Greek Mythology View’s of Creation
Greek Mythology View’s of Creation
The story of the creation of the universe has many different versions. In some cultures it is believed that the universe was created by the procreation of the Deathless Creatures. Other cultures believe that the creation of the universe resulted from a big bang in which all of the elements in the world gathered together to create a huge mass and then burst to create life. Lastly, and the most believed version, is that the creation of the universe came from a God who would create the world and everything in it.
In the ancient cultures, the Greeks and Romans had many different versions of how the universe was created but most looked to the versions by Hesiod and Ovid. Hesiod was a famous oral poet in Ancient Greece. He is thought to have lived between 750 and 650 BC, but no one knows for sure. Along with Homer, Hesiod is believed to be the earliest of the Greek poets. But it is hard to prove which one had come first. Not only did his writings serve as entertainment, but they were also used in other aspects of Greek living. He taught them farming techniques and is believed to have been the first economist.
Not only was he a businessman but he also was keen in astronomy and ancient time keeping. Hesiod is a very important man in Greek History and his early writings showcase his abilities. Theogony by Hesiod gives a Greek version of the creation of the universe. In this book, Hesiod describes how the entire universe was created from the Deathless Creature, Gaia. But he described that before Gaia came, the only thing that was in existence was Chaos. “In truth at first Chaos came to be” (Hesiod, Theogony 116). According to Theogony, Chaos suddenly rose out of nothing.
Hesiod talks about how me might have been created from the area between Gaia, earth, and Tartarus, a massive pit in the earth below the underworld. After Chaos, Gaia was the next creature to be created. It was created as a place for the Gods and mortals to live in peace and harmony. With Gaia came the terrain of the world. The next Deathless Creature that came was Tartarus, a massive pit in the earth below the underworld. Ironically, Tartarus is where Zeus would banish all of the Deathless Creatures. What interested me is that the next Deathless Creature from Hesiod’s story of creation is Eros.
Eros is the personification of love. I started to wonder how all of the other gods were created if there was no such thing as procreation at the time. And then I did some research and learned that before Eros the Gods were created through parthenogenesis. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Parthenogenesis is “development of an egg without fertilization”. This occurs when a male and female specimen is not needed to create an embryo. Just like the hammerhead or the blacktip shark, which can procreate without a male being. Eros changed the ways of the world with love.
Chaos had many children, including Erebus and Nyx. Erebus and Nyx were born roughly around the same. Erebus was the male personification of the darkness while Nyx was the female personification of the night. Erebus and Nyx then went on to have children, Aether, the atmosphere and Hemera, the day. “From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night Nyx; of Night were born Aether being the bright upper atmosphere and Day Hemera, whom she conceived and bore from union with Erebus her brother” (Hesiod 11. 116-138). The next lines in Theogony talk about Gaia giving birth to two children, Pontus and Uranus.
All of the creatures represent something, this trend continues with Gaia’s children. Pontus represents the sea and Uranus represents the heavens. She created them so that she would be covered. Finally, after all of the deathless creatures were created, Gaia and Uranus came together to make the first real gods, which were known as the Titans. There were twelve Titans in all and are referred to as the second generation. The male Titans were: Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Crius, and Lapetus. The female Titans were: Mnemosyne, Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea, and Themis.
Along with the twelve Titans, there were also three Cyclopes and three Hekatonkheires born. In Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was so disgusted by his children, the Hekatonkheires, that he banished them somewhere in Gaia. Gaia was so upset that she told her Titans to punish their father. The only one that was willing to do so was the youngest, Cronus. He castrated his father as revenge. From the castration many more creatures were born. For example, the furies were born from the blood that was spread all throughout the Earth and Aphrodite was born when Cronus threw the severed private parts into the Sea.
The third and final Generation to be born from the deathless creatures was the children of Cronus and Rhea. It was prophesized to him that one of his children would over throw him. Cronus took preemptive measures and thought out an ingenious plan of swallowing his children after they were born. He had six children and one-by-one he would swallow them. His first-born child was named Hestia who was subsequently eaten. Soon to follow in her path were Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon. Zeus was the last child to be born, but Rhea could not stand to see another one of her children eaten so she replaced him with a stone.
The poem does not state how, but Cronus puked up the remaining five children and they all waged war on their father. Zeus would eventually win and become king. He would then do what many of the other gods had done and banish his father. He sent them all to the bottom of Tartarus where they would never be able to escape. Hesiod’s Theogony first starts off the creation process by bringing darkness, Chaos, and creating things from that. Then it gets into the procreation of the brothers and sisters, and mothers and sons. From that point, the Olympic gods mate with each other and mortal humans as well.
This is one version of the Greek story of the Creation of the Universe. Ovid is a Roman poet and in his poem, Metamorphoses, it also speaks of the creation of the universe. In his poem, he splits up the human race into Four Ages: Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages. They tell of different times in the universe’s history. At first, there is nothing. Then a god comes and organizes everything and puts it where it’s supposed to be. For example, he puts fire in the farthest part of the universe and so forth. Ovid then gives 3 stories of how mankind was created recreated.
First, It then talks about how the god, Prometheus, created the human race as a replica of the God. Then Ovid talks about a war that goes on between the gods and the Giants. During that war the giants stack mountains on top of each other to reach Mount Olympus. But Zeus then knocks over the pile of mountains and all of the Giants are crushed under the rubble. Meanwhile, their blood seeps through the earth. From the blood, humans arose. The final form of creation that Ovid speaks of occurs after the flood. Zeus is upset with the Humans and wants to kill all of them.
He sends a massive flood to the earth to wipe them all out. When he comes to a hill he sees two pious people and decided to let them live. The two survivors, Deucalion and Pyrrha, are the ones with recreate the human race. They take the mother bones and throw them over their shoulders. From each bone, a human would sprout up. In the Bible, the story of Genesis talks about the creation of the universe. It states the God created the universe in sex days and rested on the seventh. On each day God creates a different thing. The last thing he creates was the human race.
He created them last and they were created as an image of God. According to the two poems and the chapter in the Bible, the story of the creation of the universe happened it three very different ways. In Hesiod’s version, the world and nature around it all came from Mother Earth, Gaia. And the human race came from the love that was spread by Aphrodite and Eros. In Ovid’s version, the world was a chaotic mess and it was an unknown god that restored order into the world. The bible is the only version to give a time of how long it took to create the world and everything in it.
Even though there are many differences in the stories, there are also a lot of similarities as well One similarity that all of the accounts of creation hold are the human race was last to be created in all versions. Mankind came after everything in the world was created for them. Another similarity is that the humans were created as an image of God. Lastly, the final similarity that comes from all the versions is; the universe started off as nothing (pure darkness) and then a god came and began the process of creation.
In conclusion, Hesiod’s version of creation takes about the promiscuous ways of the gods and titans. Their promiscuity is what created the world and everything in it. According to Ovid’s version, an unknown god created the world and everything in it and gives stories of how the humans were created and recreated. In the Book of Genesis, God created the world in seven days; as well as everything in it. All three versions of creation did have some differences in their stories, but in they all ended with the creation of mankind. Works Cited Hesiod, and Norman Oliver Brown. Theogony;.
New York: Liberal Arts, 1953. Print. “Hesiod’s Creation Myth. ” Women in Greek Myths. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. . Ovidius, and Mary M. Innes. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1985. Print. Separating, By. “Xeno. ovid2. ” Larryavisbrown. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. . “SparkNotes: Metamorphoses: Plot Overview. ” SparkNotes: Today’s Most Popular Study Guides. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. . “Theogony. ” Free Book Reviews | Book Summaries | Shvoong – Summaries & Reviews. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. . “The Theogony of Hesiod. ” Internet Sacred Text Archive Home. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. .