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Kerostasy - weighing up the Keres by Hermes
( Lekythos from Capua )

Ker ( Greek Κήρ Kḗr , German 'death, death fate ' , plural Κῆρες Kḗres , German also Keren ) is the embodiment of violent death in Greek mythology . Sometimes the name is also used for a whole group of demons of death and bad luck.

According to Hesiod , Ker or the Keren were children of the Nyx :

Nyx now begat the Ker, the gloomy one, Moros , the dreadful one,
Thanatos then and Hypnos at the same time with the swarm of Oneiren ,
She also gave birth to the Moiren , the cruel punitive Keren,
Which of men and gods strictly persecute offenses,
Never, the goddesses! rest from the terrible fury of anger,
Until they took pernicious vengeance on everyone who sinned.

So it appears here both Ker as a single personification (together with Moros) and the Keren as a group (together with the Moiren). And in his poem The Shield of Heracles , Hesiod creates a gruesome painting of the activities of the Keren:

... But from behind
Keren in dark form, clanging with white teeth,
Grass, and gloomy eyes, and bloodstained, and aloof,
They quarreled about falling: because everyone wanted eagerly
Drinking the black blood; and she caught a stretched,
Or on fresh wounds, hurry around them
She struck the mighty claws; and the soul went to Aïs ,
Deep in the Tartaros shower: their hearts were now
Full of human blood, then they threw back those
Turned around, and the battle raged through the noise and tumult.

In Homer , Ker usually appears less personalized as a designation for death or fatality, namely in the form of violent death that snatches life, in contrast to the gracious, gentle Thanatos, who is related to sleep (Hypnos) (both also children of the Nyx). In the Iliad in particular , they appear as demonic robbers of life on the battlefield, as "the grayish cores of death", which one can also (at least temporarily) avoid:

Discord rages and tumult all around, and the wretched fate of
Those living there received the wounded, those from wounds
Secured, those lifeless by battle went by their feet;
And her robe around her shoulders was red with men's blood.

In the Latin mythographers, Letum ("death, destruction"; in Hyginus Mythographus Fabulae praefatio) or Tenebrae ("darkness"; in Cicero De natura deorum 3.17) appear as corresponding descendants of the Nox ("night"). Hyginus also names Erebus as Letum's father . Letum also stands for the brother of the Ker, Thanatos.


Web links

  • Keres in the Theoi Project

Individual evidence

  1. Hesiod Theogony 211-217. Translation by Johann Heinrich Voss
  2. Hesiod The Shield of Heracles 244-253. Translation by Johann Heinrich Voss
  3. ^ Iliad 2.302
  4. Ilias 18535-538
  5. Virgil : Aeneid 6,268ff.
  6. Gaius Valerius Flaccus : Argonautica 8,67ff.