To Death from The
Hymns of Orpheus
LXXXVI. TO DEATH.
HEAR me, O Death, whose empire unconfin'd,
Extends to mortal tribes of ev'ry kind.
On thee, the portion of our time depends,
Whose absence lengthens life, whose presence ends.
Thy sleep perpetual bursts the vivid folds,
By which the soul, attracting body holds:
Common to all of ev'ry sex and age,
For nought escapes thy all-destructive rage;
Not youth itself thy clemency can gain,
Vig'rous and strong, by thee untimely slain.
In thee, the end of nature's works is known,
In thee, all judgment is absolv'd alone:
No suppliant arts thy dreadful rage controul,
No vows revoke the purpose of thy soul;
O blessed pow'r regard my ardent pray'r,
And human life to age abundant spare.
the personified necessity of death The passages in the Homeric poems in which death appears as a real personification are not very numerous 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 pronounces may be a natural, sudden, or violent death. The Keres are described as formidable, dark, and hateful, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades.
The Keres, 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.
Even mortals themselves may for a time prevent their attaining their object, or delay it by flight and the like. During a battle the Keres wander about with Eris and Cydoimos in bloody garments, quarrelling about the wounded and the dead, and dragging them away by the feet.
According to Hesiod, with whom the Keres assume a more definite form, they are the daughters of Nyx and sisters of the Moerae, and punish men for their crimes. (Theogony of Hesiod 211) Their fearful appearance in battle is described by Hesiod.
They are mentioned by later writers together with the Erinnyes as the goddesses who avenge the crimes of men. (Argonautica)
Epidemic diseases are sometimes personified as Keres.
From Theogony of Hesiod
(ll. 211-225) "And Night bare hateful Doom and black Fate and Death, and she bare Sleep and the tribe of Dreams. And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Oceanus. Also she bare the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates, Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos, who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bare Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife."