1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Iris (mythology)

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IRIS, in Greek mythology, daughter of Thaumus and the Ocean nymph Electra (according to Hesiod), the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As the rainbow unites earth and heaven, Iris is the messenger of the gods to men; in this capacity she is mentioned frequently in the Iliad, but never in the Odyssey, where Hermes takes her place. She is represented as a youthful virgin, with wings of gold, who hurries with the swiftness of the wind from one end of the world to the other, into the depths of the sea and the underworld. She is especially the messenger of Zeus and Hera, and is associated with Hermes, whose caduceus or staff she often holds. By command of Zeus she carries in a ewer water from the Styx, with which she puts to sleep all who perjure themselves. Her attributes are the caduceus and a vase.