Web Theoi
PHTHONOS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Φθονος Phthonos Phthonus Envy, Jealousy
Ζηλος Zêlos Zelus Jealousy, Rivalry

PHTHONOS (or Phthonus) was the spirit (daimon) of envy and jealousy. He was associated in particular with the jealous passions of love. In one ancient Greek vase painting he even appears in the guise of an Eros (winged love-god) in the company of Aphrodite.

The female counterpart of Phthonos was Nemesis, goddess of jealous retribution, who was often concerned with matters of love, as well as indignation at undeserved good fortune.

PARENTS

Perhaps a son of APHRODITE, though nowhere stated


Callimachus, Hymn 2 to Apollo 105 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Spake Phthonos (Envy) privily in the ear of Apollon : ‘I admire not the poet who singeth not things for number as the sea.’ Apollon spurned Phthonos (Envy) with his foot and spake thus : ‘Great is the stream of the Assyrian River, but much filth of earth and much refuse it carries on its waters. And not of every water do the Melissai carry to Deo [Demeter], but of the tricking stream that springs from a holy fountain pure and undefiled, the very crown of waters [Apollon is saying that quality is better more important quantity].’ Hail, O Lord, but Momos (Critisicm)--let him go where Phthonos (Jealousy) dwells!"

Oppian, Halieutica 1. 499 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.) :
"There is much Passion (Aphrodite) among fishes and Oistros (Desire) and Zelos (Jealous Rivalry), that grievous god, and all that hot Eros (Love) brings forth, when he stirs fierce tumult in the heart."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 34 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Now Phthonos (Envy), surveying the bed of lofty Zeus and Semele’s labour in the divine birth, was jealous of Bakkhos [Dionysos] in the womb, Phthonos self-tormenting, loveless, stung with his own poison. In that crafty heart he conceived a crooked plan. He put on the false image of a counterfeit Ares, with armour like his; he scored the front of the shield with a liquid of his own made from a poisonous flower, to imitate smears of blood. He dipt his deceitful fingers in vermilion dye, staining his hands with red stuff which pretended to be gore (which it resembled) from his slain enemies. He belched out from his throat through his horrible mouth a nine-thousand power roar, a man--breaking voice indeed! He provoked Athena with seductive whispers, and goaded jealous Hera yet more to wrath, and irritated them both; and these are the words he said: ‘Find another bridegroom in the sky, Hera, yes another! For Semele has stolen yours! For her sake he renounces the sevenzoned sky and treads the bridal floor of sevengated Thebes . . .’
He spoke, and disquieted the mind of selfborn Athena, and the more increased the wrath of jealous Hera. Swift leapt up Phthonos (Envy) and wagging his crooked knees passed on his sidelong roads through the lower air: he moved like smoke to human eyes and thoughts, arming his Telkhine’s mind for deceit and mischief."


Sources:

  • Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Oppian, Halieutica - Greek Poetry C3rd A.D.
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.