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The Remorse of Orestes or Orestes Pursued by the Furies. It depicts the tale from Greek mythology of Orestes being tormented by the Erinyes for murdering his mother Clytemnestra (left), whose lover Aegisthus had killed Orestes’ father Agamemnon. The Erinyes, or Furies, are regarded as chthonic deities – spirits of the underworld.

From Ancient Greek χθών (khthṓn, ground, soil) +‎ -ic.



chthonic (not generally comparable, comparative more chthonic, superlative most chthonic)

  1. Dwelling within or under the earth. [from late 18th c.]
    The young pantheon had remanded their elders to the role of smouldering, chthonic gods; to inhabiting dark, deep places, hidden from mortal eyes and influence.
    • 1835, C[arl] [i.e., Karl] O[tfried] Müller, “Religious Point of View”, in Dissertations on The Eumenides of Æschylus: With the Greek Text and Critical Remarks, Cambridge: Printed at the Pitt Press, by John Smith, for J. and J. J. Deighton; also for John William Parker, London, OCLC 1001178262, page 220:
      In this ceremony the Olympian Gods are placed in opposition to the Chthonic genii, the divinities of death and the dark side of nature, in which class the heroes are also reckoned; but Zeus Soter is conceived as a third and lord over both worlds.
    • 1886, Arthur J[ohn] Evans, “Recent Discoveries of Tarentine Terra-cottas”, in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, volume VII, London: Published by the Council, and sold on their behalf by Macmillan and Co., 29, Bedford Street, Strand, London, OCLC 562455171, page 17:
      In connexion with these Chthonic surroundings, the form of the head-dress which crowns the recumbent figure of Dionysos-Pluto, and is also occasionally seen on the kead of the Kourotrophos at the foot of the couch, is of considerable significance.
    • 1959, Quentin Froebel Maule, Votive Religion at Caere: Prolegomena[1], page 114:
      There is no god more chthonic than the god of death, Leinth, and it is he that holds on his left knee Maris Halna, who (in mere innocence) shows no fear of him.
    • 2010, Christine Zuni Cruz, “Self-determination and Indigenous Nations in the United States: International Human Rights, Federal Policy and Indigenous Nationhood”, in Lisa Strelein, editor, Dialogue about Land Justice: Papers from the National Native Title Conference, Canberra, ACT: Aboriginal Studies Press, →ISBN, page 162:
      [H. Patrick] Glenn refers to Indigenous law as chthonic law, because it is the law of chthonic peoples – peoples 'who live ecological lives by being chthonic, that is, by living in or in close harmony with the earth'.

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