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date: 29 November 2022



  • Herbert Jennings Rose,
  • B. C. Dietrich
  •  and Alan A. D. Peatfield


Alastor, avenging deity or *daimōn, typically pursuing (there may be an etymological connexion with ἐλαύνειν, the form ἐλάστερος being also found) and punishing a killer or his kin. Similar words are alitērios, prostropaios, and palamnaios, which can often be applied indifferently to killer, victim, and avenger, the common factor being an act causing pollution. Hence we also find alastōr as a common term of abuse meaning ‘scoundrel’ or ‘wretch’ (Dem. 18. 296, 19. 305). Yet alastōr, its cognates and similar words can also appear as epithets of *Zeus, expressing a deity with both punitive and purificatory aspects; and other superhuman powers with very comparable functions are the *Erinyes.In tragedy, the alastōr exacts punishment for murder by causing new bloodshed and ensuring continuity of guilt as in the successive generations of *Atreus' family. After killing her husband *Agamemnon, *Clytemnestra identifies with ‘the ancient bitter avenger (alastōr)’ of *Atreus (Aesch.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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