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Eileithyia


Eileiyhyia, the coming, is the Greek, previously Mycenaean, goddess of birth; primarily worshipped by women and invoked to to ease the pain and danger of childbirth. The cries of labor summoned her presence. She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera, sibling of Hebe and Ares, and assisted at the birth of Apollo. Her role later is largely assumed by Artemis. Also, the name is used in a plural collective sense which reflected the practice of neighborhood women gathering together to help in childbirth. A tablet from Knossos records reads, "Amnisos, for Eleuthia, one amphora for honey." The cave at Amnisos, near Knossos, has a sacred stalagmite surrounded by a wall and involving an altar. In Sparta there was allegedly a running track at the end of which was a temple to Eileithyia. A.G.H.


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 73

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