The Keres were female spirits, the daughters of Nyx, the goddess of night. They were not peaceful creatures, but demons, and their presences meant a violent death. In fact, their name comes from the Greek word “ker,” which means doom.
It was believed that during a battle, the Keres would fly overhead with gnashing teeth and horrible claws, to see who would be killed on the field and who would survive to fight another day. When they spotted someone dying or dead, they would swoop down, thirsty for human blood. Once caught in their clutches, the victims were dragged off by their feet, and their departing souls would go down to Hades, the dark underworld.
The Keres were terrible and violent demons, but they did not have the power to cause death, only to arrive when it was coming and wait to feast on the remains. In this way they were very much like buzzards. It was believed that other Greek gods were able to fend then off, and that they could be seen fighting with the Keres over dying victims that they wanted to save. Zeus, the most powerful of the gods, was able to bring the Keres to a battle or send them away as he pleased.
The winged and vengeful Keres were around for more than just battles. Thousands of them were believed to be seen quarreling over victims of natural disasters and plagues, wearing garments dripping with blood.
The Keres also had a brother named Thanatos, who was known as the god of peaceful death.
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