Iris, in Greek mythology, is the personification and goddess of the rainbow and messenger of gods. She was born to a Titan sea god, Thaumos and his wife, Elektra an Oceanid, she is twin sister to Arke, both of whom personified the rainbow and are also sisters to the Harpies. During the Titanomachy, she became messenger to the Olympian Gods, whilst her sister, Arke joined the Titans as their Messenger. She later married God of the West Wind, Zephyros and they may have been the parents of Pothos,the personification of Yearning or Longing, who is part of The Erotes.
Iris serves as a link between gods and the mortals and travels over the rainbow which connects heaven and earth. Just as natural was the choice of the goddess’ name: iris is the Greek word for “rainbow.
Since Iris rules over the colors of the rainbow, we kept our company name as Iris Gems – because if it was not for color we wouldn’t call these stones Gems. It’s the color that makes the stones attractive and desirable.
In Homer’s “Iliad,” Iris is the only one relaying messages from Zeus – and, once, Hera – to other gods or mortals, with Hermes being given the much smaller role of guide and guardian. A startling case in point can be found in the last book of the “Iliad,” when Zeus sends Iris to inform Priam about his merciful decision concerning his son’s dead body, and Hermes to merely conduct the Trojan king unnoticed to Achilles. During this period, Iris is reported as performing many vital tasks, such as informing Menelaus of Helen’s abduction or even autonomously granting Achille’s prayers and summoning the winds to ignite the funeral pyre of his friend Patroclus. Later, the poets tried differentiating between the functions of Hermes and Iris, making the former the messenger of Zeus, and making Iris into a loyal servant of Hera.
In Greek poet Hesiod’s works, at least, she had the additional duty of carrying water from the River Styx in an ewer whenever the gods had to take a solemn oath. The water would render unconscious for one year any god or goddess who lied.
Iris & Sleep (A Greek Tale)
Iris, the swift-footed goddess of the rainbow, was the daughter of the sea and the clouds. She was the messenger of the gods who traveled along the rainbow carrying messages from the heavens to those on earth. One day, when she was quite a little girl, Hera, queen of heaven, sent her to the cave of Somnus, god of sleep.
Iris ran along her multicolored arch to the meadow where Somnus had his cave. As soon as she saw the giant wilting elm near the cave, she knew she had found the spot. Everywhere around the mouth of the cave poppies and other sleepy herbs grew in abundance. She longed to see this secret place.
She searched for a door to knock upon, but the cave of Somnus had no door, no knocker, nothing that might wake anyone, and Iris shivered with excitement and curiosity. Even the wind blowing through the blooming flower petals made no sound; it was the quietest spot she had ever seen. And she would be quiet, she promised herself as she tiptoed toward the cave.
As she stepped inside, she saw the River Lethe, the river of the underworld that flowed through the cave of Somnus. Its gentle murmur induced drowsiness, but Iris shook herself awake as she stared at the river. She knew the shadows of the dead drank the waters of the Lethe to forget their earthly life, for anyone who drank those waters would forget even the existence of being.
Iris moved on, through the swarm of creatures that flew everywhere around her -- creatures as delicate as plumes of smoke but thick as birch leaves. She brushed them aside as she walked, for she was brave and determined to find the great god.
As she swept past them, they whispered, "We are dreams, we are dreams ... awaiting the god to tell us where to go ..."
Finally, she came to the center of the cave, and there she saw a bed that looked more comfortable than any she had ever seen. It was carved of ebony, and at its head were thick, soft pillows made of the finest black goose down. Soft, sweet smelling blankets covered the bed -- blankets so black not a bit of light could seep through their threads.
In the middle of this -- the blackest, most luxurious bed in the world -- Iris saw the god she had been seeking: There lay Old Sleep doing what he always did -- sleeping the deepest, sweetest sleep imaginable, weaving still more dreams to send out into the world.
Iris' clothing was spun from rainbows. Even in this darkest of dark caves, light like the dawn clung to her. As she tiptoed closer to the big, black bed, Somnus became restless. He tossed and turned, and he rolled over once, then once more.
Iris crept closer, and Old Sleep rolled one more time and suddenly sat up straight, rubbing his eyes. His heavy eyelids rose, and he sank back and leaned in and recognized the source of this shimmering light. "Why have you come?" he asked in a low, sleepy voice.
"Somnus," she said, "quietest of all the gods, peace of the world, balm of the soul, the one who drives away care and eases weary limbs and renews strength and bids dreams come; Hera orders you to wake. She seeks a dream."
Somnus roared with fury and called to his sons in the back of the cave. "Bring a bag of blackness to throw over this shining creature!"
Iris moved to his side, and in her sweetest voice, the voice she used to sing lullabies to the clouds, she crooned, "Oh restful Sleep, oh healing Sleep who takes away our cares and makes us new ..."
Old Sleep was not easily soothed. He didn't like being wakened, and the girl in her shimmery rainbow clothes had shattered all the darkness with her light. He stared at her, and as he did, Iris began to feel her eyelids growing heavy. She thought how lovely it would be to lie down, right here beside the River Lethe and look about her and watch those dreams at play. She could lie down and forget all her troubles. She felt more and more sleepy -- so sleepy that she barely heard the sound of Nightmare's footsteps as the son of Old Sleep came closer; she did not hear the hiss of the other son, Morpheus, breathe as he ran past.
She sank slowly onto the cave floor, but as she did, a single sunbeam caught in the folds of her skirt, and like a small golden fish, it wriggled free and spilled out into the room. The sunbeam danced about, and as it did light filled the cave, but only for one moment. As the ray began to diminish, it cast its beam upon the faces of Old Sleep's sons.
When that light hit their faces, the boys staggered backward and moved their hands to cover their eyes, and as they did, they dropped the bag of blackness to the ground.
Iris collected herself and as that bag dropped to the ground, she raced with all her strength back through the whispering dreams, back through the blackness of the cave, back toward the entrance where the poppies and the elm tree grew.
There, safely outside again, Iris saw her rainbow, one end tied with a twist of clover to a blooming poppy, the other rising past the clouds, all the way to heaven.
She ran to the rainbow and began to climb, and before long she had left that cave of darkness far below.
And when she was gone, all her light was gone too, and Old Sleep and his sons snuggled back into their big, soft beds, and there they remained.
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