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Eurynome ("/jʊˈrɪnəm/; Greek: Εὐρυνόμη) was a deity of ancient Greek religion worshipped at a sanctuary near the confluence of rivers called the Neda and the Lymax in classical "Peloponnesus. She was represented by a statue of what we would call a "mermaid. Tradition, as reported by the Greek traveller, "Pausanias, identified her with the "Oceanid, or “daughter of Ocean”, of Greek poetry.

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Etymology of the name[edit]

The name is usually segmented Eury-nome, where eury- is “wide”. This segment appears in "Linear B as e-u-ru–, a prefix in a few men’s names. It does not occur in any "Mycenaean women’s names, nor does –nome.

The root of –nome is "Proto-Indo-European *nem-, distribute, as in the Greek "infinitive, nemein, “to distribute.” Words derived from *nem- had a large variety of senses. In the case of Eurynome, the two main senses proposed are “wanderer” and “ruler”.

"Robert Graves saw in Eurynome a "lunar goddess descending from the Pre-Hellenic "mother goddess of "Neolithic Europe. In that case, –nome is as in our word nomad. The nomad wanders searching for pastureland, or land that has been “distributed” for the use of domestic animals. The moon is to be regarded as wandering. In the other interpretation, –nome is as in English auto-nomy. A ruler is someone who “distributes” law and justice. Neither case has any bearing on the status of Eurynome as a possible "Pelasgian "mother goddess.

If Eurynome was the descendant of a pre-Greek goddess, she must have had a pre-Greek name, and not the Greek name, Eurynome. If the name is "Indo-European, it might have evolved into "Greek with the rest of the language. If it is not Indo-European, then it might result from renaming or from selecting the closest Greek "homonym.

Mythology[edit]

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Eurynome (far left)

In the epic tradition, Eurynome was one of the elder "Oceanides, that is, a daughter of "Oceanus and "Tethys.[1] Eurynome was the third bride of "Zeus and mother of the "Charites, goddesses of grace and beauty.[2]

When "Hephaestus was cast from "Olympus by the goddess "Hera, who was disgusted at having borne a crippled child, he was caught by Eurynome and "Thetis (possibly a doubling for "Tethys, her mother). Eurynome and Thetis nursed the god Hephaestus on the banks of the earth-encircling river Oceanus, after his fall from heaven.[3] "Charis, Eurynome's daughter, later became Hephaestus' bride.[4]

Eurynome is closely identified with another Eurynome, Queen of the "Titans. This Eurynome was an early Titan queen who ruled Olympus beside her husband "Ophion. The pair were wrestled for their thrones by "Cronus and "Rhea who cast them down into the earth-encircling river Oceanus.[5]

Homer's account[edit]

"Iliad 18.388ff

The earliest known reference to the Oceanid is a passage in the Iliad relating what happened to "Hephaistos after his mother, "Hera, threw him from "Olympos. "Thetis and Eurynome, the daughter of "Oceanus, offered him refuge. He stayed with them for nine years in their cave at the edge of the ocean making splendiferous artifacts.

Hesiod's account[edit]

"Theogony

355. Eurynome is among the daughters of Ocean and "Tethys.
907. Eurynome bore the "Graces to "Zeus.

Homer and Hesiod establish that a belief in the Oceanid existed in the earliest literary times. The most likely circumstance, based on the testimony of Pausanias, is that both authors took their themes from a religion known to and believed in by all the "Hellenes; thus, it is probably best to assume that Eurynome the Oceanid is the same Oceanid of ancient Greek belief mentioned in all the classical sources.

Pausanias' account[edit]

8.41.5, 6

[5] “Eurynome is believed by the people of "Phigalia to be a surname of "Artemis. Those of them, however, to whom have descended ancient traditions, declare that Eurynome was a daughter of Ocean, whom Homer mentions in the Iliad, saying that along with Thetis she received Hephaestus. On the same day in each year they open the sanctuary of Eurynome, but at any other time it is a transgression for them to open it.
[6] On this occasion sacrifices also are offered by the state and by individuals. I did not arrive at the season of the festival, and I did not see the image of Eurynome; but the Phigalians told me that golden chains bind the wooden image, which represents a woman as far as the hips, but below this a fish. If she is a daughter of Ocean, and lives with Thetis in the depth of the sea, the fish may be regarded as a kind of emblem of her. But there could be no probable connection between such a shape and Artemis.”

9.35.5

Hesiod repeats that the "Graces are the offspring of "Zeus and Eurynome.

Apollodorus' account[edit]

1.2.2. The Oceanids, including Eurynome, were the daughters of Ocean and Tethys.
1.3.1. The Graces are the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome.
3.12.6. Some say the river "Asopus is the son of Zeus and Eurynome.

Worship[edit]

Eurynome was worshipped at the confluence of the rivers Neda and Lymax in "Arcadia. Her "xoanon, which could only be viewed when her sanctuary was opened once a year, was a wooden statue bound in golden chains depicting a woman's upper body and the lower body of a fish.[6] Her son "Asopus was the god of a nearby stream in the adjacent region of "Sikyonia. The fish-tailed goddess, Eurynome, worshipped in "Arcadia, may have been Eurynome wife of Ophion, Tethys the wife of Oceanus, Eurynome mother of the "Charites, the goddess of the river Neda, or a watery "Artemis.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hesiod, "Theogony 346 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)
  2. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 907 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)
  3. ^ Homer, Iliad 13. 397 ff (trans. Lattimore)
  4. ^ "Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 35. 1
  5. ^ "Pseudo-Apollodorus, "Bibliotheca 1. 503 ff (trans. Aldrich)
  6. ^ "Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 41. 4 - 6 (trans. Jones)
  7. ^ Theoi Project, Aaron J. Atsma
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