Iapetus (mythology)

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Iapetus
Titan of mortality
Member of the Titans
Abode Tartarus
Battles Titanomachy
Personal Information
Consort Asia or Clymene
Offspring Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Anchiale
Parents Uranus and Gaia
Siblings

In Greek mythology, Iapetus /ˈæpɪtəs/,[1] also Japetus (Ancient Greek: Ἰαπετός Iapetos),[2] was a Titan, the son of Uranus and Gaia, and father (by an Oceanid named Clymene or Asia) of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was also called the father of Buphagus[3] and Anchiale[4] in other sources.

Genealogical Chart[edit]

Mythology[edit]

Iapetus ("the Piercer") is the one Titan mentioned by Homer in the Iliad (8.478–81) as being in Tartarus with Cronus. He is a brother of Cronus, who ruled the world during the Golden Age. His name derives from the word iapto ("wound, pierce") and usually refers to a spear, implying that Iapetus may have been regarded as a god of craftsmanship, though scholars mostly describe him as the god of mortality.

Iapetus's wife is normally a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys named Clymene or Asia.

In Hesiod's Works and Days Prometheus is addressed as "son of Iapetus", and no mother is named. However, in Hesiod's Theogony, Clymene is listed as Iapetus' wife and the mother of Prometheus. In Aeschylus's play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a brother). However, in Horace's Odes, in Ode 1.3 Horace describes how "audax Iapeti genus/Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit"; "The bold offspring of Iapetus [i.e. Prometheus]/brought fire to peoples by wicked deceit".

The sons of Iapetus were sometimes regarded as mankind's ancestors, and as such some of humanity's worst qualities were said to have been inherited from these four gods, each of whom were described with a particular moral fault that often led to their own downfall. For instance, sly and clever Prometheus could perhaps represent crafty scheming; the inept and guileless Epimetheus, foolish stupidity; enduring Atlas, excessive daring; and arrogant Menoetius, rash violence.[10]

Iapetus and Japheth[edit]

Iapetus has (for example, by Robert Graves)[11] been equated with Japheth (יֶפֶת), the son of Noah, based on the similarity of their names and on old Jewish traditions, that held Japheth as the ancestor of the Greeks, the Slavs, the Italics, the Teutons etc. (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews). Iapetus was linked to Japheth by 17th-century theologian Matthew Poole[12] and more recently by John Pairman Brown.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wells, John (14 April 2010). "Iapetus and tonotopy". John Wells's phonetic blog. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Of uncertain etymology; R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 573–4).
  3. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece Book 8.27.17. English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918.
  4. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s. v. Anchiale
  5. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 132–138, 337–411, 453–520, 901–906, 915–920; Caldwell, pp. 8–11, tables 11–14.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ According to Plato, Critias, 113d–114a, Atlas was the son of Poseidon and the mortal Cleito.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Smiley, Charles N. "Hesiod as an Ethical and Religious Teacher", The Classical Journal, vol. XVII, 1922; pg. 514
  11. ^ Robert Graves, The Greek Myths vol. 1 p. 146
  12. ^ Matthew Poole, Commentary on the Holy Bible (1685), vol.1, 26
  13. ^ John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas (1995), 82

References[edit]