Greek primordial deities

In Greek mythology the primordial deities are the first entities or beings that came into existence. These deities are a group of gods from which all others descend. They most notably include Uranus (Father Sky) and Gaia (Mother Earth), who preceded the Titans, who themselves preceded the Olympians.

Genealogy and nature

Although generally believed to be the first gods produced from Chaos, some sources mention a pair of deities who were the parents of the group. These deities represent various elements of nature. Chaos has at times been considered, in place of Ananke, the female consort of Chronos.

The primordial gods are depicted as places or realms. A common example is Tartarus, who is depicted as the Underworld, Hell, and a bottomless abyss. His sibling, Erebus, is also depicted as a place of pitch-black darkness or a vast emptiness of space.

Their mother, Chaos, is depicted as an empty void. Other siblings that include Gaia are depicted as Mother Nature or the Earth. Pontus or Hydros are depicted as the oceans, lakes, and rivers. Chronos is depicted as time and of eternity.

Hesiod

According to Hesiod's Theogony (c. 700 BC):

Other sources

  • Ananke (Compulsion) (female)
  • Chronos (Time) (male)
  • Hydros (Primordial Waters) (male)
  • Thesis (Creation) (female)
  • Phanes (Appearance) or Himeros or Eros elder (Procreation) or Protogonos (the First Born) (male, sometimes described as a hermaphrodite but addressed as male)
  • Physis (Nature) (female)
  • The Nesoi (Islands) (female)
  • Thalassa (Sea) (female)
  • Ophion (Serpent, often identified with Uranus, Oceanus, Phanes, or Chronos) (male)
  • Pontus (Ocean) (male)
  • Eros (Procreation) (male)

Other genealogy structures

The ancient Greeks proposed many different ideas about primordial deities in their mythology, which was largely adapted by the Romans. The many religious cosmologies constructed by Greek poets each give a different account of which deities came first.

  • The Iliad, an epic poem attributed to Homer about the Trojan War (an oral tradition of 700 or 600 BC), states that Oceanus (and possibly Tethys, too) is the parent of all the deities.[1]
  • Alcman (fl. 7th century BC) made the water-nymph Thetis the first goddess, producing poros (path), tekmor (marker) and skotos (darkness) on the pathless, featureless void.
  • Orphic poetry (c. 530 BC) made Nyx the first principle, Night, and her offspring were many. Also, in the Orphic tradition, Phanes (a mystic Orphic deity of light and procreation, sometimes identified with the Elder Eros) is the original ruler of the universe, who hatched from the cosmic egg.[2]
  • Aristophanes (c. 446 BC – c. 386 BC) wrote in his Birds, that Nyx is the first deity also, and that she produced Eros from an egg.

Philosophers of Classical Greece also constructed their own metaphysical cosmogonies, with their own primordial deities:

  • Pherecydes of Syros (c. 600 – c. 550 BC) made Chronos (time) the first deity in his Heptamychia.
  • Empedocles (c. 490 – 430 BC) wrote that Philotes ("Love") and Neikos ("Hate") were the first principles, who wove the universe out of the four elements with their powers of love and strife.
  • Plato (c. 428/427 – 348/347 BC) introduced the concept in Timaeus, of the demiurge, who modeled the universe on the Ideas.

See also

References

  1. ^ Homer, Iliad (Book 14)
  2. ^ PHANES: Greek protogenos god of creation & life

External links

  • Theoi Project – Protogenoi
  • Theo Project – Protogenoi Family Tree
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