The Importance of The Night Sky to Ancient Greeks
People in ancient Greece often spent time observing the night sky. Sailors in particular relied upon the position of constellations during navigation.
Known for centuries as an “evening star” the planet Venus sometimes appears visible in the early evening; for generations, people mistook the planet for a bright star. The ancient Greeks associated the god Hesperus with this shining light.
The poet Homer described Hesperus as a carrier of light. His “Evening Star” (the planet Venus) appeared early in the evening and remained visible into the dawn sometimes as a very brilliant light. Hesperus, considered exceedingly handsome in appearance, represented this important heavenly body.
The Mysterious Family Background of Hesperus
The ancient Greeks did not always agree about the parents of Hesperus. One legend described him as the son of a goddess and her husband. Another claimed he had a human father. And yet another legend viewed him as one of the grandchildren of the Titan Uranus (the ruler of the heavens).
Many early Greeks believed the Titans Hyperion and Theia had produced a daughter called Eos. She served as the goddess of the dawn. Eos married Astraeus, the god of the dusk (i.e. the evening).
Most legends describe her as the mother of Hesperus. In some stories, the Greeks regarded her husband, the god the early evening, as the father of the handsome Hesperus.
Another version of this story views Hesperus as the son of the goddess Eos and a half-human named Cephalus, a skilled athlete and hunter. In this legend, Cephalus, the son of the messenger of the gods, Hermes, and Herse, a princess from the City of Athens, fell in love with Eos. He lived with her on Mount Olympus for several years.
A third legend considers Hesperus the son or the brother of Atlas. One of the Titans, he carried the heavens on his broad shoulders. All of these stories agree Hesperus embodied the beautiful Evening Star.
The Children of Hesperus: The Hesperides
Like many of the ancient Greek gods, Hesperus had children and grandchildren. One legend holds he fathered a daughter called Hesperis. He arranged for her to marry her uncle Atlas, and the couple had several daughters, called the Hesperides. Legends differ concerning the number of the Hesperides: three, four, or seven.
These sisters spent their time caring for a beautiful garden in the far western part of the world in North Africa. They also passed a lot of time singing there. The early Greeks considered them nymphs, minor goddesses who personified various aspects of nature.
Archaeologists today believe people in the ancient world may have considered the vicinity of the modern City of Benghazi in Libya the location of this lovely place.
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Link will appear as Hesperus – Greek God of The Evening Star: https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net - Greek Gods & Goddesses, October 21, 2019