Monday, 3 March 2014

The Titans

The titans are the sons and daughters of Gaia and Ouranos and were the first rulers of the earth; their leader, Kronos, was the ruler of the entire universe after they castrated their father who kept them imprisoned deep within the underEarth.  The Titans were the parents of the eldest of the gods including Zeus and the first generation of Olympians. 

The origin of the titans is not know, they may be related to other Indo-European cultures’ primordial beings (such as the Norse Jotuns) or they could be the remnants of a pantheon worshiped by peoples indigenous to Greece (such as the Pelgasians) before the coming of the Mykeneans.  New evidence in early Kreaten writing by an archaeologist named Paul Faure suggests that there was a deity named Ttan, perhaps he was the original ruler of the group which took his name collectively.  Another theory traces the name to the word for ‘white earth’, referring to clay or gypsum.  In this context it could refer to statues sculpted of the material or even the use of clay as a make up in early ritual.

The protogenoi, including the parents of the titans, are the actual beings the universe is created from.  The titans are the powers of time and fertility, the stages of chaotic growth that the younger gods tamed and brought order to. 

The Six Titanes(or Male Titans)

His name possibly means ‘the one who goes above’ or ‘watching from above’ which refers to his position as the Titan of the sun.  His consort is the Titanis Theia who represents the clear blue sky and together they parented Eos, Helios and Selene.
Hyperion was one of the titanes that conspired with Kronos against Ouranos and standing at one of the corners of creation held down one of the Sky-King’s limbs while Kronos castrated him.  The four titanes who held the sky down may have represented the pillars that hold up the sky, one in each cardinal direction.  Hyperion was also one of the titanes that fought against the younger gods and were punished with imprisonment in the pit of Tartaros; it is possible that in this context he is seen as the pillar that holds up the earth.  In either case, if he was seen as a pillar god, given his connections to the sun and being the father of the dawn he was most likely the pillar in the east.    

His name may be derived from the word ‘wound’ or ‘pierce’ (with a spear) and he is likely the titan of mortality and the lifespan designated to all living things.  In an extension of this he could have been associated with the hunting and killing of animals.  He may represent the part of the great sphere that encircles existence that lies below the horizon; conversely he may be seen as one of the pillars – of the west in the lands of the dead – that support the earth or heaven, given this punishment by Zeus for opposing the younger gods’ rule.  Iapetos is the consort of the Titanis Klymene and is father of the creators of all mortal living things and of the most rash and violent of the Titanes. 

The god of questioning and the mind, it is thought that his name is derived from the word for query and is the Titan of prophesies that originate from heaven (as opposed to those from earth which were delivered by his consort Phoibe).  Koios was also named Polos – ‘of the pole’.  He was, quite likely the personification of the pillar that held the northern corner under the earth or of axis pole in the north around which the heavens revolved (the pole was attached to the North Star and guarded by the constellation Draco while the other end was rooted at Delphoi and guarded by the Python).  Some theorize that he is in fact the dragon of the heavens which Athene cast there during the titanomachy. 

Krios, ‘the ram’ or ‘the ruler’ was the titan of the constellations and as the first of all the constellations – Aries – and led them in their procession across the sky.  This ram-featured deity is likely the personification of the great pillar of the south that either held the heavens and earth apart or else supported the earth from Tartaros, where the titanes who opposed Zeus’ rule were sent in punishment.  Krios’ sons also had animalistic qualities and it may be that Krios was the titan of animal domestication. 

Kronos is the titan of the flow and the ravaging of time and the proper procession of existence.  With the aid of four of his brothers (each taking one limb in a cardinal direction, Kronos at the center and Okeanos, uninvolved circling around them) he castrated and deposed Ouranos, their father and took up rulership over all creation; what followed was the Golden Age.   Kronos so feared his own children overthrowing him that he swallowed each of them at their birth save Zeus who was hidden from him.  Zeus grew, and while Kronos was ‘befuddled on honey’ (in a time before wine), Zeus chained and forced Kronos to disgorge his siblings and lead a ten-year war against the titanes who were forced into the Tartaros.  Zeus in time relented and released the titan king to rule over the Elysian Islands, home of the blessed dead.  

Okeanos is the great fresh water river that encircles the earth and which regulated the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies.  He was the only elder titan who did not participate in the castration of Ouranos or in the war against Zeus.  He is the consort of Tethys with whom he fathered the three thousand Okeanides who supply the world with fresh water and of the Potamoi (river gods) with whom he shares his appearance – bull horned and with a serpentine tail in place of legs.  

The Six Titanides (or Female Titans)

Sometimes considered one of the three ‘Elder Musoi’; she is, by Zeus, the mother of the better known Nine Muses.  She is the Titanis of memory and the oral preservation of history.  She was also an oracular deity worshiped at a shrine in Boiotia at a site called Trophonios.  

Phoibe may be the Titanis of intellect and ‘the bright mind’ and was the ruler of the Delphic oracle before her grandson Apollon received it as a cult site, she may also rule over the rites of purification rites performed at Delphoi.  She is the Titanis of the prophetic powers that come from the earth while her consort Koios was the titan of the prophetic voice of the heavens; their daughters also carried with them prophetic abilities – Leto those of the day and light and Asteria of night and darkness.  

Rhea is the Titanis of the fertility of the earth as well as over all female bodies and is worshiped as the Mother of the Gods.  Her name likely developed from the word for flow, referring to the menstrual cycle.  Rhea is the Queen of the Titanes and like the other titanides she sided with her children in the war between titan and god and retained her power and position.  It was Rhea, with her mother who hid the infant Zeus from her husband Kronos.   Though there are other versions of their birth where Kronos did not swallow them.  Hera, Hestia and Demeter were left alone while Poseidon thrown into the sea (and a foal given to Kronos to devour in his place), Haides was thrown into Tartaros and Zeus suspended from a tree to keep him out of Kronos’ realms and sight to keep him safe. 

Different groups in ancient Greece had different traditions, it was not till later that they were united into a single theogony.  Rhea can be equated with Gaia as well as considered her daughter, in some areas she was the original mother goddess, she is Meter Oreia – the  Mountain Mother which can be seen in her names Berekyntia, Dindymene and Idaia.  Rhea was also identified with the Phrygian goddess Kybele.  

Her name identifies her as ‘nurse’ and Tethys was the Titanis of the fresh water under the earth and wife of Okeanos the titan who was the fresh water that surrounded the earth.  She is the mother of the Okeanide Nymphoi who brought water to all places of the earth and the Potamoi, the gods of the rivers of the world.  She was sometimes shown as having wings upon her forehead, possibly in connection to her role as mother of the clouds.  Tethys is quite often confused with the protogenoi Thesis and Thalassa, both powers of the sea.  

Theia is the Titanis of sight and the light of the clear blue sky and possibly of the shine and brilliance of gems and metals.  She is the consort of Hyperion and mother of the sun, moon and dawn.  Like all the titanides, she has great prophetic and divinatory powers as her name could be derived from ‘thea’ meaning sight or ‘theiazo’ meaning to divine.  

Themis is the Titanis of divine justice and universal law.  She, like all the original titanides has great prophetic gifts and was worshiped in this capacity in many ancient shrines.  It was her voice that first instructed humanity in the matters of hospitality, piety, offerings and morality.  Themis is a consort of Zeus and sat beside his throne advising him in the matters of law and fate and by him is the mother of the Horai who ruled over the proper procession of the seasons.  

The Younger Titanes

Aiode, whose name means ‘song’, is one of the Eldar Mousoi who were the early rulers of music. 

The daughter of Iapetos, she is the Titanis of heat and the warmth of the fire: Ankhiale she is the consort of the titan Hekareros and the mother if the Daktyloi with whom she lived with on Mt Ida (either in Krete or the Phrygian territories)

whose name means ‘flaming star’ is likely the goddess of prophetic techniques that are performed at night including dream work, astrology and necromancy.  In some myth she flees the advances of Zeus and metamorphosis’s into the island of Delos where later her sister Leto gives birth to Apollon.

, the son of Krios, is likely the titan of the stars and planets (which were known as the wandering stars) and the art of astrology.  He was the bringer of the winds which followed the hottest part of summer brought on by the Dog Star.  Astraios was connected to the Satyr Seilenos and in some myths was called the leader of a troop of Satyroi; Astraios was probably equine in form and his sons, the winds, were often described as having the bodies of horses. 

Atlas is the ‘one who endures’ he was set the task to eternally bear the heavens upon his shoulders or in other myths appointed the guardian of the pillars (possibly his uncles the four titans who held Ouranos down)  which held the sky and earth apart. He was also a teacher of astronomy and many of his children, including the Pleiades, were associated with stars.  In late classical myth, the hero Perseus transformed Atlas into the mountains that bear his name with the severed head of Medousa. 

A virgin huntress and Titanis of the breezes and personified in the cool morning air, Aura is the daughter of Lelantos and shares many similarities to Artemis.  Aura was raped by Dionusos, which drove her insane and she ate one of the twin boys which resulted of the attack.

Perhaps a daughter of Okeanis, her name is the feminine form of Zeus and appears in Linear B inscriptions from Mykenaean times; and Dione is also considered in very early mythology the mother of Aphrodite by Zeus.  Three elderly women called the Peleiades or ‘doves’ were her priestesses and performed oracles in her name at the cult side of Dodonna where she was worshiped as the consort of Zeus. 

The ‘rosey-fingered’ Titanis of the dawn, Eos is sister to the sun and the moon and is one of the few titanides whose name and origins may be traced back to pre-Indo-European culture.  Eos rose each morning from Okeanos, either winged or in a chariot drawn by winged steeds, to drive away the mists of night.  In her wanderings she fell in love with many mortals (some claim she was cursed by Aphrodite to do so) including Orion, Phaethon and Kephalos as well as Tithonos who she made her official consort.  Eos requested eternal life for him she failed to ask for eternal youth as well and Tithonos shriveled away into the form of a grasshopper. 

Epimetheus is the titan of afterthought and excuses.  He is one of the four sons of Iapetos, all of whom were considered to possess traits of violence and rashness.  Along with Prometheus he was given the task of creating all the forms of live to populate the earth and haphazardly portioned out gifts so that none were left for man.  Epimetheus, against the warning of his brother, took Pandora, the first woman as a wife.  Pandora brought with her birth and mortality and the ills of the kako daimons, the evil spirits like old age, poverty and disease. 

Eurynome, ‘wide-ruling’ is the Titanis of wetlands and pastures and is the eldest of the three thousand Okeanides. She was the third consort of Zeus and bore to him the Khariries, the three goddesses of beauty and joy.  In some myth, Eurynome (also equated with Thesis and Tethys and even with Gaia) is the eldest of all Titanes and with her mate Ophion ruled the cosmos until overthrown by Kronos and Rhea. 

The Titanis of magic, witchcraft, necromancy as well as the summer harvest, Hekate’s name may mean ‘work from afar’.  She is the daughter of Asteria, from whom she inherited her powers of prophesy and divination, and Perses who was canine in appearance and from whom Hekate inherited her association with dogs.  Hecate is one of the most powerful of divinities with power over all three worlds as well as over the sea, earth and sky.  In the underworld she, with her twin torches is a guide and a companion to Persephone.  Hekate often appears in the form of a woman with three bodies and head representing her rule over the crossroads.   She is often confuses with r absorbs the cult practices and myths of many other goddesses including Artemis and Selene, the sea-goddess Krataeis, Iphigeneia, and Maira, who was the Dog Star. 

Hekateros is the titan of the hands and the manipulation of materials into tools.  He is the father of the metal-working Daktyloi (who represent the fingers).

The titan god of the sun, Helios takes over for his father Hyperion (who was sent to Tartaros) in this role but also is the guardian of oaths.  He was the father of ill-fated Phaethon who attempted to drive the sun chariot drawn by four fiery steeds.  Helios drove this chariot through the sky daily and after descending into Okeanos in the west rode in a golden cup back to his golden home at the eastern ends of the world.

Her name means fame and likely refers to the fame that heroes and great people sought to keep their names alive after death. Her consort is Iapetos who is the titan of mortality.  Klymene is one of the Okeanides and is often seen as an attendant of the goddess Hera. 

Lelantos is possibly the titan of animal instincts and of the ability to pass unnoticed.  He was very similar to the Titanis Leto; his daughter Aura is the goddess of the breeze (who, incidentally, shares many qualities with Leto’s daughter Artemis).  

Leto’s name seems to mean ‘unobserved’ and is the mother by Zeus of Artemis and Apollon.  She was in later times a patron of mothers and the young and was originally perhaps the Titanis of the ability to go unseen and inherited prophetic abilities from her father, the titan Koios.  While pregnant with her children Leto was pursued by Hera’s wrath and was only able to find safety to deliver them (in one version in the form of a wolf) on the Island of Delos (which some myths claim is the metamorphosized body of her sister Asteria)

Melete whose name means ‘practice’ along with Mneme (Mnemosyne) and Aiode is one of the Elder Mousoi who were the original rulers of song and music. 

Menoitios role is not completely understood but he is the titan of violent behaviors.  He was struck down by Zeus’ thunderbolt for his boasting.  He was one of the four sons of Iapetos, each of whom were gifted with less than admirable qualities.  There may be a connection to Menoetes who is called the cattle-herd of Haides.

Metis is the Titanis of cunning, council and wisdom and is one of the daughters of Okeanos.  Metis was one of Zeus’ earliest consorts and advised him in the titanomachy.  While pregnant, she was swallowed whole by Zeus who feared their child would overthrow him as he did his father.  Athene, their daughter burst full grown from the Zeus.

Ophion is another mysterious character in myth.  He is possibly the same being as Okeanos.  There is a Pelgasian myth that speaks of Eurynome and Ophion (here, the wind in the form of a serpent) uniting to produce the world egg.  This myth, however, is reported only in the works of Robert Graves and is likely an embellishment (in the least).

It is quite likely that Pallas is the titan of war, he is the father of the Daimons Nike (victory), Bia (voilence), Kratos (power) and Zelos (rivalry) by Styx.  His name may come from the word ‘to wield a spear’.  He may have been associated with Capella, the goat star that rose at the same time war campaigns were beginning and it is likely that he himself was goat-ish in nature.  Some myths say that it was his skin, flayed from him by Athene, that was the breastplate or shield of Zeus called the Aigis.  

His name is closely related to the word ‘destruction’ and Perses is likely the titan of that and of the destruction in war and draughts.  He may have been linked to Seirios the Dog Star which rises at the time of the scorching summer heat and he likely had a dog-form, his father is the ram-like Krios and his brothers were equine and goat-ish in nature and his daughter is the titan Hekate who was often described in the company of dogs. 

Prometheus is the creator of humanity and one of its greatest benefactors.  He is the titan of forethought and cunning who won for humans the right to eat the best portions of a sacrificial animal and gave to us control over fire which he stole from Hephaistos’ forge.  He was punished for these acts by being bound upon the Caucasian Mountains where an eagle would daily feed upon his regenerating liver (or heart).  He was eventually freed by Herakles, some say on Zeus’ command in return for the warning that Thetis’ son would be greater than his father (Zeus feared this child would be the one to take his throne).

Selene is the Titanis of the moon and the sister of the sun and of dawn and the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, both divinities of light. Unlike other goddesses of the moon Selene actually is the moon.  She was often pictured wearing the crescent moon upon her brow and ridding either upon a silvery horse of in a chariot drawn by winged steeds (or drawn by oxen whose horns are compared to the moon).  Selene’s consort is the mortal Endymion who was granted eternal youth and immortality through eternal sleep.  Nightly Selene would descend to him in his cave in the peak of Mount Latmos.

Styx is the only river that was female, she is the Titanis of the great river that ran through the underworld and is a great ally of Zeus and the Olympian gods.  She is the mother of many daimones who also sided with the gods, including Zelos (Rivalry), Bia (Force) and Nike (Victory).  Swearing by her waters was considered the most binding oath that could be made

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