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Hesiod's Theogony is a large-scale synthesis of a vast variety of local Greek traditions concerning the gods, organized as a narrative that tells how they came to be and how they established permanent control over the cosmos. It is the first known Greek mythical cosmogony.
The initial state of the universe is chaos , a dark indefinite void considered a divine primordial condition from which everything else appeared. Theogonies are a part of Greek mythology which embodies the desire to articulate reality as a whole; this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first later projects of speculative theorizing.
Further, in the "Kings and Singers" passage 80—  Hesiod appropriates to himself the authority usually reserved to sacred kingship. The poet declares that it is he, where we might have expected some king instead, upon whom the Muses have bestowed the two gifts of a scepter and an authoritative voice Hesiod, Theogony 30—3 , which are the visible signs of kingship.
It is not that this gesture is meant to make Hesiod a king. Rather, the point is that the authority of kingship now belongs to the poetic voice, the voice that is declaiming the Theogony.
Although it is often used as a sourcebook for Greek mythology ,  the Theogony is both more and less than that. In formal terms it is a hymn invoking Zeus and the Muses: parallel passages between it and the much shorter Homeric Hymn to the Muses make it clear that the Theogony developed out of a tradition of hymnic preludes with which an ancient Greek rhapsode would begin his performance at poetic competitions.
It is necessary to see the Theogony not as the definitive source of Greek mythology, but rather as a snapshot of a dynamic tradition that happened to crystallize when Hesiod formulated the myths he knew—and to remember that the traditions have continued evolving since that time.
The written form of the Theogony was established in the 6th century BC. Even some conservative editors have concluded that the Typhon episode —68 is an interpolation. Hesiod was probably influenced by some Near-Eastern traditions, such as the Babylonian Dynasty of Dunnum ,  which were mixed with local traditions, but they are more likely to be lingering traces from the Mycenaean tradition than the result of oriental contacts in Hesiod's own time.
The decipherment of Hittite mythical texts, notably the Kingship in Heaven text first presented in , with its castration mytheme, offers in the figure of Kumarbi an Anatolian parallel to Hesiod's Uranus—Cronus conflict. One of the principal components of the Theogony is the presentation of the "Succession Myth". Uranus Sky initially produced eighteen children with his mother, Gaia Earth : the twelve Titans, the three Cyclopes , and the three Hecatoncheires Hundred-Handers ,  but hating them,  he hid them away somewhere inside Gaia.
Only her son Cronus, the youngest Titan, was willing to do so. Cronus, having now taken over control of the cosmos from Uranus, wanted to ensure that he maintained control. Uranus and Gaia had prophesied to Cronus that one of Cronus' own children would overthrow him, so when Cronus married his older sister, Rhea, he made sure to swallow each of the children she birthed: Hestia , Demeter , Hera , Hades , Poseidon , and Zeus in that order , to Rhea's great sorrow.
Zeus, now grown, forced Cronus using some unspecified trickery of Gaia to disgorge his other five children. In the tenth year of that war, following Gaia's counsel, Zeus released the Hundred-Handers, who joined the war against the Titans, helping Zeus to gain the upper hand. Zeus cast the fury of his thunderbolt at the Titans, defeating them and throwing them into Tartarus.
A final threat to Zeus' power was to come in the form of the monster Typhon , son of Gaia and Tartarus. Zeus with his thunderbolt was quickly victorious, and Typhon was also imprisoned in Tartarus. Zeus, by Gaia's advice, was elected king of the gods, and he apportioned various honors among the gods.
And so Zeus managed to end the cycle of succession and secure his eternal rule over the cosmos. The world began with the spontaneous generation of four beings: first arose Chaos Chasm ; then came Gaia Earth , "the ever-sure foundation of all"; "dim" Tartarus , in the depths of the Earth; and Eros Desire "fairest among the deathless gods".
When Cronus castrated Uranus, from Uranus' blood which splattered onto the earth, came the Erinyes Furies , the Giants , and the Meliai. Cronus threw the severed genitals into the sea, around which foam developed and transformed into the goddess Aphrodite. After Uranus's castration, Gaia mated with her son, Pontus Sea , producing a descendent line consisting primarily of sea deities, sea nymphs, and hybrid monsters.
Gaia and Pontus' third and fourth children, Phorcys and Ceto , married each other and produced the two Graiae : Pemphredo and Enyo , and the three Gorgons : Sthenno , Euryale , and Medusa. Poseidon mated with Medusa and two offspring, the winged horse Pegasus and the warrior Chrysaor , were born when the hero Perseus cut off Medusa's head.
Chrysaor married Callirhoe , another Oceanid, and they produced the three-headed Geryon. Gaia also mated with Tartarus to produce Typhon ,  whom Echidna married, producing several monstrous descendants.
Next comes the Chimera whose mother is unclear, either Echidna or the Hydra. Venus , the Morning Star , and the Stars. Zeus married seven wives. His first wife was the Oceanid Metis , whom he impregnated with Athena , then, on the advice of Gaia and Uranus, swallowed Metis so that no son of his by Metis would overthrow him, as had been foretold. Zeus' fourth wife was his older sister, Demeter , who bore Persephone.
His sixth wife was a third aunt, the Titan Leto , who gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Zeus' seventh and final wife was his older sister Hera , the mother by Zeus of Hebe , Ares , and Eileithyia. Zeus finally "gave birth" himself to Athena , from his head, which angered Hera so much that she produced, by herself, her own son Hephaestus , god of fire and blacksmiths.
Zeus, with Atlas 's daughter Maia , produced Hermes , and with the mortal Alcmene , produced the hero Heracles , who married Hebe. Zeus and the mortal Semele , daughter of Harmonia and Cadmus , the founder and first king of Thebes , produced Dionysus , who married Ariadne , daughter of Minos , king of Crete.
The goddess Demeter joined with the mortal Iasion to produce Plutus. Medea with the mortal Jason , produced Medius , the Nereid Psamathe with the mortal Aeacus , produced the hero Phocus , the Nereid Thetis , with Peleus produced the great warrior Achilles , and the goddess Aphrodite with the mortal Anchises produced the Trojan hero Aeneas.
The Theogony , after listing the offspring of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Clymene , as Atlas , Menoitios , Prometheus , and Epimetheus , and telling briefly what happened to each, tells the story of Prometheus.
Slaughtering an ox, he took the valuable fat and meat, and covered it with the ox's stomach. Prometheus then took the bones and hid them with a thin glistening layer of fat. Prometheus asked Zeus' opinion on which offering pile he found more desirable, hoping to trick the god into selecting the less desirable portion. Though Zeus saw through the trick, he chose the fat covered bones, and so it was established that ever after men would burn the bones as sacrifice to the gods, keeping the choice meat and fat for themselves.
But in punishment for this trick, an angry Zeus decided to deny mankind the use of fire. But Prometheus stole fire inside a fennel stalk, and gave it to humanity. Zeus then ordered the creation of the first woman Pandora as a new punishment for mankind.
And Prometheus was chained to a cliff, where an eagle fed on his ever-regenerating liver every day, until eventually Zeus' son Heracles came to free him. The heritage of Greek mythology already embodied the desire to articulate reality as a whole, and this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first projects of speculative theorizing. It appears that the order of being was first imaginatively visualized before it was abstractly thought.
Hesiod, impressed by necessity governing the ordering of things, discloses a definite pattern in the genesis and appearance of the gods. These ideas made something like cosmological speculation possible.
The earliest rhetoric of reflection all centers about two interrelated things: the experience of wonder as a living involvement with the divine order of things; and the absolute conviction that, beyond the totality of things, reality forms a beautiful and harmonious whole.
In the Theogony , the origin arche is Chaos , a divine primordial condition, and there are the roots and the ends of the earth, sky, sea, and Tartarus. Pherecydes of Syros 6th century BC , believed that there were three pre-existent divine principles and called the water also Chaos. If a thing is to be well established or founded, its arche or static point must be secure, and the most secure foundations are those provided by the gods: the indestructible, immutable, and eternal ordering of things.
In ancient Greek philosophy , arche is the element or first principle of all things, a permanent nature or substance which is conserved in the generation of the rest of it. From this, all things come to be, and into it they are resolved in a final state. Thales 7th — 6th century BC , the first Greek philosopher, claimed that the first principle of all things is water.
Anaximander 6th century BC was the first philosopher who used the term arche for that which writers from Aristotle on call the "substratum". A fragment from Xenophanes 6th century BC shows the transition from Chaos to Apeiron : "The upper limit of earth borders on air. The lower limit of earth reaches down to the unlimited i. In the Theogony the initial state of the universe, or the origin arche is Chaos , a gaping void abyss considered as a divine primordial condition, from which appeared everything that exists.
Then came Gaia Earth , Tartarus the cave-like space under the earth; the later-born Erebus is the darkness in this space , and Eros representing sexual desire - the urge to reproduce - instead of the emotion of love as is the common misconception. Hesiod made an abstraction because his original chaos is something completely indefinite. By contrast, in the Orphic cosmogony the unaging Chronos produced Aether and Chaos and made a silvery egg in divine Aether.
From it appeared the androgynous god Phanes , identified by the Orphics as Eros, who becomes the creator of the world. Some similar ideas appear in the Vedic and Hindu cosmologies. In the Vedic cosmology the universe is created from nothing by the great heat. His seed produced the universal germ Hiranyagarbha , from which everything else appeared. From it emerged two primary gods, the male Apsu and female Tiamat , and a third deity who is the maker Mummu and his power for the progression of cosmogonic births to begin.
Norse mythology also describes Ginnungagap as the primordial abyss from which sprang the first living creatures, including the giant Ymir whose body eventually became the world, whose blood became the seas, and so on; another version describes the origin of the world as a result of the fiery and cold parts of Hel colliding. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Poem by Hesiod. See also: Comparative mythology. Presocratic Philosophy vol. New York: Routledge. Archived from the original on Transactions of the American Philological Association.
Solmsen, Hesiod and Aeschylus Ithaca: Cornell Studies in Classical Philology 30 and note with citations; "if an interpolation," Joseph Eddy Fontenrose observes Python: a study of Delphic myth and its origins : 71, note 3 , "it was made early enough. Exactly which of these eighteen children Hesiod meant that Uranus hated is not entirely clear, all eighteen, or perhaps just the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers. Hard, p. Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers are meant" and not the twelve Titans.
See also West , p. Why Uranus hated his children is also not clear. Gantz, p. However, West , p. The hiding place inside Gaia is presumably her womb, see West , p. This place seems also to be the same place as Tartarus , see West , p. As Hard notes, in the Theogony apparently, although the Titans were freed as a result of Uranus' castration, the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers remain imprisoned see below , see also West , p.
Mount Aigaion is otherwise unknown, and Lyctus is nowhere else associated with Zeus' birth, later tradition located the cave on Mount Ida , or sometimes Mount Dikte , see Hard, pp.
Hesiod's Theogony by Hesiod Caldwell Richard S
View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Focus Information Group. This translation contains an introduction, commentary and interpretive essay and well as numerous notes and annotations to provide the history and background of the epic, and the mythological context in which it is placed. Hesiod's straightforward account of family conflict among the gods is the best and earliest evidence of what the ancient Greeks believed about the beginning of the world. He wrote the popular transation of Hesiod's "Theogony" and a prose translation of Vergil's "Aeneid". Visit Seller's Storefront.