Gaia

Gaia, by. Anselm Feuerbach (1875)

The telling of the creation of existence and the rise of the gods is a tale that has survived through the writings of Hesiod, in his epic poem The Theogony. For the ancient Greeks this was their answer to the most fundamental question of existence. And as with all Greek mythology, the story of the creation of the world is shrouded in fantasy and wonder.
 It was said that in the beginning of time there was chaos. Chaos existed without form or purpose. And from chaos there came Gaia who was the earth and who created all the land. She was the primordial being of the earth and she would give birth to the heavens, who was known as Uranus. Gaia and Uranus who were the earth and the sky became husband and wife and together had many children.
The earth, Gaia, gave birth first to the mighty Titans. These creatures were immortal and possessed great strength and power. As Hesiod describes it:

“she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.” – Hesiod, from The Theogony

Gaia then gave birth to the Cyclops’s, who were monstrous creatures with one bulging eye in the center of their foreheads. Then Gaia birthed the hideous  Hecatonchires, who were creatures with broad shoulders, fifty heads, and one hundred arms. Uranus saw the Cyclops’s and the Hecatonchires’s as vile creatures. With the birth of each, he would imprison them away beneath the earth. The imprisonment of her children saddened Gaia and she devised a plan to seek vengeance.
thecyclops

The Cyclops

Gaia gathered her children, the mighty Titans, and told them of her plan to overthrow her husband, Uranus. In Hesiod’s own words, Gaia declares:

`My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.’

However the Titans were very afraid of their father; at first, none would volunteer to overthrow the ruler of the heavens. Then it was Cronus, the youngest of the Titans who hated his father Uranus, who stepped forward to do the deed. Gaia gave to the youngest titan a sickle and told him to lie in wait for his unsuspecting father.

While Cronus hid away from his father,  Uranus was crossing the earth bringing the night. Uranus then appeared before Gaia, planning to lay with her, and it was then that Cronus struck. The young titan approached from behind and used the sickle to cut off the genitals of his father. He then flung them across the earth before they landed in the sea.

cronus and Urans

Cronus attacks Uranus

The blood from the detached member of Uranus mixed with the foam of the ocean. From the mist and the foam rose a beautiful figure. She was a goddess unmatched in beauty and grace, she stepped upon the land and the flowers and vegetation grew around her. She was Aphrodite, one of the original Olympians.

It was said that as Uranus lay bleeding upon the earth as Cronus stood over him. The blood spilled from the now deposed ruler of heaven and mixed with the earth, Gaia. Instantly several creatures were born from Gaia as her husband lay dying.

From this blood sprang the Giants, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs). These creatures sprang from the blood of Uranus and then began to wander the earth.

Cronus was now the king of heaven. He had deposed his father and taken his place as ruler of the universe. However with the dying breath of Uranus, he prophesied a terrible fate for his traitorous son. Uranus predicted that one of Cronus’s children would overthrow him one day, just as he had overthrown his father. The prophecy would hang heavy on the head of the Titan.