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Lecture 6

CLAS 203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Theogony, Erinyes, Anthropomorphism

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CLAS 203
Margaret Palczynski

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CLAS 203 – Greek Mythology
Margaret Palczynski
Lecture 6
Cosmogony and Theogony
Cosmogony: the coming into being of the universe (Greek kosmos: ‘order’)
Theogony: the coming into being of the gods (Greek theos: ‘god’)
- -gony: the coming into being, to exist
The Greek view of how the universe comes into being different is from other mythologies: they
do not start with nothing but with something even if it is indeterminate; from chaos the universe
as we know it is given the physical elements that combine together to create other entities (gods)
- Early stages of creation: cosmogony=theogony are the same process
- Principal physical components of universe personified as gods and goddesses
The Near Eastern model of the universe:
1. Top story (heaven): Olympus (home of the gods), Uranus (sky), Helius (sun), Selene
2. Middle story (earth): Gaea, Oceanus, Atlas (mountain)
3. Bottom story (underworld): Hades (abode of the dead), Tartarus (area of the underworld
where enemies are thrown, deeper than even Hades)
Cosmogony: first generation gods
1. Chaos: ‘void’, chasm
The first to appear, capable of asexual reproduction, brings into being other beings:
The sacred marriage between Gaea and Uranus produces Erinyes and Giants (from blood of
Uranus that fell on Gaea).
2. Gaea: ‘earth’
Personification of the earth, solid foundation of the ‘cosmos’, never loses ability to
reproduce, capable of asexual/sexual reproduction, source of life, feminine
From the coupling of Tartarus and Gaea, we have Typhoeus (terrible figure, essence of
opposition towards order and civilization, enemy to Zeus)
3. Tartarus
Beneath Hades, the ‘oubliette’ of the universe
4. Eros: ‘love’ (two genealogies)
Powerful god, necessary for sexual union and reproduction
Asexual begetting from Chaos
Erebus: Darkness
- Personification of natural phenomenon
- Reflects qualities of Chaos (as does Nyx)
Nyx: Night
- Personification of natural phenomenon
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