Iris: Divine Rainbow Goddess and Messenger of the Olympians

*****Digital composite by Felicia***** My representation of Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow consists of five images and was created using layers and masks. The representation also incorporates my spiral symbol.

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
*****Lord Byron

The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.
*****John Vance Cheney

Iris the divine Rainbow Goddess was a messenger of the Olympians. She was fast and reliable. The goddess served and delivered messages for both Zeus and Hera. Some myths depict Iris as the personification of the rainbow. In other myths, Iris is the mother of Eros, the God of Love. If it was indeed she whom birthed Eros, it is not surprising that she was usually portrayed as loving, kind, and helpful. The sightly Iris is said to have used water from the River Styx to assist other immortals in the renewing of their vows. After filling their cups she delivered messages, ambrosia, and nectar. With her gifts, she replenished immortals. In her mortal and divine forms, the mythical Iris was breathtaking. Her picture of divinity is often rendered with a gold caduceus in hand, and magnificent golden or rainbow wings. The goddess was able to use the rainbow as a portal between Heaven and Earth. Iris was given the gift of flight to aid in the swift delivery of messages to other immortals, as well as to mortals on Earth.

A rainbow is often formed following a storm, and is also associated with golden treasure; therefore Iris and her instrument can be seen as signs of hope and prosperity. Iris and the rainbow embody a symbolic move from darkness to light, and the bow offers an intense spectrum of color as such. In 1984, Julia L. Epstein and Mark L. Greenberg published a white paper titled Decomposing Newton’s Rainbow in the Journal of the History of Ideas (Vol. 45, No. 1, pgs. 115-140). The paper was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, and revealed some research connecting rainbow myth with scientific studies. “Clearly, Newton investigated natural phenomena-light, vision, color-that had for centuries been invested with symbolic mystical and religious significance, and had also attracted serious scientific investigators from antiquity on. Yet a key answer to this question lies in understanding that, although Newton’s exposition of light’s properties, for example, was not itself figurative or laden with rhetorical invention, a great part of its appeal to poets lay in its power to evoke images and metaphors.”

This attempt to forge a language in which words are equivalent to things, of course, represented a linguistic ideal. Language was to annihilate metaphorical modes of expression, according to these new standards, through reduction to a pure sign system in which metaphor would be literalized. The universal language philosophers of the period sought for was a symbolic representation of discoveries in natural philosophy that would be wholly adequate to the processes of the material world.” Epstein and Greenberg acknowledged that the ultimate goal of Newton and poets was “to record the evanescent, to translate light and color into language,” and “to portray the arc and texture of a rainbow.” As Henry David Thoreau once said “the true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” After learning more about Iris, may we continue to grasp at least a part of our metaphorical rainbow, and in turn satisfy our soul.

Explore posts in the same categories: Analysis, Authors, Digital Art, Edification, Greek Mythology, Mind, Mythology, Obsessions, Poets, Research Papers, Scientists, Spiral Symbol, Studies, Symbols and Imagery, Worthy Reads, Writers

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