Gaea - Greek mythology and Latin mythology

Gaea - Greek mythology and Latin mythology


Representation of Gaea between Air and Water
Roman relief I sec. B.C.

He wants the Greek mythology that Gaea, the earth, a pre-Olympic divinity, at the beginning of creation was born from the primordial Chaos and would have given rise to the entire lineage of immortals and to the earth (see Myth of the birth of the world).

Gaea was venerated in many cities of Greece and in Athena she was honored with the name of Kurotrófos (breeder of children). In addition to this she was also considered to be of the dead and of the afterlife.

The feasts G were celebrated in his honorenesie.

There Latin mythology identifies it with Tellure or Tellus, goddess of vegetation also considered protector of marriage and the dead and invoked as a rescuer in earthquakes with the name of Tellus Stabilata.

It is often confused with Cybele and Demeter.

Gaea - Greek mythology and Latin mythology

The ancient mother Earth, at the origin of the world

How was the world born? According to the Greek myth, its origin is Gea, the Earth, mother of all the other divinities symbolizing the natural elements, but also of the most famous divinities and the most frightening monsters. Often in conflict with her husband Uranus (Heaven), Gea is the goddess of the ancient agricultural societies of the Mediterranean

Symbol of nature and the feminine element

In all human civilizations, of every country and of every age, one of the most important myths is that concerning the birth of the world (cosmogony). This myth can be presented in two different versions: a supreme and omnipotent being creates the world, or some parts of the world itself, under the aspect of very ancient divinities, give life to all creatures, including other gods. This second conception is the most widespread: in general, the god who represents Heaven joins the goddess who represents the Earth, to generate the other elements of nature and all living beings. This is also the case in Greek myth.

Gaea (in Ionic Greek Gaia) represents the Earth, the original matter from which all things come to life. Hesiod, one of the first Greek poets we know of, author of one Theogony ("story of the generation of the gods"), affirms that before Gaea there was only Chaos, a chasm symbolizing the indistinct and obscure confusion of the whole. Gaea is therefore the first goddess of the Greek (and later Roman) world: she is the symbol of the importance of the earth in ancient agricultural civilizations, but also of the role of women in procreating and raising children. In an ancient Greek hymn - To Gaea, mother of all living beings - the goddess is invoked like this: "Gaea I will sing, the universal mother, very ancient, who feeds all beings, those who live on earth, those who walk, those who are in the sea and those who fly, all feed on the abundance that you grant. Thank you. to you men are fruitful with children and rich in crops ".

The cult of Gaea, certainly very widespread in an older age, gradually lost importance because the mother Earth appeared to be too generic and without a well-defined personality compared to other younger deities specialized in a specific function. The Greek philosopher Plato, at the beginning of the 4th century BC. he considered the cult of Gaea even "typical of the Barbarians".

The starting point of divine genealogies

As the original goddess Gaea was considered the mother of many divinities, of beings that symbolically represent the natural elements, but also of monstrous entities. Her own husband, Uranus (Heaven), had been generated by her without joining any male being, and so also the Mountains and Pontus (the Sea).

But it is from the union with Uranus that Gaea gives life to most of the cosmic and very ancient elements of the Greek myth. First of all the six Titans: Ocean, Ceo, Crio, Hyperion, Iapetus, Cronus then the six Titanides: Theia, Rhea, Themes, Mnemosine, Phoebe, Teti. The gods of Olympus (from Cronus and Rhea) and the natural elements (aquatic from Ocean and Thetis, celestial from Hyperion and Teia) will be born from the unions between Titans and Titanides.

Again joining Uranus Gaea generates the Cyclopes, gigantic beings with one eye on their foreheads, and the Hecatonchirs, monstrous creatures with a hundred arms. Uranus, having in hatred these terrifying sons of his, locks them up in a hellish place in the center of the earth, Tartarus. Cronus, however, the last born among the Titans, manages to free them by castrating his father Uranus and taking his place as ruler of this ancient divine generation. From the blood of the genitals of Uranus, which fell on Gaea, monstrous beings were born again: the Erinyes, who symbolically represent the fears and remorse of men, and the Giants. Chrono too, however, wanted to protect himself by locking up his brothers in Tartarus and devouring all the children he gradually had from Rhea. But this, resorting to the help of Gaea, managed to steal from Cronus his youngest son, Zeus (Jupiter), who, once he grows up, will overthrow his father and establish a new divine and human order.

Gaea - Greek mythology and Latin mythology

The Theogony is a religious and mythological poem by Hesiod, in which the history and genealogy of the Greek gods are told.

It is believed that it was written around the year 700 BC. In Hesiod's Theogony Gaea was the first creature born of Chaos together with Tartarus (the Underworld), the Night, Erebus (darkness) and Eros (the spirit of generative love).

From Gaea were born Uranus (the sky), Pontus (the sea) and the mountains.

Uranus joined his mother and from them were born the Titans and Titanesses, including Cronus and Rhea, parents of Zeus and his five brothers Oceano and Teti, deities of the great Ocean river that surrounded the earth.


Uranus and Gaea also generated the three Cyclops Bronte, Sterope and Arge, the centiman giants Cotto, Briareo and Gige. From the union of Uranus and Gaea, Emera (the day) and Etera (the upper atmosphere) were born.

Uranus hated the Cyclops and the Centimani and refused to let them be born by rejecting them in the womb of the mother.

Gaea ravaged by grief and enraged with Uranus gave her son Cronus a sickle and pushed him to castrate his father. The genitals of Uranus fell from the sea and from the drops of blood that fell on the earth were born the Erinyes, the Giants and the Melias. The member of Uranus, which fell into the sea, reached the land of Paphos in Cyprus, where Aphrodite, goddess of love, was born from the foam of the sea.

Soon Cronus turned out to be as tyrannical as his father Uranus, locked up the Cyclops and Centimanian Giants in Tartarus and ate his children every time Rhea gave birth to them. His behavior stemmed from a warning given by Gaea and Uranus: "one of the sons generated by Rhea would have taken away his role as king of the gods". Despite this, Gaea helped Rhea to save the youngest son, Zeus, and when Cronus was about to eat him he replaced it with a large stone and hid the baby in a cave in Crete.

Once grown up, Zeus allying himself with some Titans, prepared his attack against Cronus.

While Gaea made sure that the latter vomited his other sons (Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hestia and Hera), Zeus freed the Cyclops and the Centiman Giants from Tartarus, armed them with lightnings and started a war that lasted ten years. Victorious Zeus imprisoned the Titans and his father in Tartarus. This offended Gaea who considered the imprisonment of the Titans an excessive gesture, then mating with Tartarus gave birth to Typhon and tried to incite the Giants to rebel against Zeus.

The ensuing war is known as the Gigantomachy.

Gaea created a herb whose juice would make the Giants invincible. Zeus caused total darkness that covered the place where the plant was hidden and stole it, then helped by the gods who had lined up at his side, he defeated the enemies and forced them to return to the land from which they had come.

When Gaea married Meti, she also helped Zeus by warning him that a son born of that union would take his place as king of the gods.

Zeus swallowed Meti and later gave birth to Athena. Gaea attended the wedding of Zeus and Hera and gave the latter the golden apples of the Hesperides.

According to the Gaea tradition, which is often associated with divination, he founded the oracle of Delphi, originally dedicated to his cult, then passed it on to Themes who ceded his rights to the titaness Phoebe who in turn gave them to Apollo. The snake Python belonged to Gaea, and when Apollo killed him he had to reward her for that murder by founding the Pythian Games and making sure that it was always a priestess, the Pythia, to serve her oracle.

Gaea protected the oaths that were made in her name and punished those who broke them by sending the Erinyes to take revenge.

He mated with his son Pontus and from this union were born marine divinities such as Nereo, father of the Nereids. She gave birth to many other children, for example Echidna from the union with Tartarus Erichthonius of Hephaestus and, according to some, Triptolemus of Oceanus.


"Τῷ δὲ σπαργανίσασα μέγαν λίθον ἐγγυάλιξεν / Οὐρανίδῃ μέγ᾽ ἄνακτι, θεῶν προτέρῳ βασιλῆι"

"To him then, wrapped in swaddling clothes, she gave a great stone, / to the son of Uranus great lord, of the gods first king"

Genealogy (Hesiod) Edit

His first five children were devoured by Cronus (her husband and their father), who acted that way because he feared the prophecy that he would be dethroned (forced to descend from the throne) and defeated by one of them and Rhea, to save the 'last of her children (Zeus), asked for help from their parents (Uranus and Gaea) who sent her to the island of Crete to save the last of her offspring. Here she took refuge in the Psychro cave, on Mount Ditte, where she gave birth.
After giving birth she deceived Cronus who, having reached her on the island to eat Zeus too, received from Rhea a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of the child, a stone that he ate falling into deception [2].

The young Asian king Adrastus, who fought as Priam's ally in the Trojan War, had a particular devotion to this goddess.

In Roman mythology, Rhea was identified with Opi and was defined Magna Mater deorum Idaea.

Rhea, often depicted on a chariot pulled by two lions, has a strong association with Cybele.

PALLANT: 1. Titan son of Crio and Euribia, brother of Perse and d'Astreo. He anointed with Ocean's eldest daughter, Styx, who gave him Zelo (Jealousy), Nike (Victory), Crato (Strength) and Bia (Violence). He fought with the other Giants against Zeus.

PALLANT: 2. Winged giant with the appearance of a goat, son of Gaea and Tartarus, father, according to some authors, of the goddess Athena. He tried to use violence on his own daughter but the goddess, tore off the wings that she applied to her shoulders, and the skin from which she made the aegis, added the name of Pallas to her own, unless, as others claim, the aegis had not been made with the skin of the Gorgon Medusa, which Athena skinned after Perseus beheaded her.

PALLANT: 3. Son of the Athenian king Pandion, with his brothers Aegeus, Lycus and Niso, he took possession of Attica in the division of the conquered lands that touched the southern part of the peninsula. His fifty sons, the so-called Pallantides, having attempted to overthrow their uncle Aegeus, were defeated by his cousin Theseus, who consolidated his father's throne.

PALLANT: 4. King of Arcadia, son of Lycaon and ancestor of Evander, who, according to tradition, was the son of Aegeus and emigrated to Arcadia after being driven out of Athens by his brother. In Arcadia he would have founded the city of Pallanzio, from where Evandro would have moved for the colonization of Lazio.

PALLANT: 5. Son of the arcade Evander sent by his father to help Aeneas with 400 knights, he was killed by Turnus. He was buried with great honors on the Palatine Hill and Aeneas made him celebrate a solemn funeral and avenged him by defeating and killing his successor. He was considered the first young hero to fall for the magnificence of Rome.

PALLANTIDI: they were the 50 sons of Pallante, brother of Aegeus king of Athens. They had their headquarters in Pallanteo (a city founded by their father). Pallante and his fifty sons, who have long argued that Aegeus was not a true Eretteid nor could claim the throne, openly rebelled when they saw their hopes of ruling in Athens threatened by their cousin Theseus. They divided their forces: Pallante with twenty-five of his sons marched on the city starting from Sfetto, while the other twenty-five prepared an ambush at Gargetto to take the enemies from behind. But Theseus, informed by a herald named Leo, of the Agni tribe, leapt upon the lurking warriors and exterminated them. When Theseus succeeded his father Aegeus on the throne of Athens, he strengthened his power by putting to death almost all his rivals, save Pallante and how many of his fifty children had survived. A few years later, however, he also killed them as a precaution. To atone for this killing of the Pallantides, it was said that Theseus had been exiled from Athens and had to spend a year in Trezene.

PAN: He is a particular god, in fact he is the only one who is not immortal. God of shepherds and flocks, god of woods, fields and fertility. Some say that Hermes generated Pan in Driope or in the nymph Aenis or in Penelope, wife of Odysseus, whom he covered in the form of a ram or in the goat Amalthea. Pan is said to have been so ugly to look at when he was born, with horns, beard and goat feet. His mother fled in terror, but his father took him to Olympus, where he was called Pan because his strange appearance had cheered all the gods. Still others want Pan to be the son of Cronus and Rhea or Zeus and Ibris, although this is the most unlikely version.
Growing up in Arcadia, he enjoyed life in the woods, where he lived together with the nymphs Oreadi, the Satyrs and his sons called Breads or Panischi. He was, on the whole, lazy and good-natured, helping anyone who needed him. He liked nothing more than the afternoon siesta and he took revenge on those who came to disturb him by throwing a scream from the bottom of a cave or from the depths of a wood that created panic fear. It is also said that Pan frightened the Giants during the battle against the gods with a great scream that terrified them. He also enjoyed the dance and the sound of the bagpipe, the musical instrument of the shepherds, of which he was credited with inventing. Indeed, it was said that, in love with a nymph. called Syringe, chased her through the mountains when she was about to be reached, the nymph reached the river Ladone desperately realized that she could not cross it and invoked the help of Gaea, who transformed her into a marsh reed: the sound that came out of it when the wind blew he suggested to the Nume the idea of ​​forming a musical instrument. Pan then cut the reed into pieces of different lengths which he tied together and, from the name of the nymph, called Syringe (in Greek = zanpogna).
A great lover of sex, he had numerous adventures with various nymphs including Echo, who gave him Iunce, and Eufeme, nurse of the Muses, who gave him Croto, the Sagittarius of the Zodiac. He had an unhappy love for Narcissus. Pan also boasted of having mated with all the drunken Maenads of Dionysus. One day he tried to seduce the chaste Piti, who only managed to escape him by transforming herself into a fig tree, and Pan hung a branch around her neck like a scapular. Her greatest love was directed to Selene, but the goddess did not like that dirty and hairy god, so Pan hid her figure under a white and fragrant fleece, Selene not recognizing him accepted to ride him and let him enjoy her as he pleased. .
The Olympians, while despising Pan for his crude manners, exploited his abilities. Apollo learned from him the art of prophecy and Hermes copied the flask that Pan had dropped: he then boasted of having invented it and sold it to Apollo. A myth tells that when the gods chased by Typhon took refuge in Egypt, they changed into animals to hide. Only Athena did not move and rebuked Zeus for his cowardice until he, summing up his true form, confronted Typhon. The monster, however, wrapped him in its thousand coils and cut the tendons of his hands and feet and hid them in the cave of Coricia, in a bearskin near which the guard Delfine, on his sister, was mounted. Hermes and Pan secretly went to the cave, where Pan terrified Delfine with a sudden horrible scream, while Hermes deftly removed the tendons to put them back into Zeus' limbs.
The cult of Pan would enter Attica only after the battle of Marathon. It is said, in fact, that when Fedippides ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for help at the time of the battle of Marathon (490 BC), while crossing Mount Pertenio in Arcadia, he was called by name by the god and asked why the Athenians did not worship him, despite the fact that he had always been generous with them. Then, after the victory of Marathon, from which the Persians fled in "fear of panic", an altar was erected in Athens and sacrifices and festivals were performed in honor of Pan. As the god of the herds, he was responsible for their fertility and for this reason when the herds did not reproduce satisfactorily, a statue of the god was whipped with a scilla. Pan's ordinary attributes are a syringe, a shepherd's staff, a pine wreath, or a pine twig in his hand.
Among the Romans it merged with the god Faun, also protector of pastures and livestock, or with the god of the "groves", Silvano. His paredra was Fauna assimilated to the Bona Dea. The Lupercal festival was later renewed in Pan.

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