Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Theogony - The Children of Gaia

Ouranos, Pontos, and the Titans
[126]Gaia first gave birth to him who is equal to her,
star-studded Ouranos, to cover her everywhere over and be an ever-immovable base for the gods who are blessed.
And she bore the high mountains, the charming retreats of the goddess
[130]nymphs who have their abodes in the wooded glens of the mountains.
And without joy of desirable love she brought forth
Pontos, the exhaustless sea that rages with waves. And then she,
when she had bedded with Ouranos, bore him deep-swirling Okeanos,
Koios and Krios, Hyperion who passes on high, Iapetos,
Theia and Rhea, Themis the righteous, mindful Mnemosyne,
gleaming, golden-crowned Phoibe and lovely, motherly Tethys.
Then, after these, her last offspring was Kronos, the clever deviser,
most to be feared of these children, who hated his vigorous father.

First, Gaia gave birth to her equal, Ouranos, to cover her over and be an immovable base for the gods. She also bore the mountains, the retreats of the goddess nymphs who live in the woods on those mountains. She then gave birth to Pontos, on her own. Then, after sleeping with Ouranos, she gave birth to Okeanos, Koios and Krios, Hyperion, Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, and motherly Tethys. Then, last of her children, Kronos, called the clever deviser. He's the scariest, he hates his vigorous father.

* Pontos is the sea, Okeanos is water, Koios and Krios are intelligence and the constellations/the ordered measure of the year (i know.), Hyperion is the order of the days and months, Iapetos is mortality, Theia is sight and shining light, Rhea is female fertility and motherhood, Themis is divine law and order, Mnemosyne is memory (where we get the word Mnemonic, as in Mnemonic Device), Phoibe (phoebe) is bright intellect, and Tethys is grandmother/nurse. Kronos is the god of time and the ages (we get Chromatic from his name. Chromatic having to do with measured time.)

Frazer's Comment::

After Gaia has produced of herself Ouranos and Pontos, she bears the twelve Titans (as they are later named) to Ouranos. We shall see that Kronos and Iapetos are the only bad Titans. The others side with the gods in the war with Kronos and his forces and so are rewarded with positions of honor in Zeus' Government. Thus the Succession Myth, which we know to be of foreign origin, seems here to be in conflict with a native Greek belief in the goodness of these earlier powers.

The Kyklopes and the Hundred-Handers

Then she gave birth to the Kyklopes, creatures of marvelous power:
[140]thundering Brontes, lightening Steropes, strong-hearted Arges,
who are the makers and givers to Zeus of thunder and lightening.
These resemble the gods in every aspect but one,
that they have only one eye set in their foreheads at midpoint;
Kyklopes, "Circle-eyed", this is their name because of their having
[145]only one circular eye set in their foreheads at midpoint.
What strength they have, what power and skill is shown in their works.
Then there are others whom Gaia produced in union with Ouranos,
three other children, gigantic and mighty, not to be named:
Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges, creatures excelling in power.
[150]Misshapen beings, each of them has one hundred arms that
shoot from his shoulders; each of them has fifty heads
growing out of his shoulders over his powerful limbs.
What mighty, invincible strength they have is shown in their huge forms.

Then she gave birth to the Cyclops, creatures of wonderful power: thundering Brontes, lightening Steropes, strong-hearted Arges, who make and give Zeus his thunder and lightning bolts. They look like gods in every sense except 1: they have only 1 large, round eye in the middle of their foreheads. How strong they are, how powerful and skilled they are! Then there are 3 others that Gaia had with Ouranos; giants, all, and mighty. They will not be named (except here we will) : Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges. Misshapen, they have 100 arms and 50 heads. What mighty, invincible strength they have is obvious in their huge forms.

Frazer's Comment::

The story of the rise of the Titans is delayed in order to describe the birth of the Kyklopes and the hundred-handers, who are also children of Gaia and Ouranos. They, unlike the Titans, will not be released from the womb of Gaia when Kronos castrates Ouranos. They must wait until Zeus rises to power. It is evident that the description of the Hundred-Handers closely parallels that of the Kyklopes. This parallelism is continued in Theog. by the similar roles they play as helpers of Zeus.
The names of Hesiod's Kyklopes are Brontes (from bronte, "Thunder"), Steropes (from sterope, "lightening"), and Arges (from arges, "bright", and epithet of the thunderbolt). They are divine craftsmen, thunderbolt-fashioning smiths, who are not to be confused with Homor's impious shepherds.
Of the names of the Hundred-Handers only Briareos, "the strong one" seems Greek; but perhaps Hesiod connected Gyges with Guia, "limbs", and Kottos with kotos, "rancor".

Kronos Castrates Ouranos: The Rise of the Titans and the Birth of Aphrodite

All the offspring whom Gaia produced in union with Ouranos
[155]being the most fearsome of sons, their father was driven to hate them
from the beginning. So he hid them away, each one,
as they came into being, and let them not rise to the light from
down in the hollow of earth; and this was an evil activity
pleasing to Ouranos. But huge Gaia was groaning within and
[160]feeling constrained, and so she contrived an evil device.
Swiftly producing a new kind of metal, gray adamant, she
created of it a great sickle, and this she displayed to her children
while with pain in her hearth she spoke to encourage their boldness:
"Children, my children, whose father is evil, if you will follow
[165]as i advise you, we shall avenge this wicked dishonor
done by your father, who was the first to devise unseemly."
Thus she spoke and all were afraid and none of them answered;
but great Kronos, the clever deviser, feeling emboldened,
quickly responded and spoke to his dear mother Gaia as follows:
[170]"Mother, i promise to accomplish this deed and i shall bring my
word to fulfillment, having no care for this father of bad name,
though he is ours, for he was the first to devise the unseemly."
Thus he spoke and greatly delighted the heart of huge Gaia.
She had him hide himself in an ambush and, putting the jagged-toothed
[175]sickle into his hands, told him all her deceit.
So when, bringing on night, great Ouranos came and lay on Gaia, desiring her love, closely embracing her, stretching everywhere over, then his son from where he was hiding stretched out his left hand, and with his right hand wielding the sickle,
[180]jagged and long, quickly cutting off his dear father's
genital parts. Backwards he threw them so that they went flying behind him - nor did they go in vain from his hand.
All the numerous drops of blood that were scattered
fell upon Gaia, who when the seasons had circled produced
[185]the mighty Erinyes (the Furies), and the great-bodied giants
dressed in resplendent armor and holding long spears in their hands,
and the nymphs they call Melian all over the boundless earth.
As for the genital parts which he had cut off with the adamant
sickle and thrown out into the boisterous sea, they were
[190]carried for a long time over the water, Then shining white aphros, "foam", arose from the flesh of the god, and in this a girl came into being. First she approached holy Kythera; 
then, as she moved farther on, she came to sea-girt Kypros,
where she emerged a revered and beautiful goddess, around whose
[195]delicate feet the grass grew spontaneously. Gods and men
call her by various names: Aphrodite because she
came from the aphros; Kythereia because she touched on Kythera;
Kyprogenes because she was born on sea-girt Kypros;
[200]and Philommedes because she arose from the medea, "genitals".
She was attended by Eros and by Himeros (Desire)
from the time of her birth when she went to live with the gods.
From the beginning she was allotted both among mortals
and the immortals the following portion, and these were her honors:
[205]flirtatious conversations of maidens, smiles and deceits,
sweet delight and passion of love and gentle enticements.
As for the Titans, this was the name that their father, great Ouranos,
gave as a taunt to them, the children whom he had sired.
"Straining", titainontes, he said, they had committed a terrible,
[210]criminal act, and tisis, "vengeance", was destined to follow.

Ouranos, the most fearsome of sons, was driven from the beginning to hate his children by Gaia. He hid them away, every one, as they came to being, and wouldn't let them rise to the light from down far in the hollow of the earth. This evilness was pleasing to Ouranos, but Gaia was groaning and feeling constrained, so she came up with her own evil plan. She made a new kind of metal, Adamant, and made it into a sickle, which she showed to her kids. While she was heartsick, she encouraged them with the following words: "Children, my children, your father is evil, and if you will do as i tell you, we can avenge the wickedness done by him. He was the first to devise something so unseemly." All of her children were afraid, and none of them answered, except for 1, her last son, great Kronos, a clever deviser himself, was encouraged and said, "Mother, i promise, i will do this. I don't care for our father, though he is ours, since he was the first to devise something so unseemly." His words delighted Gaia. She had him hide in ambush, and putting the sickle in his hands, told him her plans. So when, bringing the night, Ouranos came to lay on Gaia, wanting her love, holding her closely, stretching over her everywhere, then Kronos reached out from his hiding place with his left hand. With his right hand holding the sickle, he cut off his father's privates. He threw them carelessly over his shoulder, but they didn't go in vain. The drops of blood from Ouranos' parts fell on Gaia, who them produced the Furies, the Giants, and the Melian nymphs. As for the parts themselves, they landed in the sea, and were carried for a long time on the water. Then, white sea foam rose from the flesh of the god, and from this, a girl formed. First she approached Kythera (Cythera); then went on to the island of KyprosAphros is Greek for sea foam, Kythereia because she touched the shores of Kythera, Kyprogenes because she was born on the island of Kypros (Cyprus), and Philommedes because she was born of the medea (the genitals)*. Eros (lust) and Himeros (desire) are her attendants, and have been from the time of her birth, when she went to live with the gods. From the beginning, she was given powers over men and immortals. Her honors include: flirting, courting, and all the happiness that goes along with gentle, but physical, love. The Titans were named by their father, Ouranos, as a taunt. "straining", he said, they had committed a terrible criminal act and "Vengeance" was destined to follow.

*that's right, the name Medea means Genitals. i giggled too.

Frazer's Comment::

The Succession Myth begins in this section. Kronos castrates Ouranos. His throwing the genitals behind him reminds us of the story of Deukalion and Pyrrha, who create men and women by throwing stones over their shoulders.
Gaia produces three groups of offspring from the blood of Ouranos: the Erinyes, the giants, and the Melian nymphs. the Erinyes are spirits of vengeance who especially uphold the rights of parents against their children. They are thus very appropriately brought forth here; the blood of Ouranos, as it were, cries from the earth for vengeance. The giants pop up fully armed, like the men whom Kadmos and Iason (Jason) bring into being by sowing the earth with dragon's teeth. The Melian nymphs were later identified as female spirits of ash trees (melie, "ash tree"), the wood of which was used in the making of spear shafts.
Aphrodite arises from the genitals of Ouranos that fall in the sea. She probably originated as a Near Eastern goddess, the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician Astarte. Perhaps she owes her connection with the sea to the seafaring Phoenicians. In other authors she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione or of Zeus and Hera. But Hesiod puts her among the pre-Olympians, love being for him one of the earliest powers. The description of her birth has a hymnic structure similar to that of the birth of the Muses. We are told her names, how she goes with her attendants to join the other gods, and what her special powers are. Hesiod explains her name Philommedes as "genital-loving", but it seems likely that he also knows the more usual meaning of this word, "smile-loving", for he lists meidemata, "smiles" among the expressions of love under Aphrodite's control. We thus have a double etymology similar to that which he gives for the word Titans.
Ouranos calls his children Titans, which is connected by a double etymology with titainontes, "straining", and tisis, "retribution". Perhaps the straining refers to Kronos's stretching out his hand to castrate Ouranos. The connections with the retribution prepares us for the next stage in the Succession Myth, when Ouranos's avenging grandson Zeus will rise to power.

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