Shakespeare's Myths

Iris, also Yris


Related Entries
 Ceres, Harpies, Juno


Thaumas, son of Water and Earth, married Electra, Ocean’s daughter;  from their union, the Harpies and their sister, "swift Iris", as Hesiod says, were born. In the Iliad, Homer mentions Iris’ "golden wings" and insists on the goddess’s celerity. Iris was both the goddess of the rainbow, and Jupiter’s or Juno’s messenger. In many classical texts, she has a purifying function, used in marriage or death rituals. She may also be destructive and bring death (as in Homer’s Iliad) or madness (as in Euripides’ Hercules’ Madness, or Virgil’s Aeneid). As goddess of the rainbow, she announces forthcoming storms and signals a return to harmony when they have abated.

How to cite

Yves Peyré. "Iris."  2009.  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology (2009-), ed. Yves Peyré.

<< back to top >>