37. Τιτάνων, θυμίαμα λίβανον.
To the Titans, Children of Earth and Sky
Divine medium: libanon (incense)
Τιτῆνες, Γαίης τε καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀγλαὰ τέκνα,
Titans, Gaia’s and Ouranos’ glorious children,
ἡμετέρων πρόγονοι πατέρων, γαίης ὑπένερθεν
Our paternal forebears, residing beneath Gaia,
οἴκοις Ταρταρίοισι μυχῶι χθονὸς ἐνναίοντες,
Dwelling in Tartaros’ innermost chthonic dwelling,
ἀρχαὶ καὶ πηγαὶ πάντων θνητῶν πολυμόχθων,
Foundation and font of all mortals’ many hardships.
εἰναλίων, πτηνῶν τε καὶ οἳ χθόνα ναιετάουσιν·
Inhabiting the seas, the air, and the earth,
ἐξ ὑμέων γὰρ πᾶσα πέλει γενεὰ κατὰ κόσμον.
Whence comes forth all that is born by the favor of the cosmos.
ὑμᾶς κικλήσκω μῆνιν χαλεπὴν ἀποπέμπειν,
Let these hymns release wrath grievous and send far off
εἴ τις ἀπὸ χθονίων προγόνων οἴκοις επελάσθη.
Whatever vengeance springs from the chthonic forbears’ homes, drive forth.
Titaino (τῑταίνω) means stretch, stretch out. The name "Titan" may reflect the Titans’ status as the first offspring (τεκνος) of Earth and Sky or it may pertain to their residence in Tartaros which extends as far beneath the earth as the highest point in the sky above it.
Tartaros “is where the sources and limits of the dark earth are…of the barren sea, and of the starry sky, of everything, one after another.”
The Titans are, more or less, almost every deity who isn’t an Olympian.
The original 12 Titans are the first-generation offspring of Gaia (Goddess of Earth) and Ouranos (God of Sky). They are:
- Theia (Θεια), Goddess of divine inspiration
- Themis (Θεμις), Goddess of divine law
- Iapetos (Ιαπετος), God whose son created the human race
- Koios (Κοιος) (aka Polos, Πολος), God of the north pole of heaven
- Krios (Κριως), God of the Ram/Aries/Spring equinox and New Year
- Kronos (Κρονος), God of time
- Mnemosyne (Μνημοσυνη), Goddess of memory
- Rhea (Ρεα), Goddess of flow
- Tethys (Τηθυς), Goddess of fresh water
- Hyperion (Ὑπεριων), God of the upper air
- Phoibe (Φοιβη), Goddess of prophecy
- Okeanos (Ωκεανος), God of the oceans.
The Titans’ immediate offspring are as follows:
- Theia and Hyperion are the parents of:
- Helios (Ἡλιος), God of the sun
- Selene (Σεληνη), Goddess of the moon
- Eos (Ηως), Goddess of the dawn; Eos is the mother of the Gods of the winds: Zephyros (Ζεφυρος), fertilizing west wind, Boreas (Βορεας), north wind, Notos (Νοτος), stormy south wind, and Euros (Ευρος), east wind
- Phoibe and Koios are the parents of:
- Leto (Λητω), Mother of Artemis and Apollo by Zeus
- Asteria (Αστερια), aka Delos (Δηλος), Goddess of shooting stars (asteroids) and the island of Delos; Asteria is the mother of Hecate (Ἑκατη), Goddess of magic and crossroads
- Tethys and Okeanos are parents of:
- Eurynome (Ευρυνομη), Goddess of meadows and pastures; mother (by Zeus) of the Charites (Χαριτες), Goddesses of unearned blessings
- the Nephelai (Νεφελαι), Goddesses of clouds
- the Potamoi (Ποταμοι), Gods of rivers and streams
- Styx (Στυξ), Goddess of the river of unbreakable oaths; mother of Nike (Νικη), Goddess of victory
- Dione (Διωνη), Goddess of the “oracle” at Dodona
- Metis (Μητις), Goddess of wise counsel.
- Mnemosyne is the mother (by Zeus) of:
- the Muses (Μουσαι), Goddesses of inspiration
- Themis (Θεμις) is the mother (by Zeus) of:
- the Moirai (Μοιραι), Goddesses of fate: one’s “portion” of the whole
- the Horai (Ὡραι), Goddesses of the seasons and the natural time for things to occur
- the Nymphs (Νυμφαι), Goddesses who prevail over particular locations in nature
- Krios is the father (by Eurybia (Εὐρῠβία)) of:
- Astraios (Ἀστραῖος), Astraios is the father (by Eos) of the four winds
- Pallas (Παλλάς), Pallas is the father (by Styx) of Zelos (Ζῆλος) “Zeal,” Kratos (Κράτος) “Strength,” Bia (Βία) “Mighty Force,” and Nike (Νίκη) “Victory”
- Perses (Πέρσης), Perses is the father (by Asteria) of Hekate
- Iapetos is the father (by Asia (Ασια)) of:
- Atlas (Ατλας), God who holds up the sky; father of the Pleiades (Πλειαδες) and Hyades (Ὑαδες) Goddess constellations; and father of the Hesperides (Ἑσπεριδες), Goddesses of the sunset
- Prometheus (Προμηθευς), God of forethought who created the human race by mixing earth and water (Hesiod, Theogony (126-138)).
- Rhea and Kronos are the parents of the 12 Olympian deities:
- Athena (Αθηνη), Goddess of immortal (ἀθᾰνᾰτος) renown
- Apollo (Απολλων), God of inspiration
- Ares (Αρης), God of war, slaughter, and plague
- Artemis (Αρτεμις), Goddess of independence
- Aphrodite (Αφροδιτη), Goddess of sexual desire
- Demeter (Δημητηρ), Goddess of agriculture and mother of Persephone (Περσεφονη), Goddess of the afterlife and spring growth
- Dionysos (Διονυσος), God of wine, aka Bacchos (Βακχος)
- Hermes (Ἑρμης), God of communication and travel
- Zeus (Ζευς), God of lightning, rain, and the male fertility principle
- Hera (Ἡρη), Goddess of air (ἠερο)
- Hephaistos (Ἡφαιστος), God of volcanic fire
- Poseidon (Ποσειδων), God of the sea.
According to Barry Powell, “The Titans, whatever their origins, came in general to represent the untamed forces of nature.”
The Kouretes (Κουρῆτες), Giants (Γιγάντες), Cyclopes (Κύκλωπες) (One-Eyed Giants), and Hekatonkheires (Ἑκατονχειρες) (Hundred-Handed Storm Giants) are Titans.
The Titans’ and Olympians’ epic battle may have been an historic cataclysm of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, and meteor hits. It is easy to see how such a conflation of earth-shattering events would be viewed as an all-out war of the Goddesses and Gods.
The Titans’ and Olympians’ 10-year battle in the Titanomachy (Τῑτᾱνομᾰχία) (battle of the Titans), is described by Hesiod as follows:
“They battled continually with one another, their spirits pained with distress, for ten full years; nor was there any resolution for their grievous strife nor an end for either side, but the outcome of the war was evenly balanced.
“…they all roused up dismal battle, the females and the males…both the Titan [Goddesses and G]ods and those who were born from Cronus [the Olympians]. The boundless ocean echoed terribly around them, the great earth crashed, and the broad sky groaned in response as it was shaken…And in this way they hurled their painful shafts against one another; and the noise of both sides reached the starry sky…
“Then Zeus no longer held back his strength, but at once his breast was filled with strength and he manifested his full force. He strode at the same time from the sky and from Olympus, relentlessly hurling lightning bolts, and the thunderbolts, driving forward a sacred flame, flew densely packed, together with the thunder and lightning, all at once from his massive hand. All around, the life-giving earth roared as it burned, and all around the great immense forest crackled; the whole earth boiled, and the streams of Ocean and the barren sea. The hot blast encompassed the earthly Titans, and an immense blaze reached the divine aether, and the brilliant gleam of the lightning bolt and flash blinded their eyes, powerful though they were. A prodigious conflagration took possession of Chasm; and to look upon it with eyes and to hear its sound with ears, it seemed just as when Earth and broad Sky approached from above for this was the kind of great sound that would rise up as she was pressed down and as he pressed down her down from on high—so great a sound was produced as the [Goddesses and G]ods ran together in strife. At the same time, the winds noisily stirred up shuddering dust and thunder and lightning and the blazing thunderbolt, the shafts of great Zeus, and they brought shouting and screaming into the middle between both sides. An immense din of terrifying strife rose up, and the deed of supremacy was made manifest.
“And the battle inclined to one side…
“They sent [the Titans] down under the broad-pathed earth and bound them in distressful bonds after they had gained victory…far down beneath the earth as the sky is above the earth…
“That [Tartarus] is where the Titan [Goddesses and G]ods are hidden…They cannot get out…
“That is where the sources and limits of the dark earth are, and of murky Tartarus, of the barren sea, and of the starry sky, of everything, one after another…a great chasm, whose bottom one would not reach in a whole long year, once one was inside the gates, but one would be borne hither and thither by one distressful blast after another—it is terrible…
“That is where the children of dark Night have their houses, Sleep and Death…
“That is where, in front, stand the echoing houses of…powerful Hades and of dread Persephone…
“That is where the [G]oddess who is loathsome for the immortals, terrible Styx…lives…
“That is where the marble gates are and the bronze threshold, fitted together immovably upon continuous roots; and in front, apart from all the [Goddesses and G]ods, live the Titans, on the far side of the gloomy chasm.”
It is difficult to reconcile the Titans being trapped beneath the earth with the knowledge that the Sun, Moon, Oceans, and even Memory, Law, and Time are all Titan deities. The definition of “Titan” must be considered fluid.
Diodorus of Sicily says the Titans were born in Crete near Knossos “at the place where even to this day men point out foundations of a house of Rhea and a cypress grove which has been consecrated to her from ancient times.” He says the Titans were born of Ouranos (Sky) and Ge (Earth), or, alternatively, of “the Curetes and Titaea, from whom as their mother they derive the name they have.”
Diodorus writes that Kronos, the Titan father of the Olympians, “introduced justice and sincerity” and the people of Kronos’ reign “were good-hearted, altogether guileless, and blest with felicity” and all his subjects “lived a life of blessedness, in the unhindered enjoyment of every pleasure.” Kronos’ reign ended when he was dethroned by his son, Zeus.
Titanos (Τιτάνος) means a white earth (gypsum, chalk, lime), used as plaster and fertilizer.
Clement of Alexandria, a Christian (200 CE), says the Orphics believed that the Titans, coated with white gypsum as a disguise, tore the infant Dionysos (God of wine) limb from limb and boiled and roasted the pieces of his body. When Zeus (God of lightning) saw what was going on he incinerated the Titans with a thunderbolt. Diodorus also says that “Orpheus has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that [Dionysos] was torn in pieces by the Titans.” Jane Ellen Harrison contends that any connection between the Hesiodic Titans and the Orphic tale is patently “late and fictitious.”
Diodorus writes that the Orphic belief that Dionysos was torn limb from limb depicts the grape harvest, “and the boiling of his members has been worked into a myth by reason of the fact that most men (sic) boil the wine and then mix it, thereby improving its natural aroma and quality.” Diodorus says that the restoration of Dionysos to his former state “shows forth that the vine, which has been stripped of its fruit and pruned at the yearly seasons, is restored by the earth to the high level of fruitfulness which it had before…And with these stories the teachings agree which are set forth in the Orphic poems and are introduced into their rites, but it is not lawful to recount them in detail to the uninitiated.”
Other Orphic myths report that Zeus created humans from the ashes of the Titans.
Chthonos means beneath the earth, literally foundation (χ) + divine (θ) + ονὸς.
 Hesiod, Theogony 721.
 Hesiod, Theogony (trans. Most) (736). Loeb Classcial Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2006.
 Barry Powell, Classical Myth Prentice-Hall, New Jersey 2001, p. 94.
 Hesiod, Theogony (trans. Most) (632-638 and 664-811) (Loeb Classcial Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2006.
 Diodorus of Sicily 5.66.1-2.
 Diodorus of Sicily 5.66.4-6.
 Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus 2.15.
 Diodorus of Sicily 5.75.4.
 Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 493-494.
 Diodorus of Sicily 3.62.7-8.