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Ananke (mythology)

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Title: Ananke (mythology)  
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Subject: Moirai, Aether (mythology), Greek primordial deities, Chronos, Zeus
Collection: Destiny, Divine Women of Zeus, Greek Goddesses, Offspring of Gaia, Personification in Greek Mythology, Time and Fate Goddesses
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Ananke (mythology)

In ancient Greek religion, Ananke (), also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke (Greek: Ἀνάγκη, from the common noun ἀνάγκη, "force, constraint, necessity"), was protegnos of inevitability, compulsion and necessity, depicted as holding a spindle. One of the Protogenoi, Ananke marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with her father and consort, Chronos (Chronos protogenos — not the titan Cronus). She was seen as the most powerful dictator of all fate and circumstance which meant that mortals, as well as the Gods, respected her and paid homage. Considered as the mother of the Fates according to one version, she is the only one to have control over their decisions[1] (except, according to some sources, also Zeus[2]).

According to the ancient Greek traveller Pausanias, there was a temple in ancient Corinth where the goddesses Ananke and Bia (meaning violence or violent haste) were worshipped together in the same shrine. Her Roman counterpart was Necessitas ("necessity").[3]


  • Etymology 1
  • Ananke in literature 2
  • Ananke in popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


"Ananke" is derived from the common Ancient Greek noun ἀνάγκη (Ionic: ἀναγκαίη anankaiē), meaning "force, constraint or necessity." The common noun itself is of uncertain etymology.[4] Homer uses the word meaning necessity (ἀναγκαίη πολεμίζειν, "ιt is necessary to fight") or force (ἐξ ἀνάγκης, "by force").[5] In Ancient Greek literature the word is also used meaning "fate" or "destiny" (ἀνάγκη δαιμόνων, "fate by the daemons or by the gods"), and by extension "compulsion or torture by a superior."[6] The word is often personified in poetry, as Simonides does: "Even the gods don’t fight against ananke".[7]

In the philosophical sense it means "necessity", "logical necessity"[8] or "laws of nature".[9]

Ananke in literature

Ananke as represented by a modern illustration of Plato's Republic.

The word "Ananke" is featured in Victor Hugo's novel Notre-Dame of Paris, written upon a wall of Notre-Dame by the hand of Dom Claude Frollo. In his Toute la Lyre, Hugo also mentions Ananke as a symbol of love. Here is what Hugo had to write about it in 1866.

Sigmund Freud in "Civilization and Its Discontents" (W. W. Norton, New York: 1961, p. 104) said: "We can only be satisfied, therefore, if we assert that the process of civilization is a modification which the vital process experiences under the influence of a task that is set it by Eros and instigated by Ananke — by the exigencies of reality; and that this task is one of uniting separate individuals into a community bound together by libidinal ties."

She is also the title of a science fiction short story by Stanisław Lem, in the series of the Tales of Pirx the Pilot. Ananke, used in the meaning of force and obsession (Anankastic personality disorder), is the key to the solution of a disastrous spaceship accident.

Ananke in popular culture

There is reference to Ananke early in John Banville's novel The Infinities. In explaining how the gods fashioned humans so that they would procreate, the narrator (Hermes) says that the gods gave humans lust, "Eros and Ananke working hand in hand". Norbert Wiener, in his book Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, presents Ananke as the personification of scientific determinism, contrasted with Tyche as the personification of quantum indeterminacy, in the often-quoted sentence: "The chance of the quantum theoretician is not the ethical freedom of the Augustinian, and Tyche is as relentless a mistress as Ananke."

In Kelly McCullough's Ravirn series, Ananke is a prominent figure in all the books under the guise of Necessity. In Philip K. Dick's novel VALIS, Ananke is mentioned as "blind necessity or blind chance, according to some experts...blind chance: chaos, in other words". Described alongside the term 'Noos' as the overwhelming chaos which reason, Noos, tries to constrain.

In Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's comic book series The Wicked + The Divine, Ananke is the immortal caretaker of the Gods of The Recurrence.

See also


  1. ^ Abril Cultural (1973). Editora Victor CivitaDicionário de Mitologia Greco-Romana (in Português). Editora Victor Civita. p. 134.  OCLC 45781956
  2. ^ "Theoi project: Moirae and the Throne of Zeus". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 97.
  5. ^ Iliad 4.300, Odyssey 4.557: : ἀνάγκηA Greek English LexiconLidell, Scott:
  6. ^ E.Ph.1000, Xenophon, Hiero 9.4
  7. ^ Simonides Fr. 4.20 Diehl: C. M. Bowra (1958), The Greek Experience. W. P. Publishing company, Cleveland and New York, p. 61
  8. ^ Aristotle, Metaph.1026.b28, 1064.b33: : ἀνάγκηA Greek English LexiconLidell, Scott:
  9. ^ Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.11.1: : ἀνάγκηA Greek English LexiconLidell, Scott:
  10. ^ Victor Hugo, Toilers of the Sea, 1866, p. 5

External links

  • Theoi Project - Ananke
  • Multi-lingual Dictionary
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