The Battle of the gods and the establishment of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus.
The Greek Creation Myth or Cosmogony
The Ancient Greeks needed a story, or Creation myth, which centered around the main Gods and Goddesses of their religion and answered the questions of where they came from and what their relationships were to each other. The Greek Creation Myth was developed and started with Chaos, who took the role of the first god, and provided a mythical and religious explanation of the nature and genesis of the universe - the start of the Greek Creation Myth. The Greek Creation Myth was a story or legend that explained the origin of the universe and of man. The Ancient Greeks evolved the Greek creation myth in an attempt to explain how the universe and some of the major Greek Gods and Goddesses came into existence. The Greek creation myth is also referred to as the Cosmogony of Ancient Greece. The word Cosmogony originates from the Greek word "cosmo" meaning universe and the word "gony or gonos" meaning origin, birth or creation.
The Greek Creation Myth of Greek Mythology
All of the gods and deities that featured in the Greek Creation Myth of ancient mythology and legend were immortals, they could not die. However, they were vulnerable and could be wounded or replaced by stronger gods. The Greek Creation myth describes a supernatural world in which various generations of gods supplanted the elder gods who were confined in the depths of the Underworld. The Greek Creation Myth tells of the ancient gods of Greece who fall into three major groups:
- The Primeval Gods
- The Titans
- The Olympian Gods
Greek Creation Myth - Chaos and Nyx
The Greek Creation myth of ancient Greece started with Chaos, a careless god who inhabited a dark, chaotic void in which all things were a confused mass. There was no solid land, no sun, no moon, no fluid sea, no flowing rivers or fresh water, no mountains and no pure air. Chaos created Nyx out of the darkness and they produced Erebus whose province was the Underworld. Erebus then took his mother Nyx as his wife.
Greek Creation Myth - Erebus, Aether and Hemera
The Greek Creation Myth continues with the offspring of Erebus and Nyx who were Aether and his sister Hemera who brought light and day. The union of Erebus and Nyx also produced many of the dark gods and goddesses of the Underworld. Chaos, Erebus, and Nyx were deprived of their power by Aether and Hemera.
Greek Creation Myth - Uranus, Pontus, Tartarus and Gaia
The union of Aether and Hemera then produced Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (Hell) Pontus (sea) and Eros (Love). These were the first primeval deities who were initially born out of chaos. The following Ancient Gods Family Tree details the relationships of the first Primeval gods featured in the Greek Creation myth. Gaia, the Earth Mother then created Uranus and together they overthrew the 'elder gods' and produced twelve gigantic children who became collectively known as the Titans in the Greek Creation Myth.
The Greek Creation Myth - The Titans
The next part of the Greek Creation myth details the story of Uranus, Gaia and their children, a race of giants called the Titans ( refer to the section on the Titans). Not surprisingly, Uranus was frightened of the massive size and strength of his gigantic children and to prevent their ever making use of their strength against him, he seized them immediately after their birth and hurled them down into a dark abyss, below the Underground, called Tartarus, where he kept this generation of the ancient gods in chains - also refer to Tartarus, Hades the Underworld.
The Greek Creation Myth - The Titans
In the Greek Creation Myth the names of the Titans were:
- The names of the 6 Male Titans: Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Crius and Iapetus
- The names of the 6 Female Titanides: Mnemosyne, Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea and Themis
The Greek Creation Myth - the Cyclopes and the Centimani
Following the imprisonment of the 12 Titans Uranus and his wife Gaia produced another three giant sons, the Cyclopes. According to the Greek Creation Myth, the Cyclopes were one-eyed giants called Brontes (Thunder), Steropes (Lightning), and Arges (Sheet-lightning). Once again, Uranus threw his terrifying into Tartarus where they joined the 12 captive Titans. In due time their number was again increased by three more sons of Uranus called the Centimani (Hundred-Handed Ones)who were giants of incredible strength and ferocity that surpassed that of all Titans. The names of the Centimani were Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes.
The Greek Creation Myth - Cronus defeats Uranus
The Greek Creation Myth continues with the rebellion of the Titans. Gaia hated the treatment that her children had received at the hands of Uranus. She pleaded with him to release their children from Tartarus but Uranus refused. Gaia swore revenge on her husband, and descended into Tartarus, where she convinced the Titans to plot and conspire against Uranus and take his throne. Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, hated Tartarus and hated his cruel father for his harsh treatment. Cronus showed courage and agreed to face his father. Gaia released him from his chains, and gave him a weapon, an incredibly sharp scythe, to attack his father. Cronus vanquished his father and bound him in chains. Cronus then took possession of the vacant throne, intending to rule the universe forever. The Greek Creation Myth ends this part of the story with Uranus cursing his son, and making the prophecy that a day would come when Cronus would also be supplanted by his children and suffer just punishment for his rebellion.
The Greek Creation Myth - The Rule of the Titans
The Greek Creation Myth then went on to describe the Rule of the Titans when Cronus released his brothers and sisters from the horrors of Tartarus and ruled as the king of these giant gods and goddesses. Each of his siblings were given a portion of the world to govern. The Titan males joined with their sisters (the Titanides) to produce children. The names of the children were:
- Eos, Helios, and Selene, Leto, Asteria, Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Metis, Astraeus, Pallas, Perses, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus
The Greek Creation Myth - The Olympians
According to the mythology of the Greek Creation Myth the prophecy of Uranus would come true and Cronus would eventually be supplanted by his children. When his wife Rhea gave birth to their first child Cronus remembered the prophecy. To prevent the prophecy from coming true Cronus swallowed each of his and Rhea's children as they were born. Their names were Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. As the children were immortal, the cruel action of Cronus did not kill them, they remained trapped inside the body of Cronus. Rhea grieved for the loss of her children and when she gave birth to her sixth child, Zeus, she tricked Cronus by substituting the baby Zeus with a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes. Cronus swallowed the swaddled rock believing he had disposed of another threat to his rule. Rhea placed Zeus in the care of the Melian nymphs where he grew strong. The creation myth continues as Zeus, guided by Rhea, attacked and quickly vanquished his father Cronus. He released his siblings, who were still living in the stomach of Cronus and divided his father's realm amongst them. (Refer to the Greek Gods section)
The Greek Creation Myth - The Battle of the Titans (the Titanomachy)
The closing of the Greek Creation Myth tells of the Battle of the Titans. The story goes that some of the older Titans resented the young upstart gods and rebelled against Zeus. This started a ten year conflict called Battle of the Titans (the Titanomachy). According to Greek mythology and the Greek Creation Myth the Titans, used Mount Othrys as their base during the battle. Mount Othrys was assaulted by the gods led by Zeus, who used Mount Olympus as their base. The Olympians were victorious, the names of these gods and goddesses were:
- Zeus, Hera, Athena, Hestia or Dionysus, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Demeter, Artemis, Hephaestus and Hermes
Other Greek Creation Myth
There were many other lesser deities and gods mentioned in the Greek Creation Myth such as the Nymphs, Dryads and Sirens. The children of unions between the gods and mortals were called Demigods and many of these were considered as Immortal.