Hyperion (Titan)

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Member of the Titans
Ancient GreekὙπερίων
Personal information
ParentsUranus and Gaia
  • Briareus
  • Cottus
  • Gyges
Other siblings
OffspringHelios, Eos and Selene

In Greek mythology, Hyperion (/hˈpɪəriən/; Greek: Ὑπερίων, 'he who goes before')[1] was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky).[2] With his sister, the Titaness Theia, Hyperion fathered Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn).[3]

Hyperion was, along with his son Helios, a personification of the sun, with the two sometimes identified.[4] John Keats's abandoned epic poem Hyperion is among the literary works that feature the figure.


"Hyperion" means "he that walks on high" or simply "the god above", often joined with "Helios".[5] There is a possible attestation of his name in Linear B (Mycenaean Greek) in the lacunose form ]pe-rjo-[ (Linear B: ]𐀟𐁊-[), found on the KN E 842 tablet (reconstructed [u]-pe-rjo-[ne])[6][7] though it has been suggested that the name actually reads "Apollo" ([a]-pe-rjo-[ne]).[8][9]


Hyperion is one of the twelve or thirteen Titans, the children of Gaia and Uranus. In the Theogony, Uranus imprisoned all the children that Gaia bore him, before he was overthrown.[10] According to Apollodorus, Uranus only imprisoned the Hecatoncheires and the Cyclopes but not the Titans, until Gaia persuaded her six Titan sons to overthrow their father Uranus and "they, all but Ocean, attacked him" as Cronus castrated him.[11] Afterwards, in the words of Hesiod, Hyperion subjected his sister Theia to his love, and fathered three children with her, who became the lights of heaven: Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon), and Eos (Dawn). As is the case for most of the Titans, there are no myths or functions for Hyperion.[12] He seems to exist only to provide a father for the three celestial deities.[13] As a Titan, one of the oldest generation of gods, Hyperion was a fitting father for these three sky-gods who, as elements of the natural world, must have been conceived of as having come into being near the beginning of the cosmos.[14]


Hyperion and Helios were both sun-gods. Early sources sometimes present the two as distinct personages, with Hyperion being the father of Helios, but sometimes they were apparently identified, with "Hyperion" being simply a title of, or another name for, Helios himself.[15] Hyperion is Helios' father in Homer's Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.[16] But in the Iliad and elsewhere in the Odyssey, Helios is also called "Helios Hyperion" with "Hyperion" here being used either as a patronymic or as an other epithet. In the Homeric epics, and in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, besides being called "Helios", Hyperion is sometimes also called simply "Hyperion".[17] In later sources the two sun-gods are distinctly father and son.[18] In literature, the sun is often referred to as "Hyperion's bright son."[19]

Diodorus Siculus[edit]

According to the rationalizing historian Diodorus Siculus, Hyperion was the name of the first person to understand the movement of the sun and moon, and their effect on the seasons, and explains that, because of this, he was said to be their "father":

Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature.[20]

Diodorus also recorded an unorthodox version of the myth, in which Hyperion married his sister Basileia and had two children by her, Helios and Selene; their brothers, envious of their happy issue and fearful that Hyperion would divert the royal power to himself, conspired and killed Hyperion along with his two children (which then went on to transform into the Sun and the Moon), leaving Basileia in great distress.[21]


Hyperion, one of the moons of Saturn, is named after this god. Saturn itself is named after the Roman equivalent of Hyperion's brother Cronus, Saturnus.


Hyperion's family tree, according to Hesiod's Theogony[22]
The RiversThe OceanidsHeliosSelene[23]EosAstraeusPallasPerses
IapetusClymene (or Asia)[24]Mnemosyne(Zeus)Themis
Atlas[25]MenoetiusPrometheus[26]EpimetheusThe MusesThe Horae

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grimal, s.v. Hyperion; Smith, s.v. Hyperion.
  2. ^ Grimal, s.v. Hyperion; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion; Morford, p. 40; Keightley, p. 47; Smith, s.v. Hyperion; Hesiod, Theogony 131–136; Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter, 26, 74; Apollodorus, 1.1.3.
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 371–374; Apollodorus, 1.2.2. The Homeric Hymn 31 to Helios 1–8 calls Hyperion's sister and mate "Euryphaëssa" probably, an epithet of Theia, see Morford, p. 40; West 2003b, p. 215 n. 61; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion. Other accounts make Selene the daughter of the Titan Pallas (Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes, 99–100) or of Helios (Euripides, The Phoenician Women 175 ff.; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44.191). For a genealogical table of the descendants of Hyperion and Theia see Grimal, p. 535, Table 14, see also Tables 5 and 12.
  4. ^ Tripp, s.v. Hyperion; Grimal, s.v. Hyperion.
  5. ^ See Ὑπερίων in An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon.
  6. ^ Logozzo and Poccetti, p. 644
  7. ^ "KN 842 E", DĀMOS: Database of Mycenaean at Oslo, University of Oslo. Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas
  8. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 118.
  9. ^ Herda, Alexander (2008). "Apollon Delphinios – Apollon Didymeus: Zwei Gesichter eines milesischen Gottes und ihr Bezug zur Kolonisation Milets in archaischer Zeit". Internationale Archäologie (in German). Arbeitsgemeinschaft, Symposium, Tagung, Kongress. Band 11: Kult(ur)kontakte. Apollon in Milet/Didyma, Histria, Myus, Naukratis und auf Zypern. Akten des Table Ronde in Mainz vom 11.–12. März 2004: 16. ISBN 978-3-89646-441-5.
  10. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 155
  11. ^ Apollodorus, 1.1.4
  12. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Hard, p. 43.
  13. ^ Hard, pp. 37, 43; West 1966, pp. 36, 157–158 (on line 18).
  14. ^ Hard, p. 37.
  15. ^ Hard, p. 32; Gantz, p. 30; Tripp, s.v. Hyperion.
  16. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Homer, Odyssey 12.176; Hesiod, Theogony 371–374, 1011; Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter, 26, 74.
  17. ^ Gantz, p. 30. Helios called Helios Hyperion: Homer, Iliad 8.480, Odyssey 1.8, 12.133, 12.263, 346, 374; called simply Hyperion: Homer, Iliad 19.398, 1.24; Homeric Hymn 3 to Apollo, 369.
  18. ^ Gantz, p. 30; Eumelus fr. 17 West; Mimnermus fr. 12 Gerber; Stesichorus fr. S 17 Campbell [= 185 Poetae Melici Graeci]; Pindar, Olympian 7.39.
  19. ^ Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 26; Homeric Hymn 28 to Athena 14; Eumelus of Corinth, Corinthiaca frag 18
  20. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 5.67.1.
  21. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 3.57.2-8
  22. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 132–138, 337–411, 453–520, 901–906, 915–920; Caldwell, pp. 8–11, tables 11–14.
  23. ^ Although usually the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, as in Hesiod, Theogony 371–374, in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (4), 99–100, Selene is instead made the daughter of Pallas the son of Megamedes.
  24. ^ According to Hesiod, Theogony 507–511, Clymene, one of the Oceanids, the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, at Hesiod, Theogony 351, was the mother by Iapetus of Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus, while according to Apollodorus, 1.2.3, another Oceanid, Asia was their mother by Iapetus.
  25. ^ According to Plato, Critias, 113d–114a, Atlas was the son of Poseidon and the mortal Cleito.
  26. ^ In Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 18, 211, 873 (Sommerstein, pp. 444–445 n. 2, 446–447 n. 24, 538–539 n. 113) Prometheus is made to be the son of Themis.


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