Pheme | Greek Goddess

Pheme Greek Mythology

Fame, in Greek: φήμη - transliterated phêmê, and from the verb φαναι - pnánaí, to say or to propagate, means initially "that which is exposed, revealed" or "public voice" hence disclosure, revelation, through word or a sign, bringing the warning of the gods or the messages of god.


Female deity of the Greco-Latin pantheon, charged with spreading all kinds of news, whether they emanated from the gods or from men. At first, this function of messenger belonged to Ossa (Homer, Il. II, 93; Od., XVIV, 413) or to Iris (Homer, Il. II, 786-787). In Hesiod, however, she already appears as a goddess (T. and D., 763-764) and Sophocles (King Oedipus, 158) gives her as the daughter of Hope.

However, it was the Latin poets who brought the greatest range of information. Virgil describes her as the swiftest of all calamities: hideous monster, messenger of both slander and truth (En., IV, 173 ff.), she is the one who spreads the news of the loves of Dido and Aeneas.

As the bearer of good news, she is iconographically represented as a beautiful woman playing the trumpet. As the propagator of lies, she is identified with Slander, whom Botticelli painted with the features of an old woman, with a thin face, semi-occult under the cloak covering her head.

Greek Mythology

Fama was born out of Gaia, just after the giants Céos and Encelado. It dwelt at the center of the world, at the ends of the earth, sky and sea. In its sound palace, built of bronze, with thousands of orifices, it picked up everything that was spoken, no matter how low it was, and, amplifying it, immediately propagated it.

Surrounded by credulity, error, false joy, terror, sedition and false rumors, Fama supervised the whole world. In the classical representation, she possessed multiple eyes and ears, which saw and heard everything, and as many mouths to spread the word.

Endowed with wings (which denotes a kthonic deity, linked to the dead) she would move quickly, when necessary, to any part of the Cosmos with the intention of ascertaining the veracity of facts or propagating them personally.

Roman Mythology

In Roman mythology, she is the poetic deity, messenger of Jupiter, having been removed by him to live in the company of Credulity, Error, False Joy, Terror, Discord and Rumor.

She walked by night as well as by day, and unable to keep silent, she stood on the highest places to bring to the public all kinds of news, the false and the true. Fame was represented by the figure of a winged being, very agitated and with frightening features.

Classic literature

Present in classical works, Fama appears initially in Homer's Odyssey, and as personified reputation is found in Plutarch, but as divinity, agent and operative, Fama would only assert itself in Latin myth with Ovid and especially Virgil in his work Aeneid. He walked by night and by day, constantly proclaiming the news from the high places (Virgil, Aeneid, 1. 4)


In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Fama gave way to the figure of angels, winged beings who are protectors and bearers of God's messages. In common representation, angels usually have bird wings.

Unlike Fama, angels possess delicate beauty and a strong glow, and are sometimes depicted as a child, because they have innocence and virtue. Angels are still important figures in many other religious traditions of the past and present, and the name "angel" is often given indistinctly to all classes of celestial beings.