Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and the messenger of the Olympian gods.

Residence: Mount Olympus
Symbols: Rainbow and caduceus
Parents: Thaumas and Electra
Siblings: Arke, Aello, Celaeno and Ocypete
Roman equivalent: Iris

Iris. Athenian red-figure lekythos, c. 5th BC, Rhode Island School of Design Museum. (c)

She was often described as the handmaiden and personal messenger of Hera. Iris was a goddess of sea and sky; her father, Thaumas, was a marine-god, and her mother, Electra, a cloud-nymph. For the coastal-dwelling Greeks, the rainbow’s arc was most often seen spanning the distance between cloud and sea, and so the goddess was believed to replenish the rain-clouds with water from the sea. Iris had no distinctive mythology of her own. In myth she appears only as an errand-running messenger and was usually described as a virgin goddess.

Attic red-figure krater, c. 475-470 BC, depicting Iris attending to Poseidon. Yale University Art Gallery. (c)
Attic black-figure hydria, c. 520-510 BC, depicting Iris commanding Achilles to hand over the body of Hector. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (c)
Attic red-figure stamnos, c. 480 BC, depciting Iris attending Amphitrite and Poseidon. Toledo Museum of Art. (c)

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