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By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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HesiodAccording to Hesiod, first was Chaos (Greek for void) -- "a name with no suggestion of confusion or disorder, but meaning a dark, gaping space." According to Hesiod's Theogony, out of Chaos was born Erebos and Nyx, darkness and night. Also born were Gaia, Tartaros, and Eros. From these primal entities, these protogenoi, would come everything.
OvidIn Ovid's Metamorphoses, Chaos was a shapeless, unwrought, inert bulk of disorder, malformation and meaninglessness: discordant seeds of disconnected elements all heaped together in anarchic disarray, where shapes shifted constantly, and all things were at odds with one another. But then an unnamed entity began to organize things and put them in their proper places liberated from the primal heap: sea from earth, aether from denser air, and so on. Then the earth was molded into an enormous globe, and outfitted with swamps, lakes, winds.


There were eleven protogenoi according to Hesiod: Chaos; her five offspring; Aether (upper air) and Hemera (day), by Erebox and Nyx; and Uranus (Heavens), Ourea (Mountains) and Pontus (Water), by Gaia.

Τάρταρος TartarosGreek for the depth. A dark and terrifying underworld far below the earth.
Eros (Sexuality)The driving force behind the procreation that would follow.
Ἔρεβος Erebos
Deep darkness
Greek for deep darkness, the darkness of the underworld. Erebos mated with his sister Nyx, the first sexual union, to produce Aether (upper air, sky) and Hemera (day).
AetherAether is the clear and bright upper air far away from the earth.
Ἡμέρα Hemera
Greek for day. Left Tartaros every morning just as her mother Νύξ Nyx (night) returned.
Νύξ Nyx
Greek for night, the darkness that covers the evening Earth. Mated with Erebos to produce Aether and Hemera. Then Nyx went to live in Tartaros, emerging every evening to bring her darkness to the cosmos just as her daughter Hemera was returning. Without a mate, Nyx gave rise to her own dark offspring, these powerful abstractions:
Fate, doom
Greek for fate, doom; impending doom. Twin of Oizus.
Ὀϊζύς Oizus
Greek for misery, which is derived from her Latin name. Twin of Moros.
Death, demise
Greek for death, demise. Roams like Hypnos, but ruthlessly brings those whose time has run out to the underworld.
HypnosRoams the earth, bringing sleep, gentle and kind.
Greek for plural dreams. They are a tribe of a thousand. Hesiod imagined the Oneiroi as the brothers of Hypnos, but Ovid's Metamorphoses envisage them as his sons. They appear as familiar images or loved ones to those who are dreaming or day-dreaming.
Greek for blame. Evil-spirited blame, mockery.
HesperidesSinging nymphs who lived in a western garden beyond the sunset. Their number can vary from two to seven, but usually three.
Moirai Μοῖραι
[Other sources have then born to Themis and Zeus.] Greek for apportioners, the Fates were three goddesses who assigned individual destinies to mortals at birth (sometimes attested as offspring of Zeus and Themis). They were Klotho (Spinner) who spun the thread of a man's life, Lachesis (Apportioner) who measured it out to its allotted length and Atropos (Inflexible) who cut it off with her shears when it was time for Thanatos (Death) to visit.
Κῆρες Keres
Violent death
Greek for violent death. The Dooms were demonic blood-drinking zombies who thrived on the deaths of mortals, drinking their blood on the battlefield.
Νέμεσις Nemesis
Greek for envy. Retribution and the righteous indignation felt at anyone who violates the natural order of things, whether by immorality or excess.
ApatePersonification of deceit.
PhilotesAffection, tenderness, friendship, intercourse.
GerasOld age.
Ἔρις Eris
Greek for strife. Sets in motion the Trojan War by bringing about the Judgment of Paris. She was the only child of Night to produce children of her own, the goddesses of quarrels, and Hesiod has them as disagreeable as herself:
LetheForgetfulness, neglect, opposite of truth.
LimosFamine, starvation.
AlgeaPlural of pain.
MakhaiPlural of battle.
HysminaiPlural of conflict.
PhonoiPlural of bloodshed, murder.
AndroktasiaiPlural of slaughter of man.
AmphilogiaiPlural of dispute, quarrel.
PseudologoiPlural of lie.
Δυσνομία DysnomiaLawlessness
AteGreek for delusion, ruin. Of all Eris' offspring, only Ate had a distinct character. A great troublemaker, Zeus sent his daughter the Litai -- prayers for forgiveness, apologies -- to follow Ate, helping heal the harm she caused.
Γαῖα Gaia
Land, earth

Gaia produced Ouranos (Sky), Pontus (Sea) and Ourea (Mountains) from herself. With Ouranos (Sky) she produced the heavenly gods and Titans; and with Pontus (Sea) the sea gods.

Οὐρανός Ouranos
Ouranos personified the sky. He mated with Gaia, but hated his offspring for being a threat to his sovereignty. Ouranos inflicted great pain on Gaia by hiding them in Tartaros, deep within Gaia, and imposing endless intercourse on her. She summonsed her hidden children for help, and thus Kronos overthrew Ouranos by severing his genitals.
Τιτᾶνες TitansOkeanos, Koios, Kreios, Hyperion, Iapetos, Theia, Rheia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Tethys, and Kronos/Cronus (not to be confused with Chronos, the personification of time).
HecatonchiresGreek for hundred-handers. Terrible giants with fifty heads and a hundred arms.
Kuklōpes CyclopesBrontes (Thunderer), Steropes (Lightner) and Arges (Vivid) who would become forgers of thunderbolts for Zeus.

When Kronos severed Ouranos' genitals and flung them into the sea, the blood and semen which landed on Gaia gave rise to offspring:

Ἐρινύες ErinyesGreek for persecution. The Furies, goddesses of retribution, exacted punishment for murder and other heinous crimes, especially within families, and guarded the world's established order. They were later said to be three: Alekto (Relentless), Megaira (Jealous/Shrew), and Tisiphone (Avenger of Murder).
GiantsMonstrous beings of invincible strength, with snaky coils instead of legs. Hesiod claimed they were born with full armor, carrying long spears.
MeliadsUnlike the Erinyes and Giants, the Meliads were tree nymphs.

Kronos' genitals landed in the sea, and from the sea-foam which gathered around them came another deity:

Ἀφροδίτη Aphrodite

Personification of the sea. With Gaia, he produced these offspring:

Often called the Old Man of the Sea. Like other sea deities he had both the gift of prophecy and shape-shifting. He had fifty daughters by the Oceanid Doris, the Nereids, sea nymphs renowned for their beauty.
Obscure, presumably another sea-god, but had famous, airy children by the Oceanid Elektra: Nereids, goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods; and the Harpies, winged monstrous goddesses of storm-winds, snatching people away so they were never seen again.
PhorkysKnown as the Old Man of the Sea like his brother. Phorkys mated with his sister Κητώ Keto to breed monstrous children, collectively known as the Phorkydes: the Γραῖαι Graiai, the Γοργών Gorgons, Echidna and perhaps Ladon (maybe his grandson).
Κητώ Keto
Sea Beast
Mated with her brother Phorkys.
Mated with the Titan Kreios to produce Astraios, Pallas and Perses.

OureaThe ten ourea, the mountains, are Aitna, Athos, Helikon, Kithairon, Nysos, Olympus 1, Olympus 2, Oreios, Parnes, and Tmolus.