Suidas tell us that Makaria is the daughter of Hades,
beloved death. She is blessedness brought on by the release of death. Samuel Boyse described Her as a goddess of
Happiness. Theoi speculates that She is the Goddess of the Happy Afterlife. Scholars of his era paired Makaria with
Eudaimonia. While Renaissance authors describe her as a Goddess of felicity,
wearing purple and silver.
Euripides gives us another figure by the name, a heroine who
dies in order to save her family from Eurytheus (the enemy of Herakles) by
sacrificing herself. Surprisingly the story holds that Makaria was not a native
to Athens. There is some speculation as to a ritual involving flower-throwing
held in her honor, and one speculates that this may have taken place at the
spring which bears her name. She chooses a good death rather than living a life
dedicated to being a wife, making her a noble spirit.
Herein we see one of the difficulties of reconstructing the
past. Do we see Euripides’ story of the daughter of Herakles as reflective of a
lost myth and thus derive the worship of Makaria as a Heroine? Or do we take
what Suidas has given and the speculation that appears to have been derived by
later scholars from his short blurb, and build up a worship of Makaria as a
goddess of the blessed afterlife, daughter of Hades, and full of joy and
Did Makaria the heroine experience an apotheosis like her father and become the
adoptive daughter of Hades in Her afterlife? And does She have the capacity to
grant us that blessing?
We certainly have little hope of discovering the full story as known by the
ancient Athenians, and I rather like the idea of Makaria attaining godhood and
being welcomed by the King of the Afterlife as a new Goddess, but I’m sure not
everyone will come to the same conclusions.
Boyse, Samuel, A New
Pantheon, Or, Fabulous History of the Heathen Gods, Heroes, Goddesses… J.
Coronato, Rocco. Jonson Versus Bakhtin:
Carnival and the Grotesque, Rodopi, 2003.
Euripides, Children of Herakles.
Larson, Jennifer. Greek Heroine Cults,
Univ. Wisconsin, 1995.
Mulryne, J.R. and Margaret Shewring. Theatre
of the English and Italian Renaissance, Macmillan, 1991.
Rabinowitz, Nancy Sorkin. Anxiety Veiled:
Euripides and the Traffic in Women, Cornell, 1993.
“Squat Lekythos depicting Eutychia, Eunomia and Paidia,” by the
Makaria Painter, 5th c. BCE Athens.
A red figure vase depicting the daimones/personifications of
Good Luck, Good Order, and Games and Play.
(for more information on the Makaria Painter and another of their works, there’s
a youtube video from the Ure museum here.)