KERES

ΚΗΡΕΣ

The personified necessity of death (Kêr or Kêres Danatoio). The passages in the Homeric poems in which the Kêr or Kêres a appear as real personifications, are not very numerous (Il. ii. 302, iii. 454, xviii. 535), and in most cases the word may be taken as a common noun. The plural form seems to allude to the various modes of dying which Homer ((Il. xii. 326) pronounces to be muriai, and may be a natural, sudden, or violent death. (Od. xi. 171, &c., 398, &c.) The Kêres are described as formidable, dark, and hateful, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades. (Il. ii. 859, iii. 454; Od. iii. 410, xiv. 207.) The Kêres, although no living being can escape them, have yet no absolute power over the life of men: they are under Zeus and the gods, who can stop them in their course or hurry them on. (Il. xii. 402, xviii. 115, iv. 11; Od. xi. 397.) Even mortals themselves may for a time prevent their attaining their object, or delay it by flight and the like. (Il. iii. 32, xvi. 47.) During a battle the Kêres wander about with Eris and Cydoimos in bloody garments, quarrelling about the wounded and the dead, and dragging them away by the feet. (Il. xviii. 535, &c.) According to Hesiod, with whom the Kêres assume a more definite form, they are the daughters of Nyx and sisters of the Moerae, and punish men for their crimes. (Theog. 211, 217; Paus. v. 19. § 1.) Their fearful appearance in battle is described by Hesiod. (Scut. Here. 249, &c.) They are mentioned by later writers together with the Erinnyes as the goddesses who avenge the crimes of men. (Aesch. Sept. 1055; comp. Apollon. Rhod. iv. 1665, &c.) Epidemic diseases are sometimes personified as Kêres. (Orph. Hymn. xiii. 12, lxvi. 4, Lith. vii. 6; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 847.)