Saturday, November 19, 2011

Agathos Daimon/Agathodaemon

Agathos Daimon, also called the good demon, was the god of fortune. More of a Greco-Roman god, he was locally worshipped in the area of Alexandria and depicted in the form of a snake. He most likely originated as an androgynous fertility spirit, but later became identified as the consort of Agathe Tyche (see Tyche). Librations were made regularly to this deity after meals and he was regarded as a friendly household guardian (see Lares).

From: here
In antiquity, the agathos daimon, or agathodaimon, was androgynous. It was represented by a snake, which seemingly has no sex. It was in the form of a giant serpent that Alexander the Great killed and revered the daimon. He founded his city on the site (Alexandria) where he slew the serpent, and it held a prominent civic shrine to the agathodaimon. In later antiquity the daimon was declared male. The form changed to the image of a young man bearing aloft a horn of plenty. The snake and cornucopia image became penantes (household guardian of plenty) to the Romans. In the form of the man, it was said that the agathodaimon was the husband of Agatha Tyche, the goddess of good fortune.

The worship of the agathodaimon was and is mostly a private practice. Greek families poured out a few drops of wine to him after every meal. Small offerings were sometimes left out to the daimon, which appeared as a snake around the household. To honor the spirit, I pour out libations to him. I speak to him on a regular basis, asking for protection for myself and my home. I have also made a sculpture of a snake to serve as a visual reminder of my daimon.

Pindar, Socrates, Proclus and Plotinus mention their daemons as well. The spirit acts as a guardian against error and a guide in life.


From: here

The second day of every Athenian month was also a sacred day, devoted to the Agathos Daimon (good spirit). The name “daimon” does not mean the evil demon of modern Christianity, (although it did have a negative form, called the kakodaimon), but was thought to be an aspect of Zeus, as Zeus Ktesios, Charitodotes, and Epikarpios, titles as giver of increase and joy. Agathos Daimon is most often represented in the form of a snake, a symbol of healing. However the daimon is also a function of one’s being, a characteristic inherently neither good nor bad. Hence, one prays for a good daimon, an eudaimon, and goodness from the gods for the coming month and also for the favor of father Zeus as Agathos Daimon. Burkert (Greek Religion, p. 181) says that “One must be on good terms with it.” And Pindar sang that "The daimon active about me I will always consciously put to rights with me by cultivating him according to my means" (Pyth. 3.108f) and "The great mind of Zeus steers the daimon of the men whom he loves" (Pyth. 5.122f). The philosopher Sokratēs talks of his own daimon as a small voice which speaks to him and warns him to refrain from certain actions (Plato, Apology, 31d).

In Greek lunar calculations, the second day of the month is the one during which the new crescent moon is most likely glimpsed. In this form it most seems to have “two horns,” especially as it sets. The Orphic Hymn 9, to Selene, the Moon, describes her as taurokeros, "bull horned." Thus the crescent moon resembles the top of the kerykeion, the staff of Hermēs, where the two serpents, the Agathos Daimon (the “spirit of abundant goodness”) and Agatha Tychē (“good fortune”), form an open circle and a complete circle below, representing the phases of the moon (the Roman embellished the kerykeion with wings to form the more familiar caduceus). Hermes carries the kerykeion as messenger of the Gods and bringer of goodness and good fortune.

Agathos Daimon is also associated with Dionysos, especially with His gift of wine. A feast was often closed with a small drink of unmixed wine, called either Agathos Daimon or Zeus Soter (savior), as though supplicating the god that they may do nothing indecent or have too strong a desire for the drinking, and may receive from it all that is noble and salutary (Athenaeus, XV, 693 d).

From: here
In ancient Greek religion, Agathos Daimon or Agathodaemon (Greek: ἀγαθὸς δαίμων, "noble 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),[2] he was prominent in Greek folk religion;[3] 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 (Εἰρήνη 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.[4]

Agathos Daimon was the spouse or companion of Tyche Agathe (Τύχη Ἀγαθή "Good Fortune"; Latin, and dialect, Agatha); "Tyche we know at Lebadeia as the wife of the Agathos Daimon, the Good or Rich Spirit."[5] 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 (Koine Greek: Ἀγαθοδαίμων) 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.[6]

From: Wiki
Also see:
Neos Alexandria entry
Blog entry: Have you said hi to your Agathos Daimon lately?
The Agathodaemon and the Afterlife

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