And that is why those who in practical life separate them, sensing the abnormality of their own way of thinking, present that separation as a provisional or unwanted state of affairs, yet necessary in order to better serve the three goddesses at a later time. For no matter how much someone goes in practical life against these goddesses, he will still claim to serve and worship them, since the immense power of Peace and her sisters, prevents anybody from denying them, or even talking against them. Yet some have affirmed that these are not goddesses, and they prefer to call them "abstractions," saying that these are not personal deities, but properties inherent in ourselves, or objects of our desire. Their view, however, has no practical relevance, and leads no farther; for they are nevertheless bound to serve and worship the abstractions, as if they were deities. And it is as difficult to investigate the nature of these abstractions as it is to investigate the nature of the gods.

Another with identical name

Eirene 2 was a woman of Calaurea, the island (Poros) in the entrance of the Saronic Gulf off the Argolid coast. She was daughter of Poseidon and Melantheia, daughter of the river god Alpheus.




Apd.1.3.1; Cic.ND.3.61; Eur.Supp.485; Hes.The.902; Hyg.Fab.183; Ov.Fast.1.704; Pin.Oly.13.7.