Titan (mythology)

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Titan (mythology)
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{{Redirect|Titans||Titan (disambiguation){{!}}Titan}}File:Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem - The Fall of the Titans - Google Art Project.jpg|thumb|300px|The Fall of the Titans by Cornelis Cornelisz van HaarlemCornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem{{Greek myth (Titan)}}In Greek mythology, the Titans (Greek: , Titânes, {{small|singular:}} , Titân) were the pre-Olympian gods.Hansen, p. 302; Grimal, p. 457 s.v. Titans; Tripp, p. 579 s.v. Titans; Rose, p. 1079 s.v. Titan; Smith, s.v. Titan 1.. According to the Theogony of Hesiod, they were the twelve children of the primordial parents Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth), with six male Titans: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Cronus, and six female Titans, called the Titanides (Greek: , Titanídes; also Titanesses): Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, and Tethys. Cronus and his sister Rhea were the parents of the first generation of Olympians: Zeus and his five siblings Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poiseidon. Descendants of the Titans are sometimes also called Titans.The Titans were the older gods, the generation of gods preceding the Olympians. They were an important part of the Greek succession myth, which told how Cronus seized power from his father Uranus, and ruled the cosmos with the Titans as his subordinates, and how Cronus and the Titans were in turn overthrown, defeated by Zeus and the Olympians, in a ten-year war called the Titanomachy. As a result of this war of the gods, Cronus and the vanquished Titans were banished from the upper world, being held imprisoned, under guard in Tartarus, although apparently, some of the Titans were allowed to remain free.


File:Saturnus fig274.png|thumb|150px|left|Cronus armed with sickle; after a carved gem (Aubin-Louis Millin de GrandmaisonAubin-Louis Millin de Grandmaison

Hesiod's genealogy

According to Hesiod, the Titan offspring of Uranus and Gaia were Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys and Cronus.Hesiod, Theogony 133–138. Eight of the Titan brothers and sisters married each other: Oceanus and Tethys, Coeus and Phoebe, Hyperion and Theia, and Cronus and Rhea. The other two Titan brothers married outside their immediate family. Iapetus married his niece Clymene, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and Crius married his half-sister Eurybia, the daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The two remaining Titan sisters, Themis and Mnemosyne, were wives of Zeus.From Oceanus and Tethys came the three thousand river gods, and three thousand Oceanid nymphs.Hesiod, Theogony 337–370. From Coeus and Phoebe came Leto, another wife of Zeus, and Asteria.Hesiod, Theogony 404–409. From Crius and Eurybia came Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses.Hesiod, Theogony 375–377. From Hyperion and Theia came the celestial personifications Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon), and Eos (Dawn).Hesiod, Theogony 371–374. From Iapetos and Clymene came Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus.Hesiod, Theogony 507–511. From Cronus and Rhea came the Olympians: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus.Hesiod, Theogony 453–458. By Zeus, Themis bore the three Horae (Hours), and the three Moirai (Fates),Hesiod, Theogony 901–906, although at Theogony 217 the Moirai are said to be the daughters of Nyx (Night). and Mnemosyne bore the nine Muses.Hesiod, Theogony 915–920.While the descendents of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys, Cronus and Rhea, Themis, and Mnemosyne (i.e the river gods, the Oceanids, the Olympians, the Horae, the Moirai, and the Muses) are not normally considered to be Titans, descendents of the other Titans, notably: Leto, Helios, Atlas and Prometheus, are themselves sometimes referred to as Titans.Parada, p. 179 s.v. TITANS; Smith, s.v. Titan 2.; Rose, p. 143 s.v. Atlas, p. 597 s.v. Leto, p. 883 s.v. Prometheus; Tripp, p. 120 s.v. Atlas, p. 266 s.v. Helius, p. 499 s.v. Prometheus.{{chart top|The twelve Titan's parents, spouses, and children, according to Hesiod's Theogony Hesiod, Theogony 132–138, 337–411, 453–520, 901–906, 915–920; Caldwell, pp. 8–11, tables 11–14.|collapsed=yes}}{{chart/start}}{{chart|}}{{chart| | | | | | | | | | |URA |y|GAI |~|~|~|~|~|~|~|~|~|y|~|PON|URA=Uranus|GAI=Gaia|PON=Pontus}}{{chart|,|-|v|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|-|v|-|^|-|v|-|-|-|-|-|-|.| | | |!}}{{chart|!|OCE |y|TET | | |COE |y|PHO | | | | |CRI |y|EUR|OCE=Oceanus|TET=Tethys|COE=Coeus|PHO=Phoebe|CRI=Crius|EUR=Eurybia}}{{chart|!| |,|-|^|-|.| | | | |,|-|^|-|.| | | | |,|-|-|-|+|-|-|-|.}}{{chart|!|RIV | |OCES | | |LET | |ASTE | | |ASTR | |PAL | |PER | RIV=The Rivers|OCES=The Oceanids|LET=Leto|ASTE=Asteria|ASTR=Astraeus|PAL=Pallas|PER=Perses}}{{chart|!| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |}}{{chart|)|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|.| | | | }}{{chart|!| | |HYP |y|THE | | | | | | | | | |IAP |y|CLY |HYP=Hyperion|THE=Theia|IAP=Iapetus|CLY=Clymene One of the Oceanid daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, at Hesiod, Theogony 351. However, according to Apollodorus, 1.2.3, a different Oceanid, Asia was the mother, by Iapetus, of Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus.}}{{chart|!| |,|-|-|-|+|-|-|-|.| | | | | |,|-|-|-|v|-|^|-|v|-|-|-|.}}{{chart|!|HEL | |SEL | |EOS | | | |ATL | |MEN | |PRO | |EPI | |HEL=Helios|SEL=Selene Although usually, as here, the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (4), 99–100, Selene is instead made the daughter of Pallas the son of Megamedes.|EOS=Eos|ATL=Atlas According to Plato, Critias, 113d–114a, Atlas was the son of Poseidon and the mortal Cleito.|MEN=Menoetius|PRO=Prometheus In Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 18, 211, 873 (Sommerstein, pp. 444–445 n. 2, 446–447 n. 24, 538–539 n. 113) Prometheus is made to be the son of Themis.|EPI=Epimetheus}}{{chart|!| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |}}{{chart|)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|.|}}{{chart|!| | | | | | | | | |CRO |y|RHE | | | | | | | |CRO=Cronus|RHE=Rhea}}{{chart|!| | |,|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|v|-|^|-|v|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|.|}}{{chart|!| |HES | |DEM | |HER | |HAD | |POS | |ZEU | |HES=Hestia|DEM=Demeter|HER=Hera|HAD=Hades|POS=Poseidon|ZEU=Zeus}}{{chart|!| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |}}{{chart|`|-|-|-|-|v|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|.}}{{chart| | | | |THE |~|~|y|~|~|ZEU |~|~|y|~|~|MNE |THE=Themis|ZEU=(Zeus)|MNE=Mnemosyne}}{{chart| | | | | | | |,|-|^|-|.| | | | | |!}}{{chart| | | | | | |HOR | |MOR | | | |MUS |HOR=The Horae|MOR=The Moirai Although, at Hesiod, Theogony 217, the Moirai are said to be the daughters of Nyx (Night).|MUS=The Muses}}{{chart/end}}{{chart bottom}}


missing image!
- Rhea MKL1888.png -
Rhea, both sister and wife to Cronus.
Passages in a section of the Iliad called the Deception of Zeus, suggest the possibility that Homer knew a tradition in which Oceanus and Tethys (rather than Uranus and Gaia, as in Hesiod) were the parents of the Titans.Fowler 2013, p. 11; Hard, pp. 36–37, p. 40; Burkert 1995, pp. 91–92; Gantz, pp. 11–12; West 1983, pp. 119–120. According to Epimenides (see Fowler 2013, pp. 7–8), the first two beings, Night and Aer, produced Tartarus, who in turn produced two Titans (possibly Oceanus and Tethys) from whom came the world egg. Twice Homer has Hera describe the pair as "Oceanus, from whom the gods are sprung, and mother Tethys",Homer, Iliad 14.201, 302 [= 201]. while in the same passage Hypnos describes Oceanus as "from whom they all are sprung".Homer, Iliad 245. According West 1997, p. 147, these lines suggests a myth in which Oceanus and Tethys are the "first parents of the whole race of gods." However as Gantz, p. 11, points out, "mother" may simply refer to the fact that Tethys was Hera's foster mother for a time, as Hera tells us in the lines immediately following, while the reference to Oceanus as the genesis of the gods "might be simply a formulaic epithet indicating the numberless rivers and springs descended from Okeanos" (compare with Iliad 21.195–197).Plato, in his Timaeus, provides a genealogy which perhaps reflected an attempt to reconcile this possible divergence between Hesiod and Homer, with Uranus and Gaia as the parents of Oceanus and Tethys, and Oceanus and Tethys as the parents of Cronus and Rhea and the other Titans, as well as Phorcys.Gantz, pp. 11–12; West 1983, p. 117; Plato, Timaeus 40d–e.To Hesiod's twelve Titans, the mythographer Apollodorus, adds a thirteenth, the Titan Dione, the mother of Aphrodite by Zeus.Apollodorus, 1.1.3, 1.3.1. Dione is also the mother of Aphrodite by Zeus in the Iliad, 5.370, 3.374; but in the Theogony, 191–200, Aphrodite was born from the foam which formed around Uranus' severed genitals when Cronus threw them into the sea. The Roman mythographer Hyginus, in his somewhat confused genealogy,Bremmer, p. 5, calls Hyginus' genealogy "a strange hodgepodge of Greek and Roman cosmogonies and early genealogies". after listing as offspring of Aether (Upper Sky) and Earth (Gaia): Ocean [Oceanus], Themis, Tartarus, and Pontus, Hyginus next lists "the Titans", followed by two of Hesiod's Hundred-Handers: Briareus and Gyges, one of Hesiod's three Cyclopes: Steropes, then continues his list with Atlas, Hyperion and Polus [Coeus], Saturn [Cronus], Ops [Rhea], Moneta [Mnemosyne], Dione, and the three Furies: Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone.Hyginus, FabulaeTheogony 3. The geographer Pausanias, mentions seeing the image of a man in armor, who was supposed to be the Titan Anytus, who was said to have raised the Arcadian Despoina.Pausanias, 8.37.5.

Older gods

The Titans, as a group, represent a pre-Olympian order. They were the former gods, the banished gods, who were no longer part of the upper world.Hard, p. 35: "The essential point is that the Titans [are] the former ruling gods who were banished from the upper world when the present devine order was established."; Hansen, p. 302: "As a group the Titans are the older gods, the former gods, in contrast to the Oympians, who are the younger and present gods"; West 1983, p. 164: "The Titans are by definition the banished gods, the gods who have gone out of the world". They were the older gods, but not, apparently, as was once thought, the old gods of an indigenous group in Greece, historically displaced by the new gods of Greek invaders. Rather, they were a group of gods which ancient Greeks seem to have borrowed from the Near East.Hard, pp. 34–35; Caldwell, p. 36 on lines 133-137. These imported gods gave context and provided a backstory for the Olympian gods, explaining where these Greek Olympian gods had come from, and how they had come to occupy their supreme position in the cosmos. The Titans were the previous generation, and family of gods, whom the Olympians had to overthrow, and banish from the upper world, in order to become the ruling pantheon of Greek gods.For Hesiod, possibly in order to match the twelve Olympian gods, there were twelve Titans: six males and six females, with some of Hesiod's names perhaps being mere poetic inventions, so as to arrive at the right number.West 1966 p. 36, which, concerning Hesiod's list of names, says: "Its very heterogeneity betrays its lack of traditional foundtion. Rhea, Zeus' mother, must be married to Kronos, Zeus' father. Hyperion, as father of Helios, must be put back to that generation; so must ancient and venerable personages as Oceanus and Tethys, Themis and Mnemosyne. By the addition of four more colourless names (Koios, Kreios, Theia, and Phoibe), the list is made up to a complement of six males and six females". In Hesiod's Theogony, apart from Cronus, the Titans play no part at all in the overthrow of Uranus, and we only hear of their collective action in the Titanomachy, their war with the Olympians.Hard, p. 34. As a group, they have no further role in conventional Greek myth, nor do they play any part in Greek cult.Hard, p. 35. As individuals, few of the Titans have any separate identity.Caldwell, p. 36 on lines 133-137. Aside from Cronus, the only other male Titan Homer mentions by name is Iapetus.West 1966 p. 36. Some Titans seem only to serve a genealogical function, providing parents for more important offspring: Coeus and Phoebe as the parents of Leto, the mother, by Zeus, of the Olympians Apollo and Artemis; Hyperion and Theia as the parents of Helios, Selene and Eos; Iapetus as the father of Atlas and Prometheus; and Crius as the father of three sons Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses, who themselves seem only to exist to provide fathers for more important figures such as the Anemoi (Winds), Nike (Victory), and Hecate.

Succession myth

The Titans play a key role in an important part of Greek mythology, the succession myth.Hard, pp. 65–69; West 1966, pp. 18–19. It told how the Titan Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, overthrew Uranus, and how in turn Zeus, by waging and winning a great ten-year war pitting the new gods against the old gods, called the Titanomachy ("Titan war"), overthrew Cronus and his fellow Titans, and was eventually established as the final and permanent ruler of the cosmos.For a detailed account of Titanomachy and Zeus' rise to power see Gantz, pp. 44–56.


File:The Mutiliation of Uranus by Saturn.jpg|thumb|300px|The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn: fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi, c. 1560 (Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo VecchioPalazzo VecchioAccording to the standard version of the succession myth, given in Hesiod's Theogony, Uranus initially produced eighteen children with Gaia: the twelve Titans, the three Cyclopes, and the three Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handers),Hesiod, Theogony 132–153. but hating them,Hesiod, Theogony 154–155. 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. 67; West 1988, p. 7, and Caldwell, p. 37 on lines 154–160, make it all eighteen; while Gantz, p. 10, says "likely all eighteen"; and Most, p. 15 n. 8, says "apparently only the ... Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers are meant" and not the twelve Titans. See also West 1966, p. 206 on lines 139–53, p. 213 line 154 γὰρ. Why Uranus hated his children is also not clear. Gantz, p. 10 says: "The reason for [Uranus'] hatred may be [his children's] horrible appearance, though Hesiod does not quite say this"; while Hard, p. 67 says: "Although Hesiod is vague about the cause of his hatred, it would seem that he took a dislike to them because they were terrible to behold". However, West 1966, p. 213 on line 155, says that Uranus hated his children because of their "fearsome nature". he hid them away somewhere inside Gaia.Hesiod, Theogony 156–158. The hiding place inside Gaia is presumably her womb, see West 1966, p. 214 on line 158; Caldwell, p. 37 on lines 154–160; Gantz, p. 10. This place seems also to be the same place as Tartarus, see West 1966, p. 338 on line 618, and Caldwell, p. 37 on lines 154–160. Angry and in distress, Gaia fashioned a sickle made of adamant and urged her children to punish their father. Only her son Cronus was willing.Hesiod, Theogony 159–172. So Gaia hid Cronus in "ambush" gave him the adamantine sickle, and when Uranus came to lie with Gaia, Cronus reached out and castrated his father.Hesiod, Theogony 173–182; according to Gantz, p. 10, Cronus waited in ambush, and reached out to castrate Uranus, from "inside [Gaia's] body, we will understand, if he too is a prisoner". This enabled the Titans to be born and Cronus to assume supreme command of the cosmos, with the Titans as his subordinates.Hard, p. 67; West 1966, p. 19. 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 1966, p. 214 on line 158.(File:Rhéa présentant une pierre emmaillotée à Cronos dessin du bas-relief d'un autel romain.jpg|thumb|175px|left| Rhea presenting Cronus the stone wrapped in cloth)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 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.Hesiod, Theogony 453–467. However, when Rhea was pregnant with Zeus, Rhea begged her parents Gaia and Uranus to help her save Zeus. So they sent Rhea to Lyctus on Crete to bear Zeus, and Gaia took the newborn Zeus to raise, hiding him deep in a cave beneath Mount Aigaion.Hesiod, Theogony 468–484. 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. 74–75; West 1966, pp. 297–298 on line 477, p. 300 on line 484. Meanwhile, Rhea gave Cronus a huge stone wrapped in baby's clothes which he swallowed thinking that it was another of Rhea's children.Hesiod, Theogony 485–491.(File:Jacob Jordaens - La caída de los Gigantes, 1636-1638.jpg|thumb|right|"Fall of the Titans". Oil on canvas by Jacob Jordaens, 1638.)Zeus, now grown, forced Cronus (using some unspecified trickery of Gaia) to disgorge his other five children.Gantz, p. 44; Hesiod, Theogony 492–500. Zeus then released his uncles the Cyclopes (apparently still imprisoned beneath the earth, along with the Hundred-Handers, where Uranus had originally confined them) who then provide Zeus with his great weapon, the thunderbolt, which had been hidden by Gaia.Hesiod, Theogony 501–506; Hard, pp. 68–69; West 1966, p. 206 on lines 139–153, pp. 303–305 on lines 501–506. According to Apollodorus, 1.1.4-5, after the overthrow of Uranus, the Cyclopes (as well as the Hundred-Handers) were rescued from Tartarus by the Titans, but reimprisoned by Cronus. A great war was begun, the Titanomachy, for control of the cosmos. The Titans fought from Mount Othrys, while the Olympians fought from Mount Olympus.Gantz, p. 45; Hesiod, Theogony 630–634. In the tenth year of that great 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,Hesiod, Theogony 624–721. This is the sequence of events understood to be implied in the Theogony by, for example, Hard, p. 68; Caldwell, p. 65 on line 636; and West 1966, p. 19. However according to Gantz, p. 45, "Hesiod's account does not quite say whether the Hundred-Handers were freed before the conflict or only in the tenth year. ... Eventually, if not at the beginning, the Hundred-Handers are fighting". with the Hundred-Handers as their guards.This is the usual interpretation of Theogony 734–735 (e.g. Hard, p. 68; Hansen, pp. 25, 159, adding the caveat "presumably"; Gantz, p. 45). However according to West 1966, p. 363 on lines 734–5: "It is usually assumed that the Hundred-Handers are acting as prison guards (so Tz. Th. 277 τοὺς Ἑκατόγχειρας αὺτοῖς φύλακας ἐπιστήσας). The poet does not say this—πιστοὶ φύλακες Διὸς probably refers to their help in battle, cf. 815 κλειτοὶ ἐπίκουροι". Compare with Theogony 817–819.


Only brief references to the Titans and the succession myth are found in Homer.Gantz, pp. 1, 11, 45. In the Iliad, Homer tells us that "the gods ... that are called Titans" reside in Tartarus.Hard, p. 36; Homer, Iliad 14.278–279. Compare with Iliad 14.274: "the gods that are below with Cronus", and repeated at Iliad 15.225. Specifically, Homer says that "Iapetus and Cronos ... have joy neither in the rays of Helios Hyperion nor in any breeze, but deep Tartarus is round about them",Homer, Iliad 8.478–481. and further, that Zeus "thrust Cronos down to dwell beneath earth and the unresting sea."Homer, Iliad 14.203–204.

Other early sources

Brief mentions of the Titanomachy and the imprisonment of the Titans in Tartarus also occur in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo and Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound.Gantz, pp. 45–46. In the Hymn, Hera, angry at Zeus, calls upon the "Titan gods who dwell beneath the earth about great Tartarus, and from whom are sprung both gods and men".Homeric Hymn to Apollo (3), 334–339.In Prometheus Bound, Prometheus (the son of the Titan Iapetus) refers to the Titanomachy, and his part in it:


The mythographer Apollodorus, gives a similar account of the succession myth to Hesiod's, but with a few significant differences.Hard, pp. 68–69; Gantz, pp. 2, 45; West 1983, p. 123; Apollodorus, 1.1.1–1.2.1. As for Apollodorus' sources, Hard, p. 68, says that Apollodorus' version "perhaps derived from the lost Titanomachia or from the Orphic literature"; see also Gantz, p. 2; for a detailed discussion of Apollodorus' sources for his account of the early history of the gods, see West 1983, pp. 121–126. According to Apollodorus, there were thirteen original Titans, adding the Titanide Dione to Hesiod's list.Apollodorus, 1.1.3. The Titans (instead of being Uranus' firstborn as in Hesiod) were born after the three Hundred-Handers and the three Cyclopes,Apollodorus, 1.1.1–1.1.2. and while Uranus imprisoned these first six of his offspring, he apparently left the Titans free. Not just Cronus, but all the Titans, except Oceanus, attacked Uranus. After Cronus castrated Uranus, the Titans freed the Hundred-Handers and Cyclopes (unlike in Hesiod, where they apparently remained imprisoned), and made Cronus their sovereign,Apollodorus, 1.1.4. who then reimprisoned the Hundred-Handers and Cyclopes in Tartarus.Apollodorus, 1.1.5. The release and reimprisonment of the Hundred-Handers and Cyclopes, was perhaps a way to solve the problem in Hesiod's account of why the castration of Uranus, which released the Titans, did not also apparently release the six brothers, see Fowler 2013, p. 26; West 1966, p. 206 on lines on lines 139–53. In any case, as West 1983, pp. 130–131, points out, while the release is "logical, since it was indignation at their imprinsonment that led Ge to incite the Titans to overthrow Uranos," their reimprisonment is needed to allow for their eventual release by Zeus to help him overthrow the Titans.Although Hesiod does not say how Zeus was eventually able to free his siblings, according to Apollodorus, Zeus was aided by Oceanus' daughter Metis, who gave Cronus an emetic which forced him to disgorge his children that he had swallowed.Apollodorus, 1.1.5–1.2.1. According to Apollodorus, in the tenth year of the ensuing war, Zeus learned from Gaia, that he would be victorious if he had the Hundred-Handers and the Cyclopes as allies. So Zeus slew their warder Campe (a detail not found in Hesiod) and released them, and in addition to giving Zeus his thunderbolt (as in Hesiod), the Cyclopes also gave Poseidon his trident, and Hades a helmet, and "with these weapons the gods overcame the Titans, shut them up in Tartarus, and appointed the Hundred-handers their guards".Apollodorus, 1.2.1.


The Roman mythographer Hyginus, in his Fabulae, gives an unusual (and perhaps confused) account of the Titanomachy.Gantz, p. 45; Hyginus, Fabulae 150. According to Gantz: "Likely enough Hyginus has confused stories of Hera's summoning of the Gigantes to her aid (as in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo) with the overthrow of the Titans." Jupiter's (Zeus') jealous wife Juno (Hera) was angry at her husband, on account of Jupiter's son Epaphus by Io (one of her husbands many lovers). Because of this Juno incited the Titans to rebell against Jupiter and restore Saturn (Cronus) to the kingship of the gods. Jupiter, with the help of Minerva (Athena), Apollo, and Diana (Artemis), put down the rebellion, and hurled the Titans (as in other accounts) down to Tartarus.

Possible origins

The Greeks may have borrowed this mytheme from the Ancient Near East.Burkert 1995, pp. 94f, 125–27. The classical Greek myths of the Titanomachy fall into a class of similar myths throughout Europe and the Near East concerning a war in heaven, where one generation or group of gods largely opposes the dominant one. Sometimes the elders are supplanted, and sometimes the rebels lose and are either cast out of power entirely or incorporated into the pantheon. Other examples might include the wars of the Æsir with the Vanir in Scandinavian mythology, the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish, the Hittite "Kingship in Heaven" narrative, the obscure generational conflict in Ugaritic fragments, and the rebellion of the Sons of God in Genesis found in Christianity.

After the Titanomachy

File:Oceanus at Trevi.JPG|thumb|upright=1.2|right|175px| Oceanus, Trevi Fountain, RomeRomeAfter being overthrown in the Titanomachy, Cronus and his fellow vanquished Titans were cast into Tartarus. However, besides Cronus, which of the other Titans were supposed to have been imprisoned in Tartarus is unclear.Gantz, pp. 45–46. The only original Titan, mentioned by name, as being confined in Tartaus with Cronus, is Iapetus.Homer, Iliad 8.478–481.But, not all the Titans were imprisoned there. Certainly Oceanus, the great world encircling river, seems to have remained free, and in fact, seems not to have fought on the Titan's side at all.Fowler 2013, p. 11; Gantz, pp. 28, 46; West 1983, p. 119. In Hesiod, Oceanus sends his daughter Styx, with her children Zelus (Envy), Nike (Victory), Cratos (Power), and Bia (Force), to fight on Zeus' side against the Titans,Hesiod, Theogony 337–398. The translations of the names used here follow Caldwell, p. 8. while in the Iliad, Hera says that, during the Titanomachy, she was cared for by Oceanus and his wife the Titaness Tethys.Homer, Iliad 14.200–204. Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, has Oceanus free to visit his nephew Prometheus sometime after the war.Aeschylus (?), Prometheus Bound 279–289. Like Oceanus, Helios, the Titan son of Hyperion, certainly remained free to drive his sun-chariot daily across the sky, taking an active part in events subsequent to the Titanomachy.Gantz, pp. 30–31. The freedom of Oceanus, along with Helios (Sun), and perhaps Hyperion (to the extent that he also represented the sun), would seem to be the result of cosmological necessity, for how could a world encircling river, or the sun, be confined in Tartarus?Gantz, p. 46.File:La tortura de Prometeo, por Salvator Rosa.jpg|thumb|left|175px|The Torture of Prometheus, painting by Salvator RosaSalvator RosaAs for other male offspring of the Titans, some seem to have participated in the Titanomachy, and were punished as a result, and others did not, or at least (like Helios) remained free. Three of Iapetus' sons, Atlas, Menoetius, and Prometheus are specifically connected by ancient sources with the war. In the Theogony both Atlas and Menoetius received punishments from Zeus, but Hesiod does not say for what crime exactly they were punished.Gantz, pp. 46, 154. Atlas was famously punished by Zeus, by being forced to hold up the sky on his shoulders, but none of the early sources for this story (Hesiod, Homer, Pindar, and Aeschylus) say that his punishment was as a result of the war.Gantz, p. 46. According to Hyginus however, Atlas led the Titans in the battle.Hyginus, Fabulae 150. The Theogony has Menoetius struck down by Zeus' thunderbolt and cast into Erebus "because of his mad presumption and exceeding pride".Hesiod, Theogony 514–516. Whether Hesiod was using Erebus as another name for Tartarus (as was sometimes done), or meant that Menoetius's punishment was because of his participation in the Titanomachy is unclear, and no other early source mentions this event, however Apollodorus says that it was.Gantz, pp. 40, 154; Apollodorus, 1.2.3. Hesiod does not mention Prometheus in connection with the Titanomachy, but Prometheus does remain free, in the Theogony, for his deception of Zeus at Mecone and his subsequent theft of fire, for which transgressions Prometheus was famously punished by Zeus by being chained to a rock where an eagle came to eat his "immortal liver" every day, which then grew back every night.Gantz, pp. 40, 154–166; Hesiod, Theogony 521–534. However Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound (as mentioned above) does have Prometheus say that he was an ally of Zeus during the Titanomachy.Aeschylus (?), Prometheus Bound 201–223.(File:Apollo Tityos Leto Louvre G375.jpg|thumb|175px|Apollo piercing with his arrows Tityos, who has tried to rape his mother Leto (c. 450–440 BC))The female Titans, to the extent that they are mentioned at all, appear also to have been allowed to remain free.Gantz, p. 46. Three of these, according to the Theogony, become wives of Zeus: Themis, Mnemosyne, and Leto, the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe.Hesiod, Theogony 901–906, 915–920. Themis gives birth to the three Horae (Hours), and the three Moirai (Fates), and Mnemosyne gives birth to the nine Muses. Leto, who gives birth to the Olympians Apollo and Artemis, takes an active part on the side of the Trojans in the Iliad, and is also involved in the story of the giant Tityos.Gantz, pp. 38–39; Homer, Iliad 445–448, 20.72, 21.497–501, 21.502–504, Odyssey 576–581. Tethys, presumably along with her husband Oceanus, took no part in the war, and, as mentioned above, provided safe refuge for Hera during the war. Rhea remains free and active after the war:Gantz, p. 44. appearing at Leto's delivery of Apollo,Homeric Hymn to Apollo (3) 93. as Zeus' messenger to Demeter announcing the settlement concerning Persephone,Homeric Hymn to Demeter (2) 441–444. bringing Pelops back to life.Bacchylides, fr. 42 Campbell, pp. 294, 295.


While in Hesiod's Theogony, and Homer's Iliad, Cronus and the other Titans are confined to Tartarus—apparently forever—another tradition, as indicated by later sources, seems to have had Cronus, or other of the Titans, being eventually set free.Gantz, pp. 46–48. Pindar, in one of his poems (462 BC), says that, although Alas still "strains against the weight of the sky ... Zeus freed the Titans",Pindar, Pythian 4.289–291. and in another poem (476 BC), Pindar has Cronus, in fact, ruling in the Isles of the Blessed, a land where the Greek heroes reside in the afterlife:Gantz, p. 47; West 1978, p. 195 on line 173a.Prometheus Lyomenos, an undated lost play by Aeschylus (c. 525 – c. 455 BC), had a chorus composed of freed Titans. Possibly even earlier than Pindar and Aeschylus, two papyrus versions of a passage of Hesiods' Works and Days also mention Cronus being released by Zeus, and ruling over the heroes who go to the Ilse of the Blessed; but other verions of Hesiod's text do not, and most editors judge these lines of text to be later interpolations.Gantz, pp. 46–47; West 1988, p. 76, note to line 173; West 1978, pp. 194–196, on lines 173a–e.

Orphic literature

File:Gaziantep_Zeugma_Museum_Dionysos_Triumf_mosaic_1921.jpg|thumb|right|175px|Dionysus triumph a mosaic from the House of Poseidon, Zeugma Mosaic MuseumZeugma Mosaic Museum

The sparagmos

In Orphic literature, the Titans play an important role in what is often considered to be the central myth of Orphism, the sparagmos, that is the dismemberment of Dionysus, who in this context is often given the title Zagreus.Nilsson, p. 202 calls it "the cardinal myth of Orphism"; Guthrie, p. 107, describes the myth as "the central point of Orphic story", Linforth, p. 307 says it is "commonly regarded as essentially and peculiarly Orphic and the very core of the Orphic religion", and Parker 2002, p. 495, writes that "it has been seen as the Orphic 'arch-myth'. As pieced together from various ancient sources, the reconstructed story, usually given by modern scholars, goes as follows.West 1983, pp. 73–74, provides a detailed reconstruction with numerous cites to ancient sources, with a summary on p. 140. For other summaries see Morford, p. 311; Hard, p. 35; Marsh, s.v. Zagreus, p. 788; Grimal, s.v. Zagreus, p. 456; Burkert 1985, pp. 297–298; Guthrie, p. 82; also see Ogden, p. 80. For a detailed examination of many of the ancient sources pertaining to this myth see Linforth, pp. 307–364. The most extensive account in ancient sources is found in Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5.562–70, 6.155 ff., other principle sources include Diodorus Siculus, 3.62.6–8 (= Orphic fr. 301 Kern), 3.64.1–2, 4.4.1–2, 5.75.4 (= Orphic fr. 303 Kern); Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.110–114; Athenagoras of Athens, Legatio 20 Pratten (= Orphic fr. 58 Kern); Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 2.15 pp. 36–39 Butterworth (= Orphic frs. 34, 35 Kern); Hyginus, Fabulae 155, 167; Suda s.v. Ζαγρεύς. See also Pausanias, 7.18.4, 8.37.5. Zeus had intercourse with Persephone in the form of a serpent, producing Dionysus. He is taken to Mount Ida where (like the infant Zeus) he is guarded by the dancing Curetes. Zeus intended Dionysus to be his successor as ruler of the cosmos, but a jealous Hera incited the Titans—who apparently unlike in Hesiod and Homer, were not imprisoned in Tartarus—to kill the child. Distracting the infant Dionysus with various toys, including a mirror, the Titans seized Dionysus and tore (or cut)West 1983, p. 160 remarks that while "many sources speak of Dionysus' being 'rent apart' ... those who use more precise language say that he was cut up with a knife". him to pieces. The pieces were then boiled, roasted and partially eaten, by the Titans. But Athena managed to save Dionysus' heart, by which Zeus was able to contrive his rebirth from Semele.

The anthropogony

Commonly presented as a part of the myth of the dismembered Dionysus Zagreus, is an Orphic anthropogony, that is an Orphic account of the origin of human beings. According to this widely held view, as punishment for their crime, Zeus struck the Titans with his thunderbolt, and from the remains of the destroyed Titans humankind was born, which resulted in a human inheritance of ancestral guilt, for this original sin of the Titans, and by some accounts "formed the basis for an Orphic doctrine of the divinity of man."Linforth, pp. 307–308; Spineto, p. 34. For presentations of the myth which include the anthropogony, see Dodds, pp. 155–156; West 1983, pp. 74–75, 140, 164–166; Guthrie, p. 83; Burkert 1985, pp. 297–298; Marsh, s.v. Zagreus, p. 788; Parker 2002, pp. 495–496; Morford, p. 313. However, when and to what extent there existed any Orphic tradition which included these elements is the subject of open debate.See Spineto pp. 37–39; Edmonds 1999, 2008, 2013 chapter 9; Bernabé 2002, 2003; Parker 2014.The 2nd century AD biographer and essayist Plutarch, makes a connection between the sparagmos and the punishment of the Titans, but makes no mention of the anthropogony, or Orpheus, or Orphism. In his essay On the Eating of Flesh, Plutarch writes of "stories told about the sufferings and dismemberment of Dionysus and the outrageous assaults of the Titans upon him, and their punishment and blasting by thunderbolt after they had tasted his blood".Plutarch, On the Eating of Flesh 1.996 C; Linforth, pp. 334 ff. Edmonds 1999, pp. 44–47. While, according to the early 4th century AD Christian apologist Arnobius, and the 5th century AD Greek epic poet Nonnus, it is as punishment for their murder of Dionysus that the Titans end up imprisoned by Zeus in Tartarus.Arnobius, Adversus Gentes 5.19 (p. 242) (= Orphic fr. 34 Kern); Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6.206–210.The only ancient source to explicitly connect the sparagmos and the anthropogony is the 6th century AD Neoplatonist Olympiodorus, who writes that, according to Orpheus, after the Titans had dismembered and eaten Dionysus, "Zeus, angered by the deed, blasts them with his thunderbolts, and from the sublimate of the vapors that rise from them comes the matter from which men are created." Olympiodorus goes on to conclude that, because the Titans had eaten his flesh, we their descendants, are a part of Dionysus.Edmonds 1999, p. 40; Olympiodorus, In Plato Phaedon 1.3 (= Orphic fr. 220 Kern); Spineto p. 34; Burkert 1985, p. 463 n. 15; West 1983, pp. 164–165; Linforth, pp. 326 ff..


The etymology of Τιτάνες (Titanes) is uncertain.Hard, p. 35; Rose, p. 1079 s.v. Titan. Hesiod in the Theogony gives a double etymology, deriving it from titaino [to strian] and tisis [vengence], saying that Uranus gave them the name Titans: "in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards".Caldwell, p. 40 on lines 207-210; Hesiod, Theogony 207–210. For a discussion see West 1966, p. 225–226 on line 209 τιταίνοντας. But modern scholars doubt Hesiod's etymology.Rose, p. 1079 s.v. Titan, calls Hesiod's derivation "fanciful", while Hard, p. 35, describes it as "obviously factitious", adding that "there is some ancient evidence to suggest that it may have meant 'princes' or the like"; while West p. 225 on line 209 τιταίνοντας, says that "it is not clear how or why the Titans 'strained'".

Modern interpretations

Some 19th- and 20th-century scholars, including Jane Ellen Harrison, have argued that an initiatory or shamanic ritual underlies the myth of the dismemberment and cannibalism of Dionysus by the Titans.BOOK, Harrison, Jane Ellen, Proleoromena to the Study of Greek Religion, 1908, Cambridge University Press, 490, 2nd,weblink She also asserts that the word "Titan" comes from the Greek τίτανος, signifying white "earth, clay, or gypsum," and that the Titans were "white clay men", or men covered by white clay or gypsum dust in their rituals.BOOK, Harrison, Jane Ellen, Proleoromena to the Study of Greek Religion, 1908, Cambridge University Press, 491ff, 2nd,weblink Martin Litchfield West also asserts this in relation to shamanistic initiatory rites of early Greek religious practices.West 1983.

In astronomy

The planet Saturn is named for the Roman equivalent of the Titan Cronus. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is named after the Titans generally, and the other moons of Saturn are named after individual Titans, specifically Tethys, Phoebe, Rhea, Hyperion, and Iapetus. Astronomer William Henry Pickering claimed to discover another moon of Saturn which he named Themis, but this discovery was never confirmed, and the name Themis was given to an asteroid, 24 Themis. Asteroid 57 Mnemosyne was also named for the Titan.A proto-planet Theia is hypothesized to have been involved in a collision in the early solar system, forming the Earth's moon.

In popular culture

See also




External links

  • {{Commons category-inline|Titans}}
  • {{Wikisource-inline|Theogony|The Theogony of Hesiod}}
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