Last updated on June 29th, 2022 at 11:43 am
Theogony in Greek Mythology
We, the Hellenes, have our Theogony, some refer to it as Cosmogony because it also deals with the creation of Cosmos(The Greek word for the Universe), which is part of Hellenic(Greek) mythology.
Every ancient religion has a kind of Theogony. The Greek Theogony was an epic poem consisting of more than a thousand lyrics, written by Hesiodos (Hesiod).
It was quite rich in stories, with wars between Gods and Titans, most of them amusing and a little naive.
The Greek word Theogonia comes from Theos=God and Gonos=offspring, also there is the word Genos that means Race, the race of Gods. Genesis is simply birth and fits better with the birth of the Universe.
These tales were passed from generation to generation and skewed from mouth to mouth. They deal with the birth of the Universe(Cosmos, therefore can be called Cosmogony as well), but mostly with the birth(Genesis in Greek) of Titans and Gods.
Hesiod was an epic poet like Homer. He collected all these tales and wrote the Theogony around 700 BCE as an epic poem. This happened long after the two epic poems of Homer who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey around 762 BCE, and long after the Trojan war.
Hesiod tried to collect all the myths that circulated in Greece regarding the creation of the world and the birth of Gods. Ηe also tried to decipher the genealogical tree of the Gods out of these myths.
So, Theogony, Cosmogony, or Genesis? Name it as you wish.
Order out of Chaos
In the beginning, there was only one element, Chaos, an entity without a beginning or end that emerged just after the Big Bang, so big that it covered everything in the Universe(Cosmos). Everybody knows that Chaos can be anything and nothing.
At the same moment, two deities appeared instantly, Chronos which is the start of time and space, and Anangee, which is the need for Creation.
And then came…the Greeks, to set order out of Chaos, to give a meaning and a name to all of their fantastic creations because Gods and religions are all human mind creations and nothing more.
The Greeks created the Gods, the Titans, the myths, and generally everything in the Cosmos as we know it.
But let’s take things in order as depicted in Τheogonia.
Titan’s and God’s family tree
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, there were three generations of Gods.
The Primordial Gods, the Titans, and the Olympians.
The Primordial Gods
Out of Chaos, seven Deities appeared, Gaia(mother earth) which was the most important of the primordial Gods, Eros, Tartarus the original God of the underworld, Erebus the God of darkness, and Nyx the God of night.
Also, two other deities that existed from the beginning of time as we describe above, Chronos which started the Time and means the old father time, and Anangee, the Greek word for a need that had the meaning of Destiny and was the cause of creation.
These were the 7 first deities that appeared in the Universe according to the people of the early bronze age!
From Gaia without fertilization came three other Gods, Ouranos(Sky), the Pontos(Sea), and the Orea(Mountains).
Nyx was also inspired by Eros and mated with Erebos giving birth to Etheras and Hemera(Day).
Gaia created Ouranos(the Sky), and we all know that the Sky surrounds the Earth like a lover surrounds his beloved, so naturally, Gaia and Ouranos became a couple, and from them came the Cyclopes which were monsters with one big eye, the Heckatoncheires monsters with hundred hands each, and most importantly the twelve Titans.
From Tartaros the god of the underworld comes several monsters such as Cerberus the three-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld or hell, the Dragon from which Jason and the Argonauts stole the Golden Fleece, and the Sphinx who had the face of a human the body of a lion and the wings of a bird.
We must note here that for the ancients there was no hell, the underworld was a dark place where the souls just ended there and existed without being able to affect the living world. No hell with the Christian meaning.
Some of the other famous monsters from Greek mythology came from Pontos the original God of the sea.
These include the Harpies, the Sirenes(Sirens), and the Gorgons. The most famous Gorgon was of course Medusa who had snakes for her hair. One look at her face would turn anyone to stone.
The descendants of Pontos also include the Graies. They are three old witches who share an eye and a tooth and can see the future. Graies in modern Greek means the old women, nothing changed since the bronze age!
Finally from Pontos comes Nereus, another important sea god sometimes known as the old lord of the sea. He’s the father of the Neerides(Nereids) a large group of female sea nymphs.
Another large group of deities that fall under the primordial category is those that came from Erebos and Nyx. These include Charon the ferryman to the underworld as well as several other figures.
But from Nyx comes also another big group of primordial deities that were the personification of human fears and concepts, these are Moros(Doom), Thanatos(Death), Oneira(Dreams), Nemesis(Devine Judgment), Momos(Blame), Phillies(Affection), Geeras(Aging), Eris(Dispute), Apatee(Deceit), Zophos(Distress), Moirae(Fates), and Hypnos(Sleep).
Children of Hypnos are Phorkys, Phobetor(scarecrow), Icelos, and Phantasos(Phantasy).
The Titans and the birth of the Gods
The second generation of Gods are the Titans, children of Gaia and Ouranos and there are 12 of them.
We have Oceanos, God of the ocean, and Tethys goddess of the rivers. Oceanos take the place of Pontus in this second generation of gods and along with his sister Tethys are the parents of the Oceanides, a large group of sea goddesses many of whom were the mothers of other important Gods which we’ll get to later.
Next, we have Hyperion, God of light, and Theia Goddess of the ether. From them comes Helios(Sun) the original God of the Sun, and Selene the original goddess of the moon.
Coeos with Phoebe gives birth to Asteria(the group of stars), Leto, and two of the most important Olympian Gods, Artemis and Apollo.
Some of the twelve Titans are grouped as couples but some are not, one that is not is Krios who married a daughter of Pontos, and from them came Pallas the original God of War.
Pallas married Sphynx and together they were the parents of 4 children, Kratos(in recent years State) which for the ancient Greeks means Strength, Nike the Goddess of Victory, Zelea the Goddess of Jealousy, and Via, the Goddess of Violence, Force.
We then have the most important couple between Titans, the couple of Cronos, God of the harvest, and Rhea, goddess of fertility. It is important because they were the parents of some of the Olympians including Dias.
The other four Titans are Themis, Mnemosyne, Dione, and Iapetos.
Iapetos is perhaps the most important of the last 4 because he was the father of Atlas, the God who is often shown holding a globe on his back, as well as the father of Prometheus and Epimetheus Gods of foresight and hindsight.
Prometheus is the God who created mankind and gave fire to humans and Epimetheus is the God who married the first woman Pandora.
Let’s get back to Cronos and Rhea because they are the king and queen of the gods in this second generation of Titans.
Ouranos and Gaia were originally the main gods but according to one Greek myth they were replaced by Cronos and Rhea because of the following sequence of events.
For some reason Ouranos didn’t like his sons with Gaia, Hecatoncheires, remember the men with the hundred hands? and decided to banish them deep within the Gaia(Earth) which both hurt and angered.
Gaia, therefore, made a giant sickle and tell the Titans to castrate their father Ouranos.
Cronos who was the youngest of the Titans was the only one brave enough to do so.
He was successful and from the blood of Ouranos came the Furies, goddesses of vengeance, the three nymphs Meliae, as well as several Giants, the Erinyes, and according to some versions the Goddess of love Aphrodite out of the foam around the genitals of Ouranos that were thrown in the sea near the island of Cyprus.
Because of this act, Cronos and his sister and partner Rhea became the new king and queen of the Gods, but foolishly Cronos decided to continue the banishment of the Hecatoncheires just like his father had done and therefore it was prophesied that one of Crono’s children would eventually defeat him just like he had defeated his father because of this.
Cronos was very much scared of his children and therefore decided to eat each of them as soon as they were born.
The couple had six children. These children would eventually become the third and final generation of Gods known as the Olympians.
The first five were all eaten by Cronos, but when the sixth child named Dias was born Rhea decided to play a trick on Cronos, she wrapped up a rock and gave it to Cronos, and instead of the baby Cronos ate the rock thinking it was Dias and therefore Rhea was able to hide Dias in a safe place until the time he was old enough to launch a war against his father.
The Titanomachy – Clash of the Titans
Dias or Zeus grows up with the help of the Nymphs who raised the newborn feeding him with the milk of a goat. The name of the goat was Amalthea.
Soon he became strong enough to challenge his father, He managed to cut open Crono’s stomach and release his brothers and sisters, he freed the Hecatoncheires and made them his allies in the war against the Titans.
According to another myth, he just gave a magic potion to Kronos and forced him to vomit his children. Of course, his brothers were alive in the stomach of Kronos since they were immortal as gods.
Thus Dias formed a group of Gods, half of them being his brothers and sisters and the rest being his children, along with an older deity Aphrodite.
In the Titanomachy, some of the Titans were sided with the Gods, including Aphrodite who was a Titaness, the three brothers Promitheas, Epimetheus, and Atlas sons of Iapetos, and the Titaness Mnemosyne who then became one of Zeus’ mistresses.
The Gods led by Zeus prevailed, and the defeated Titans were exiled to Tartara(Tartarus in Roman), a dark and miserable place very far away from the Earth, with the Hecatoncheires to be their guards.
That war is also known as the Clash of the Titans and as prophesied Zeus was able to defeat Cronos thus becoming the third and final king of the Gods.
The 12 Olympian Gods
The first five children of Rhea who were freed from their father’s stomach were Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, Hades(Plouton) who became the new god of the underworld, and Hestia.
Poseidon married one of the Nereids and became the new God of the sea, Demeter took over Cronos’s role and became the goddess of the harvest.
Dias of course became the king of the Gods but was also the new God of the sky and in particular the God of thunder. He settled along with his siblings on the top of mount Olympus from where he ruled the world.
He married his sister Hera who became queen of the Gods and was the Goddess of women.
Hades or Plouton became the new God of the underworld and Hestia became the goddess of the hearth.
Athena became the Goddess of wisdom from which the city of Athens takes its name, she was the daughter of Dias with his first wife Metis one of the Oceanids.
With his wife, Hera Dias had Hephaestus, the God of fire, and Ares, the God of War.
Hermes is a son of Dias and Maia who was a daughter of Atlas. He is the messenger of the Gods and is the one with the wings on his helmet, he also serves many other roles though and because of this, he’s considered both an earth God and a Sky God.
Dionysos was Dia’s son after his affair with Semele, one of the Oceanic nymphs and he is the God of wine and celebrations.
Finally, we have Apollo, the new god of the sun, and Artemis the Goddess of the moon. Their mother was Leto, one of the thousands of Dia’s mistresses, the daughter of Titans Coios and Phoebe.
Apollo was also the god of medicine and the arts and Artemis the Goddess of hunting
So, the Olympian Gods were the 5 brothers and sisters of Dias, plus 7 of his children with Hera and other women, plus Aphrodite, who according to another myth was his daughter and not the deity we described above coming out from the foam of the sea.
The main Titans were 12, so Olympians should be also 12 for the magic number to fulfill.
But counting the Gods their number is 14, but no worries, Hesiod took care of this… inconsistency, Hestia gave up her Olympian throne in favor of Dionysos, and Hephaestus most of the time lived on his island Lemnos where he had his workshop.
Theogony doesn’t end here, there are thousands of other siblings, minor gods, demigods, and many offspring of Dias, who was cheating on Hera continuously.
From Dias and his affair with Titaness Mnemosyne, there were 9 Muses born, nymphs of music and arts.
Dias was the father of Epaphos after his relationship with Io, also the Father of Hebe, Enyo, and Eileithyia with Hera, and the father of the most important hero Heracles after his affair with Oceanid Alcmene.
Other Gods also had children, Aris, the God of war had a long-time affair with Aphrodite and gave birth to Harmonia, Anteros, Himeros, Deimos, and Phobos, you remember the two small satellites of Aris(Mars)?
Hermes with Aphrodite also had five children, Tyche(Luck), Rhode, Peitho(Convince), Evnomia, and Hermaphroditos(a human with both sexes)
Gods had to face another challenge though, the Giants, children of Ouranos.
Therefore there was another war, the Gigantomachy that lasted equally long.
Finally, the Gods beat them all and settled on their Palace at the top of Olympos mountain in Thessaly from where they ruled the world.
As you can see, the ancient Gods of the Greeks were nothing but the personifications of human passions, fears, and emotions that are still present and dominate our lives to this day.
We see that human passions and mostly the fears of human nature are dominating the Theogony, most deities were the personifications of human fears and anxieties, deeply human feelings as their names reveal.
Ancient Greek religion has nothing to do with today’s religions, Greek Mythology was the bible of ancient religion but completely different. It is a hymn to human feelings and fearless about any fake vengeful god, it was a philosophy rather than a religion.
Today, of course, nobody believes in the gods of Ancient Greece. But their stories are so fascinating and entertaining that still around, and they live on just like the best of tales that the human mind ever made.
They are sources of inspiration. Let’s imagine an epic movie film where Zeus never left a woman unsatisfied, that would be a fantastic production!
As you noticed, on this page we have some planet photos with their original Greek Gods’ names, rejecting the Roman copies because this is what Roman gods are, stolen copies and not equivalents as claimed by unhistorical Western historians. And because this is how we call these planets in Greece and this is how everybody should call them.