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In Greek mythology, the Ourea (Ancient Greek: Οὔρεα, romanizedOúrea, lit.'mountains', plural of Οὖρος) were progeny of Gaia, members of the Greek primordial deities, who were the first-born elemental gods and goddesses. The ourea are also referred to by their Roman name, Montes.[1] They were produced alongside Ouranos, the sky, and Pontos, the sea.[2] According to Hesiod:

And [Gaia] brought forth long hills, graceful haunts
of the goddess Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills.

The ten ourea, Aitna, Athos, Helikon, Kithairon, Nysos, Olympus I, Olympus II (Mount Uludağ), Oreios, Parnes, and Tmolus, like Uranus and Pontus, were parthenogenetic offspring of Gaia alone. The Greeks rarely personified an individual mountain; an exception might be Tmolus, both a king and a mountain in Lydia. However, in classical art, they were depicted as bearded male faces appearing from the sides of the mountains.[1] Each mountain was said to have its own local nymph, an oread.

Peak sanctuaries, a feature of Minoan civilization on Crete, are also identified in some archaic sites in mainland Greece.[4] They are not thought to be dedicated to the mountain itself.


Aitna is the ourea that inhabited the physical space of Mount Etna, in Sicily, Italy.[5] In mythology, Aitna is said to be home to the forges of Hephaestus, which lie underneath the mountain, and are where Zeus' bolts of lightning were crafted. It is also said that during the battle against the Titans, Zeus trapped the monster Typhon underneath Aitna after defeating him.[6] In mythology, Mount Aitna was the home of the nymph Etna.[7]


Athos, located on the tip of a peninsula in northeastern Greece, is said to be tied mythologically in some way to the giant of the same name.[8] One story claims that during the battle against the Titans, Poseidon buried the giant Athos underneath the mountain that bears the same name after defeating him. Another version of the story claims that the giant Athos hurled a massive stone at Poseidon during the heat of battle that formed the mountain.


Helikon, associated with Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece near the Gulf of Corinth, is the home of the Muses.[9][7] In mythology, Pegasus uses his hoof to create a stream on the mountain. Helikon is also the site of the myth involving Tiresias witnessing the goddess Athena bathing which loses him his eyesight but grants him prophetic gifts.[10]


The Mountain Kithairon, found in central Greece between Boeotia and Attica,[11] is said to be sacred to the god Dionysus,[12] who performed rituals and celebrations there.[13] It is also said to be the site of multiple mythological events, such as the slaying of the Lion of Cithaeron by the hero Heracles, and the dismemberment of the Theban heroes Actaeon and Pentheus. There are mentions of local villagers referring to the ourea Kithairon as their king, and the mountain is personified in several mythological stories. In one tale, Kithairon was said to have engaged in a singing contest against Helikon, which was judged by the Muses. Kithairon won the contest and was adorned with garlands by the Muses, and Helikon became so angry due to his defeat that he smashed one of the large rocks on his slopes.[1] Another tale references Kithairon giving relationship advice to Zeus after he angers Hera, which turns out to be successful after the couple reconciles.[7]


Nysos is said to be the birthplace of the god Dionysus. Many myths and classical writings mention Nysos being a caregiver to Dionysus as he grew up, taking on almost a parental role and helping to raise the young god.[7] The geographical location of Nysos is unknown, and scholars have speculated that it could be in any number of places, including the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Sir William Jones, an ancient Indian historian, proposed that the mountain is located in India near the city Naishada or Nysa.

Olympus I[edit]

Probably the most famous of the Ourea, Olympus I is the home of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses.[14] The god Hermes was born on Mount Olympus, which pleased the ourea so much that the mountain is said to have smiled.[1] The physical Mount Olympus is located between Thessaly and Macedonia.[15]

Olympus II[edit]

The second Olympus can be found in the Bursa Province of Turkey, where it is referred to in modern times as Mount Uludağ.[16] Olympus II is said to have been the father of a satyr by the name of Marsys, who would go on to be the first flute player. In mythology, Marsys angers the god Apollo by challenging him to a musical contest.[7]


In mythology, Oreios is the headquarters for the Titans during their battle with the Olympian gods and goddesses. It is also the birthplace of several Olympian gods and goddesses, including Hestia, Hera, Hades, Demeter, and Poseidon.[17] Oreios is also said to have fathered the first oak tree nymphs, named Hamadryads, and Oxylus, a forest demigod.[7] The physical space Oreios is said to have inhabited is known as Mount Othrys, a mountain in central Greece on the border between Phthiotis and Magnesia.[18]


Parnes is located in Attica, and the mountain itself, which is now called Mount Parnitha, is said to be sacred to Zeus.[7]


The ourea Tmolus was said to have judged a musical contest between the gods Pan and Apollo, and he declared Apollo the victor.[1]  There is also a mythological figure by the same name who was said to have been the son of Ares and a king of Lydia.[19] Mount Tmolus is located in what used to be Lydia near the capital city of Sardis, but is now the city of Sart in Turkey.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e Atsma, Aaron (2017). "Ourea". Theoi. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  2. ^ Chance, Jane (2015). Medieval Mythography, Volume 3: The Emergence of Italian Humanism, 1321-1475. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-6012-5.
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony, 129–131; cf. Argonautica, 1.498.
  4. ^ Walter Burkert, Greek Religion, 1985:26–28.
  5. ^ "Etna & Aeolian Islands 2012 – Cambridge Volcanology". www.volcano.group.cam.ac.uk.
  6. ^ Aelian, Hist. An. xi. 3, referenced under Aetnaeus in William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "The Ourea in Greek Mythology". Greek Legends and Myths. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Mount Athos Home". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  9. ^ Kerenyi, 1951:172.
  10. ^ Michael Grant and John Hazel. Who's Who in Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press, USA; reprinted 1993.
  11. ^ Gardner, Ernest Arthur (1911). "Cithaeron" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 395.
  12. ^ Gardner, Ernest Arthur (1911). "Cithaeron" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 395.
  13. ^ Euripides, Bacchae, 62-63: 'For my part I will go to the glens of Cithaeron, where the bacchants are, and take part with them in their dances.'
  14. ^ Wilson, Nigel (31 October 2005). Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. Abingdon, England: Routledge. p. 516.
  15. ^ Kakissis, Joanna (17 July 2004). "Summit of the gods". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  16. ^ Turkey – Ultra page peaklist.org. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  17. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 630-631.
  18. ^ Oreivatein.com
  19. ^ Gantz, p. 536.
  20. ^ Smith, William, ed. (1857). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: Walton And Maberly, Upper Gower Street, and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row; John Murray, Albemarle Street. p. 1214. ark:/13960/t2m61gk94.