Saturday, December 18, 2010


THE TITANES were six elder gods named Kronos, Koios, Krios, Iapetos, Hyperion and Okeanos, ons of Ouranos (Sky) and Gaia (Earth), who ruled the cosmos before the Olympians came to power. When their father was king he imprisoned six giant brothers of the Titanes--the Kyklopes and Hekatonkheires--in the belly of Earth. Gaia was incensed and incited her Titan sons to rebel. Led by Kronos, five of the six brothers, laid an ambush for their father, seizing hold of him as he descended to lie upon Earth. Four of them--Hyperion, Krios, Koios and Iapetos--were posted at the four corners of the earth to hold Sky fast, while Kronos in the centre castrated him with an adamantine sickle. After they had seized control of the cosmos, the Titanes released their storm giant brothers from Gaia's belly, only to lock them away shortly afterwards in the pit of Tartaros.
Ouranos and Gaia prophesied that a son of Kronos would eventually depose the Titanes, and so the Titan-king, in fear for his throne, took to devouring each one of his offspring as soon as they were born. Only Zeus escaped this fate through the intervention of his mother Rhea, who deposited him in a cave on the island of Krete and fed Kronos a substitute rock. Upon reaching adulthood, Zeus forced Kronos to disgorge his siblings, and with an army of divine-allies, made war on the Titanes and drove them into the pit of Tartaros, where they were bound. According to some (e.g. Pindar and Aeschylus) Kronos and the Titanes were afterwards released from this prison, and the old Titan became king of Elysium.
The sisters of the six Titanes--Rhea, Theia, Mnemosyne, Themis and Tethys--were titled Titanides (or female Titanes). Many of their sons and daughters also received the appelation of Titan including Atlas, Prometheus and Helios.
The Titanes were composite deities, who were represented in a number of ways through the classical age.
In the ancient cosmogonies the four represented the four great cosmic pillars which either held earth and sky asunder, or the entire cosmos aloft--Hyperion in the west, Iapetos in the east, Koios in the north and Krios in the south. The fifth Kronos (Time) stood in the centre, and the sixth, Okeanos, circled the world in the form of the river Ocean.
Homer and Hesiod also represent them as anti-gods, divinities residing in the pit of Tartaros, the cosmic inverse of heaven--for just as Heaven was imagined as a solid bronze dome rising above the earth, so Tartaros was a huge pit, or reverse dome, which enclosed the underworld. The home of the Titanes in the depths of the pit, was the cosmic opposite of the apex of heaven, the home of the Olympian gods.
Hesiod also seems to imagine the Titanes as gods of time who mastered Heaven. Individually they were apparently responsible for the establishment of the portions of time:--Kronos, was time the destroyer; Krios (the Ram), leader of the constellations, and so regulator of the seasons; Koios (or Polos "the pole"), lord of the axis of heaven, around which the constellations revolved measuring the year; Hyperion, overlord of the day and night, father of sun, moon and dawn; Iapetos "the piercer," Titan-god of mortal life-span and ancestor of man; and Okeanos the earth-encircler, who oversaw the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies. Hesiod later confines five of the Titanes to the Tartarean pit, and Zeus assumes control over the regulation of time in their stead.
In the Cretan tradition, the Titanes were portrayed as agrarian gods who lived in the vicinity of Knossos in Krete where they ruled over mankind during the Golden Age. At this time the Earth produced an endless bounty, and presented the Titans with the first sickle for the harvest. The Sicilian myths also speak of the Titanes harvesting the first grain. When the Titans attempted to destroy the infant Zeus, Gaia and Rhea hid him away in a cave on Mount Ida from where he later returned to destroy them.
In the Thrakian and Thessalian tradition, the Titanes were portrayed as a barbarous tribe of giants who made war on the gods. They were almost indistinguishable from the Thrakian Gigantes of Pallene. These barbarian gods once snuck into Olympos, their faces smeared with with white chalk (titanos), and seized the child Zagreus who was seated on the throne of heaven, removing his lightning bolts, and dismembered him with their knives. The god was reborn and the Titanes-Gigantes destroyed in the war which ensued. Certain local landmarks on the mountainous borders of Thessalia and Thrake were apparently identified with this Titan-story: including the river Titaressos (c.f. Tartaros) whose murky waters were said to be drawn from the infernal Styx, and Mount Titanos or Titarios opposite Olympos whose deposits of white-chalk gypsum were the Titanes' disguise.
The individual Titanes also turn up in the guise of obscure local gods with minor cults in the regions of central and southern Greece. The cult of Kronos was centred on the hill of Kronos at Olympia in the Peloponnese; Koios posssessed a stream in Messenia; Krios one in Akhaia and perhaps Euboia; Hyperion possibly had a shrine at Titane in Sikyonia; and Iapetos is located in the valleys of southern Arkadia. Second generation Titanes such as Prometheus, Atlas and Helios, and the female Titanes Themis, Dione, Rhea, Eurynome and Phoibe also had minor cults scattered around the region.
Some of the Titanes were also apparently gods of foreign import : Atlas and the fire-stealing Prometheus, for example, were frequently associated with the Anatolian kingdom of Lydia. The cosmic story of five Titanes--four holding the corners of heaven--may be Phoenician in origin. Late Greek writers also equated the Titanes with Set, enemy of the god-king Osiris in Eygptian myth.
ADANOS An alternative name for one of the Titanes.
ANDES An alternative name for one of the Titanes, perhaps Hyperion.
HYPERION The Titan god of light and the cycles of day and night, sun and moon. He was cast into Tartaros by the gods at the end of the Titan-War.
IAPETOS The Titan god of mortality and life-span. He was cast into Tartaros at the end of the Titan-War along with his brothers.
KOIOS The Titan god of intelligence and the axis of heaven He was also known as Polos. Koios was one of the Titanes cast into Tartaros at the end of the Titan-War. He was sometimes described as a leader of the Gigantes.
KRIOS The Titan god of the heavenly constellations, also known as Megamedes. He was cast into Tartaros at the end of the Titan-War. Krios was sometimes called a leader of the Gigantes.
KRONOS The King of the Titanes, and the god of destructive time. He led his brothers in the castration of Ouranos, and was himself deposed by Zeus. Kronos was cast into the pit of Tartaros after his defeat. Some say he was later released by Zeus and made King of Islands of the Blessed (home of the blessed dead).
MYLINOS A Gigante or Titan of Krete, destroyed by Zeus. He was probably identified with Olympos or Kronos.
OKEANOS The Titan god of the earth-encircling river Okeanos, the place of rising and setting of the heavenly bodies. He was the only one of the Titanes not to participate in the castration of Ouranos, and in the Titan-Wars remained neutral.
OLYMBROS An alternative name for one of the Titanes. He may be the same as Olympos the Kretan mentor of Zeus.
OLYMPOS The Titan or Gigante mentor of Zeus. He later roused his kin in an uprisal against the god and was destroyed. He was probably identified with the Kouretes, Kronos or Olymbros.
OPHION The eldest of the Titanes who was wrestled by Kronos for the throne of heaven and cast into the Ocean-stream. He was identified with both Ouranos and Okeanos.
OSTASOS An alternative name for one of the Titanes.
POLOS The Titan god of the axis of heaven (polos). He was usually called Koios.

ANYTOS One of the Titanes, Anytos was the foster-parent of Demeter's daughter Despoine. He was probably a Kourete.
ASTRAIOS The Titan god of the stars, winds, astrology and astronomy.
ATLAS The Titan god of daring, endurance, and the art of astronomy. Zeus forced him to bear the heavens upon his shoulders. He was later released from this torment and made the guardian of the pillars of heaven.
AZEIOS A Gigante or Titan who fought in the Titan-Wars. He was an ancestor of the kings of Arkadia.
EPIMETHEUS They Titan god of afterthought. He was the god who created the animals of the earth, while his brother Prometheus was busy with the crafting of man. Later Zeus tricked him into receiving Pandora with her box of evils.
HELIOS The Titan god of the sun who rode across the skies in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. He was an ally of Zeus in the Titan-War.
HOPLODAMOS A Titan, Kourete or Gigante who led his brothers in the protection of Rhea after Kronos learned of her deception over the birth of Zeus.
KOURETES, THE The shield-clashing attendants of Rhea, and protectors of the infant Zeus. They were sometimes numbered amongst the Titanes.
LELANTOS The Titan god of the breezes of the air and movement unseen.
MELISSEUS The Titan or Kourete god of honey.
MENOITIOS The Titan god of violent anger, rash action and mortality. Zeus blasted him into Erebos with a thunderbolt. He was probably the same as Menoites, the bondsman of Haides.
PALLAS The Titan god of warcraft and the campaign season. Some say Athena made her aigis from his goatish skin.
PERSES The Titan god of destruction, sack, burning, and summer drought.
PROMETHEUS The Titan god of forethought. He molded mankind out of clay and later stole fire from heaven on their behalf. Zeus had him chained to Mount Kaukasos where an eagle was set to gnaw out his liver as punishment. He was later released by Herakles.
SYKEUS A Titan or Gigante who fled from Zeus and was hidden in the earth by Gaia in the shape of a fig-seed.
TITAN The Titan god of the agricultural calendar, established through the observation of the heavens.


Homer, Iliad (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
In the Iliad of Homer the Titanes Kronos, Rheia, Iapetos, Okeanos, Tethys, Dione and Themis are all mentioned, although with the exception of Kronos and Iapetos, they are not explicitly described as Titanes. The name Hyperion also occurs but only as a title of Helios.
Hesiod, Theogony 133 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Gaia the Earth] lay with Ouranos (Sky) and bare deep-swirling Okeanos, Koios and Krios and Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Kronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children."
Alcman, Fragment 61 (from Eustathius on Iliad) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) :
"The father of Ouranos (Sky), as was said already, is called Akmon because heavenly motion is untiring (akamatos); an the sons of Ouranos (Sky) are Akmonidai [the Titanes]: the ancients make these two points clear. Alkman, they say, tells that the heaven belongs to Akmon." [N.B. The word akmon also occurs in Hesiod's Theogony in connection with the Titanes. Here akmon is an anvil of bronze, which is described falling from the apex of heaven down to earth and from earth to the bottom of the pit of Tartaros, prison of the Titanes, as a measure of distances in the cosmos.]
Anacreon, Frag 505d (from Fulgentius, Mythologies) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :
"According to Anakreon . . . Zeus was beginning warfare against the Titani, the sons of Titan [or Titanes in plural], brother of Kronos (Saturn)."
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 207 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"The Titanes, children of Ouranos (Heaven) and Khthon (Earth)."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 1 - 2 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Ouranos the Sky] fathered other sons on Ge (Earth), namely the Titanes : Okeanos, Koios, Hyperion, Kreios, Iapetos, and Kronos the youngest; also daughters called Titanides : Tethys, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Dione, Theia."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 66. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The Titanes numbered six men and five women, being born, as certain writers of myths relate, of Ouranos (Heaven) and Ge (Earth), but according to others, of one of the Kouretes and Titaia, from whom as their mother they derive the name they have. The males were Kronos, Hyperion, Koios, Iapetos, Krios and Okeanos, and their sisters were Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe and Tethys. [N.B. He omits Theia.]"
Orphic Hymn 37 to the Titans (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"O mighty Titanes, who from Ouranos (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth) derive your noble and illustrious birth."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Aether and Terra [were born various abstractions] . . .
[From Caelum (Ouranos) and Terra (Gaia) were born ?] Oceanus, Themis, Tartarus, Pontus; the Titanes : Briareus, Gyes, Steropes, Atlas, Hyperion, and Polus [Koios], Saturnus [Kronos], Ops [Rhea], Moneta [Mnemosyne], Dione." [N.B. Hyginus' Preface survives only in summary. The Titanes should be listed as children of Ouranos (Caelum) and Gaia (Terra) not Aither and Gaia, but the notation to this effect seems to have been lost in the transcription.]
For MORE information on the female Titans see THE TITANIDES


Hesiod, Theogony 133 & 207 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Gaia the Earth] lay with Ouranos (Sky) and bare deep-swirling Okeanos, Koios and Krios and Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Kronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire . . . And he [Ouranos] used to hide them all [Hekatonkheires and Kyklopes, brothers of the Titanes] away in a secret place of Earth (Gaia) so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Ouranos (Sky) rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Gaia (Earth) groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons [the six Titanes]. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart : `My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.' So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Kronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother : `Mother, I will undertake to do this deed.'
So he said: and vast Gaia (Earth) rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.
And Ouranos (Sky) came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Gaia (Earth) spreading himself full upon her. Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him . . . These sons whom be begot himself great Ouranos (Sky) used to call Titenes (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards." [N.B. Hesiod in the last few lines says that all six brothers were involved in the ambush and castration of Ouranos : five straining to hold him fast, while the sixth, Kronos, cut off his genitals.]
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 3 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Now Ge (Earth), distressed by the loss of her children [the Kyklopes & the Hekatonkheires] into Tartaros, persuaded the Titanes to attack their father, and she gave Kronos a sickle made of adamant. So all of them except Okeanos set upon Ouranos (Heaven), and Kronos cut off his genitals, tossing them into the sea . . . Thus having overthrown Ouranos’ rule the Titanes retrieved their brothers from Tartaros and gave the power to Kronos."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 982 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"In the Keraunian Sea, fronting the Ionian Straits, there is a rich and spacious island, under the soil of which is said to lie--bear with me, Mousai; it gives me little pleasure to recall the old tale--the sickle used by Kronos to castrate his father Ouranos (Sky)."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 498 ff :
"He [Orpheus] sang of . . . How, in the beginning, Ophion and Eurynome, daughter of Okeanos, governed the world from snow-clad Olympos; how they were forcibly supplanted, Ophion by Kronos, Eurynome by Rhea; of their fall into the waters of Okeanos; and how their successors ruled the happy Titan gods." [N.B. Ophion and Eurynome may be Ouranos and Gaia.]
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 18. 223 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Zeus] in his first youth battered the earthborn Titanes for Olympos, when he was only a boy . . . Kronos still dripping held the emasculating sickleblade, after he had cut off the manly crop of his father’s [Ouranos the Sky’s] plow and robbed him of the Mother’s [Gaia the Earth ’s] bed to which he was hastening, and warred against your sire at the head of the Titanes."
For MORE information on the castration of Ouranos see OURANOS


Hesiod, Theogony 334 - 515 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"[1 & 2] And [the Titanis] Tethys bare to [the Titan] Okeanos eddying Potamoi (Rivers) [various named] . . . Also she brought forth a holy company of daughters [the Nymphai] . . . [a long list of names is given including] Elektra, and Doris . . . lovely Dione . . . Metis, and Eurynome . . . and Styx who is the chiefest of them all. These are the eldest daughters that sprang from Okeanos and Tethys; but there are many besides. For there are three thousand neat-ankled daughters of Okeanos who are dispersed far and wide, and in every place alike serve the earth and the deep waters, children who are glorious among goddesses. And as many other Potamoi (Rivers) are there, babbling as they flow, sons of Okeanos, whom queenly Tethys bare . . . [a list of Rivers follows.]
[3 & 4] And [the Titanis] Theia was subject in love to [the Titan] Hyperion and bare great Helios (Sun) and clear Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn) who shines upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven.
[5] And [the Sea-Goddess] Eurybia, bright goddess, was joined in love to [the Titan] Krios and bare great Astraios, and Pallas, and Perses who also was eminent among all men in wisdom. And Eos bare to Astraios the strong-hearted Anemoi (Winds), brightening Zephyros (West Wind), and Boreas (North), headlong in his course, and Notos (South),--a goddess mating in love with a god. And after these Erigeneia bare the star Eosphoros (Dawn-bringer), and the gleaming Astra (Stars) with which heaven is crowned. And Styx the daughter of Okeanos was joined to Pallas and bare Zelos (Emulation) and trim-ankled Nike (Victory) in the house. Also she brought forth Kratos (Strength) and Bia (Force), wonderful children . . .
[6 & 7] Again, [the Titanis] Phoibe came to the desired embrace of [the Titan] Koios. Then the goddess through the love of the god conceived and brought forth dark-gowned Leto, always mild, kind to men and to the deathless gods, mild from the beginning, gentlest in all Olympus. Also she bare Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all . . .
[8 & 9] But [the Titanis] Rhea was subject in love to [the Titan] Kronos and bare splendid children, Hestia, Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth, and [Poseidon] the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, and wise Zeus, father of gods and men, by whose thunder the wide earth is shaken. These great Kronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother's knees with this intent, that no other of the proud sons of Heaven should hold the kingly office amongst the deathless gods . . .
[10] Now [the Titan] Iapetos took to wife the neat-ankled maid Klymene, daughter of Okeanos, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoitios and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus who from the first was a mischief to men who eat bread; for it was he who first took of Zeus the woman, the maiden whom he had formed."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 4 - 9 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[1 & 2] [The Titan] Kronos . . . then married his sister [Titanis] Rhea. Because both Ge (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky) had given him prophetic warning that his rule would be overthrown by a son of his own, he took to swallowing his children at birth. He swallowed his first-born daughter Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, and after them Plouton and Poseidon. Angered by this, Rhea, when she was heavy with Zeus, went off to Krete and gave birth to him . . . The [other] Titanes had children.
[3 & 4] Those of [the Titan] Okeanos and [Titanis] Tethys were called Okeanides: Asia, Styx, Electra, Doris, Eurynome, and Metis.
[5 & 6] The children of [Titan] Koios and [Titanis] Phoibe were Asteria and Leto.
[7 & 8] [Titan] Hyperion and [Titanis] Theia had Eos (Dawn, Helios (Sun), and Selene (Moon).
[9] To [Titan] Kreios and Eurybia, the daughter of Pontos (Sea), were born Astraios, Pallas and Perses.
[10] Atlas, who holds the sky on his shoulders, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoitios, whom Zeus struck with a thunderbolt in the Titan battle and confined to Tartaros, were all sons of [Titan] Iapetos and Asia.
Kheiron, a double-formed kentauros, was born to Kronos and Philyra; Eos and Astraios were parents of the Anemoi (Winds) and Astra (Stars); Perses and Asteria of Hekate; and Nike, Kratos, Zelos, and Bia were born to Pallas and Styx."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[1 & 2] From [Titan] Oceanus and [Titanis] Tethys [were born] the Oceanides . . . Of the same descent Rivers . . .
[3 & 4] From [Titan] Polus [Koios] and [Titanis] Phoebe [were born], Latona, Asteria.
[5] [text missing] Perses, Pallas.
[6] From [Titan] Iapetus and Clymene, Atlas, Epimetheus, Prometheus.
[7 & 8] From [Titan] Hyperion and [Titanis] Aethra, Sol (Sun), Luna (Moon), Aurora (Dawn).
[9 & 10] From [Titan] Saturnus [Kronos] and [Titanis] Ops [Rhea], Vesta [Hestia], Ceres [Demeter], Juno [Hera], Jupiter [Zeus], Pluto [Haides], Neptunus [Poseidon].
From Saturnus [Kronos] and Philyra, Chiron, Dolops.
From Astraeus and Aurora [Eos], Zephyrus, Boreas, Notus, Favonius [Zephyros].
From Atlas and Pleione, Maia, Calypso, Alcyone, Merope, Electra, Celaeno.
From Pallas the Giant, and Styx, Scylla, Force, Envy, Power, Victory, Fountains, Lakes."

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