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Gaia

Γαια

Goddess of the Earth

Gaia

Gaia the Creator
The Banishment of Ouranos
Briareos, Kottos and Gyes
The Birth of the Olympians
Gaia and Typhoeus
Gaia and Orion
The Silver Generation of Mortals
The Children of Gaia
Text References

Gaia the Creator

Gaia is the Earth.

Chaos was the first Immortal to come into existence and he was soon followed by Gaia, Tartaros (Tartarus) and Eros. Tartaros is the Pit and Eros is the god of Love. Gaia became the foundation of all the Immortal and mortal generations to follow. Gaia, Tartaros and Eros were not necessarily the children of Chaos but rather came into existence as a result of the presence of Chaos. Of the primal Immortals, Gaia was by far the most prolific and nurturing.

Gaia's first creation was the Heavens … she named him Ouranos (Uranus). Gaia gave birth to Ouranos to cover herself on all sides and to be her equal in all ways. Ouranos proved to be a difficult son … he was devious and sometimes dangerous. Ouranos had absolute dominion over the Heavens but he became too concerned with the affairs of Gaia and, much to her disapproval, tried to dominate her as well.

Gaia then brought forth Ourea [the Mountains), Pontos (Pontus) [the fruitless deep sea] and the Cyclopes [the Orb-Eyed]. Ouranos, Ourea, Pontos and the Cyclopes were all born to Gaia without consort … in other words, she brought them into existence without the aid of a father. As her first consort, Gaia chose Ouranos. She became pregnant with three gigantic boys who would be named Briareos, Kottos (Cottus) and Gyes. Ouranos feared the boys … he kept pushing them back inside Gaia's womb and refused to allow them to be born. Ouranos was worried that the three monstrous boys would be more powerful than himself and usurp his power.

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The Banishment of Ouranos

With Ouranos as the father, Gaia became pregnant again but this time Ouranos allowed the children to emerge from Gaia's womb … thus the Titans were born. Ouranos named these children Titans because they quickly demonstrated their complete lack of restraint … the name Titans literally means Stretchers or Strainers … they stretched and strained the limits of propriety and indulged themselves to the point of self destruction. The Titans not only brought about their own demise, they were also responsible for the demotion of Ouranos.

The problem with the unborn brothers Briareos, Kottos and Gyes was becoming a serious problem for Gaia. Each time the boys would attempt to emerge from Gaia's womb, Ouranos would force them back inside. Gaia suffered greatly and finally, in desperation, devised a treacherous plan to punish Ouranos … she created the element flint and formed a sickle … she then gathered her male children and explained to them that Ouranos could not continue with his brutal behavior. Fearing their father, all but one of her sons refused to help … only devious, devising Kronos (Cronos) was willing to stand against Ouranos. He reasoned that Ouranos was the first to act shamefully and anyone who stood against him would be absolved of any blame.

Gaia rejoiced when Kronos promised to help her … she gave Kronos the flint sickle with its jagged edge and hid him in a secret place so that he could surprise Ouranos. As night fell, Ouranos came to Gaia … Kronos took the sickle in his left hand and struck at his father … Ouranos was caught unawares and could not protect himself from the cruel flint … his male members were cut off and the drops of blood were absorbed by Gaia. As the seasons passed, Ouranos's blood gave life to Erinys [the Punisher], the Giants and the Meliae [Nymphs of the Ash Tree]. The remaining flesh fell into the sea and from the foam and water a maiden was created … this maiden became the goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

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Briareos, Kottos and Gyes

With Ouranos out of the way, Briareos, Kottos and Gyes were finally allowed to be born … all three were truly gigantic … each of the brothers had fifty heads and fifty arms sprouting from his massive shoulders. Although Kronos had helped his mother greatly, he soon became overbearing and devious just like his father, Ouranos. When Kronos saw Briareos, Kottos and Gyes he became afraid of their strength and beauty … he imprisoned the three brothers under the earth and would not let them see the light of day.

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Gaia

The Birth of the Olympians

Kronos was the most self-indulgent of all the Titans. His outrageous behavior towards Briareos, Kottos and Gyes was finally exceeded by his treatment of his own children. When Kronos married his Titan sister Rheia (Rhea), Gaia told him that he would be stripped of his authority by one of his children. In a vain attempt to avoid his destiny, Kronos swallowed each of his children as they were born. When Rheia gave birth to her sixth child, she substituted a stone in place of the infant. Kronos swallowed the stone without knowing that he had been tricked.

Gaia assisted Rheia in hiding the child from Kronos. The child was named Zeus and, just as Gaia had predicted, he was destined to overthrow the power and authority of Kronos. When Zeus grew to manhood, he returned to confront his father. Zeus kicked Kronos in the stomach with such violence that the swallowed children were disgorged.

The children Kronos had swallowed were quite different from the Titans. When the five children Kronos had swallowed were disgorged, they were fully grown gods and goddesses. Besides Zeus, there was Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter and Histia (Hestia).

Zeus called all the Immortals of the earth together and asked for their promises to be his allies in the inevitable war against the Titans. Zeus said that any Immortal who fought for him would be allowed to keep their domains and their powers after the Titans were vanquished. At Gaia's advising, Zeus freed Briareos, Kottos and Gyes so that they could fight for him . . . they proved to be formidable allies.

The fierce ten year war with Kronos and the other Titans, is called the War of the Titans. After winning the war, the children of Kronos and Rheia made Mount Olympos (Olympus) their home and they became known as the Olympian gods. At the prompting of Gaia, the Olympians asked Zeus to reign over them all. Kronos was banished from the face of the earth.

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Gaia and Typhoeus

After the War of the Titans, Gaia became the consort of Tartaros (Tartarus) … he was of the same generation as Gaia and manifested himself as The Pit. Like Gaia, Tartaros was one of the four original Immortals after Chaos. Gaia and Tartaros had a son named Typhoeus … Typhoeus was truly a formidable dragon-god with one hundred heads like snakes … each head had flickering tongues and breath of fire … the voices of the different heads each created a different sound: one head spoke in a voice that the Olympian gods could understand, another made the hissing sound of a snake, another was like the roar of a lion, another was like a furious bull and another made whelping noises.

Zeus saw the threat that Typhoeus posed to all the Immortals and quickly moved to subdue the beast … the battle began … with the thunderbolts of Zeus and the fire belching from Typhoeus, the earth trembled and sea boiled. Zeus finally burned the hundred heads from Typhoeus's necks and cast him under the earth to the darkness of Tartaros. Molten rock and vile winds spewed from the earth where Typhoeus was buried and the damp and boisterous winds were born. Some authors [Pindar and Tzetzes] say that Typhoeus was buried under Mount Etna (Aetna) on the island of Sicily but the poet Homer said the location was in Kilikia (Cilicia) in what would now be the southern portion of modern Turkey.

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Gaia and Orion

Orion was the most renowned hunter of all time. He was the son of Poseidon [lord of the Sea] and Euryale, the daughter of King Minos of the island of Crete. Poseidon gave Orion the power to walk on water as if it were land and this, no doubt, added to his hunting abilities as well as his arrogance.

When Orion went to the island of Chios he became drunk and offended a young woman named Merope, the daughter of Oenopion. Outraged at such crass behavior, Oenopion blinded Orion and the disabled hunter was forced to flee Chios and take refuge on the island of Lemnos. While on Lemnos, the god Hephaistos (Hephaestus) saw the plight Orion and gave him a servant named Kedalion (Cedalion) to act as his guide. During his travels, Orion was noticed by Helios [Sun] … the god pitied Orion and healed him of his blindness. Orion learned nothing from his punishment and immediately resumed his prideful and self indulgent way of life. When Orion ventured to the island of Crete he hunted with the goddesses Artemis and Leto. His zeal for hunting made him boast that he would kill every wild animal on the earth. Hearing this haughty and distressing talk, Gaia sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion. After his death, Artemis and Leto persuaded Zeus to place Orion in the heavens as a constellation.

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The Silver Generation of Mortals

The second race of mortals on the surface of the earth was called the Silver generation and their time was called the Age of Silver.

After the earth had covered the Golden race of mortals, the Olympians made a second generation which was Silver and less noble than the Gold. The Silver race was completely unlike the Golden race in body and spirit. The Silver generation remained as children for one hundred years … they were simpletons who spent their lives playing childish games. When they were finally grown, they lived very short and sorrowful lives. They would wrong others and not serve the Immortals or offer sacrifices on the holy altars. When they refused to give honor to the Olympians, Zeus became angry and ended their existence.

The souls of the Silver generation are called blessed spirits of the Underworld and even though they are of a second order compared to the Golden generation, they are worthy of respect and honor.

The Olympians are credited with the creation of the Silver generation mortals but the poet Hesiod reasoned that since silver was the symbol of Gaia, she must therefore be responsible for that particular race of humans. Hesiod's theory is not confirmed by other texts and might be thought of as a theological deduction and not necessarily a fact.

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The Children of Gaia

As the foundation of all life on earth, Gaia had many children. The following list is abbreviated and generally in the order of their birth:

Gaia without consort:

Gaia with Ouranos:

Gaia absorbed the blood of Ouranos and produced:

Gaia with Pontos [Sea]:

Gaia and Ouranos produced the Titans:

Gaia with Tartaros (Tartarus):

Gaia with Hephaistos

Erichthonios

Gaia presenting Erichthonios to Athene

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