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A Roman marble sculpture of Agathodaemon restored with an unrelated head, as "Antinous Agathodaemon", purchased in Rome ca. 1760, (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)[1]

An agathodaemon (Ancient Greek: ἀγαθοδαίμων agathodaímōn) or agathos daemon (Greek: ἀγαθός δαίμων agathós daímōn, lit. "noble spirit") was a spirit (daemon) of the vineyards and grainfields in ancient Greek religion. They were personal companion spirits,[2][3] comparable to the Roman genii, who ensured good luck, health, and wisdom.

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During the classical periodEdit

Though little noted in Greek mythology (Pausanias conjectured that the name was merely an epithet of Zeus),[4] he was prominent in Greek folk religion;[5] it was customary to drink or pour out a few drops of unmixed wine to honor him in every symposium or formal banquet. In Aristophanes' Peace, when War has trapped Peace (Εἰρήνη Eirene) in a deep pit, Hermes comes to give aid: "Now, oh Greeks! is the moment when, freed of quarrels and fighting, we should rescue sweet Eirene and draw her out of this pit... This is the moment to drain a cup in honor of the Agathos Daimon." A temple dedicated to him was situated on the road from Megalopolis to Maenalus in Arcadia.[6]

Agathos Daimon was the spouse or companion of Tyche Agathe (Τύχη Ἀγαθή, "Good Fortune"; Latin: Agatha). "Tyche we know at Lebadeia as the wife of the Agathos Daimon, the Good or Rich Spirit".[7][8] His numinous presence could be represented in art as a serpent or more concretely as a young man bearing a cornucopia and a bowl in one hand, and a poppy and an ear of grain in the other.[7] The agathodaemon was later adapted into a general daemon of fortuna, particularly of the continued abundance of a family's good food and drink.[citation needed]

During late antiquityEdit

In the syncretic atmosphere of Late Antiquity, agathodaemons could be bound up with Egyptian bringers of security and good fortune: a gem carved with magic emblems bears the images of Serapis with crocodile, sun-lion and Osiris mummy surrounded by the lion-headed snake Cnum–Agathodaemon–Aion, with Harpocrates on the reverse.[9]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The torso of an Apollo was found in the Tiber at Rome and was restored as an Antinous with a head found separately; it was purchased through Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi, about 1760; formerly exhibited in the Neues Palais, Potsdam (Arachne Projekt[permanent dead link]); noted in Karl Otfried Müller, Nouveau manuel complet d'archéologie ou traité sur les antiquités grecques... (1841:vol. I:298) and in Bouillon II:51.
  2. ^ Hor. Ep. ll, 2, 187.
  3. ^ Tibull. IV, 8
  4. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, viii. 36. § 3
  5. ^ Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Folk Religion. (Columbia University Press), 1981:33, 70, 73.
  6. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Agathodaemon", in Smith, William (ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, p. 65
  7. ^ a b Chisholm 1911, p. 371.
  8. ^ Harrison 1922, pp. 355–ff, 543.
  9. ^ Illustrated in W. Fauth, Helios Megistos: zur synkretistischen Theologie der Spätantike (Leiden: Brill) 1995:85.

BibliographyEdit

  • Harrison, Jane Ellen (1922). Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (3rd ed.). pp. 355–ff, 543.

External linksEdit