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"Primordial Deity of the Earth
Member of the "Protogenoi
""Feuerbach Gaea.jpg
Gaia, by "Anselm Feuerbach (1875)
Abode "Earth
Personal Information
Consort "Uranus, "Pontus, "Aether and "Tartarus
Offspring "Uranus, "Pontus, the "Ourea, "Hecatonchires, "Cyclopes, "Titans, "The Gigantes, "Nereus, "Thaumus, "Phorcys, "Ceto, "Eurybia, "Aergia, "Typhon, and "Python
Parents None, or "Chaos ("Hesiod), or "Aether and "Hemera ("Hyginus)
Siblings None, or "Nyx, "Erebus, "Tartarus, "Eros, or "Uranus, "Thalassa
Roman equivalent "Terra, "Tellus

In "Greek mythology, Gaia ("/ˈɡ.ə/ or "/ˈɡ.ə/ from "Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Γῆ , "land" or "earth"[1]), also spelled Gaea, is the personification of the "Earth[2] and one of the "Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal "Mother Earth goddess. She is the immediate parent of "Uranus (the sky), from whose sexual union she bore the "Titans (themselves parents of many of the "Olympian gods) and the "Giants, and of "Pontus (the sea), from whose union she bore the "primordial sea gods. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was "Terra.[3]



The "Greek name Γαῖα (Gaĩa)[4] is a mostly epic, collateral form of Attic Γῆ[5] (), "Doric Γᾶ (, perhaps identical to Δᾶ )[6] meaning ""Earth", a word of uncertain origin.[7] "Robert S. P. Beekes has suggested a "Pre-Greek origin.[8] It, however, could be related to the "Avestan word gaiia "life" (cf. gaēθā "[material] world, totality of creatures" and gaēθiia "belonging to, residing in the worldly or material sphere, material") or perhaps to Avestan gairi "mountain".["citation needed]

In "Mycenean Greek Ma-ka (transliterated as Ma-ga, "Mother Gaia") also contains the root ga-.[8][9]



"Hesiod's "Theogony tells how, after "Chaos, "wide-bosomed" Gaia (Earth) arose to be the everlasting seat of the "immortals who possess Olympus above,[10] and the depths of Tartarus below (as some scholars interpret it).[11] He then tells that Gaia brought forth her equal "Uranus (Heaven, Sky) to "cover her on every side" and to be the abode of the gods.[12] Gaia also bore the hills ("ourea), and "Pontus (Sea), "without sweet union of love" (i.e., with no father).[13] Afterwards with Uranus she gave birth to the "Titans, as Hesiod tells it:

She lay with "Heaven and bore deep-swirling "Oceanus, "Coeus and "Crius and "Hyperion and "Iapetus, "Theia and "Rhea, "Themis and "Mnemosyne and gold-crowned "Phoebe and lovely "Tethys. After them was born Cronos ["Cronus] the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.[14]

According to Hesiod, Gaia conceived further offspring with Uranus, first the giant one-eyed "Cyclopes: Brontes ("Thunder"), Steropes ("Lightning") and "Arges ("Bright");[15] then the "Hecatonchires: Cottus, Briareos and Gyges, each with a hundred arms and fifty heads.[16] As each of the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires were born, Uranus hid them in a secret place within Gaia, causing her great pain. So Gaia devised a plan. She created a grey flint (or "adamantine) sickle. And Cronus used the sickle to castrate his father Uranus as he approached Gaia to have sex with her. From Uranus' spilled blood, Gaia produced the "Erinyes, the "Giants and the "Meliae (ash-tree nymphs). From the testicles of Uranus in the sea came forth "Aphrodite.[17]

By her son Pontus, Gaia bore the sea-deities "Nereus, "Thaumas, "Phorcys, "Ceto, and "Eurybia.[18]

Because Cronus had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overthrown by one of his children, he swallowed each of the children born to him by his Titan sister Rhea. But when Rhea was pregnant with her youngest child, "Zeus, she sought help from Gaia and Uranus. When "Zeus was born, Rhea gave Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling-clothes in his place, which Cronus swallowed, and Gaia took the child into her care.[19]

With the help of Gaia's advice,[20] "Zeus defeated the Titans. But afterwards, Gaia, in union with Tartarus, bore the youngest of her sons "Typhon, who would be the last challenge to the authority of Zeus.[21]

Other sources[edit]

According to "Hyginus, Earth (Gaia), along with Heaven and Sea were the children of "Aether and Day ("Hemera).[22] According to "Apollodorus, Gaia and Tartarus were the parents of "Echidna.[23]

Zeus hid "Elara, one of his lovers, from "Hera by stowing her under the earth. His son by Elara, the giant "Tityos, is therefore sometimes said to be a son of Gaia, the earth goddess.

Gaia is believed by some sources[24] to be the original deity behind the "Oracle at "Delphi. Depending on the source, Gaia passed her powers on to "Poseidon, "Apollo, or "Themis. Apollo is the best-known as the oracle power behind Delphi, long established by the time of Homer, having killed Gaia's child "Python there and usurped the "chthonic power. Hera punished Apollo for this by sending him to King "Admetus as a shepherd for nine years.["citation needed]

In classical art Gaia was represented in one of two ways. In Athenian vase painting she was shown as a matronly woman only half risen from the earth, often in the act of handing the baby Erichthonius (a future king of Athens) to Athena to foster (see example below). In mosaic representations, she appears as a woman reclining upon the earth surrounded by a host of Carpi, infant gods of the fruits of the earth (see example below).["citation needed]

Gaia also made "Aristaeus immortal.["citation needed]

"Oaths sworn in the name of Gaia, in ancient Greece, were considered the most binding of all.["citation needed]

She was also worshipped under the epithet "Anesidora", which means "giver of gifts".[25][26][27]


Some modern sources, such as "James Mellaart, "Marija Gimbutas and "Barbara Walker, claim that Gaia as Mother Earth is a later form of a "pre-Indo-European "Great Mother, venerated in "Neolithic times. Her existence is a speculation, and controversial in the academic community. Some modern mythographers, including "Karl Kerenyi, "Carl A. P. Ruck and "Danny Staples interpret the goddesses "Demeter the "mother," "Persephone the "daughter" and "Hecate the "crone," as aspects of a former Great goddess identified by some["who?] as "Rhea or as Gaia herself. In "Crete, a goddess was worshiped as "Potnia Theron (the "Mistress of the Animals") or simply "Potnia ("Mistress"), speculated["by whom?] as Rhea or Gaia; the title was later applied in Greek texts to "Demeter, "Artemis or "Athena. The mother-goddess "Cybele from "Anatolia (modern "Turkey) was partly identified by the Greeks with Gaia, but more so with Rhea and Demeter.


Many "Neopagans worship Gaia. Beliefs regarding Gaia vary, ranging from the belief that Gaia is the Earth to the belief that she is the spiritual embodiment of the earth, or the Goddess of the Earth.[28]

Modern ecological theory[edit]

The mythological name was revived in 1979 by "James Lovelock, in Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth; his "Gaia hypothesis was supported by "Lynn Margulis. The hypothesis proposes that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a "dynamical system that shapes the "Earth's "biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches, the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions. Further books by Lovelock and others popularized the "Gaia Hypothesis, which was embraced to some extent by New Age environmentalists as part of the heightened "awareness of environmental concerns of the 1990s.


Olympian descendants[edit]


Gaia is the personification of the Earth and these are her offspring as related in various myths. Some are related consistently, some are mentioned only in minor variants of myths, and others are related in variants that are considered to reflect a confusion of the subject or association.

Gaia hands her newborn, Erichthonius, to "Athena as Hephaestus watches - an Attic "red-figure "stamnos, 470–460 BC
"Aion and Gaia with four children, perhaps the personified seasons, mosaic from a Roman villa in "Sentinum, first half of the third century BC, ("Munich Glyptothek, Inv. W504)
  1. "Uranus
  2. "Pontus
  3. "Ourea
  4. "Nesoi (mythology)
  1. "Titans
    1. "Oceanus
    2. "Coeus
    3. "Crius
    4. "Iapetus
    5. "Hyperion
    6. "Theia
    7. "Themis
    8. "Tethys
    9. "Phoebe
    10. "Mnemosyne
    11. "Rhea
    12. "Cronus
  2. "Cyclopes
    1. "Arges
    2. "Brontes
    3. "Steropes
  3. "Hecatonchires
    1. "Briareus
    2. "Cottus
    3. "Gyes
  4. Other
    1. Elder "Muses
      1. "Mneme
      2. "Melete
      3. "Aoide
    2. "Gigantes*
    3. "Erinyes*
    4. "Meliae*
  1. "Ceto
  2. "Phorcys
  3. "Eurybia
  4. "Nereus
  5. "Thaumas
  1. "Antaeus
  2. "Charybdis
  3. "Laistrygon
  1. "Kreousa
  2. "Triptolemos
  1. "Typhon
  2. "Echidna (more commonly held to be child of Phorcys and Ceto)
  3. "Campe (presumably)
  1. "Manes
  1. "Erichthonius of Athens
  1. "Uranus (more commonly held to be child of Gaia alone)
  2. "Aergia
  3. "Dolos
  1. "Pheme
  2. "Cecrops
  3. "Python

*Some said that those marked with a * were born from Uranus' blood when Cronus castrated him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Henry George Liddell; Robert Scott. "γαῖα", "A Greek-English Lexicon
  2. ^ Smith, "Gaea".
  3. ^ Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, "The Book People, Haydock, 1995, p. 215.
  4. ^ Entry "γαῖα", in: "Liddell–Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, in the Perseus Digital Library.
  5. ^ Entry "γῆ", in: Liddell–Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, in the Perseus Digital Library.
  6. ^ Entry "δᾶ", in: Liddell–Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, in the Perseus Digital Library.
  7. ^ Entry "Gaia", in the Online Etymology Dictionary.
  8. ^ a b Robert S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 269–270 (s.v. "γῆ").
  9. ^ "Paleolexicon". Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Hesiod, "Theogony 116–118.
  11. ^ "Hesiod, "Theogony, 119. Translated by "Glenn W. Most in "Loeb Classical Library
  12. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 126–128.
  13. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 129–132.
  14. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 132–138.
  15. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 139–146.
  16. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 147–153.
  17. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 154–200.
  18. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 233–239.
  19. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 453–491.
  20. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 626.
  21. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 820–880.
  22. ^ "Hyginus, Fabulae Preface.
  23. ^ Apollodorus, Library 2.1.2
  24. ^ Joseph Fontenrose 1959
  25. ^ "Pausanias, Description of Greece i. 31. § 2
  26. ^ "Hesychius of Alexandria s.v.
  27. ^ "Scholiast, On "Theocritus ii. 12.
  28. ^ Sarah M. Pike (13 August 2013). New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. Columbia University Press. "ISBN "978-0-231-50838-4. 
  29. ^ This chart is based upon "Hesiod's "Theogony, unless otherwise noted.
  30. ^ According to "Homer, "Iliad 1.570–579, 14.338, "Odyssey 8.312, Hephaestus was apparently the son of Hera and Zeus, see Gantz, p. 74.
  31. ^ According to "Hesiod, "Theogony 927–929, Hephaestus was produced by Hera alone, with no father, see Gantz, p. 74.
  32. ^ According to "Hesiod, "Theogony 886–890, of Zeus' children by his seven wives, Athena was the first to be conceived, but the last to be born; Zeus impregnated Metis then swallowed her, later Zeus himself gave birth to Athena "from his head", see Gantz, pp. 51–52, 83–84.
  33. ^ According to "Hesiod, "Theogony 183–200, Aphrodite was born from Uranus' severed genitals, see Gantz, pp. 99–100.
  34. ^ According to "Homer, Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus ("Iliad 3.374, 20.105; "Odyssey 8.308, 320) and Dione ("Iliad 5.370–71), see Gantz, pp. 99–100.


External links[edit]

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