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Chaos (mythology)

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Title: Chaos (mythology)  
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Subject: List of Greek mythological figures, Ancient Greek religion, Hellenism (religion), Apollo, Persephone
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Chaos (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Chaos, the primeval void, was the first thing which existed. According to Hesiod,[1] "at first Chaos came to be" (or was)[2] "but next" (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros.[3] Unambiguously born "from Chaos" were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).[4]

The Greek word "chaos" (χάος), a neuter noun, means "yawning" or "gap", but what, if anything, was located on either side of this chasm is unclear.[5] For Hesiod, Chaos, like Tartarus, though personified enough to have born children, was also a place, far away, underground and "gloomy", beyond which lived the Titans.[6] And, like the earth, the ocean, and the upper air, It was also capable of being affected by Zeus' thunderbolts.[7]

For the Roman poet Ovid Chaos was an unformed mass, where all the elements were jumbled up together in a "shapeless heap".[8]

See also


  1. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 116–122.
  2. ^ Gantz, p. 3, says "the Greek will allow both".
  3. ^ Tripp, p. 159; Morford, p. 57.
  4. ^ Gantz, p. 4; Hesiod, Theogony 123.
  5. ^ Gantz, p. 3.
  6. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 814: "And beyond, away from all the gods, live the Titans, beyond gloomy Chaos".
  7. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 700.
  8. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.5 ff..


  • Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: ISBN 978-0-8018-5360-9 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0-8018-5362-3 (Vol. 2).
  • Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
  • Morford, Mark P. O., Robert J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology, Eighth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-530805-1.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses, Brookes More. Boston. Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Chaos"
  • Tripp, Edward, Crowell's Handbook of Classical Mythology, Ty Crowell Co; First Edition edition (June 1970). ISBN 069022608X
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