Agathodaemon

AGATHODAEMON, in Greek mythology, the "good spirit" of cornfields and vineyards. It was the custom of the Greeks to drink a cup of pure wine in his honour at the end of each meal (Aristophanes, Equites,106). He was also regarded as the protecting spirit of the state and of individuals. He was often accompanied by 'Ayaq Tim (good fortune), and in this aspect may be compared with the Roman Bonus Eventus (Pliny, Nat Hist. xxxvi. 23), and Genius. He is represented in works of art in the form of a serpent, or of a young man with a cornucopia and a bowl in one hand, and a poppy and ears of corn in the other.

See Gerhard, Ober Agathodamon and Bona Dea (Berlin, 1849).

In ancient Greek religion, Agathos Daimon or Agathodaemon (Greek: αγαθος δαιμων, "very good spirit") was a daemon or presiding spirit of the vineyards and grainfields and a personal companion spirit, similar to the Roman genius, ensuring good luck, health and wisdom. Though he was little noted in Greek mythology (Pausanias conjectured that the name was a mere epithet of Zeus), he was prominent in Greek folk religion; it was customary to drink or pour out a few drops of unmixed wine to honor him in every symposium or formal banquet. In Aristophanes' Peace, when War has trapped Peace (Eirene) in a deep pit, Hermes comes to give aid: "Now, oh Greeks! is the moment when, freed of quarrels and fighting, we should rescue sweet Eirene and draw her out of this pit… This is the moment to drain a cup in honour of the Agathos Daimon." A temple dedicated to him was situated on the road from Megalopolis to Maenalus in Arcadia.

Agathos Daimon was the spouse or companion of Tyche Agathe ("Good Fortune"; Latin, and dialect, Agatha); "Tyche we know at Lebadeia as the wife of the Agathos Daimon, the Good or Rich Spirit." His numinous presence could be represented in art as a serpent or more concretely as a young man bearing a cornucopia and a bowl in one hand, and a poppy and an ear of grain in the other. The agathodaemon was later adapted into a general daemon of fortuna, particularly of the continued abundance of a family's good food and drink.

In the syncretic atmosphere of Late Antiquity, Agathodaemon could be bound up with Egyptian bringers of security and good fortune: a gem carved with magic emblems bears the images of Serapis with crocodile, sun-lion and Osiris mummy surrounded by the lion-headed snake Cnum-Agathodaemon-Aion, with Harpocrates on the reverse.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License