The Titans

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The Titans

Post by Chaos. on Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:40 pm

The Titans


Gaea

GAIA (or Gaea) was the Protogenos (primeval divinity) of earth, one of the primal elements who first emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea and sky. She was the great mother of all : the heavenly gods were descended from her union with Uranus (the sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontus (the sea), the Giants from her mating with Tartars (the hell-pit) and mortal creatures were sprung or born from her earthy flesh.

In myth Gaia appears as the prime opponent of the heavenly gods. First she rebelled against her husband Uranus (Sky) who had imprisoned her sons in her womb. Then later, when her son Cronus defied her by imprisoning these same sons, she assisted Zeus in his overthrow of the Titan. Finally she came into conflict with Zeus, angered with him for the binding of her Titan-sons in the pit of Tartars. In her opposition she first produced the tribe of Giants and later the monster Typhoeus to dethrone him, but both failed in both attempts.

In the ancient Greek cosmology earth was conceived as a flat disk encircled by the river Oceanus, and topped above by the solid dome of heaven and below by the great pit of Tartars. She herself supported the sea and mountains upon her breast.

Gaia was depicted as a buxom, matronly woman, half raised from the earth (as in the image right) in Greek vase painting. She was portrayed as inseparable from her native element. In mosaic art, Gaia appears as a full-figured, reclining woman, often clothed in green, and sometimes accompanied by grain spirits--the Karpoi.


Uranus

Uranus (or Uranus) was the primeval god (protogenos) of the sky. The Greeks imagined the sky as a solid dome of brass, decorated with stars, whose edges descended to rest upon the outermost limits of the flat earth. Uranus was the literal sky, just as his consort Gaia was the earth.

Uranus and Gaia fathered twelve sons and six daughters. The eldest of these--the giant Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires(100 armed)--he locked away inside the belly of Earth. Gaia suffered immense pain and persuaded her Titan sons to rebel. Four of these were set as sentinels at the four corners of the world, ready to grasp their father as he descended to lie upon the Earth. The fifth took his place in the centre, and armed with an adamantine sickle, castrated Uranus while his brothers held him firm. The sky-god's blood fell and drenched the earth, producing the avenging Erinyes and the Giants.

After his downfall, Uranus prophesied the fall of the Titans and the punishment they would suffer for their crimes--a prophecy which was later fulfilled by Zeus who deposed the brothers and cast them into the Tartarean pit.

Uranus does not occur in early Greek art, however Egyptian representations of the sky-goddess Nut show how he was imagined--as a gigantic, star-spangled man with long arms and legs, who rested on all fours, with his finger-tips in the far east, his toes in the far west, and his arching body raised to form the dome of the sky. In Roman-era art he was often depicted as Aion, god of eternal time, in the guise of a man standing above the reclining form of Gaia (Earth) holding the zodiac wheel in his hand.


Kronos

KRONOS (or Cronus) was the Titan god of time and the ages, especially time where regarded as destructive and all-devouring. He ruled the cosmos during the so-called Golden Age, after castrating and deposing his father Uranus (the Sky). In fear of a prophecy that he would be in turn be overthrown by his own son, Cronus swallowed each of his children as soon as they were born. Rhea managed to save the youngest, Zeus, by hiding him away on the island of Crete, and fed Cronus a stone wrapped in the swaddling clothes of an infant. The god grew up, forced Cronus to disgorge his swallowed offspring, and led the Olympians in a ten year war against the Titans, before driving them defeated into the pit of Tartars.

Many human generations later, Zeus released Cronus and his brothers from this prison, and made the old Titan king of the Elysian Islands, home of the blessed dead. Cronus was essentially the same as Khronos(Time), the primordial god of time in the Orphic Theogonies.


Rhea

RHEA was the Titan mother of the gods, and a goddess of female fertility, motherhood, and generation. Her name means "flow" and "ease." As the wife of Cronus (Time), she represented the eternal flow of time and generations; as the great Mother (Meter Megale), the "flow" was menstrual blood, birth waters, and milk. She was also a goddess of comfort and ease; a blessing reflected in the common Homeric phrase "the gods who live at their ease (rhea)."

In myth, Rhea was the wife of the Titan Cronus and Queen of heaven. When her husband heard a prophecy that he would be deposed by one of his children, he took to swallowing each of them as soon as they were born. But Rhea bore her youngest, Zeus, in secret and hid him away in a cave in Crete guarded by shield-clashing Kouretes. In his stead she presented Cronus with a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes which he promptly devoured.

Rhea was closely identified with the Anatolian mother-goddess Kybele. They were both depicted as matronly women, usually wearing a turret crown, and attended by lions.


Oceanus:

OCEANUS (or Oceanus) was the Titan god or Protogenos (primeval deity) of the great earth-encircling river Oceanus, the font of all the earth's fresh-water: including rivers, wells, springs and rain-clouds. Oceanus was also the god who regulated the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies which were believed to emerge and descend into his watery realm at the ends of the earth. Oceanus' wife was Tethys, the nurse, who was probably thought to distribute his water to the earth via subterranean caverns. Their children were the Potamoi or River-Gods and Okeanides, nymphs of springs and fountains. Unlike his brother Titans, Oceanus neither participated in the castration of Uranus nor joined the battle against the younger Olympian gods. He was probably identical to Ophion, an elder Titan in the Orphic myths who ruled heaven briefly before being wrestled and cast into the Ocean stream by Cronus.

Oceanus was depicted in ancient Greek vase painting as a bull-horned god with the tail of a serpentine fish in place of legs, similar to his river-god sons. His usual attributes were a fish and serpent. In the Hellenistic era, Oceanus was redefined as the god of the newly accessible Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the old cosmological idea of a great, earth-encircling, fresh-water stream was discarded. In mosaic art he therefore appears simply as a sea-god or the sea personified, with crab-claw horns, and for attributes, a serpent, oar and school of fish. His wife Tethys, shown seated beside him, had wings on her brow, in the role of mother of rain-clouds.


Tethys

TETHYS was the Titan goddess of the sources fresh water which nourished the earth. She was the wife of Oceanus, the earth-encircling, fresh-water stream, and the mother of the Potamoi (Rivers), Okeanides (springs, Streams & Fountains) and Nephelai (Clouds). Tethys was imagined feeding her children's streams by drawing water from Oceanus through subterranean aquifers. Her name was derived from the Greek word têthê, "the nurse" or "grandmother."

In Greek vase painting Tethys appears as an attributeless woman in the company of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, and her fish-tailed husband Oceanus. In mosaic art she appears with a small pair of wings decorating her brow, probably in her role as the mother of rain-clouds.

Tethys was likely identified with the Titan Eurynome, one-time Queen of Heaven, who was cast into the Ocean-stream along with her husband Ophion by Cronus. She was probably also connected with the Protogenos Thesis (Mother Creation) who appears in the Orphic cosmogony. Tethys was later represented by poets as the sea personified, and so equated with Thalassa (Sea).


Hyperion

HYPERION was the Titan god of light, one of the sons of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), and the father of the lights of heaven--Eos the Dawn, Helios the Sun, and Selene the Moon. His wife was Theia, lady of the aither--the shining blue of the sky. Hyperion's name means "watcher from above" or "he who goes above" from the greek words hyper and iôn.

Hyperion was one of the four Titan brothers who conspired with Cronus in the castration of their father Uranus. When Sky descended to lie with Earth, Hyperion, Krios, Koios and Iapetos--posted at the four corners of the world--seized hold of their father and held him fast while Cronus castrated him with a sickle. In this myth these four Titans personify the great pillars which appear in Near-Eastern cosmogonies holding heaven and earth apart, or else the entire cosmos aloft. As the father of the sun and dawn, Hyperion was no doubt regarded as the Titan of the pillar of the east. His brothers Koios, Krios and Impetus presided respectively over the north, south and west.

The Titans were eventually deposed by Zeus and cast into the pit of Tartars. Hesiod describes this as a void located beneath the foundations of all, where earth, sea and sky have their roots. Here the Titans shift in cosmological terms from being holders of heaven to bearers of the entire cosmos. According to Pindar and Aeschylus (in his lost play Prometheus Unbound) the Titans were eventually released from the pit through the clemency of Zeus.


Mnemosyne

MNEMOSYNE was Titan goddess of memory and remembrance and the inventress of language and words.

As a Titan daughter of Uranus (Heaven), Mnemosyne was also a goddess of time. She represented the rote memorization required, before the introduction of writing, to preserve the stories of history and sagas of myth. In this role she was represented as the mother of the Mousai (Muses), originally patron goddesses of the poets of the oral tradition.

Finally Mnemosyne was a minor oracular goddess like her sister-Titans. She presided over the underground oracle of Trophonios in Boiotia.

The Titan Mnemosyne was sometimes described as one of three Elder Titan Mousai (Muses), who preceded the nine daughters of Zeus as goddesses of music.


Themis

Themis was the Titan goddess of divine law and order--the traditional rules of conduct first established by the gods. She was also a prophetic goddess who presided over the most ancient oracles, including Delphi. In this role, she was the divine voice (theists) who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality, such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance, conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the gods. In Greek, the word themis referred to divine law, those rules of conduct long established by custom. Unlike the word nomos (law), the term was not usually used to describe laws of human decree.

Themis was an early bride of Zeus and his first counselor. She was often represented seated beside his throne advising him on the precepts of divine law and the rules of fate.

Themis was closely identified with Demeter Thesmophoros ("Bringer of Law"). Indeed Themis' six children, the spring-time Horai and death-bringing Moirai, reflect the dual-functions of Demeter's own daughter Persephone. Themis was also identified with Gaia (Earth) especially in the role of the oracular voice of earth.


Iapetus

IMPETUS (or Impetus) was one of the Titan gods, sons of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). Led by Cronus, Impetus and his brothers conspired against their father, preparing an ambush for him as he descended to lie with Earth. Krios, Koios, Hyperion and Impetus were posted at the four corners of the world where they seized hold of the Sky-god and held him fast, while Cronus, hidden in the centre, castrated him with a sickle.

In this myth, Impetus and the three brothers represent the four cosmic pillars which appear in Near-Eastern cosmogonies holding heaven and earth apart. Impetus himself was no doubt the pillar of the west, a position which was later and more obviously held by his son Atlas.

Impetus "the piercer" may also have been regarded as the Titan god of the mortal life-span. Indeed, his sons Prometheus and Epimetheus were represented as the creators of mankind and other mortal creatures.

The Titans were eventually deposed by Zeus and cast into the pit of Tartars. Hesiod describes this as a void lying beneath the foundations of the cosmos, where earth, sea and sky all have their roots. Here the Titans shift in cosmological terms from being holders of heaven to bearers of the entire cosmos. According to Pindar and Aeschylus (in his lost play Prometheus Unbound) the Titans were eventually released from the pit through the clemency of Zeus.


Coeus

KOIOS (or Coeus) was one of the Titan gods, sons of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth). He and his brothers conspired against their father, laying an ambush for him as he descended to lie with Earth. Four of the siblings were posted at the corners of the world, where they seized hold of him and held him fast, while Cronus castrated him with a sickle.

In this myth the brothers apparently personified the great pillars which occur in near-Eastern cosmologies holding heaven and earth apart, or sometimes the whole cosmos aloft. Koios' alternate name, Polos ("of the northern pole"), suggests he was the Titan of the pillar of the north. His brothers Hyperion, Impetus, and Krios, on the other hand, presided over the west, east, and south respectively. Koios, as god of the axis of heaven around which the constellations revolved, was probably also a god of heavenly oracles, just as his wife Phoebe presided over the oracles of the axis of earth Delphi,--a common inherited by their grandson Apollo.

The Titans were eventually deposed by Zeus and cast into the pit of Tartars. Hesiod describes this as a void located beneath the foundations of all, where earth, sea and sky have their roots. Here the Titans shift in cosmological terms from being holders of heaven to bearers of the entire cosmos. According to Pindar and Aeschylus (in his lost play Prometheus Unbound) the Titans were eventually released from the pit through the clemency of Zeus.


Crius

KRIOS (or Crius) was one of the elder Titan gods, sons of Uranus (the Sky) and Gaia (the Earth). Led by Cronus, the brothers conspired against their father and prepared an ambush for him as he descended to lie with Earth. Krios, Koios, Hyperion and Impetus were posted at the four corners of the world where they seized hold of the Sky-god and held him firm, while Cronus, hidden in the centre, castrated him with a sickle.

In this myth the four brothers probably represent the four cosmic pillars found in near-Eastern cosmogonies which separated heaven and earth. In this case, Krios was surely the Titan of the pillar of the south, while his brothers Koios, Impetus, and Hyperion were gods of the pillars of the north, east and west respectively. Krios' connection with the south is found both in his name and family connections--he is "the Ram," the constellation Aries, whose springtime rising in the south marked the start of the Greek year; his eldest son is Astraios, god of the stars; and his wife is Eurybia, a daughter of the sea.

The Titans were eventually deposed by Zeus and cast into the pit of Tartars. Hesiod describes this as a void lying beneath the foundations of the cosmos, where earth, sea and sky all have their roots. Here the Titans shift in cosmological terms from being holders of heaven to bearers of the entire cosmos. According to Pindar and Aeschylus (in his lost play Prometheus Unbound) the Titans were eventually released from the pit through the clemency of Zeus.


Thea

THEIA was the Titan goddess of sight (thea) and shining light of the clear blue sky (aithre). She was also, by extension, the goddess who endowed gold, silver and gems with their brilliance and intrinsic value. Theia married Hyperion, the Titan-god of light, and bore him three bright children--Helios the Sun, Eos the Dawn, and Selene the Moon.

Under the title Ikhnaie, "the tracing goddess," Theia possessed an oracular shrine in the region of Phthiotis in Thessaly. Her sister-Titans were likewise oracular goddesses--Phoebe held Delphi, Mnemosyne Lebadeia, Dione Dodona, and Themis shared the four.


Prometheus

PROMETHEUS was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was entrusted with the task of molding mankind out of clay. His attempts to better the lives of his creation brought him into direct conflict with Zeus. Firstly he tricked the gods out of the best portion of the sacrificial feast, acquiring the meat for the feasting of man. Then, when Zeus withheld fire, he stole it from heaven and delivered it to mortal kind hidden inside a fennel-stalk. As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora (the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man, or as a way to cheat mankind of the company of the good spirits. Prometheus meanwhile, was arrested and bound to a stake on Mount Caucasus where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating liver (or, some say, heart). Generations later the great hero Heracles came along and released the old Titan from his torture.

Prometheus was loosely identified in cult and myth with the fire-god Hephaestus and the giant Tityos.


Atlas

ATLAS was one of the second-generation Titans. He personified the quality of endurance (atlaô). In one tradition, Atlas led the Titans in a rebellion against Zeus and was condemned to bear the heavens upon his shoulders. In another, he was said to have been appointed guardian of the pillars which held earth and sky asunder. He was also the god who instructed mankind in the art of astronomy, a tool which was used by sailors in navigation and farmers in measuring the seasons. These roles were often combined and Atlas becomes the god who turns the heaven on their axis, causing the stars to revolve.
Heracles encountered the Titan during his quest for the Golden Apples of the Hesperidins. He agreed to take the heavens upon his shoulders while Atlas fetched the apples. The hero also slew the Hesperian Darken, which in vase painting appears as the Titan's tormentor, and built two great pillars at the ends of the earth, perhaps to relieve the Titan of his labour. In a late myth, Atlas was transformed into the stony Atlas mountain by Perseus using the Gorgon's head. The Titan was also the constellation Kneeler.


Dione

DIONE was the Titan goddess of the oracle of Dodona in Thesprotia, and the mother of Aphrodite by Zeus. Her name is simply the feminine form of Zeus (Dios).

Dione was described as "the temple associate" of Zeus at Dodona. The three old prophetesses of the shrine, known collectively as the Pleiades, were probably her priestesses. They were named "the Doves" after the sacred bird of her daughter Aphrodite--who also possessed a temple within the shrine. Dione's Titan sisters were similarly oracular goddesses--Phoebe possessed Delphi, Mnemosyne Lebadeia, and Themis Delphi and Dodona.

Dione was dentified with both the Titan Phoebe, and with Dodone, the eponym of the oracle.


Helios

HELIOS (or Helios) was the Titan god of the sun. He was also the guardian of oaths and the god of gift of sight. Helios dwelt in a golden palace located in the River Oceanus at the eastern ends of the earth. From there he emerged each dawn driving a chariot drawn by four, fiery winged steeds and crowned with the aureole of the sun. When he reached the land of the Hesperidins (Evenings) in the West he descended into a golden cup which carried him around the northern streams of Oceanus back to his rising place in the East. Once his son Phaethon attempted to drive the chariot of the sun, but losing control, set the earth on fire. Zeus then struck him down with a thunderbolt.

Helios was depicted as a handsome, and usually beardless, man clothed in purple robes and crowned with the shining aureole of the sun. His sun-chariot was drawn by four steeds, sometimes winged. Helios was identified with several gods including fiery Hephaestus and light-bringing Apollo.
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