Geras was the son of the primordial gods Erebus (God of Darkness) and Nyx (the dark Goddess of Night) and the brother of the many of the dark gods of death, night and the Underworld. The word 'geras' relates to funerary honors given to a noble elder.
Who was Geras?
Geras was one of the primeval gods who was a son of Nyx was believed to be the mother of everything mysterious and anything that was inexplicable, such as death, disease, sleep, ghosts, dreams, witchcraft and enchantments. His father was Erebus, who reigned in a palace in the dark regions of the Underworld. As the brother of the many of the dark gods of death, night and the Underworld, Geras personified another aspect of the dark side of a mortal's life and the inevitability of old age followed by death. 'Loathsome old age' was feared by many as it generally brought impoverishment, failing health, decreased vitality and the loss of family and community status.
Geras - Old Age in Ancient Greece
Approximately 8% of Ancient Greeks reached over the age of 60. The family was expected to provide sustenance and shelter when the ability to work, due to ill health or old age, ceased. Old age did not automatically confer respect and power in Ancient Greece was generally linked to active adulthood.
Geras (Roman Counterpart was Senectus)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses, such as Geras, were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Geras was Senectus, meaning old age or dotage.
The Brothers and Sisters of Geras
According to Greek Mythology Geras was the son of Nyx, the dark goddess of Night and Erebus whose province was the Underworld before the emergence of Hades. The siblings of Geras were all death spirits or strongly associated with the Underworld:
Thanatos, twin of Hypnos, a god of Death, the hard-hearted, pitiless, enemy of mankind
The Keres, or “Death Fates” described as 'scavengers who defiled the dead'
Eris the goddess of Discord, quarrels and feuds
Moros the god of old age
Oizys the goddess of distress, anxiety and worry
Hypnos, the god of sleep
Epiphron the demon of shrewdness
Nemesis avenging goddess of Divine Retribution
Charon, the Ferryman
Lyssa, the goddess of mad rage and frenzy
Momus the evil-spirited god of blame and criticism
Hecate was the goddess of magic, witchcraft and ghosts
The Fates, the goddesses of Destiny
The Furies, the goddesses of vengeance and retribution
Geras and the Dynasties of Greek Gods
According to Greek mythology, Geras and the Ancient Greek gods and goddesses consisted of three major dynasties from different generations:
- The First generation of Ancient Greek Gods included Geras
- The Second generation were the Titans
- The Third generation of were the famous Olympian gods