Daily Archives: April 14, 2010

Weekly Deity: Nyx


Chariot of Nyx

Nyx was the Greek goddess of the night.  Νύξ in Greek, the old pronunciation would have been “noo-ks” but in English we would say her name “ni-ks”.  She was one of the oldest goddesses, known as a primeval deity, and she is connected to many stories and other gods through her children.

Attributes

There are no descriptions of what Nyx looks like, but she is supposed to be a figure of great beauty.  Later artists have sometimes painted Nyx as a shadowed figure hidden in the dark–which makes sense, given her governance of the night, and tend to put her in black clothing or scarves.

Mythology

Nyx is born of Chaos at or near the time of creation.  She is the primordial goddess of the night and has a great deal of strength and power even though she appears in few myths.  At one point it is mentioned that even the great Zeus is afraid to anger Nyx.

Nyx has no myths of her own.  Instead she is mentioned in passing or because of her children.  Hesiod, in his Theogony, lists the many children Nyx gave birth to.  These children are:

  • By Erebus (“darkness”) she bore Aether (atmosphere), Hemera (day), Charon (the ferryman), Styx, Epiphron (prudence), and Nemesis (retribution)
  • By herself through parthenogenesis Nyx bore Apate (deception), Keres (death spirits), Momus (blame), Ponos (toil), Moros (doom), Oizys (misery), Oneiroi (dreams), Philotes (friendship), Thanatos (death), Eris (strife), Geras (old age), Hypnos (sleep), Hesperides (nymphs of the evening), and Phanes (new life).

The Hesperides, Charon, and Styx may not be Nyx’s children, as they have also been attributed to other parents.

Light and Dark Side

Since Nyx has no myths of her own and no personality to really speak of, this section becomes more difficult.  However, just looking at the concepts associated with her through her children is very telling.  Nyx is associated with some of the darkest aspects of human nature–she gives birth to strife, deceit, blame, doom, and misery, to name a few.  But she also bears children that are of the lighter side: friendship, day, dreams, prudence, atmosphere, new life, etc.  As a primordial goddess, she is ancient and integral to the workings of the world and vital to human life.  It would seem that although she is the goddess of the night she holds within herself aspects of the light as well–how else could she have borne friendship and new life through parthenogenesis (literally translated from Greek as “virgin creation”–asexual reproduction) if she didn’t have these aspects to her own being?  She is not a violent or vindictive being, nor is she evil.  But as a goddess of the night, she can’t be a being of complete goodness either.

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