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Chaos, in one ancient Greek myth of creation, the dark, silent

abyss from which all things came into existence. According to the
Theogony of Hesiod, Chaos generated the solid mass of Earth,
from which arose the starry, cloud-filled Heaven. Mother Earth
and Father Heaven, personified respectively as Gaea and
her offspring Uranus, were the parents of the Titans. Other
children of Chaos include Tartarus and Eros. In a later theory
Chaos is the formless matter from which the cosmos, or
harmonious order, was created.
Gaea or Ge (mythology), in Greek mythology, the personification
of Mother Earth, and the daughter of Chaos. She was the mother
and wife of Father Heaven, who was personified as Uranus. They
were the parents of the earliest living creatures: the Titans; the
Cyclopes; and the Giants, or Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handed
Ones). Fearing and hating the Giants, despite the fact that they
were his sons, Uranus imprisoned them in a secret place on earth,
leaving the Cyclopes and Titans at large. Gaea, enraged at this
favoritism, persuaded her son, the Titan Cronus, to overthrow his
father. He emasculated Uranus, and from his blood Gaea
brought forth the Giants and the three avenging goddesses
the Erinyes. Her last and most terrifying offspring was Typhon, a
100-headed monster, who, although conquered by the god
Zeus, was believed to spew forth the molten lava flows of Mount
Uranus (mythology), in Greek mythology, the god of the heavens
and husband of Gaea, who personified the earth. Uranus was the
father of the Titans, the Cyclopes, and the 100-handed giants. The
Titans, led by their ruler, Cronus, dethroned and castrated Uranus.
From the blood that fell upon the earth sprang the three Erinyes,
or Furies, who avenge crimes of patricide and perjury. The
severed genitals of Uranus fell into the sea, and from them
emerged the goddess Aphrodite. Although Uranus may have been

worshiped as a god by earlier inhabitants of Greece, he was never

an object of worship for the Greeks of the historical period.
Tartarus, in Greek mythology, the lowest region of the
underworld. According to Hesiod and Virgil, Tartarus is as far
below Hades as the earth is below the heavens and is closed in by
iron gates. In some accounts Zeus, the father of the gods, after
leading the gods to victory over the Titans, banished his father,
Cronus, and the other Titans to Tartarus. The name Tartarus was
later employed sometimes as a synonym for Hades, or the
underworld in general, but more frequently for the place of
damnation where the wicked were punished after death. Such
legendary sinners as Ixion, king of the Lapiths, Sisyphus, king of
Corinth, and Tantalus, a mortal son of Zeus, were placed in
Eros (mythology), in Greek mythology, the god of love and
counterpart of the Roman Cupid. In early mythology he was
represented as one of the primeval forces of nature, the
son of Chaos, and the embodiment of the harmony and
creative power in the universe. Soon, however, he was
thought of as a handsome and intense young man, attended by
Pothos (longing) or Himeros (desire). Later mythology made
him the constant attendant of his mother, Aphrodite, goddess of
In Greek art Eros was depicted as a winged youth, slight but
beautiful, often with eyes covered to symbolize the blindness of
love. Sometimes he carried a flower, but more commonly the
silver bow and arrows, with which he shot darts of desire into the
bosoms of gods and men. In Roman legend and art, Eros
degenerated into a mischievous child and was often depicted as a
baby archer.
Cyclops, in Greek mythology, giants with one enormous eye in
the middle of the forehead. In Hesiod, the three sonsArges,

Brontes, and Steropesof Uranus and Gaea, the personifications

of heaven and earth, were Cyclopes. They were thrown into the
lower world by their brother Cronus, one of the Titans, after he
dethroned Uranus. But Cronus's son, the god Zeus, released the
Cyclopes from the underworld, and they, in gratitude, gave him
the gifts of thunder and lightning with which he defeated Cronus
and the Titans and thus became lord of the universe.
In Homer's Odyssey, the Cyclopes were shepherds living in Sicily.
They were a lawless, savage, and cannibalistic race fearing
neither gods nor humans. The Greek hero Odysseus was trapped
with his men in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, a son of
Poseidon, god of the sea. In order to escape from the cave after
the giant devoured several men, Odysseus blinded him.
Titans, in Greek mythology, 12 children of Uranus and Gaea,
Heaven and Earth, and some of the children of the 12. Often
called the Elder Gods, they were for many ages the supreme
rulers of the universe and were of enormous size and incredibly
strong. Cronus, the most important of the Titans, ruled the
universe until he was dethroned by his son Zeus, who seized
power for himself. The other important Titans were Oceanus, the
river that flowed around the earth; Tethys, his wife;
Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory; Themis, the goddess of
divine justice; Hyperion, the father of the sun, the moon, and the
dawn; Iapetus, the father of Prometheus, who created
mortals; and Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders. Of all
the Titans only Prometheus and Oceanus sided with Zeus against
Cronus. As a result, they were honored and the others were bound
in Tartarus. Eventually, however, Zeus was reconciled with the
Titans, and Cronus was made ruler of the Golden Age.
1. Cronus, in Greek mythology, ruler of the universe during the
Golden Age. He was one of the 12 Titans and the youngest son of
Uranus and Gaea, the personifications of heaven and earth. The
first sons of his parents were the three Hecatonchires, the 100-

handed, 50-headed monsters whom Uranus had imprisoned in a

secret place. Gaea sought to rescue them and appealed for help
from her other offspring, including the Cyclopes. Cronus alone
accepted the challenge. He attacked Uranus and wounded him
severely; Cronus thus became the ruler of the universe.
Cronus and his sister-queen, Rhea, became the parents of 6 of the
12 gods and goddesses known as the Olympians. Cronus had
been warned that he would be overthrown by one of his children,
and he swallowed each of his first five children as soon as it was
born. Rhea, however, substituted a stone wrapped in swaddling
clothes for their sixth child, Zeus. Zeus was hidden in Crete (Krti),
and when he was grown, with the aid of Gaea, forced Cronus to
disgorge the other five children together with the stone. The
stone was later removed to Delphi. Zeus and his five brothers and
sisters waged war on Cronus and the other Titans. Zeus was aided
by the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, whom he freed from the
prison where they were kept by Cronus. Cronus and the Titans
were thereafter confined in Tartarus, a cave in the deepest part of
the underworld. The Roman counterpart of Cronus is Saturn, the
god of sowing and seed.
Rhea (mythology), in Greek mythology, mother of the gods, a
Titan, the daughter of Uranus and Gaea, Heaven and Earth, and
the sister and wife of the Titan Cronus. For many ages, Cronus
and Rhea ruled the universe. Cronus, having been warned that
one of their children was destined to seize his throne, tried to
avert this fate by swallowing his offspring as soon as they were
born. After the birth of her sixth child, the god Zeus, Rhea
outwitted her husband by giving him a stone wrapped in
swaddling clothes, which he swallowed, thinking it was the baby.
In the meantime, she had hidden the child in Crete (Krti). Later,
when Zeus was grown, he forced his father to disgorge the stone,
along with the five other children who had been born to Rhea:
Poseidon, god of the sea; Hades, god of the dead; Demeter,

goddess of the earth; Hestia, goddess of the hearth; and Hera,

goddess of marriage, who became the wife of Zeus. In Roman
mythology, Rhea was identified with Cybele, the great mother of
the gods.

1. Alcmene, in Greek mythology, the wife of Amphitryon (prince of

the city of Tiryns) and the mother of Hercules, the Greek hero
known for feats of strength and courage. Zeus, the king of the

gods, visited Alcmene in the form of her husband; Hercules was

the child of their union.
.2. Antiope, in Greek mythology, mother of the twins Amphion and
Zethus, whose father was Zeus. Antiope was imprisoned by a
tyrant, Lycus, and his wife, Dirce, and freed by her sons, who
punished Dirce by tying her to a bull. The scene is represented in
a classical marble group, the Farnese Bull (Museo Archeologico
Nazionale, Naples), which was rediscovered during the
3. Callisto (mythology)Callisto (mythology), in Greek mythology, a
nymph beloved by Zeus. She was changed into a bear by his
jealous wife Hera.
Nymphs, in Greek and Roman mythology, lesser divinities or
spirits of nature, dwelling in groves and fountains, forests,
meadows, streams, and the sea, represented as young and
beautiful maidens, fond of music and dancing. The nymphs were
distinguished according to the part of nature they personified, and
included the Oceanids, or daughters of Oceanus, the ocean that
flows around the earth; the Nereids, or daughters of the sea god
Nereus, nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea; the Potameides, river
nymphs; the Naiads, nymphs of springs and freshwater streams;
the Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottoes; and the Dryads,
nymphs of the forests..
4. Danae, in Greek mythology, the daughter of Acrisius, king of
rgos, and, by the god Zeus, the mother of Perseus.
5. Aeacus, in Greek mythology, king of Aegina (now Ayina). He
was the son of the nymph Aegina, for whom his island kingdom
was named, and the god Zeus. Hera, queen of the gods, angry
with Zeus for his love of Aegina, sent a plague that destroyed
most of the Aeginetans. Aeacus prayed to his father to change a
group of industrious ants into human beings to people his
deserted city. Zeus granted his wish, creating a race called the

Myrmidons. Aeacus ruled over his people with such justice that
after his death he became one of the three judges of the
underworld. He was the father of Peleus and the grandfather of
6. Electra, in Greek mythology, daughter of Agamemnon, king of
Mycenae, and Queen Clytemnestra. After the murder of
Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, Electra
sent her brother, Orestes, to safety at the court of an uncle. She
stayed behind in Mycenae, living in poverty under constant
surveillance while Clytemnestra and Aegisthus ruled the kingdom.
Electra sent frequent reminders to Orestes that he must return to
avenge the death of their father. At the end of seven years,
Orestes and his friend Pylades went secretly to Agamemnon's
tomb. There they met Electra, who had come to pour libations
and offer prayers for vengeance. Orestes revealed his identity to
his sister, then proceeded at once to the palace, where he killed
Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. Electra later married Pylades,
Orestes' constant companion.
7. Europa (mythology), in Greek mythology, daughter of Agenor,
the Phoenician king of Tyre, and sister of Cadmus, the legendary
founder of Thebes. One morning, when Europa was gathering
flowers by the seashore, the god Zeus saw her and fell in love
with her. Assuming the guise of a beautiful chestnut-colored bull,
he appeared before her and enticed her to climb onto his back. He
then sped away with her across the ocean to the island of Crete
(Krti). Among the sons she bore him were Minos and
Rhadamanthus, both of whom became judges of the dead. The
abduction of Europa has been the subject of paintings by many
artists, including Italians Paolo Veronese and Titian.
8. Io (mythology), in Greek mythology, daughter of the river god
Inachus. She was loved by the god Zeus, who changed her into a
white heifer to protect her from the jealousy of his wife, Hera.
Suspecting that the animal was really Zeus's mistress, Hera asked

for the heifer as a gift and set the 100-eyed monster Argus to
guard it. Because the monster never slept with all his eyes shut,
Io was unable to escape until Zeus sent his son, the messenger
god Hermes, to rescue her. Hermes managed to kill the monster
after he had put Argus's 100 eyes to sleep with a series of boring
stories. Hera was still angry, however, and next sent a gadfly to
torment Io, who wandered over the earth in misery. Io finally
swam across the sea that was later named for her (the Ionian
Sea) and at last reached Egypt. There she was restored to her
original physical form, and she bore Zeus a son, Epaphus, who
was an ancestor of the Greek hero Hercules.
9. Laodamia, in Greek mythology, wife of the Thessalian
commander Protesilaus, the first Greek slain when the Greek fleet
reached the coast of Troy in the Trojan War. When the news of her
husband's death reached Laodamia, she implored the gods to let
her see him once again if only for a short time. Her pleas were
answered, and the god Hermes led her husband back from the
underworld for a 3-hour visit. When it came time for him to return,
however, Laodamia could not bear to give him up. She killed
herself and returned with her husband to the underworld.
10. Leda (mythology), in Greek mythology, wife of Tyndareus, who
was king of Sparta, and the mother of Castor and Polydeuces,
Clytemnestra, and Helen of Troy. After the god Zeus had wooed
Leda in the guise of a swan, she laid two eggs. From one were
hatched Polydeuces (also known as Pollux) and Helen, who were
immortal children of Zeus, and from the other Castor and
Clytemnestra, who were mortal children of Tyndareus.
11. Niobe, in Greek mythology, daughter of Tantalus, and the
queen of Thebes. Her husband, King Amphion, was a son of the
god Zeus and was a great musician. Niobe bore him six handsome
sons and six beautiful daughters. Although she was happy, Niobe
exhibited the same arrogance toward the gods that her father had
shown (see Atreus, House of). She boasted of her superiority to

the goddess Leto, who had only two children. The gods heard her
words on distant Mount Olympus and resolved to punish her.
Leto's childrenApollo, god of prophecy and a master archer; and
Artemis, goddess of the huntfired their arrows with deadly aim,
killing all of Niobe's children. The grief-stricken Niobe was turned
into a stone that was forever wet with her tears.
Tantalus, in Greek mythology, king of Lydia and son of Zeus, ruler
of the gods. Tantalus was honored above all other mortals by the
gods. He ate at their table on Olympus, and once they even came
to dine at his palace. To test their omniscience, Tantalus killed his
only son, Pelops, boiled him in a cauldron, and served him at the
banquet. The gods, however, realized the nature of the food. They
restored Pelops to life and devised a terrible punishment for
Tantalus. He was hung forever from a tree in Tartarus and afflicted
with tormenting thirst and hunger. Under him was a pool of water,
but when he stooped to drink, the pool would sink from sight. The
tree above him was laden with pears, apples, figs, ripe olives, and
pomegranates, but when he reached for them the wind blew the
laden branches away. The word tantalize is derived from this
12. pluto- tantalus her son
13. Semele, in Greek mythology, the daughter of Cadmus and
Harmonia, who were the king and queen of Thebes, and the
mother of the god Dionysus. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus,
realizing that Semele had conceived a child by her husband,
tricked Semele into asking to see Zeus in his majesty. Bound by
an oath, Zeus appeared before Semele in all his divine glory. As
she gazed at him, she was consumed by the lightning bolts that
radiated from him. Zeus was nevertheless able to rescue her
unborn child, Dionysus, from the ashes, and he hid the fetus in his
thigh until it was time for the child to be born. Later the young
Dionysus rescued his mother from the underworld and brought
her to Olympus.

14. Pleiades (mythology), in Greek mythology, seven daughters of

Atlas and of Pleione, the daughter of Oceanus. Their names were
Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope.
According to some versions of the myth, they committed suicide
from grief at the fate of their father, Atlas, or at the death of their
sisters, the Hyades. Other versions made them the attendants of
Artemis, goddess of wildlife and of hunting, who were pursued by
the giant hunter Orion, but were rescued by the gods and
changed into doves. After their death, or metamorphosis, they
were transformed into stars, but are still pursued across the sky
by the constellation Orion.