Geras, detail of an Attic red-figure pelike, c. 480–470 BC, Louvre

In Greek mythology, Geras /ˈɪərəs/ (Ancient Greek: Γῆρας, romanizedGễras) was the god of old age.[1] It was considered a virtue whereby the more gēras a man acquired, the more kleos (fame) and arete (excellence and courage) he was considered to have. According to Hesiod, Gēras was a son of Nyx.[2] Hyginus adds that his father was Erebus.[3] He was depicted as a tiny shriveled-up old man. Gēras's opposite was Hebe, the goddess of youth. His Roman equivalent was Senectus. He is known primarily from vase depictions that show him with the hero Heracles; the mythic story that inspired these depictions has been entirely lost.

In ancient Greek literature, Geras'(Ancient Greek: γέρας) can also carry the meaning of influence, authority or power; especially that derived from fame, good looks and strength claimed through success in battle or contest. Such uses of this meaning can be found in Homer's Odyssey throughout which there is an evident concern from the various 'Kings' about the Geras they will pass to their sons through their names.[4] In this context, the concern with passing Geras on to their sons through association with their fathers' names is significant since kings at this time (such as Odysseus) are believed to have ruled by common assent in recognition of their powerful influence rather than hereditarily.[5] Further analysis can be found here.[6]

Geras' name is the root of the word "geriatric".[citation needed]

Geras as a place nameEdit

For results on the Lesbos town of Gera, see here.

For results on the Austrian town of Geras, see here.


  1. ^ The distinct word Γῆρας, Gĕras means "old age" or in some other literature "dead skin" or "slough of a snake" (LSJ).
  2. ^ Hesiod. Theogony, 225.
  3. ^ Hyginus, Preface.
  4. ^ "The Internet Classics Archive | The Odyssey by Homer". Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  5. ^ For an example of this, see Homer, The Odyssey, 24.33-34
  6. ^ Thomas, C. G. (1966). "The Roots of Homeric Kingship". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. 15 (4): 387–407. ISSN 0018-2311. JSTOR 4434948.