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Cer

Κήρ), the personified necessity of death (Κήρ or Κῆρες Δανάτοιο). The passages in the Homeric poems in which the Κήρ or Κῆρες a appear as real personifications, are not very numerous (Il. 2.302, 3.454, 18.535), 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 ((Hom. Il. 12.326) pronounces to be μυρίαι, and may be a natural, sudden, or violent death. (Od. 11.171, &c., 398, &c.) The Κῆρες are described as formidable, dark, and hateful, because they carry off men to the joyless house of Hades. (Il. 2.859, 3.454; Od. 3.410, 14.207.) The Κῆρες, 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. 12.402, 18.115, 4.11; Od. 11.397.) Even mortals themselves may for a time prevent their attaining their object, or delay it by flight and the like. (Il. 3.32, 16.47.) During a battle the Κῆρες wander about with Eris and Cydoimos in bloody garments, quarrelling about the wounded and the dead, and dragging them away by the feet. (Il. 18.535, &c.) According to Hesiod, with whom the Κῆρες 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. 5.19.1.) 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. 4.1665, &c.) Epidemic diseases are sometimes personified as Κῆρες. (Orph. Hymn. 13.12, 66.4, Lith. 7.6; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 847.)

[L.S]

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