Personification of Starvation
Member of the Family of Eris
Personal information
SiblingsLethe, Ponos, Algos, Hysminai, Machai, Phonoi, Androktasiai, Neikea, Amphillogiai, Pseudea, Logoi, Dysnomia, Atë, Horkos
Roman equivalentFames

Limos (/ˈlˌmɒs/; Ancient Greek: Λιμός means 'starvation'), Roman Fames /ˈfˌmz/, was the "sad" goddess of starvation, hunger and famine in ancient Greek religion. She was opposed by Demeter, goddess of grain and the harvest with whom Ovid wrote Limos could never meet, and Plutus, the god of wealth and the bounty of rich harvests.[2]


According to Hesiod's Theogony, Limos was the daughter of the goddess Eris ("Discord"), who was the daughter of Nyx ("Night").[3] Her siblings include Toil (Ponos), Forgetfulness (Lethe), Stories (Logoi), Lies (Pseudea), Broken Oaths (Horkos), Quarrels (Neikea), Dispute (Amphillogiai), Manslaughter (Androktasiai), Battle (Hysminai) and War (Makhai), Anarchy (Dysnomia), Pain (Algea), and Ruin (Ate).

And hateful Eris bore painful Ponos ("Hardship"),
Lethe ("Forgetfulness") and Limos ("Starvation") and the tearful Algea ("Pains"),
Hysminai ("Battles"), Makhai ("Wars"), Phonoi ("Murders"), and Androktasiai ("Manslaughters");
Neikea ("Quarrels"), Pseudea ("Lies"), Logoi ("Stories"), Amphillogiai ("Disputes")
Dysnomia ("Anarchy") and Ate ("Ruin"), near one another,
and Horkos ("Oath"), who most afflicts men on earth,
Then willing swears a false oath.[4][5]


Sentinel of Hades

In Virgil's Aeneid, Limos is one of a number of spirits and monsters said to stand at the entrance to the Underworld.[6][7] Seneca the Younger writes that she "lies with wasted jaw" by Cocytus, the Underworld river of lamentation.[8][9]

Virgil's account

Aeneas is guided by the Sibyl through the Underworld:

They walked exploring the unpeopled night,
Through Pluto's vacuous realms, and regions void,
As when one's path in dreary woodlands winds
Beneath a misty moon's deceiving ray,
When Jove has mantled all his heaven in shade,
And night seals up the beauty of the world.
In the first courts and entrances of Hell
Luctus/ Penthus (Sorrows) and vengeful Curae (Cares) on couches lie:
There sad Senectus/ Geras (Old Age) abides, Morbus/ Nosos (Diseases) pale,
And Metus/ Deimos (Fear), and Fames/ Limos (Hunger), temptress to all crime;
Egestas/ Aporia (Want), base and vile, and, two dread shapes to see,
Labor/ Ponos (Bondage) and Letum/ Thanatos (Death): then Sopor/ Hypnos (Sleep), Death's next of kin;
And Gaudia (Dreams of Guilty Joy). Death-dealing Bellum/ Polemos (War)
Is ever at the doors, and hard thereby
The Eumenides'/ Furies' beds of steel, where wild-eyed Discordia/ Eris (Strife)
Her snaky hair with blood-stained fillet binds.[10]

Seneca's account

The foul pool of Cocytus' sluggish stream lies here;
here the vulture, there the dole-bringing owl utters its cry,
and the sad omen of the gruesome screech-owl sounds.
The leaves shudder, black with gloomy foliage
where sluggish Sopor/ Hypnos (Sleep) clings to the overhanging yew,
where sad Fames/ Limos (Hunger) lies with wasted jaws,
and Pudor/ Aedos (Shame), too late, hides her guilt-burdened face.
Metus/ Deimos (Dread) stalks there, gloomy Pavor/ Phobos (Fear) and gnashing Dolor/ Algos (Pain),
sable Luctus/ Penthus (Grief), tottering Morbus/ Nosos (Disease)
and iron-girt Bella/ Enyo (War); and last of all slow
Senectus/ Geras (Old Age) supports his steps upon a staff.[11]

King's punishment

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Limos is said to make her home in a freezing and gloomy wasteland at the farthest edge of Scythia, where the soil is barren and nothing grows. Demeter seeks her opposite's help there after being angered by the Thessalian king Erysichthon, who cut down a grove that was sacred to the goddess. By way of an oread nymph (as the two can never meet in person), Demeter bids Limos curse Erysichthon with never-ending hunger. The nymph beholds the fearsome spirit in a stony field:

Her hair was coarse, her face sallow, her eyes sunken; her lips crusted and white; her throat scaly with scurf. Her parchment skin revealed the bowels within; beneath her hollow loins jutted her withered hips; her sagging breasts seemed hardly fastened to her ribs; her stomach only a void; her joints wasted and huge, her knees like balls, her ankles grossly swollen.[12]

Limos does as Demeter commands; at midnight she enters Erysichthon's chamber, wraps the king in her arms and breathes upon him, "filling with herself his mouth and throat and lungs, and [channeling] through his hollow veins her craving emptiness". Thereafter, Erysichthon is filled with an unquenchable hunger which ultimately drives him to eat himself.[2]


  1. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 227
  2. ^ a b Ovid (author); Melville, A.D. (trans.) (1998). Metamorphoses. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–197.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 227
  4. ^ Caldwell, p. 42 lines 226-232, with the meanings of the names (in parentheses), as given by Caldwell, p. 40 on lines 212–232.
  5. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 226–232 Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Virgil (author); Fairclough, H.G. (trans.) (1916). Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Harvard University Press.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 276
  8. ^ Seneca the Younger (author); Frank Justus (trans.) (1917). Seneca: Tragedies. Harvard University Press.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 691
  10. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 268–281
  11. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 686–696
  12. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.791 ff.


  • Caldwell, Richard, Hesiod's Theogony, Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company (June 1, 1987). ISBN 978-0-941051-00-2.
  • Hesiod, Theogony from The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Tragedies. Translated by Miller, Frank Justus. Loeb Classical Library Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1917. Online version at
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Tragoediae. Rudolf Peiper. Gustav Richter. Leipzig. Teubner. 1921. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses translated by Brookes More (1859-1942). Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses. Hugo Magnus. Gotha (Germany). Friedr. Andr. Perthes. 1892. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Publius Vergilius Maro, Aeneid. Theodore C. Williams. trans. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1910. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Publius Vergilius Maro, Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics. J. B. Greenough. Boston. Ginn & Co. 1900. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library.