Who Is Eris In Greek Mythology?

Who Is Eris?

Digitally generated photograph of the dwarf planet Eris.
The planet Eris, named after the goddess, that sits at the far outer edge of our solar system.

Eris is a goddess from Greek Mythology, her name directly means Strife. Her Roman equivalent is named Discordia, and her name also directly translates to Strife. The opposite of Eris is the goddess Harmonia and Discordia’s opposite is Harmonia’s counterpart Concordia.

Eris may just be one of the most powerful beings in all of the ancient Greek religion. I say this because Eris is the literal personification of strife and discord. Eris is literally the element of Chaos personified, and, as is well known, Chaos is integral to everything in the cosmology of the Greek religion (and many others).

Surprisingly, the etymology of Eris’s name is very uncertain. Her name may be related to the same origin of name for the Furies, but that’s merely a suggestion. Eris had no known temples in Ancient Greece, but she was well known for her function in some of Ancient Greece’s most famous stories.

The Golden Apple Of Discord

3d render of a golden apple.
Golden Apple.

Far west from the lands of mortal man, Hera created an orchard for herself. There, the marriage of Zeus and Hera took place. Many gods and goddesses brought gifts to celebrate the wedding.

Gaea, mother of the Earth, brought Hera golden apples. Hera, delighted with the apples, requested for Gaea to plant them in her garden and she did so. Hera then gave the task of taking care of the golden apple trees and protecting the orchard from harm to the Hesperides–nymphs of the evening and sunset who are believed to have come from the Titan Atlas.

As well, Hera placed the hundred headed serpent, Ladon, as an additional guard. And one day, Heracles would have to battle him in order to try to obtain one of the apples.

However, this is not the story of Heracles. This is the story of Eris. Eris went into the garden and took a golden apple herself, and it became the Apple of Discord.

This apple was about to change the world of Antiquity forever.

The Judgement of Paris

Because of Eris’s reputation as a troublemaker, she was not invited to the wedding of the hero Peleus and the nymph Thetis despite the fact that most other deities had been invited. However, Eris knew that Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena would be at the party.

To get back at the deities that were being looked at as better than her, Eris did one simple trick. She wrote onto the Apple of Discord “To the Fairest One” and then tossed it into the party. Of course this immediately provoked the goddesses into arguing over who was the one that was supposed to receive the apple.

Zeus, intent to stop the fighting, sent Hermes to find someone who could properly judge who should receive the apple. Hermes returned with Paris, the Prince of Troy.

Each of the goddesses stripped naked before Paris and made their offers to him. Hera offered Paris great power as a leader, Athena offered him an infinite wealth of wisdom, and Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world to be his.

Paris chose to give the apple to Aphrodite, and she awarded him with Helen–the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Paris giving Aphrodite the apple and taking this gift of Helen would put the entire Trojan War into motion.

A huge host of myths are related to the Trojan War, what happened in the Trojan War, and even just what happened in the Judgement itself can all be credited back to this single action by Eris. That is the power that she commands.

Eris And The Trojan War

Ruins of Troy in Canakkale, Turkey.
Ruins of Troy.

Despite causing the war, Homer only mentions Eris a few other times with a role during the war. Eris known to travel with Ares, who Homer says is her brother, and enjoys the bloodshed and destruction of towns from battle. Eris is also mentioned as a force tipping the scales in many battles that occur, such as Achilles’s fights.

At one point during the Trojan War, Zeus actually enlists the help of Eris to rally up the Achaean warriors. This role of Eris as someone related to war and someone who rallies up combatants will also appear in another story as well. The Typhonomachy.

Eris And Typhon

In the battle between Zeus and Typhon, at one point there is a moment where Nike–the goddess of Victory–has to rally Zeus to rise up and fight again as the champion of the gods. This is a common appearance in versions of the story.

However, in Nonnus’s telling of the battle, he gives Typhon someone to rally him to rise up and continue to fight Zeus as well. That someone is Eris.

Nonnus says that Eris rallies up Typhon and escorts him to meet Zeus when it is time for their battle to resume at dawn. However, there is not much else of mention of her in this story beyond that.

Other Known Mythology With Eris

Eris is enlisted by Hera to bring discord upon Polytekhnos and Aedon. The two of them claimed to love each other more than Hera and Zeus are in love, which is quite a blasphemous thing to do.

Eris came to the two while they were doing tasks. Polytekhnos was finishing one of the boards for a chariot and Aedon was weaving.

Eris said to the two of them that whoever finishes the task last will have to present the other with a female servant, and the two immediately became entranced to do as she said. Despite the vicious competition, Aedon was the one who won.

Polytekhnos was very unhappy about losing. So when he went to go find the female servant, he went to Khelidon who was Aedon’s own sister and raped her.

After doing this, Polytekhnos dressed Khelidon up as a slave and presented her to Aedon. Not that long later, when Aedon discovered this was her own sister, she went to Polytekhnos’s son and chopped him up until he was nothing but bits of meat and forced Polytekhnos to eat them.

Rather unhappy with this result, the gods decided to turn the both of them into birds to get rid of them. Another story involving Eris and using her power of discord against love is when she punishes the women of Lemnos by driving them to murder their own husbands while in bed.

Eris is also mentioned as taking part in the war between Dionysus and the Indians, she and Ares took support of the Indian King to oppose Dionysus on the orders of Hera.

Eris once put out the hearth at the King’s home in Ethiopia and brought a great violence and gore upon the nation.

At one point, during Heracles’s journeys, Eris put an enemy in his path that would constantly grow larger every time he attacked it. He was only able to escape thanks to Athena arriving to aid him with her wisdom.

Virgil writes at one point that Eris sits at the entrance to the realm of Hades, the underworld. She is not doing anything in particular, just chilling out while soaked in blood.

Who Are Eris’s Parents?

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Eris is a daughter of the Night–the primordial goddess Nyx. Her father, in this situation, would be the primordial god of shadows, Erebus.

However, in Homer’s Iliad, he says that Eris is the sister of Ares. Homer lists Eris, in this way, as a daughter of Zeus and Hera. This may explain a different reason for Eris’s ability to so casually obtain a golden apple from Hera’s garden.

Who Are Eris’s Children?

Homer suggests a single son for Eris that came from her own brother, Ares, and that son was also named Strife after her. However, Hesiod gives Eris a whole host of children.

Hesiod writes that Eris is the mother of quite a few children who terrorize the world that are called the Kakodaimones. Her children, that seem to be born to her alone, are Polos (whose name means Hardship), Lethe (whose name means Forgetfulness), Limos (whose name means Starvation), Algea (whose name means Pains), Hysminai (whose name means Battles), Makhai (whose name means Wars), Phonoi (whose name means Wars), Androktasiai (whose name means Manslaughters), Neikea (whose name means Quarrels), Pseudea (whose name means Lies), Logoi (whose name means Stories), Amphillogiai (whose name means Disputes), Dysnomia (whose name means Anarchy), Ate (whose name means Ruins), and, lastly, Horkos (whose name means Oath). Then immediately swore a false oath.

Discordianism

Discordianism is a religion, though sometimes viewed as just a philosophy or concept (which is wrong, view it as a religion), that holds Eris as the patron deity. The religion views her as the positive force of Chaos and is just mischievous rather than evil or malevolent while viewing Harmonia as her sister and naming her as Aneris.

In Discordianism, Eris and Aneris are both daughters of the Void (Discordianism’s name for Chaos) and they have a brother named Spirituality who is born later. Eris is said to be the goddess of Disorder and the creator of Being while Aneris is said to be the goddess of Order and the inventor of Non-Being.

Out of jealousy due to her own sterility and Eris’s fertility, Aneris starts making things that exist become nonexistent. This becomes the reason for why existence begins with life and why existence ends with death.

The modern version of the religion finds its origin in the late 1950s when the Principia Discordia was written (though it would not be printed out until 1963). The writers’ names are Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst.

A second book titled Principia Discordia or How The West Was Lost was published to the very small number of just five copies in 1965. The title of the book is assumed to be based off of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica.

The Discordians have proposed the Hand of Eris to be her symbol, and it is used by some circles, however it is unlikely that the official Astronomy symbol assigners will adopt it because they are boring and hate having fun.

The Discordians also hold the Golden Apple of Discord as a sacred symbol, which makes sense because it is a very important myth involving Eris. However, they typically focus more on the actions of Eris in the myth than what goes on in the rest of the myth or the action’s consequences. The interpretation of Eris and her personality seems to be a large part of Discordian discourse.

The role of the Illuminati in world affairs, Operation Mindfuck (which blanket covers all of the other things I’m listing here), and the idea of conspiracy theories and secret societies are also integral beliefs of Discordianism.

Other Things About Eris In The Modern World

3D Rendering of Eris the drawf planet
Image of the planet named after Eris.

Eris, the planet was discovered on January 5th, 2005 by a team led by Mike Brown. Mike Brown would also be the same guy who started the claim that Pluto is not a real planet.

The reason why this claim against Pluto surfaced is actually related to Mike Brown’s discovery of Eris. See, a huge debate began among the space community about what actually is a planet and what defines a planet.

A huge debate that was full of disagreement, and that was part of what inspired them to name this new planet as Eris. The very act of discovering Eris was full of such discord that it even affected another sphere which sits in the Heavens.

Also, coinciding with the discovery of the planet Eris was a noteworthy revival of Discordianism, the religion that holds Eris as its patron deity. Oh and an alternate name at the time before they decided on the official name was to call the planet Xena after the title character of the show Xena: Warrior Princess.

Hey, did you know that the story of Snow White is rather blatantly inspired by Eris and the Judgement of Paris? The apple’s in the details.

A Final Note

This post is dedicated, like the last one, to a very important best friend of mine. This best friend in particular has done just about as much work for the website as I have, in fact I will be honest and say that it was actually her idea in the first place that I should make a website to write about the things I know and my ideas. I owe her for inspiring me to pursue this dream of writing blog posts and for constantly helping me improve my writing & formatting and for guiding me to so many wonderful topics to research and spread the word of here. Many of the posts on this site so far have come directly out of things that she and I have discussed before and several were topics directly chosen by her. This post is included in that aforementioned ranking, and I hope I have done a good job fulfilling her request to cover the deity Eris and that she and Eris will both be pleased. None of this, the entirety of the site, could ever have happened without her help and I will be eternally grateful for this gift, from my friend, that I have had so much fun with so far. Thank you. As well, once again, I would like to add on that I am thankful for everyone who supports me and generously helps my site even by just reading what I post! Good day, friends.

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