Camus, in The myth of Sisyphus, mentions that

"There was in Athens a temple dedicated to old age. Children were taken there." ("Il y avait à Athènes un temple consacré à la vieillesse. On y conduisait les enfants").

Indeed, Old Age is mentioned as a deity in Hesiod's Theogony. It is Geras, son of Nyx (Night).

But I would like to ask for help finding documentation that supports the existence of a temple dedicated to old age in Athens, as I haven't been able to do so in Wikipedia & other online sources.

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    Please don't be offended by the previous comments. It wasn't immediately clear originally that you're asking about the existence of the temple, rather than information on Geras. And it is our standard practice to check if someone's question is on Wikipedia. Of course, this is now clear with your latest edit. I've reopened the post.
    – Semaphore
    Oct 21, 2020 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


From "Brill's New Pauly":

(Γῆρας; Gêras, Lat. Senectus). Personification of hated old age, often depicted as a small, naked, wrinkly old man with a long, drooping penis who is defeated by Hercules in a burlesque way 1. As a creature of the night (Hes. Theog. 225), G. belongs to the creatures of horror found at the entrance to the Underworld (Verg. Aen. 6,275; Sen. Herc. f. 696), although he resides on Olympus (Aristoph. Av. 606). Sisyphus is brought back to the Underworld by G. (Eust. Od. 11,592). A sanctuary is attested only for the extremely pious residents of Gades (Philostr. VA 5,4).

The last sentence is a bit vague (or badly translated from the German edition: Ein Heiligtum ist nur bei den äußerst frommen Bewohnern von Gades bezeugt), but what the author means is clearly that the only known temple of Geras was in Gades (now Cadiz in Spain). Hence: no such temple in Athens.

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    Perhaps include theoi.com/Daimon/Geras.html or Philstratos directly? Also: perhaps there was a shrine (or some other place); or this is all conflated with between γῆρας and γέρας? jstor.org/stable/43646122 Oct 21, 2020 at 11:23
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    @LаngLаngС. γῆρας "old age" and γέρας "gift of honour" are etymologically related, but they have different meanings.
    – fdb
    Oct 21, 2020 at 11:34
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    Exactly. But did Camus know that when writing this short & unconnected passage? Vases and poetry for Geras are well attested, but like Nyx the cult may have been relegated to back benches; perhaps like in the amalgamations of Ambologêra? Also note that sanctuary and 'temple' are not necessarily the same. "Temple dedicated to Geras" seems unattested, but 'lesser places' are not ruled out by this, though I suspect that Camus just mixed up sth. Oct 21, 2020 at 12:08

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