The Theogony ("Greek: Θεογονία, Theogonía, "Attic Greek: "[tʰeoɡoníaː], i.e. "the genealogy or birth of the "gods") is a "poem by "Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) describing the origins and "genealogies of the "Greek gods, composed c. 700 BC. It is written in the "Epic dialect of "Ancient Greek.
Hesiod's Theogony is a large-scale synthesis of a vast variety of local "Greek traditions concerning the gods, organized as a "narrative that tells how they came to be and how they established permanent control over the "Cosmos. It is the first "Greek "mythical "cosmogony. The initial state of the universe is "chaos, a dark indefinite void considered a divine primordial condition from which everything else appeared. Theogonies are a part of "Greek mythology which embodies the desire to articulate reality as a whole; this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first later projects of speculative theorizing.
In many cultures, narratives about the origin of the Cosmos and about the gods that shaped it are a way for society to reaffirm its native cultural traditions. Specifically, theogonies tend to affirm kingship as the natural embodiment of society.
Further, in the "Kings and Singers" passage (80–103) Hesiod appropriates to himself the authority usually reserved to sacred kingship. The poet declares that it is he, where we might have expected some king instead, upon whom the "Muses have bestowed the two gifts of a "scepter and an authoritative voice (Hesiod, Theogony 30–3), which are the visible signs of kingship. It is not that this gesture is meant to make Hesiod a king. Rather, the point is that the authority of kingship now belongs to the poetic voice, the voice that is declaiming the Theogony.
Although it is often used as a sourcebook for "Greek mythology, the Theogony is both more and less than that. In formal terms it is a hymn invoking Zeus and the Muses: parallel passages between it and the much shorter "Homeric Hymn to the Muses make it clear that the Theogony developed out of a tradition of hymnic preludes with which an ancient Greek "rhapsode would begin his performance at poetic competitions. It is necessary to see the Theogony not as the definitive source of Greek mythology, but rather as a snapshot of a dynamic tradition that happened to crystallize when Hesiod formulated the myths he knew—and to remember that the traditions have continued evolving since that time.
Hesiod was probably influenced by some Near-Eastern traditions, such as the Babylonian "Dynasty of Dunnum, which were mixed with local traditions, but they are more likely to be lingering traces from the "Mycenaean tradition than the result of oriental contacts in Hesiod's own time.
The decipherment of "Hittite mythical texts, notably the Kingship in Heaven text first presented in 1946, with its castration mytheme, offers in the figure of "Kumarbi an Anatolian parallel to Hesiod's Uranus-Cronus conflict.
One of the principal components of the Theogony is the presentation of the "Succession Myth". It tells how "Cronus overthrew "Uranus, and how in turn Zeus overthrew Cronus and his fellow "Titans, and how Zeus was eventually established as the final and permanent ruler of the cosmos.
Uranus produced many children with Gaia (the Titans, the "Cyclopes, and the "Hecatoncheires), but hating them, he hid them away somewhere inside Gaia. Angry and in distress, Gaia fashioned a "sickle made of "adamant and urged her children to punish their father. Only her son Cronus, the youngest Titan, was willing to do so. So Gaia hid Cronus "in ambush", gave him the adamantine sickle, and when Uranus came to lie with Gaia, Cronus reached out and castrated his father.
Cronus, having taken control of the Cosmos, wanted to ensure that he maintained power. "Uranus and "Gaia prophesied to him that one of his children would overthrow him, so when he married Rhea, he made sure to swallow each of the children she birthed: "Hestia, "Demeter, "Hera, "Hades, "Poseidon, and "Zeus (in that order). However, when Rhea was pregnant with Zeus, Rhea begged her parents Gaia and Uranus to help her save Zeus. So they sent Rhea to Crete to bear Zeus and Gaia took the newborn Zeus to raise, hiding him deep in a cave beneath the Aegean Mountains. And Rhea gave Cronus a huge stone wrapped in baby's clothes which he swallowed thinking that it was another of Rhea's children.
Tricked by Gaia (the Theogony does not detail how), Cronus regurgitated his other five children. Zeus then released his uncles the Cyclopes, who provided Zeus with his great weapons, the thunderbolts. A great war was begun, between Zeus and his fellow Olympians and the Titans, for control of the Cosmos. In the tenth year of the war, following Gaia's counsel, Zeus released the "Hecatoncheires, who joined the war against the Titans, allowing Zeus to gain the upper hand. Zeus cast the fury of his thunderbolts at the Titans, defeating them and throwing them into "Tartarus.
A final threat to Zeus' power was to come in the form of the monster "Typhon, son of Gaia and Tartarus. Zeus with his thunderbolts was quickly victorious, and Typhon was also imprisoned in Tartarus.
Zeus, by Gaia's advice, was elected king of the gods, and he apportioned various honors among the gods. Zeus then married his first wife "Metis, but when he learned that Metis was fated to produce a son which might usurp his rule, by the advice of Gaia and Uranus, Zeus swallowed Metis (while still pregnant with Athena). And so Zeus managed to end the cycle of succession and secure his eternal rule over the cosmos.
The world began with the spontaneous generation of four beings: first arose "Chaos (Chasm); then came "Gaia (Earth), "the ever-sure foundation of all"; and "dim" "Tartarus, in the depths of the Earth; and "Eros (Desire) "fairest among the deathless gods". From Chaos came "Erebus (Darkness) and "Nyx (Night). And Nyx "from union in love" with Erebus produced "Aether (Brightness) and "Hemera (Day). From Gaia came "Uranus (Sky), the "Ourea (Mountains), and "Pontus (Sea).
|The first gods |
Uranus mated with Gaia to create the twelve "Titans: "Oceanus, "Coeus, "Crius, "Hyperion, "Iapetus, "Theia, "Rhea, "Themis, "Mnemosyne, "Phoebe, "Tethys and "Cronus; the "Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes and "Arges; and the "Hecatoncheires ("Hundred-Handed Ones"): Cottus, Briareos, and Gyges.
|Children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) |
When Cronus castrated Uranus, from Uranus' blood which splattered onto the earth, came the "Erinyes (Furies), the "Giants, and the "Meliai. Cronus threw the severed genitals into the sea, around which foam developed and transformed into the "goddess "Aphrodite.
|Children of Gaia and Uranus' blood, and Uranus' genitals |
Meanwhile, Nyx (Night) alone produced children: "Moros (Doom), "Ker (Destiny), "Thanatos (Death), "Hypnos (Sleep), the "Oneiroi (Dreams), "Momus (Blame), "Oizys (Pain), "Hesperides (Daughters of Night), the "Moirai (Fates), the "Keres (Destinies), "Nemesis (Retribution), "Apate (Deceit), "Philotes (Love), "Geras (Old Age), and "Eris (Discord).
And from "Eris alone, came "Ponos (Hardship), "Lethe (Forgetfulness), "Limos (Starvation), the "Algea (Pains), the "Hysminai (Battles), the "Makhai (Wars), the "Phonoi (Murders), the "Androktasiai (Manslaughters), the "Neikea (Quarrels), the Pseudea (Lies), the Logoi (Stories), the "Amphillogiai (Disputes), "Dysnomia (Anarchy), "Ate (Ruin), and "Horkos (Oath).
|Children of Nyx (Night) and Eris (Discord) |
After Uranus's castration, Gaia mated with her son Pontus (Sea) producing a descendent line consisting primarily of sea deities, sea nymphs, and hybrid monsters. Their first child "Nereus (Old Man of the Sea) married "Doris, one of the "Oceanid daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys, and they produced the "Nereids, fifty sea nymphs, which included "Amphitrite, "Thetis, and "Psamathe. Their second child "Thaumas, married Electra, another Oceanid, and their offspring were "Iris (Rainbow) and the two "Harpies: "Aello and "Ocypete.
Gaia and Pontus' third and fourth children, "Phorcys and "Ceto, married each other and produced the two "Graiae: "Pemphredo and "Enyo, and the three "Gorgons: "Sthenno, "Euryale, and "Medusa. "Poseidon mated with "Medusa and two offspring, the winged horse "Pegasus and the warrior "Chrysaor, were born when the hero "Perseus cut off Medusa's head. Chrysaor married "Callirhoe, another Oceanid, and they produced the three-headed "Geryon. Next comes the half-nymph half-snake "Echidna (her mother is unclear, probably Ceto, or possibly Callirhoe). The last offspring of Ceto and Phorcys was a serpent (unnamed in the Theogony, later called "Ladon, by "Apollodorus) who guards the golden apples.
|Descendants of Gaia and Pontus (Sea), and Phocys and Ceto |
Gaia also mated with Tartarus to produce "Typhon, whom Echidna married, producing several monstrous descendants. Their first three offspring were "Orthus, "Cerberus, and the "Hydra. Next comes the "Chimera (whose mother is unclear, either Echidna or the Hydra). Finally Orthus (his mate is unclear, either the Chimera or Echidna) produced two offspring the "Sphinx and the "Nemean Lion.
|Descendants of Echidna and Typhon |
The Titans, Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, and Cronus married their sisters Tethys, Theia, Phoebe and Rhea, and Crius married his half-sister Eurybia, the daughter of Gaia and Pontus. From Oceanus and Tethys came the three thousand river gods (including "Nilus (Nile), "Alpheus, and "Scamander) and three thousand "Oceanid river nymphs (including "Doris, Electra, "Callirhoe, "Styx, "Clymene, "Metis, "Eurynome, "Perseis, and "Idyia). From Theia and Hyperion came "Helios (Sun), "Selene (Moon), and "Eos (Dawn), and from Crius and Eurybia came "Astraios, "Pallas, and "Perses. From Eos and Astraios came the winds: "Zephyrus, "Boreas and "Notos, "Eosphoros (Dawn-bringer, i.e. "Venus, the Morning Star), and the Stars. From Pallas and the Oceanid Styx came "Zelus (Envy), "Nike (Victory), "Cratos (Power), and "Bia (Force).
From Coeus and Phoebe came "Leto and "Asteria, who married Perses, producing "Hekate, and from Cronus and Rhea came Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus. The Titan Iapetos married the Oceanid Clymene and produced "Atlas, "Menoetius, "Prometheus, and "Epimetheus.
|Descendants of the Titans |
"Zeus married seven wives. His first wife was the "Oceanid "Metis, whom he impregnated with "Athena, then, on the advice of Gaia and Uranus, swallowed Metis so that no son of his by Metis would overthrow him, as had been foretold. Zeus' second wife was his aunt the Titan "Themis, who bore the three "Horae (Seasons): "Eunomia (Order), "Dikē (Justice), "Eirene (Peace); and the three "Moirai (Fates): "Clotho (Spinner), "Lachesis (Allotter), and "Atropos (Unbending). Zeus then married his third wife, another Oceanid, "Eurynome, who bore the three "Charites (Graces): "Aglaea (Splendor), whom Hephaestus married, "Euphrosyne (Joy), and "Thalia (Good Cheer).
Zeus' fourth wife was his sister, "Demeter, who bore "Persephone. The fifth wife of Zeus was another aunt, the Titan "Mnemosyne, from whom came the nine "Muses: "Clio, "Euterpe, "Thalia, "Melpomene, "Terpsichore, "Erato, "Polymnia, "Urania, and "Calliope. His sixth wife was a third aunt, the Titan "Leto, who gave birth to "Apollo and "Artemis. Zeus' seventh and final wife was his sister "Hera, the mother by Zeus of "Hebe, "Ares, and "Eileithyia.
|Children of Zeus and his seven wives |
From "Poseidon and the "Nereid "Amphitrite was born "Triton, and from "Ares and "Aphrodite came "Phobos (Fear), "Deimos (Terror), and "Harmonia (Harmony). Zeus, with "Atlas's daughter "Maia, produced "Hermes, and with the mortal "Alcmene, produced the hero "Heracles, who married "Hebe. Zeus and the mortal "Semele, daughter of Harmonia and "Cadmus, the founder and first king of "Thebes, produced "Dionysus, who married "Ariadne, daughter of "Minos, king of "Crete. "Helios and the Oceanid "Perseis produced "Circe, "Aeetes, who became king of "Colchis and married the Oceanid "Idyia, producing "Medea.
|Other descendants of divine fathers |
The goddess "Demeter joined with the mortal "Iasion to produce "Plutus. In addition to Semele, the goddess "Harmonia and the mortal "Cadmus also produced "Ino, "Agave, "Autonoe and "Polydorus. "Eos (Dawn) with the mortal "Tithonus, produced the hero "Memnon, and "Emathion, and with "Cephalus, produced "Phaethon. "Medea with the mortal "Jason, produced "Medius, the "Nereid "Psamathe with the mortal "Aeacus, produced the hero "Phocus, the Nereid "Thetis, with "Peleus produced the great warrior "Achilles, and the goddess "Aphrodite with the mortal "Anchises produced the "Trojan hero "Aeneas. With the hero "Odysseus, Circe would give birth to "Agrius and "Latinus, and Atlas' daughter "Calypso would also bear Odysseus two sons, "Nausithoos and "Nausinous.
|Children of goddesses with mortals |
The Theogony, after listing the offspring of the Titan "Iapetus and the Oceanid "Clymene, as "Atlas, "Menoitios, "Promethius, and "Epimetheus, and telling briefly what happened to each, tells the story of Prometheus. When the gods and men met at "Mekone to decide how sacrifices should be distributed, Prometheus sought to trick Zeus. Slaughtering an ox, he took the valuable fat and meat, and covered it with the ox's stomach. Prometheus then took the bones and hid them with a thin glistening layer of fat. Prometheus asked Zeus' opinion on which offering pile he found more desirable, hoping to trick the god into selecting the less desirable portion. Though Zeus saw through the trick, he chose the fat covered bones, and so it was established that ever after men would burn the bones as sacrifice to the gods, keeping the choice meat and fat for themselves. But in punishment for this trick, an angry Zeus decided to deny mankind the use of fire. But Prometheus stole fire inside a fennel stalk, and gave it to humanity. Zeus then ordered the creation of the first woman "Pandora as a new punishment for mankind. And Prometheus was chained to a cliff, where an eagle fed on his ever-regenerating liver every day, until eventually Zeus' son "Heracles came to free him.
The heritage of Greek mythology already embodied the desire to articulate reality as a whole, and this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first projects of speculative theorizing. It appears that the order of being was first imaginatively visualized before it was abstractly thought. Hesiod, impressed by necessity governing the ordering of things, discloses a definite pattern in the genesis and appearance of the gods. These ideas made something like cosmological speculation possible. The earliest rhetoric of reflection all centers about two interrelated things: the experience of wonder as a living involvement with the divine order of things; and the absolute conviction that, beyond the totality of things, reality forms a beautiful and harmonious whole.
In the Theogony, the origin ("arche) is Chaos, a divine primordial condition, and there are the roots and the ends of the earth, sky, sea, and "Tartarus. "Pherecydes of "Syros (6th century BC), believed that there were three pre-existent divine principles and called the water also Chaos. In the language of the archaic period (8th – 6th century BC), arche (or archai) designates the source, origin, or root of things that exist. If a thing is to be well established or founded, its arche or static point must be secure, and the most secure foundations are those provided by the gods: the indestructible, immutable, and eternal ordering of things.
In ancient "Greek philosophy, arche is the element or first principle of all things, a permanent nature or substance which is conserved in the generation of the rest of it. From this, all things come to be, and into it they are resolved in a final state. It is the divine horizon of substance that encompasses and rules all things. "Thales (7th – 6th century BC), the first Greek philosopher, claimed that the first principle of all things is water. "Anaximander (6th century BC) was the first philosopher who used the term arche for that which writers from Aristotle on call the "substratum". Anaximander claimed that the beginning or first principle is an endless mass ("Apeiron) subject to neither age nor decay, from which all things are being born and then they are destroyed there. A fragment from "Xenophanes (6th century BC) shows the transition from Chaos to Apeiron: "The upper limit of earth borders on air. The lower limit of earth reaches down to the unlimited (i.e the Apeiron)."
In the Theogony the initial state of the universe, or the origin ("arche) is "Chaos, a gaping void ("abyss) considered as a divine primordial condition, from which appeared everything that exists. Then came "Gaia (Earth), "Tartarus (the cave-like space under the earth; the later-born "Erebus is the darkness in this space), and "Eros (representing sexual desire - the urge to reproduce - instead of the emotion of love as is the common misconception). Hesiod made an abstraction because his original chaos is something completely indefinite.
By contrast, in the "Orphic cosmogony the unaging "Chronos produced "Aether and Chaos and made a silvery egg in divine Aether. From it appeared the androgynous god "Phanes, identified by the Orphics as Eros, who becomes the creator of the world.
Some similar ideas appear in the "Vedic and "Hindu cosmologies. In the "Vedic cosmology the universe is created from nothing by the great heat. Kāma (Desire) the primal seed of spirit, is the link which connected the existent with the non-existent  In the "Hindu cosmology, in the beginning there was nothing in the universe but only darkness and the divine essence who removed the darkness and created the primordial waters. His seed produced the universal germ ("Hiranyagarbha), from which everything else appeared.
In the Babylonian creation story "Enûma Eliš the universe was in a formless state and is described as a watery chaos. From it emerged two primary gods, the male "Apsu and female "Tiamat, and a third deity who is the maker "Mummu and his power for the progression of cosmogonic births to begin.
"Norse mythology also describes "Ginnungagap as the primordial abyss from which sprang the first living creatures, including the giant "Ymir whose body eventually became the world, whose blood became the seas, and so on; another version describes the origin of the world as a result of the fiery and cold parts of "Hel colliding.