Greek primordial deities

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In Greek mythology the primordial deities are the first entities or beings that come into existence. These deities are a group of gods from which all the other gods descend. They preceded the Titans, the descendants of Gaia and Uranus.

Genealogy and nature[edit]

Although generally believed to be the first gods produced from Chaos, some sources[who?] 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.[citation needed]

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[edit]

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

Other sources[edit]

  • 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)

Other genealogy structures[edit]

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 (ca. 600 BC) made the water-nymph Thetis the first goddess, producing poros (path), tekmor (marker) and skotos (darkness) on the pathless, featureless void.
  • Orphic poetry (ca. 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 (ca. 456–386 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:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]