So, if you’ve had a look at my About page, you’d know that I’m currently in the process of writing a series inspired by/grounded in Greek Mythology. I thought, why not start Mythology Monday? Seems appropriate. To kick us off, let’s start at the beginning—a very good place to start*.
Wow, so many different theories scattered all over the earth. Like with everything, there are various versions, many of which are rather complicated. I’m going to lead with the “general” / popular belief, in simple terms. We begin with Chaos. A dark void, empty of space and life. From Chaos came the first of the gods and goddesses. The Primeval Deities. They were said to be personifications of the elements, given a gender but not corporeal.
First, we have Gaia (earth), Eros (love) and Tartarus (pit beneath the earth). Then came Nyx (night) and Erebus (darkness), Uranus (sky) and Pontus (sea). It is said that Nyx and Erebus birthed the siblings Aether (upper air) and Hemera (day), while Nyx alone created a host of frightening beings. In other versions, there are several deities included in the Primeval gods but we’ll give them a skip for simplicity sake.
Gaia and Uranus brought forth the Titans. The most important of these is Cronus. Though the youngest, he managed to kick his dear old dad out of office and take the throne, leaving him king of the Titans. As history tends to repeat itself, his own sons one day cast him into the depths of Tartarus, bringing about the age of the Olympians.
The twelve Olympian gods and goddesses are probably the best known of all the Greek Mythology deities. They are:
Aphrodite (love, beauty, desire and procreation)
Apollo (sun, music, prophecy and healing)
Ares (war and conflict)
Artemis (hunting, wild animals, childbirth and children, chastity and the moon)
Athena (wisdom, reason, war, skill, strategy and crafts)
Demeter (harvest, agriculture and fertility)
Dionysus (wine, wine-making, revelry and vegetation)
Hephaestus (fire, the forge, metalworking, building, sculpture and artistry)
Hera (“Queen of the gods”, marriage, married women, familial love and children)
Hermes (“messenger of the gods”, herds, travel, trade, merchants and thievery)
Poseidon (sea and other sources of water, earthquakes and horses)
Zeus (“King of the gods,” sky and weather, law and justice)
Familiar names, right? These are the ones who play vital roles in Disney/Hollywood retellings. I’m guessing you’re wondering why Hades (the dead and the Underworld) isn’t included in this list. The theory, is that since he spent his time in the Underworld, he was not regarded as an Olympian.
Incest plays a major part in mythology. If, like me, you watched the very first episode of Game of Thrones and cringed, you’ll be shocked by the amount familial couplings. Clearly, these guys were fans of the saying “keep it all in the family”. Gaia partnered with her own son, Uranus, to create the Titans. Nyx, with her brother Erebus, bore Aether and Hemera. Cronus and his sister, Rhea, gave birth to Zeus and Hera. Another set of siblings who would one day marry. The list goes on and it gets insanely complicated.
Now we have the basics of creation mapped out. In the Mondays to come, I’ll look at individual figures throughout mythology. From heroes to beasts and everything in between.
*I apologise to all those who now have the Sound of Music song stuck in their heads.