Humanities › History & Culture Iris, the Greek Goddess Share Flipboard Email Print Jared I. Lenz Photography / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Mythology & Religion Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Rome American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated August 18, 2018 Iris was a swift messenger goddess in Greek mythology and a popular subject for vase painting, but better known as the goddess of the rainbow because Hermes (Mercury) is known as the messenger god. Iris is shown with wings, a (kerykeion) herald's staff, and a pitcher of water. She is a beautiful young woman described as wearing a multi-hued gown. Family of Origin Thaumas, son of the sea (Pontos), and Elektra, an Oceanid, are possible parents of Iris. Her sisters are the Harpiea Aello and Okypetes. In Early Greek Myth. Timothy Gantz (Early Greek Myth, 1993) says a fragment of Alcaeus (327 LP) says Iris mated with the west wind, Zephyros, to become the mother of Eros. Iris in Roman Mythology In the Aeneid, Book 9, Hera (Juno) sends Iris to incite Turnus to attack the Trojans. In Metamorphoses Book XI, Ovid shows Iris in her rainbow-hued gown serving as a messenger goddess for Hera. The Homeric Epics Iris appears in the Odyssey when Zeus sends her to convey his orders to the other gods and to mortals, when Hera sends her to Achilles. Iris also appears when she seems to act on her own to convey information while appearing disguised as a human—unlike the other times. Iris also helps a wounded Aphrodite from the battlefield and to carry Achilles' prayer to Zephyros and Boreas. Iris seems to have revealed to Menelaus the fact that his wife, Helen, left with Paris in the Kypria. In the Homeric Hymns, Iris serves as a messenger to bring Eileithuia to help with Leto's delivery and to bring Demeter to Olympus to deal with famine. Iris and the River Styx According to the Greek poet, Hesiod, Iris went to the Styx to bring water back for another god to swear an oath by.