In Greek mythology, Eilithyia was the goddess of childbirth.

Eilithyia was the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She was also an assistant to Hera, tasked to aid women in the delivery of their children and helping women endure the pain associated with bringing new life into the world.

Eilithyia was particularly venerated by the Greek places Crete and Delos as a symbol of fertility. She was often associated with Hera, Artemis, and Aphrodite.

The gods and goddesses of ancient Greece (and Rome, for that matter), possessed all the flaws and passions of their mortal devotees. Zeus, a deity of immense carnal appetite and possessed of a wandering eye, lay with the mortal Leto, a woman of wonderous beauty. Hera, wife of Zeus, was not in the least happy with this betrayal by her husband. Her solution was not to attack Zeus but instead the object of his affections. Leto, who had become pregnant from her liason with Zeus, was now pursued by the evil minion of Hera, the vile serpent Python. Hera's curse decreed that Leto could not give birth while the sun shone on firm ground nor upon any island at sea. Hera also obscured Leto from the sight of Eilithyia, who could give her respite from her travail.

Leto sought in vain for a city or island upon which to bear her children. She promised good fortune to the place which gave her refuge, but was turned away due to the resident's fear of Hera's anger. Finally she found refuge at Delos, a tiny granite body tossed on the Aegean waters, being unattached to the sea floor. Poseidon, for his own reasons, aided Leto by anchoring the tiny place with four immense pillars. He extended the pillars over Delos and used them to sustain a dome which shielded Leto from the sun. These machinations stymied the curse of Hera with the result being Leto going into labor for 9 excruciating days and nights.

All the other gods and goddesses were on the side of Leto. Iris, female messenger goddess, found Eilithyia and told her of Leto's need. Eilithyia came and aided in the birth of Leto's children Apollo and Artemis. The children became important members of the Greek pantheon of gods.

Demos was awarded by becoming wealthy, as well as a signigicant port and destination for pilgrims worshipping Apollo and Artemis.

Eilithyia is also a character in the RPG game World of Warcraft.


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