Eos ("dawn") was, in Greek mythology, the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the Ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the sun. As the dawn goddess, she opened the gates of heaven (with "rosy fingers") so that Helios could ride his chariot across the sky every day. In Homer (Iliad viii.1; xxiv.695), her yellow robe is embroidered or woven with flowers (Odyssey vi:48 etc); rosy-fingered and with golden arms, she is pictured on Attic vases as a supernaturally beautiful woman, crowned with a tiara or diadem and with the large white-feathered wings of a bird. The worship of the dawn as a goddess is inherited from Indo-European times; Eos is cognate to Latin Aurora.
Quintus Smyrnaeus pictured her exulting in her heart over the radiant horses (Lampos and Phaithon) that drew her chariot, amidst the bright-haired Horai, the feminine Hours, climbing the arc of heaven and scattering sparks of fire (1.48).
She is most often associated with her Homeric epithet "rosy-fingered" (rhododactylos), but Homer also calls her Eos Erigeneia:
- "That brightest of stars appeared, Eosphoros, that most often heralds the light of early-rising Dawn (Eos Erigeneia)."
- —Odyssey 13.93
And Hesiod: "And after these Erigeneia ["Early-born"] bore the star Eosphorus ("Dawn-bringer"), and the gleaming stars with which heaven is crowned."
- —Theogony 378-382
Thus Eos, preceded by the Morning Star, is seen as the genetrix of all the stars; her tears are considered to have created the morning dew.
Eos was the daughter of Hyperion and Theia (or Pallas and Styx) and sister of Helios the sun and Selene the moon, "who shine upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven" Hesiod told in Theogony (371-374). The generation of Titans preceded all the familiar deities of Olympus, who supplanted them.
Eos was free with her favors and had many consorts, both among the generation of Titans and among the handsomest mortals. With Aeolus, the keeper of the winds, she bore all the winds and stars. Her passion for the Titan Orion was unrequited. Eos kidnapped Cephalus, Clitus, Ganymede, and Tithonus to be her lovers. Eos' most faithful consort was Tithonus, from whose couch the poets imagine her arising. When Zeus stole Ganymede from her to be his cup-bearer, she asked for Tithonus to be made immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus indeed lived forever but grew more and more ancient, eventually turning into a cricket.
Tithonus and Eos had two sons, Memnon and Emathion. Memnon fought among the Trojans in the Trojan War and was slain. Her image with the dead Memnon across her knees, like Thetis with the dead Achilles, are icons that inspired the Christian Pietà.
Eos kidnapped Cephalus when he was hunting. Although Cephalus was already married to Procris, he had a relationship with Eos for some time and she bore him three sons, but he then began pining for Procris, causing a disgruntled Eos to return him to her - and put a curse on them. Cephalus accidentally killed Procris some time later after he mistook her for an animal while hunting; Procris, a jealous wife, was spying on him and heard him singing to the wind, "Aura", but thought he was serenading his ex-lover Aurora (i.e. Eos).
In the more restrictive Hellenic world, Apollodorus, a later Greek poet, claimed, in an anecdote rather than a myth, that her disgraceful abandon was a torment from Aphrodite, who found her on the couch with Ares. (Apollodorus, Library 1.27).
Her Roman equivalent was Aurora, her Etruscan equivalent was Thesan. With Zeus, Eos had a daughter named Ersa.
- With Aeolus
- With Zeus
- Theoi Project, Eos many references from Greek and Roman written sources, from Homer to Late Antiquity.