Iris (Ἴρις, meaning 'rainbow' or eiris, meaning 'messenger') is the goddess of the rainbow and also the messenger of the Olympian Gods. She is also considered a handmaiden and personal messenger of Hera. In Roman mythology, she bears the same name and myths. In every myth her father is Thaumas ('Wonder' or 'the Wondrous'), and she often is called Thaumantias ('Daughter of Thaumas'). In most of the myths her mother is Elektra, one of the Okeanid nymph daughters of Tethys and Okeanos. Her sisters are the Harpyiai and Arke and her brother is Hydaspes, a river-god of western India.
Iris has a number of roles in mythology. As well as being able to effortless travel from one end of the world to the other with speed of the winds (Homer, Iliad), she can travel from the heavens to the deepest of the seas, and from the mortal realm of the Earth to the Underworld unempeded, effectively becoming a psychopomp.
According to Hesoid in Theogony, Zeus commands Iris to go to the River Styx to fill a golden pitcher, and then brings it back to Olympos for all the gods to swear upon when the gods fall to quarreling or lying to one another. She also carries the pitcher to give to those who have committed perjury to put them to sleep.
Iris also plays a brief role in the Exile of Demeter, where she is the one who gives Zeus' message, asking Demeter to return to Olympos after Persephone's abduction. Demeter refuses to heed Iris's message, despite her pleading.
In Homer's Iliad, Iris frequently takes the position of the messenger of the Gods, ranging from sending Zeus' message to Hera and Athene to turn back from support Troy in the Trojan War, to going to Helen and giving her sweet words of her husband and family, and the heroism to regain Helen and their honour. What is strange though is that in The Odyssey, also written by Homer, her role is completely replaced by Hermes.
- Aellopous (Αελλόπους) - "Storm-footed", or "to be swift-footed like a storm-wind" (Homer Iliad)
- Chrysopteron - "Golden Winged"
- Podas ôkea - "Swift Footed'
- Podênemos ôkea - "Swift-wind Footed"
- Thaumantias or Thaumantos - "Daughter of Thaumas" or "Daughter of the Wonderous One" (Stesichorus Fragment 222B, Ovid Metamorphosis, Valerius Flaccus Argonautica)
Ancient Cult Edit
The only surviving information we had on cultus attributed to Iris is from Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae, in which he states that Delians on the island of Hekate offered her cakes made of wheat, honey and figs. Modern Cult