Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Theogony - Part 1: The first generation

The Greatest source of information about the creation of the world comes from the Greek poet Hesiod. He lived between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. In addition with the information about Greek religious customs, modern scholars refer to him as a major source on farming techniques, economic thought, archaic Greek astronomy, and ancient time-keeping. In this blog we are using his work "Theogony" that describes with many details the creation of the cosmos.

1st Generation

At the beginning there was only Chaos, a dark indefinite void that arose spontaneously. Out of the Chaos emerged Gaia (the Earth), Eros (Love), the Abyss (Tartarus), and the Erebus. Gaia was the great mother of all: creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe. Eros was representing sexual desire and serves an important role in reproduction Tartarus is the abyss that is used as a dungeon that souls were judged after death and where the wicked received divine punishment and as the prison for the Titans laterIn addition, from Chaos came Erebus, the place of darkness between the earth and the underworld, and Nyx (Night). Erebus and Nyx coupled to make Aether (Light) and Hemera (Day). 

From Gaia came Uranus (Sky), the Ourea (Mountains), and Pontus (Sea). Uranus mated with Gaia and they created twelve female and male Titans. The male titans were Cronus, Iapetus,
Coeus,  Hyperion,  Oceanus, and Crius. In addition, the six females were Themis, Phoebe, Tethys, Mnemosyne,  Rhea, and Theia. Titans were giant deities of incredible strength, who ruled during the legendary Golden Age, and also composed the first pantheon of Greek gods.
Family tree of the 1st generation of ancient Greek Gods according to Theogony/
Family tree of the 1st generation of ancient Greek Gods according to Theogony/
After Cronus was born, Gaia and Uranus decided that no more Titans were to be born. They were followed by the one-eyed Cyclopes (Brontes, Steropes and Arges) and the Hecatonchires "Hundred-Handed" Ones (Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges). Hesiod described Cyclopes as one-eyed primordial giants. The Hekatonkheires or Hecatonchires (Ἑκατόγχειρες - "hundred-handed ones" - Centimanes), were figures in during the first generation of Gods of Greek mythology, three giants of incredible strength and ferocity that surpassed all of the Titans, whom they helped overthrow.

Uranus throw all of them into Tartarus. This made Gaia furious and it was the begining of a set of events that overthrown Cronus and started the 2nd generation of Greek Gods as we explain in our next post.

Ὅσσοι γὰρ Γαίης τε καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἐξεγένοντο,
δεινότατοι παίδων, σφετέρῳ δ᾽ ἤχθοντο τοκῆι        
ἐξ ἀρχῆς· καὶ τῶν μὲν ὅπως τις πρῶτα γένοιτο,
πάντας ἀποκρύπτασκε, καὶ ἐς φάος οὐκ ἀνίεσκε,
Γαίης ἐν κευθμῶνι, κακῷ δ᾽ ἐπετέρπετο ἔργῳ
Οὐρανός. ἣ δ᾽ ἐντὸς στοναχίζετο Γαῖα πελώρη
στεινομένη· δολίην δὲ κακήν τ᾽ ἐφράσσατο τέχνην. 

For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, 

these were the most terrible, and they were hated 
by their own father from the first. 
And he used to hide them all away 
in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born,
and would not suffer them to come up into the light: 
and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing. 

Hesiod, Theogony 154-160