The Theogony is one 8th-century BCE didactic and instructional poem, credited to the Greek poet Hesiod. The Theogony was, at first, no actually created down, rather, it was component of a wealthy oral legacy which only completed written form decades later. The Theogony traces the background of the civilization from its development through the fight between the Olympians and also the Titans come the ascension the Zeus as the absolute ruler of all of the Olympian gods. With the increase of Zeus come supremacy and the birth of his many children, the poem ends and does not deal with the ongoing struggles in between mankind and also the gods. Much of what is known today worrying early Greek mythology originates from Hesiod"s work and that other good Greek poet Homer. Collectively, their works would serve as a major influence on later on Greek literature and also drama, and also Roman mythology, specifically through the epic Metamorphoses by Ovid.

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The Theogony (from the Greek theogonia, meaning "generations of the gods") is one epic poem of 1,022 hexameter lines which describes the bear of the god in the Greek pantheon. It is assumed to have been written c. 700 BCE (give or take a generation either next of that date). Tiny is recognized of Hesiod"s life. His dad emigrated native Cyme in Asia minor and worked out in Boeotia, a small state in main Greece. The is assumed the the poet was a farmer; a fact garnered indigenous the early verses the the Theogony. That may additionally have to be a rhapsodist, a reciter of poetry, where he learned the an approach and vocabulary of heroic songs.

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Although there are some who inquiry whether or not Hesiod actually composed the Theogony, most classicists believe he did. However, components of the occupational may have actually been added by later poets and there is a definite similarity in some elements to previously Mesopotamian literature. The chronicler Dorothea Wender believes the the Theogony was an earlier work than Works and Days, the other job-related attributed come Hesiod. She considers the latter to it is in a better work, and also while the Theogony seems to it is in unpolished, the author could have had an obstacle with composed composition.

a distinctive Greek religion was developed. This faith was always complex and never regular in all its details; still, its view of man and also the world lies in ~ the center of Greek culture. (123)

Hesiod was influential on timeless Greek literature and also philosophy, his Prometheus story, because that example, motivating such playwrights together Aeschylus (c. 525 - c. 456 BCE). His poetic format was lot imitated, particularly in Hellenistic times and in roman times - both the Republic and Imperial Rome - when Hesiod"s works ongoing to it is in recited and collection to music. The good Roman writer Ovid (43 BCE - 17 CE) would certainly use countless of the themes of the Theogony in his Metamorphoses.


Portrait of Hesiod
Carole Raddato (CC BY-NC-SA)

Homer vs Hesiod

In the arrival to she translation of the Theogony, Wender compared the god of Homer to those of Hesiod. Although Homer"s Olympians might not have actually been admirable ethically - they lied, cheated, and stole - they to be still civilized. Homer erased your sins through no mention of any "primitive behavior." However, Hesiod made no effort to "whitewash the mythological previous in state of contemporary standards v one exception. The exception is Zeus, the hero the the poem, who omniscience, power and also justice room stressed in ~ every opportunity" (17). Homer"s epics were written for one upper-class audience if Hesiod"s works were an ext pedestrian. In addition, "… Hesiod has permitted his people of primitive gods and chaotic forces to remain primitive and chaotic" (17).

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Hymn come the Muses

In the opened lines of the poem, Hesiod gives credit to the nine Muses, who came to him while he to be tending his sheep, for having taught him to sing. Speak of self in the 3rd person, Hesiod wrote:

The Muses once taught Hesiod come singSweet songs, when he to be shepherding his lambsOn holy Helicon; the goddessesOlympian, daughters the Zeus who holdsThe aegis, first addressed this words come me:"You rustic shepherds, shame: belies you areNot men!" (23-24)


breathed a spiritual voice into my mouthWith which come celebrate the things to comeAnd points which were before. (24)

He was instructed through the Muses to speak of those who will "live forever." Hesiod, thus, paid homage come the gods v a hymn come the nine Muses who had actually told the poet of time past. It to be a time before the job of Zeus when the planet was born the end of Chaos. They spoke of the increase of their father Zeus to the throne on mountain Olympus after ~ his loss of his own father, Kronos (Cronus):

We start then, with the Muses, that delightWith track the mighty mind of dad ZeusWithin Olympus, informing of things that areThat will be, and that were, through voices joinedIn harmony. The sweet sound flows from mouthsThat never tire; the halls of father ZeusThe Thunderer, bright gladly once the pureVoice of the goddesses is scattered forth. (24)

Hesiod continues by hearing just how the Muses celebrated both the "august gyeongju of the first-born gods" and also Zeus, the dad of both the gods and also men. They phone call him exactly how Zeus eventually defeated Kronos and divided power among the other gods, most substantially with his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Hesiod tells of exactly how Zeus became supreme,

for he had actually beaten his father, Kronos, by forceAnd now divided power amongst the godsFairly, and gave suitable rank to each. (25)


Luis Fernández García (Public Domain)

Birth the the Gods

After the hymn come the Muses, Hesiod describes the bear of the gods. That asks the Muses to "give me sweet song" to tell

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how the gods and earth occurred at firstAnd rivers and also the boundless swollen seaAnd glowing stars, and also the large heaven aboveAnd exactly how the gods split up their wealthand how they mutual their honours, how they firstCaptured Olympus v its countless folds. (26)

They speak of Chaos and how native Chaos come night and day. From Chaos came earth (Gaia) that bore heaven or skies (Ouranos) as well as other children including Eros (Desire), Tartarus (Underworld), Erebus (Darkness), and Nyx (Night). From Nyx would certainly come Doom, Dreams, Discord, Blame, and Sleep.

Hesiod speaks of how Nyx also gave birth to the Destines and the merciless Fates,

who track down the guilty of menAnd gods, and also ever stop from awful rageUntil they give the sinner punishment. (30)

However, from the "marriage" that Earth and Sky come the "crooked-scheming Kronos," the adversary of his father. Every one of the sons of Earth and also Heaven - who would end up being known as the Titans - to be hated through their jealousy father native the moment of your birth. ~ each son was born, Ouranos would hide the babe deep in the planet away native the light. However, their grief-stricken mother had a setup to repay his wicked crime. One evening, once Ouranos approached his wife, a hiding Kronos emerged and also took a long-bladed sickle (given to him through his mother) and also castrated his father. The dripping blood provided birth come both the Furies and also the Giants. The severed genitals were thrown into the sea from which Aphrodite, the goddess that love, to be born.

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Aside indigenous the rise of Zeus and the battle with the Titans, lot of the city is spent on the bear of a variety of minor deities, amongst them Protho, Eukrante, Thetis, Hippothoe, and Cymatolege. Hesiod likewise tells the the marital relationship of Thaumas and also Electra, who provided birth come the Harpies. Hesiod climate speaks the the Gorgons and also Medusa,

…she who endured painfullyHer sisters were immortal, always youngBut she was mortal, and also the Dark-haired one. (32)

According come legend, Medusa would die in ~ the hands of Perseus (another boy of Zeus), and also when the severed her head,

… an excellent Chrysaor sprang outAnd Pegasus the horse, who is for this reason calledBecause his birth close to to Ocean"s springs. (32)

The poet speak of the "unspeakable Cerberus,"

who eats life fleshThe bronze-voiced hound of Hades, shameless, strongWith fifty heads. (33)

He wrote of the Hydra, Chimera, and also the Nemean lion that would certainly be beat by the hero Hercules, the son of Zeus. Then there to be the bear of Hekate (Hecate) daughter of Phoebe and also granddaughter the the Titans,

who, above allIs honoured through the son of Kronos, ZeusHe offered her glorious gifts: a share of earthAnd of the barren sea. In starry heavenShe has actually her place, and the immortal godsRespect she greatly. (36)


Head that Zeus, Artemesium Bronze

Zeus & Kronos

Finally, Hesiod involves the bear of Zeus:

...father of gods and menWhose thunder provides the broad earth tremble. (38)

Rhea next offered birth to Hestia, Demeter, Hera, and Hades,

who has his residence beneath the earthThe god whose love is pitiless, and himWho crashes loudly and who shakes the earth. (38)

However, Kronos seized each child and also swallowed them, except, that course, Zeus who was stolen far by his mom to it is in reared in secret on the island the Crete. Kronos had actually learned from Earth and also Heaven the his destiny was to be toppled by one of his own. He believed that no one need to be remarkable to the gods other than himself. After ~ the future king that the gods changed from his hiding place, that would rise up versus his father and also castrate him. Wender wrote that Hesiod did no dwell on Zeus"s attack of his father - not discussing the castration - for he walk not want the hero of the city to show disrespect of a parent.

Atlas & Prometheus

Later, the poet introduces various other notable numbers of Greek mythology such as the offspring that the Titans. One of these, Atlas,

forced by tough necessityHolds the large heaven up, propped ~ above his headAnd tireless hands, at the ends of Earth. (39)


Hercules and also Atlas
Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA)

Next, there to be the bear of the "brilliant" Prometheus. However, Prometheus had actually angered the mighty dad of the gods. He had tried to cheat Zeus and had steal a ray of fire and also given it come humanity, yet Zeus go not desire them to have actually fire. For this deception, the great god would have his revenge, and Prometheus

was bound by ZeusIn cruel chains, unbreakable, chained roundA pillar, and Zeus roused and collection on himAn eagle with lengthy wings, which came and ateHis deathless liver. But the liver grewEach night, till it made up the amountThe long-winged bird had consumed in the day. (40)

Hercules, child of Alcmene and Zeus, would certainly later complimentary Prometheus indigenous his chains.

The very first Woman

In one more important, if blatantly misogynistic episode, a young mrs is created. Although not named, she was dressed through Athena in silver robes and also from her

comes all the race of womankindThe deadly female race and tribe the wivesWho live v mortal men and bring castle harmNo aid to lock in disastrous povertyBut ready enough to share with them in wealth. (42)

Later Greek mythology speaks of Pandora, the wife of Epimetheus, who opens up Pandora"s Box, an action that brought evil to the world. However, Pandora, by name, is not mentioned until Hesiod"s later work, the Works and Days. Hesiod created that a woman was poor for a man because she conspires. If a man stays clear of marriage and also the obstacles it brings, he will be miserable in his old age due to the fact that there will certainly not it is in anyone to care for him; his family members will division his property upon his death. However, a married male with a an excellent wife gets both great and negative but resides his whole life in everlasting pain.


The Titan Oceanus
Mary Harrsch (CC BY-NC-SA)

The battle with the Titans

Long ago, a jealous and also envious Ouranos had actually bound 3 of his young - the Giants Kottos, Gyes, and also Briateus - and

made castle live in ~ the broad-pathed earthAnd there they suffered, living undergroundFarthest away, at an excellent earth"s edge; lock grievedFor numerous years, with an excellent pain in their hearts. (43)

However, Zeus to be able to free them and also a battle ensued between the Olympian gods, aided by the Giants, and the Titans. The war in between the god of Olympus and the Titans would certainly last for ten years.

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They joined in hateful battle, all of themBoth male and also female. Titan gods and thoseWhom Kronos sired and also those who Zeus had broughtTo irradiate from Erebos. Beneath the EarthStrange, mighty ones, whose power was immense. (45)

The battle continued until

Zeus no much longer checked his rage, because that nowHis heart to be filled with fury, and also he showedThe full selection of his strength. (45)

The Titans to be defeated and also sent to Tartarus deep in ~ the earth. Those Giants Zeus had actually freed and fought alongside the Olympians to be rewarded for your loyalty.

The youngsters of Zeus

The remainder the the city is involved with Zeus and the bear of his many children. His an initial wife was Metis, who bore him Athena. Through Leto, that sired the pair Apollo and also Artemis, the huntress. With Hera, his sister, Hebe, Ares, and Eileithuia to be born. Come Hera, "without the act of love" the limping god Hephaistos to be born. From Mnemosyne came the ripe Muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania, and Calliope. After discussing the countless sons and daughters of Zeus"s offspring Hesiod ends his city by saying,

These room the goddesses who lay v menAnd boring them youngsters who were favor the godsNow sing of women, MusesYou sweet-voicedOlympian daughters that aegis-bearing Zeus. (57)