Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Greek Gods and Goddesses

The Twelve Olympian Gods (THE OLYMPIANS. These twelve immortals dwelt in a magnificent palace on the heights of Mount Olympus, from which they took their name).

The Twelve Olympians, in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. There were, at various times, fourteen different gods recognized as Olympians, though never more than twelve at one time. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis are always considered Olympians. Hestia, Demeter, Dionysus, and Hades are the variable gods among the Twelve. Hestia gave up her position as an Olympian to Dionysus in order to live among mankind (eventually she was assigned the role of tending the fire on Mount Olympus). Persephone spent six months of the year in the underworld (causing winter), and was allowed to return to Mount Olympus for the other six months in order to be with her mother, Demeter. And, although Hades was always one of the principal Greek gods, his home in the underworld of the dead made his connection to the Olympians more tenuous. The Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings; all other Olympians (with the exception of foam-born Aphrodite) are usually considered the children of Zeus by various mothers, except for Athena, who in some versions of the myth was born of Zeus alone. Additionally, some versions of the myth state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone as Hera's revenge for Zeus' solo birth of Athena.

ZEUS (zoose or zyoose; Roman name Jupiter) was the supreme god of the Olympians. He was the father of the heroes Perseus and Heracles, the latter of whom once wrestled him to a draw.

Zeus was the youngest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. When he was born, his father Cronus intended to swallow him as he had all of Zeus's siblings: Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. But Rhea hid the newborn in a cave on Mount Dicte in Crete. (To this day, the guides at the "cave of Zeus" use their flashlights to cast shadow puppets in the cave, creating images of baby Zeus from the myth.)

When he had grown up, Zeus caused Cronus to vomit up his sisters and brothers, and these gods joined him in fighting to wrest control of the universe from the Titans and Cronus, their king. Having vanquished his father and the other Titans, Zeus imprisoned most of them in the underworld of Tartarus.

Then he and his brothers Poseidon and Hades divided up creation. Poseidon received the sea as his domain, Hades got the Underworld and Zeus took the sky. Zeus also was accorded supreme authority on earth and on Mount Olympus.

HERA (HEE-ruh; Roman name Juno) was the goddess of marriage. Hera was the wife of Zeus and Queen of the Olympians.

Hera hated the great hero Heracles since he was the son of her husband Zeus and a mortal woman. When he was still an infant, she sent snakes to attack him in his crib. Later she stirred up the Amazons against him when he was on one of his quests.

On the other hand, Hera aided the hero Jason, who would never have retrieved the Golden Fleece without her sponsorship.

In Greek mythology, Hera was the reigning female goddess of Olympus because she was Zeus's wife. But her worship is actually far older than that of her husband. It goes back to a time when the creative force we call "God" was conceived of as a woman. The Goddess took many forms, among them that of a bird.

Hera was worshipped throughout Greece, and the oldest and most important temples were consecrated to her. Her subjugation to Zeus and depiction as a jealous shrew are mythological reflections of one of the most profound changes ever in human spirituality.

Tens of thousands of years ago, as the evidence of cave art and artifacts makes clear, humanity was focused on the female body, either pregnant or fit to bear children. Childbirth was the closest humans came to the great power that caused the earth to bring forth new life in the spring. To the extent that these distant ancestors of ours were evolved enough to think of worshipping this power, we may safely conclude that they thought of it as female.

Thousands of years later (and some five to nine thousand years before our own time), the European descendants of these people lived in large villages, with specialized crafts and religious institutions. It is clear from the artifacts they left behind that they worshipped a power (or a group of powers) that came in many forms--a bird, a snake, perhaps the earth itself. And this great power was female. For the human female has the ability to procreate--to bring forth new life.

It is said that it was only when humanity discovered man's role in procreation that male gods began to be worshipped. There is no reason to doubt, though, that male gods were worshipped before the mystery of birth was fully known. In all probability the greatest powers were thought of as female but there were male deities as well. And it is clear that even after procreation was properly understood, the more peaceful Europeans--perhaps down to the "Minoans" of Crete--continued to worship the Great Mother.

And there were many peaceful Europeans. Many of the largest villages of that distant era were unfortified. The culture known as "Old European" did not fear aggression from its neighbors. But then things changed and a great period of violence began. Invaders swept into Europe from the vast central plains of Asia. They brought the Indo-European language family that today includes French, Italian, Spanish and English. They also brought a sky god, the supreme male deity that in Greek mythology became known as Zeus.

Little is known of these early Indo-Europeans, but the peaceful settlements of Old Europe were no match for them. In some places their new culture became supreme, in others there was merger. Hardier mountain folk resisted, though many were displaced from their strongholds, moved on and displaced others in a domino effect. The Dorian invasion of Mycenaean Greece can be seen as a result of this chain reaction.

The old order seems to have held out longest on Crete where, protected by the Aegean Sea from invasion by land, the high Minoan civilization survived until almost three thousand years ago. Abruptly, then, from the perspective of human existence, the gender of the greatest power changed from female to male. And many of the stories that form the basis of Greek mythology were first told in their present form not long after the shift.

Zeus's many adulterous affairs may derive from ceremonies in which the new sky god "married" various local embodiments of the Great Goddess. That there was some insecurity on the part of the supplanter god and his worshippers is seen in the mythological birth of Athena from Zeus's head--as if to say that the sky god could do anything any Great Goddess could do.

This Goddess continued to be worshipped in some form down into historical times. Her worship is sometimes dismissed as a "fertility cult", largely because religious practices degenerated under new influences. But we may look for traces in the myths of the old order, in which Athena, whose name is pre-Greek, was the Goddess herself.

Under the influence of the Indo-Europeans, this bird goddess became the chief deity of war. Her earlier guise may be glimpsed in Athena's symbol, the owl, which derives from the preceding thousands of years of sacred bird imagery.

APHRODITE (a-fro-DYE-tee; Roman name Venus) was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. She was also a protectress of sailors.

The poet Hesiod said that Aphrodite was born from sea-foam. Homer, on the other hand, said that she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

When the Trojan prince Paris was asked to judge which of three Olympian goddesses was the most beautiful, he chose Aphrodite over Hera and Athena. The latter two had hoped to bribe him with power and victory in battle, but Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.

This was Helen of Sparta, who became infamous as Helen of Troy when Paris subsequently eloped with her. In the ensuing Trojan War, Hera and Athena were implacable enemies of Troy while Aphrodite was loyal to Paris and the Trojans.


In his epic of the Trojan War, Homer tells how Aphrodite intervened in battle to save her son Aeneas, a Trojan ally. The Greek hero Diomedes, who had been on the verge of killing Aeneas, attacked the goddess herself, wounding her on the wrist with his spear and causing the ichor to flow. (Ichor is what immortals have in the place of blood.)

Aphrodite promptly dropped Aeneas, who was rescued by Apollo, another Olympian sponsor of the Trojans. In pain she sought out her brother Ares, the god of war who stood nearby admiring the carnage, and borrowed his chariot so that she might fly up to Olympus. There she goes crying to her mother Dione, who soothes her and cures her wound. Her father Zeus tells her to leave war to the likes of Ares and Athena, while devoting herself to the business of marriage.

Elsewhere in Homer's Iliad , Aphrodite saves Paris when he is about to be killed in single combat by Menelaus. The goddess wraps him in a mist and spirits him away, setting him down in his own bedroom in Troy. She then appears to Helen in the guise of an elderly handmaiden and tells her that Paris is waiting for her.

Helen recognizes the goddess in disguise and asks if she is being led once more to ruin. For Aphrodite had bewitched her into leaving her husband Menelaus to run off with Paris. She dares to suggest that Aphrodite go to Paris herself.

Suddenly furious, the goddess warns Helen not to go too far, lest she be abandoned to the hatred of Greeks and Trojans alike. "I'll hate you," says the mercurial goddess, "as much as I love you now."

Even though Zeus's queen Hera and Aphrodite are on different sides in the Trojan War, the goddess of love loans Hera her magical girdle in order to distract Zeus from the fray. This garment has the property of causing men (and gods) to fall hopelessly in love with whoever is wearing it.

Homer calls Aphrodite "the Cyprian", and many of her attributes may have come from Asia via Cyprus (and Cythera) in Mycenaean times. These almost certainly mixed with a preexisting Hellenic or Aegean goddess. The ancient Greeks themselves felt that Aphrodite was both Greek and foreign.


Aphrodite involved herself on other occasions in the affairs of mortal heroes. When Jason asked permission of the king of Colchis to remove the Golden Fleece from the grove in which it hung, the king was clearly unwilling. So the goddess Hera, who sponsored Jason's quest, asked her fellow-Olympian Aphrodite to intervene. The love goddess made the king's daughter Medea fall in love with Jason, and Medea proved instrumental in Jason's success.


Another time, Zeus punished Aphrodite for beguiling her fellow gods into inappropriate romances. He caused her to become infatuated with the mortal Anchises. That's how she came to be the mother of Aeneas. She protected this hero during the Trojan War and its aftermath, when Aeneas quested to Italy and became the mythological founder of a line of Roman emperors.

A minor Italic goddess named Venus became identified with Aphrodite, and that's how she got her Roman name. It is as Venus that she appears in the Aeneiad , the poet Virgil's epic of the founding of Rome.

And on still another occasion,


The love goddess was married to the homely craftsman-god Hephaestus. She was unfaithful to him with Ares, and Homer relates in the Odyssey how Hephaestus had his revenge.


Elsewhere in classical art she has no distinctive attributes other than her beauty. Flowers and vegetation motifs suggest her connection to fertility.

Aphrodite was associated with the dove. Another of her sacred birds was the goose, on which she is seen to ride in a vase painting from antiquity.

Hesiod's reference to Aphrodite's having been born from the sea inspired the Renaissance artist Botticelli's famous painting of the goddess on a giant scallop shell. Equally if not better known is the Venus de Milo, a statue which lost its arms in ancient times.


The ancient travel writer Pausanias describes a number of statues of Aphrodite dressed for battle, many of them in Sparta. Given the manner in which the militaristic Spartans raised their girls, it is not surprising that they conceived of a female goddess in military attire. She also would have donned armaments to defend cities, such as Corinth, who adopted her as their patroness. This is not to say that she was a war goddess, although some have seen her as such and find significance in her pairing with the war god Ares in mythology and worship.

The two most recent editions of "The Oxford Classical Dictionary" are at variance over this aspect of the goddess. The 1970 edition sees her as a goddess of war and traces this to her Oriental roots. It is true that she has resemblances to Astarte, who is a goddess of war as well as fertility.

The 1996 edition of "The Oxford Classical Dictionary", on the other hand, offers several counterarguments. It sees her being paired with Ares, for instance, not because they are similarly warlike but precisely because love and war are opposites.

In any case, Aphrodite's primary function was to preside over reproduction, since this was essential for the survival of the community.

APOLLO (uh-POL-oh; Roman name Apollo) was the god of prophesy, music and healing.

Like most of his fellow Olympians, Apollo did not hesitate to intervene in human affairs. It was he who brought about the demise of the mighty Achilles. Of all the heroes besieging the city of Troy in the Trojan War, Achilles was the best fighter by far. He had easily defeated the Trojan captain Hector in single combat. But Apollo helped Hector's brother Paris slay Achilles with an arrow.

When someone died suddenly, he was said to have been struck down by one of Apollo's arrows. Homer's epic of the Trojan War begins with the god causing a plague by raining arrows down upon the Greek camp.

As god of music, Apollo is often depicted playing the lyre. He did not invent this instrument, however, but was given it by Hermes in compensation for cattle theft. Some say that Apollo did invent the lute, although he was best known for his skill on the lyre.

He won several musical contests by playing this instrument. In one case he bested Pan, who competed on his own invention, the shepherd's pipe. On this occasion, King Midas had the bad sense to say that he preferred Pan's music, which caused Apollo to turn his ears into those of an ass.

ATHENA (a-THEE-nuh; Roman name Minerva) was the goddess of crafts and the domestic arts and also those of war. She was the patron goddess of Athens. Her symbol was the owl. She was originally the Great Goddess in the form of a bird. By the late Classic, she had come to be regarded as a goddess of wisdom

Zeus was once married to Metis, a daughter of Ocean who was renowned for her wisdom. When Metis became pregnant, Zeus was warned by Earth that a son born to Metis would overthrow him, just as he had usurped his own father's throne.

So Zeus swallowed Metis. In time he was overcome with a splitting headache and summoned help from the craftsman god Hephaestus (or, some say, the Titan Prometheus). Hephaestus cleaved Zeus's forehead with an ax, and Athena sprang forth fully armed.

(Click here for image)

The poet Hesiod tells the story to account for Zeus's great wisdom, since he can be said to have literally incorporated Metis. One can also read into the myth wishful thinking on the part of the mythmakers who replaced the worship of the Great Goddess, mother of all growing things, for that of the male sky-god Zeus. Zeus gave birth to Athena himself, as if to say, Who needs a woman in order to bring forth new life?

Athena aided the heroes Perseus, Jason, Cadmus, Odysseus and Heracles in their quests.

Both Athena and Poseidon wanted to be patron deity of Athens. To prove her worthiness for the honor, Athena caused an olive tree to spring up on the citadel of Athens, the Acropolis. Poseidon sought to outdo her by striking the ground with his trident and causing a spring of water to gush forth. But as he was god of the sea, the water was salty. Athena's gift to the Athenians was considered to be more useful, so she became the city's patron deity.

Athena sponsored Perseus in his quest to slay Medusa because she wanted the Gorgon's head to decorate her shield.

HERMES (HUR-meez; Roman name Mercury) was the messenger of the gods and guide of dead souls to the Underworld. A prankster and inventive genius from birth, Hermes aided the heroes Odysseus and Perseus in their quests.

Hermes was the son Zeus and a mountain nymph. As a newborn he was remarkably precocious. On his very first day of life, he found the empty shell of a tortoise and perceived its utility as a sounding chamber. Stringing sinews across it, he created the first lyre.

Hermes was known for his helpfulness to mankind, both in his capacity as immortal herald and on his own initiative. When Perseus set out to face the Gorgon Medusa, Hermes aided him in the quest. According to one version of the myth, he loaned the hero his own magic sandals, which conferred upon the wearer the ability to fly.

Some say that Hermes loaned Perseus a helmet of invisibility as well. Also known as the helmet of darkness, this was the same headgear that Hermes himself had worn when he vanquished the giant Hippolytus. This was on the occasion when the gargantuan sons of Earth rose up in revolt against the gods of Olympus.

Hermes' symbol of office as divine messenger was his staff, or caduceus. This was originally a willow wand with entwined ribbons, traditional badge of the herald. But the ribbons were eventually depicted as snakes. To support this mythologically, a story evolved that Hermes used the caduceus to separate two fighting snakes which forthwith twined themselves together in peace.

It was Hermes' job to convey dead souls to the Underworld. And as patron of travelers, he was often shown in a wide-brimmed sun hat of straw. Hermes was known to the Romans as Mercury. His most famous depiction, a statue by Bellini, shows him alight on one foot, wings at his heels, the snaky caduceus in hand and, on his head, a rather stylized combination helmet-of-darkness and sun hat.

DEMETER (dee-MEE-tur; Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of agriculture. Demeter as the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone.

Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow one day when a huge crack opened up in the earth and Hades, King of the Dead, emerged from the Underworld. He seized Persephone and carried her off in his chariot, back down to his his realm below, where she became his queen. Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the length and breadth of the earth in search of her daughter, during which time the crops withered and it became perpetual winter.

At length Hades was persuaded to surrender Persephone for one half of every year, the spring and summer seasons when flowers bloom and the earth bears fruit once more. The half year that Persephone spends in the Underworld as Hades' queen coincides with the barren season.

When depicted in art, Demeter is often shown carrying a sheaf of grain.

HEPHAESTUS (he-FEE-stus or he-FESS-tus; Roman name Vulcan) was the lame god of fire and crafts or the two together, hence of blacksmiths. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera or, in some accounts, of Hera alone. He limped because he was born lame, which caused his mother to throw him off Mount Olympus. Or in other accounts he interceded in a fight between Zeus and Hera, and Zeus took him by the foot and threw him from Olympus to the earth far below.

Hephaestus accomplished numerous prodigies of craftsmanship, such as the marvelous palaces that he built for the gods atop Mount Olympus, or the armor that he made for Achilles during the siege of Troy (the description of which occupies a great many lines of Homer's epic of the Trojan War).

Hephaestus also created the first woman, Pandora, at the command of Zeus, in retaliation for the various tricks by which the Titan Prometheus had benefited mortal men at the expense of the gods. Pandora was given to the Titan's brother, Epimetheus, as his wife. For her dowry she brought a jar filled with evils from which she removed the lid, thereby afflicting men for the first time with hard work and sickness. Only hope remained inside the jar.

ARES (AIR-eez; Roman name Mars) was the god of war, or more precisely of warlike frenzy. Though an immortal deity, he was bested by Heracles in battle and was almost killed when stuffed into a jar by two giants. When another hero wounded him during the Trojan War, he received scant sympathy from his father Zeus.

In appearance, Ares was handsome and cruel. He is often depicted carrying a bloodstained spear. His throne on Mount Olympus was said to be covered in human skin.

The Roman god Mars, with whom Ares was identified, was the father of Romulus and Remus, the mythological founders of Rome. Thus he was more important to the Romans than his Greek counterpart. He was also more dignified.

ARTEMIS (AR-ti-mis; Roman name Diana) was the virgin goddess of the hunt. She helped women in childbirth but also brought sudden death with her arrows.

Artemis and her brother Apollo were the children of Zeus and Leto. In some versions of their myth, Artemis was born first and helped her mother to deliver Apollo.

Niobe, queen of Thebes, once boasted that she was better than Leto because she had many children while the goddess had but two. Artemis and Apollo avenged this insult to their mother by killing all or most of Niobe's children with their arrows. The weeping Niobe was transformed into stone, in which form she continued to weep.

When Apollo noticed that Artemis was spending a great deal of time hunting with the giant Orion, he decided to put an end to the relationship. He challenged Artemis to prove her skill at archery by shooting at an object floating far out at sea. Her shot was perfect. The target turned out to be the head of Orion.

Artemis is generally depicted as a young woman clad in buckskins, carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. She is often accompanied by wild creatures such as a stag or she-bear.

DIONYSUS (dye-oh-NYE-sus; Roman name Bacchus) was the god of wine. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and the mortal heroine Semele.

Dionysus rescued Ariadne after she had been abandoned by Theseus. Dionysus also saved his mother from the Underworld, after Zeus showed her his true nature as storm god and consumed her in lightning.

It was Dionysus who granted Midas the power to turn whatever he touched into gold, then was kind enough to take the power back when it proved inconvenient.

POSEIDON (puh-SYE-dun or poh-SYE-dun; Roman name Neptune) was the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses. Although he was officially one of the supreme gods of Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in his watery domain.

Poseidon was brother to Zeus and Hades. These three gods divided up creation. Zeus was ruler of the sky, Hades had dominion of the Underworld and Poseidon was given all water, both fresh and salt.

Although there were various rivers personified as gods, these would have been technically under Poseidon's sway. Similarly, Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea, wasn't really considered on a par with Poseidon, who was known to drive his chariot through the waves in unquestioned dominance. Poseidon had married Nereus's daughter, the sea-nymph Amphitrite.

In dividing heaven, the watery realm and the subterranean land of the dead, the Olympians agreed that the earth itself would be ruled jointly, with Zeus as king. This led to a number of territorial disputes among the gods. Poseidon vied with Athena to be patron deity of Athens. The god demonstrated his power and benevolence by striking the Acropolis with his three-pronged spear, which caused a spring of salt water to emerge.

Athena, however, planted an olive tree, which was seen as a more useful favor. Her paramount importance to the Athenians is seen in her magnificent temple, the Parthenon, which still crowns the Acropolis. The people of Athens were careful, all the same, to honor Poseidon as well (as soon as his anger calmed down and he withdrew the flood of seawater with which he ravaged the land after his loss in the contest with Athena).

Poseidon was father of the hero Theseus, although the mortal Aegeus also claimed this distinction. Theseus was happy to have two fathers, enjoying the lineage of each when it suited him. Thus he became king of Athens by virtue of being Aegeus's son, but availed himself of Poseidon's parentage in facing a challenge handed him by King Minos of Crete. This monarch threw his signet ring into the depths of the sea and dared Theseus to retrieve it. The hero dove beneath the waves and not only found the ring but was given a crown by Poseidon's wife, Amphitrite.

Poseidon was not so well-disposed toward another famous hero. Because Odysseus blinded the Cyclops Polyphemus, who was Poseidon's son, the god not only delayed the hero's homeward return from the Trojan War but caused him to face enormous perils. At one point he whipped up the sea with his trident and caused a storm so severe that Odysseus was shipwrecked.

Poseidon similarly cursed the wife of King Minos. Minos had proved his divine right to rule Crete by calling on Poseidon to send a bull from the sea, which the king promised to sacrifice. Poseidon sent the bull, but Minos liked it too much to sacrifice it. So Poseidon asked Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to make Minos's queen, Pasiphae, fall in love with the bull. The result was the monstrous Minotaur, half-man, half-bull.

As god of horses, Poseidon often adopted the shape of a steed. It is not certain that he was in this form when he wooed Medusa. But when Perseus later killed the Gorgon, the winged horse Pegasus sprang from her severed neck.

Poseidon sometimes granted the shape-shifting power to others. And he ceded to the request of the maiden Caenis that she be transformed into the invulnerable, male warrior Caeneus.

There were many OTHER GODS besides the Olympians. A number of them were said to live atop Mount Olympus with the supreme twelve.

For instance, Heracles was made into a god when he died, and he was given the goddess Hebe as his wife. They lived together in a palace on Olympus. Only the Olympians themselves, however, met in supreme council, seated together in Zeus's royal hall on twelve ornate thrones.

For that matter, the composition of the Olympians changed over time. Originally Hestia, goddess of the hearth, was one of the twelve, but she grew tired of the godly bickering and gladly gave her place to the god of wine, Dionysus.

On the other hand, Hades, god of the dead and brother of Zeus and Poseidon, isn't included in our assembly because he dwelt in the Underworld and not on Olympus. His Roman name was Pluto.


Pan was a god of shepherds and flocks. Pan was the son of Hermes and a nymph. He was born with the legs and horns of a goat, which caused his own mother to spurn him.

Nor was the adult god more popular with the nymphs. Echo ran away from him and lost her voice as a consequence, being condemned only to repeat the words of others. Another fleeing nymph was transformed into a reed, which inspired Pan to invent the shepherd's pipe of bound reeds of varying lengths.

Pan was considered to be the cause of the sudden fear that sometimes comes for no reason, especially in lonely places. That's why it's called "panic".

Twelve Titan Gods and Goddesses:

The 12 Titans gods, also known as the elder gods, who ruled the Earth before the Olympians overthrew them. The ruler of the Titans was Cronus who was dethroned by his son Zeus. Most of the Titans fought with Cronus against Zeus and were punished by being banished to Tartarus.


In Greek mythology, Coeus (also Koios) was the Titan of intelligence. Titans are the giant sons and daughters of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). With his sister Phoebe, Titan of Brilliance and the Moon, Coeus fathered Leto and Asteria. Leto copulated with Zeus (the son of fellow Titans Cronus and Rhea) and bore Artemis and Apollo.As with the other Titans, Coeus was overthrown by Zeus and other Olympians.


In Greek mythology, Crius (Kreios, the "Ram") was one of the Titans in the list given in Hesiod's Theogony, a son of Uranus and Gaia. The least individualized among them, he was overthrown in the Titanomachy. M.L. West has suggested how Hesiod filled out the complement of Titans from the core group, adding three figures from the archaic tradition of Delphi, Koios, Phoibe, whose name Apollo assumed with the oracle, and Themis. Among possible further interpolations among the Titans was Kreios, whose interest for Hesiod was as the father of Perses and grandfather of Hekate, for whom Hesiod is an "enthusiastic evangelist".

Consorting with Eurybia, daughter of Earth Gaia and Sea Pontus, he fathered Astraios and Pallas as well as Perses. The joining of Astraios with Eos, the Dawn, brought forth Eosphoros, the other Stars and the Winds.

Joined to fill out lists of Titans to form a total that made a match with the Twelve Olympians, Crius/Kreios was inexorably involved in the eleven-year-long war between the Olympian gods and Titans, the Titanomachy, however without any specific part to play. When the war was lost, Crius/Kreios was banished along with the others to the lower basement of Hades called Tartarus. From his chthonic position in the Underworld, no classical association with Aries, the "Ram" of the zodiac, is ordinarily made.

Cronus "horned"), also spelled Cronos or Kronos, is often confused with Chronos/Khronos.

In Greek mythology, Cronus was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans. His mother was Gaia, and his father was Uranus, whom Cronus envied.

Uranus hid the youngest children of Gaia, the one-hundred armed giants (Hecatonchires) and the one-eyed giants, the Cyclopes, in Tartarus so that they would not see the light, rejoicing in this evil doing. This caused pain to Gaia, so she created a great sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to ask them to obey her. Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and set him in ambush. Cronus ambushed his father and castrated him, casting the severed member into the sea. From that which spilled from Uranus and fell upon the Earth came forth the Gigantes, Erinyes, and Meliae. From that which was cast into the sea came forth Aphrodite. For this, Uranus called his sons Titans, meaning "strainers," for they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, for which vengeance would come afterwards.

Cronus was identified in antiquity with the God Saturn of Roman mythology. The period of his rule was said to be a golden age on Earth, honored by the Saturnalia feast. Beginning on December 17 of each year, during the festival known as the Saturnalia, the Golden Age was restored for seven days. All business stopped and executions and military operations were postponed. It was a period of goodwill, devoted to banquets and the exchange of visits and gifts. A special feature of the festival was the freedom given to slaves, who during this time had first place at the family table and were served by their masters.

In an alternate version, a more benevolent Cronus overthrew the wicked serpentine Titan, Ophion. In doing so he released the world from bondage and for a time ruled it justly.

After dispatching Uranus, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hecatonchires, the Gigantes, and the Cyclopes and set the monster Campe to guard them. He and Rhea took the throne as King and Queen of the gods. This time was called the Golden Age, as the people of the time had no need for laws or rules; everyone did right, so there was no need.

Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia, and Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his own father. But when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Uranus and Earth to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes (also known as the Omphalos Stone) which he promptly swallowed.

Then she hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete.

Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge the other children in reverse order of swallowing: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, then the rest. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes, who gave him thunder and the thunderbolt and lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. In a war called the Titanomachy, Zeus and his brothers and sisters with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires, and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Cronus and the Titans were confined in Tartarus, a dank misty gloomy place at the deepest point in the Earth. Ironically, Zeus also imprisoned the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes there as well.

Cronus was worshipped as a corn god, from his association with the Golden Age. He was a god of the harvest, grain, nature, and agriculture. He was usually depicted with a sickle, which he used to harvest crops as well as castrate his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of every month (Hekatombaion), a festival called Kronia was held in honor of Cronus and to celebrate the harvest.


Hyperion was the Titan god of light, the father of the three shining gods of heaven - Eos the Light of Dawn and Day, Helios the Sun, and Selene the Moon.

In the Homer's Iliad and Odyssey the sun god is called Helios Hyperion, 'Sun High-one'. But in the Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter the sun is once in each work called Hyperonides 'Son of Hyperion' and Hesiod certainly imagines Hyperion as a separate being in other places.

Hyperion is often considered the 'God of Observation' and is the brother of Theia the 'Goddess of Sight.'

In later Greek literature Hyperion is always distinguished from Helios as a Titan, the son of Gaia 'Goddess Earth' and Uranus 'God Sky', and the father of Helios 'God Sun', Selene 'Goddess Moon' and Eos 'Goddess Dawn' by his sister Theia 'Goddess Sight'.

Hyperion plays virtually no role in Greek cult and little role in mythology, save in lists of the twelve Titans. Later Greeks intellectualized their myths.


In Greek mythology Iapetus, or Iapetos, was a Titan, the son of Uranus and Gaia, and father (by an Oceanid named Clymene or Asia) of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius and through Prometheus and Epimetheus and Atlas an ancestor of the human race. Iapetus is the one Titan mentioned by Homer in the Iliad (8.478­81) as being in Tartarus with Cronus.

Iapetus' wife is normally a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys named Clymene or Asia.

But in Aeschylus's play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a brother).

Since mostly the Titans indulge in marriage of brother and sister, it might be that Aeschylus is using an old tradition in which Themis is Iapetus' wife but that the Hesiodic tradition preferred that Themis and Mnemosyne be consorts of Zeus alone. But it would be been quite within Achaean practice for Zeus to have taken the wives of the Titans as his mistresses after throwing down their husbands.

Iapetus is sometimes equated by Creationists with Japheth, the son of Noah, based on the similarity of their names, though scholars of Indo-European linguistics dispute such an equation vehemently.


Mnemosyne (sometimes confused with Mneme or compared with Memoria) was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. This titaness was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the Muses by Zeus. In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights and thereby created the nine muses. Mnemosyne was also the name for a river in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may have been connected with a private mystery religion, or with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971).


Oceanus or Okeanos refers to the ocean, which the Greeks and Romans regarded as a river circling the world. Strictly speaking, it was the ocean-stream at the Equator in which floated the habitable hemisphere (oikoumene. In Greek mythology this world-ocean was personified as a Titan, a son of Uranus and Gaia. In ancient Greek beliefs this Titan is often depicted as having the upper body of a muscular man with a long beard and horns, and the lower torso of a serpent.

Oceanus' consort is his sister Tethys, and from their union came the ocean nymphs, also known as the three-thousand Oceanids, and all the rivers of the world.

Some scholars believe he originally represented all bodies of salt water, including the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the two largest bodies known to the ancient Greeks. However, as geography became more accurate, Oceanus came to represent the stranger, more unknown waters of the Atlantic Ocean (also called the Ocean Sea), while Poseidon ruled over the Mediterranean.

In most variations of the war between the Titans and the Olympians ("Titanomachy"), Oceanus, along with Prometheus, and Themis, did not take the side of his fellow Titans against the Olympians, but instead withdrew from the conflict. In most variations of this myth, Oceanus also refused to side with Cronus in the latter's revolt against their father, Uranus.


Phoebe, in her name simply the feminine counterpart of Phoebus, was one of the original Titans, one set of sons and daughters of Uranus and Gaia in Greek mythology. She was traditionally associated with the moon (see Selene), as in Michael Drayton's Endimion and Ph¦be, (1595), the first extended treatment of the Endymion myth in English. Her consort was her brother Coeus, with whom she had three children, Leto, Asteria and Hekate.

Through Leto she was the grandmother of Apollo and Artemis. The names Phoebe and Phoebus came to be applied as a synonym for Artemis and an epithet of Apollo. According to a speech that Aeschylus, in Eumenides, puts in the mouth of the Delphic priestess herself, she received control of the Oracle at Delphi from Themis: "Phoebe in this succession seems to be his private invention," D.S. Robertson noted, reasoning that in the three great allotments of oracular powers at Delphi, corresponding to the three generations of the gods, "Ouranos, as was fitting, gave the oracle to his wife Gaia and Kronos appropriately allotted it to his sister Themis." In Zeus' turn to make the gift, however, Aeschylus could not report that the oracle was given directly to Apollo, who had not yet been born, Robertson notes, and thus Phoebe was interposed. These supposed male delegations of the powers at Delphi are not borne out by the usual reconstruction of the sacred site's pre-Olympian history.



Rhea (or Ria meaning "she who flows") was the Titaness daughter of Uranus and of Gaia. She was sister to Cronus and mother to Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. She was strongly associated with Cybele. In Roman mythology, she was Magna Mater deorum Idaea and identified with Ops.In art, Rhea was usually depicted on a chariot drawn by two lions, not always distinguishable from Cybele.

Her husband, Cronus, castrated their father, Uranus. After this, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hecatonchires, the Gigantes and the Cyclopes and set the monster Campe to guard them. He and Rhea took the throne as King and Queen of the gods. This time was called the Golden Age as the people of the time had no need for laws or rules; everyone did right and as such, there was no need.

Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his own father. But when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Uranus and Earth to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes which he promptly swallowed.

Then she hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to varying versions of the story:

1. He was then raised by Gaia.

2. He was suckled by a goat named Amalthea, while a company of Kouretes, soldiers, or smaller gods danced, shouted and clapped their hands to make noise so that Cronus would not hear the baby's cry.

3. He was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea. Since Cronus ruled over the earth, the heavens and the sea, she hid him by dangling him on a rope from a tree so he was suspended between earth, sea and sky and thus, invisible to his father.

In Greek mythology, Zeus forced the Titan Cronus to disgorge the other children in reverse order of swallowing: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, then the rest. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, who gave him thunder and the thunderbolt and lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. Together, Zeus and his brothers and sisters with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans.

In Homer, Rhea is the mother of the gods, though not a universal mother like Cybele, the Phrygian Great Mother, with whom she was later identified. The original seat of her worship was in Crete. There, according to legend, she saved the new-born Zeus, her sixth child, from being devoured by Kronos, by substituting a stone for the infant god and entrusting him to the care of her attendants the Curetes.

These attendants afterwards became the bodyguard of Zeus and the priests of Rhea, and performed ceremonies in her honour. In historic times, the resemblances between Rhea and the Asiatic Great Mother, Phrygian Cybele, were so noticeable that the Greeks accounted for them by regarding the latter as only their own Rhea, who had deserted her original home in Crete and fled to the mountain wilds of Asia Minor to escape the persecution of Kronos (Strabo. 469, 12). The reverse view was also held (Virgil, Aeneid iii), and it is probably true that cultural contacts with the mainland brought to Crete the worship of the Asiatic Great Mother, who became the Cretan Rhea.

In Greek mythology, Rhea's symbol is the moon. However, in Roman mythology, her symbol is known as the lunar (which would seem to mean "Moon"). She has another symbol, the swan, because it is a gentle animal. Also, her other symbol is two lions, supposedly the ones that pull her chariot.


In Greek mythology, Tethys was a Titaness and sea goddess who was both sister and wife of Oceanus. She was mother of the chief rivers of the universe, such as the Nile, the Alpheus, the Maeander, and about three thousand daughters called the Oceanids.

Tethys, along with her husband Oceanus, ruled the seas before Poseidon; Roman mosaic from Daphne (near Antioch) made in the 4th century A.D.Tethys, a Titan sea-goddess who ruled the seas with her husband Oceanus; Roman mosaic from Antioch (House of Calendar) made between the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.During the war against the Titans, Tethys raised Rhea as her god-child.Tethys is sometimes confused with Thetis, the wife of Peleus and mother of Achilles.

Hera was not pleased with the placement of Callisto and Arcas in the sky, as the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, so she asked her nurse, Tethys, to help. Tethys, a marine goddess, cursed the constellations to forever circle the sky and never drop below the horizon, hence explaining why they are circumpolar.


In Greek mythology, Theia (also written Thea or Thia), also called Euryphaessa ("wide-shining"), was a Titan. With her brother and husband Hyperion, she was the mother of Helios (the Sun), Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the Dawn). According to the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Eryphaesa is listed as their mother. The name Theia alone, means simply "goddess," Theia Euryphaessa with overtones of brightness.

She seems here a goddess of glittering in particular and of glory in general, but Pindar's allusion to her as "Theia of many names" is telling, since it suggests assimilation not only to similar mother-of-the-sun goddess like Phoebe and Leto, but perhaps also to more universalizing mother-figures like Rhea and Cybele.

Theia's mythological role as the mother of the Moon goddess Selene is referenced in the application of the name to a hypothetical planet which, according to one theory, collided with the Earth, resulting in the Moon's creation.

Theia in Modern Paganism

Modern interpretations of Theia by many Neopagans, particularly sects in the United States, include the interpretation that she is the all seeing sister of Hyperion. Theia is sometimes seen as a kind and beautiful goddess, but her blessings are sometimes to be feared.

Worship of Theia may include prostration, and the burning of oils and incense, particularly at dawn or dusk. Worship of Theia is not as common as worship of many other Hellenistic gods. Some sects believe that Theia can grant the ability to see ghosts and spirits, as well as other forms of clairvoyance. Because of this many sects that worship Theia also encourage experimentation with the paranormal.


In Greek mythology, Hesiod mentions Themis among the six sons and six daughters - of whom Cronos was one - of Gaia and Ouranos, that is, of Earth with Sky. Among these Titans of primordial myth, few were venerated at specific sanctuaries in classical times, and Themis was so ancient that the followers of Zeus claimed that it was with him she produced the Three Fates themselves (Hesiod, Theogony, 904).

A fragment of Pindar, however, tells that the Moerae were already present at the nuptials of Zeus and Themis, that in fact the Moerae rose with Themis from the springs of Okeanos the encircling World-Ocean and accompanied her up the bright sun-path to meet Zeus at Olympus. With Zeus she more certainly bore the Horae, those embodiments of the right moment - the rightness of Order unfolding in Time - and Astraea. Themis was there at Delos to witness the birth of Apollo.

Themis (meaning "law of nature" rather than "human ordinance"), she "of good counsel," was the embodiment of divine order, law and custom. When Themis is disregarded, Nemesis brings just and wrathful retribution. Themis is not wrathful: she, "of the lovely cheeks" was the first to offer Hera a cup when she returned to Olympus distraught over threats from Zeus (Iliad xv.88). Themis presided over the proper relation between man and woman, the basis of the rightly ordered family, and the family the pillar of the deme, and judges were often referred to as "themistopoloi" (the servants of Themis). Such was the basis for order upon Olympus too. Hera addressed her as "Lady Themis."

The name of Themis might be substituted for Adrasteia in the birth of Zeus on Crete. She built the Oracle at Delphi and was herself oracular. Themis was one of the gods behind the Oracle at Delphi, which she received from Gaia and gave to Phoebe.

Themis in Neopaganism

Many modern Neopagans, particularly Hellenistic Neopagans, believe that Themis is the goddess of virtue and justice. In many modern sects Themis is thought to take part in deciding the afterlife of one's mortal spirit. She carries a set of scales which weigh a persons virtuous deeds against a persons ill deeds. Themis is also thought to give the final input before the fate of a mortal is decided by Hades (The Judge).

Themis is often considered compassionate and virtuous towards mortals, and concerned with mortal wellbeing as well as mortal plights. Worship of Themis is not uncommon among many pagan sects in the United States, according to some pagan websites Themis may have as many worshippers that Artemis or Hera (two of the most popular pagan gods). Worshippers of Themis often attempt to lead virtuous and charitable lives.

Worship of Themis may take the form of chants, prayer, the burning of oils and incense, and the burning of food or spilling of drinks as offerings. Acts of Charity are also considered to be an active form of worship. Some sects that include worship of Themis encourage tithing, and many encourage proselytizing to non-believers. Proselytizing is typically rare among sects that do not include the worship of Themis. Followers of Themis often discourage hedonism, persecution, grudges, malice, spite, mockery, and revenge. Themis is thought to grant boons of good health, euphoria, virility, and charisma to her followers. Some pagan websites suggest that Themis is most commonly worshipped by males.



Asteria was the daughter of the Titan gods Coeus and Phoebe and sister of Leto. Asteria flung herself into the ocean in the form of a quail in order to escape the advances of Zeus. She became the island of the same name. By Zeus she became the mother of Heracles (not to be confused with the Greek demi-god) who was worshipped at Tyre. By Perses she had a daughter Hecate. Later, the island Asteria was identified with Delos, which was the only piece of earth to give refuge to the fugitive Leto when, pregnant with Zeus's children, she was pursued by vengeful Hera.


In Greek mythology, Astraeus is an astrological deity. His original Greek name, Astraios, translates to "Starry". In Hesiod's Theogony and in the Bibliotheca, Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Crius and Eurybia. However, Hyginus wrote that he was descended directly from Tartarus and Gaia, and referred to him as one of the Gigantes.

The wife of Astraeus is Eos, the goddess of the dawn, and their sons include the four Anemoi ("Winds"), Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus, and the five Astra Planeta ("Wandering Stars", i.e. planets), Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury). A few sources mention one daughter, Astraea, but most writers considered Astraea the child of Zeus and Themis.

He is sometimes associated with Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds.



Atlas was the son of Iapetus and the nymph Clymene, and brother of Prometheus. He was the father of the Hesperides, Maera, the Hyades, Calypso and the Pleiades. Atlas led the Titans in a war against the gods of Mount Olympus. When the Titans were defeated, Zeus punished him with the burden of carrying the heavens upon his shoulders. Atlas was turned to stone by Perseus using Medusa's head in the place where the Atlas mountains now stand, after he threatened Perseus when wanting to speak to his father Zeus about the punishment that had fallen upon him. He is also known as one of the founding kings of Atlantis.

Atlas was tricked by the hero Heracles, one of whose Twelve Labors involved the retrieval of some of the golden apples of the Hesperides; Heracles offered to hold the heavens for a little while in exchange for the apples, and Atlas agreed. Upon his return with the apples, however, Atlas refused to take the heavens back from Heracles. Heracles then tricked the giant again by agreeing to take his place if he would only take the sky again for a few minutes so Heracles could rearrange his cloak as padding on his shoulders. When Atlas took the heavens upon his shoulders again, Heracles left

The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain and still debated: some derive it from the Proto-Indo-European root 'tel', 'to uphold, support'; others suggest that it is a pre-Indo-European name. Since the Atlas mountains fall in the region inhabited by Berbers, it could be that the latin name as we know it is taken from Berber.

In fact, the sun is often called the 'eye of the sky'.

And since it sets to the west, the Atlantic ocean can be called "the place of concealement of the sun" or Antal n Tit. Greeks could have borrowed this name for the ocean and called it Atlantic, and later used its root ATL to form the name Atlas."Atlas" is also the presently used name of many objects and places (see Atlas (disambiguation)).

Since the middle of the sixteenth century, he is often shown in cartographic atlases. However it was not he but rather the mythical King Atlas that was depicted by Mercator in the first book to bear the name "atlas" and who gave his name to that type of book.

Atlas continues to be a commonly used icon in western culture (and advertising), as a symbol of strength or stoic endurance such as the superhero, Captain Marvel who was granted the stamina of Atlas as part of his powers. In such contemporary depictions, he is often shown kneeling over on one knee while supporting an enormous round globe on his back and shoulders. (The depiction of Atlas holding a large round disk on his back is more accurate, however, since the Greeks believed that the world was flat.)

The image of Atlas bearing a great burden was used by the author Ayn Rand in her novel Atlas Shrugged, which serves as an important metaphor throughout the novel. A character in the novel says that Atlas is "the giant who holds the world on his shoulders", although Atlas actually held the heavens and not the Earth.



In Greek mythology, Clymene or Klymene ("famous might") is the name of at least six possibly distinct females.

* An Oceanid also called Asia, the wife of Iapetus. Mother of Atlas, Epimetheus, Prometheus, and Menoetius.
* An Oceanid, mother of Phaethon by Helios, sometimes as a full wife and mother also of the Heliades (essentially equated with Rhode) and sometimes as wife of Merops with whom Helios secretly lay.
* Mother of Deucalion by Prometheus. Possibly one of the above two (parent-child couplings occasionally occur among the earliest deities in Greek myth).
* Wife of Merops and Queen of Ethiopia, mother of Pandareus, possibly the same as the previous.

* Mother of Atalanta and wife of Schoeneus or Iasus

* Grandaughter of Minos and mother of Palamedes by Nauplius.

* By Ares, mother of Diomedes



Dione in Greek mythology is a vague goddess presence who has her most concrete form in Book V of Homer's Iliad as the mother of Aphrodite: Aphrodite journeys to Dione's side after she has been wounded in battle while protecting her favorite son Aeneas.

In this episode, Dione seems to be the equivalent of Rhea the Earth Mother, whom Homer also placed in Olympus. Dione's Indo-European name is really less a name than simply a title: the "Goddess", etymologically a female form of Zeus. Roman "Diana" has a similar etymology but is not otherwise connected with Dione.

After the Iliad, Aphrodite herself was sometimes referred to as "Dionaea" and even "Dione", just "the goddess" (Peck 1898). At the very ancient oracle of Zeus at Dodona, Dione rather than Hera, was the goddess resorted to in the company of Zeus, as many surviving votive inscriptions show.

Although Dione is not a Titan in Hesiod, but appears instead in his Theogony among the long list of Oceanids, Apollodorus includes her among the Titans (1.1.3 and 1.3.1).

A later mythographer, Hyginus, (Fabulae 82, 83) says that Dione is a daughter of Atlas and the mother, by Tantalus, of Pelops, Niobe and Broteas.



In Greek mythology, Epimetheus was the son of Iapetus and brother of Prometheus and Atlas; "Epimetheus" is Greek for "hindsight."

He was responsible for giving a positive trait to every animal, but when it was time to give man a positive trait, there was nothing left. His brother Prometheus then stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man. As punishment, Zeus created Pandora for Epimetheus, knowing that he would fall in love with her despite the warnings of his more intelligent brother, who told him never to accept a gift from the Olympian gods ("Prometheus" means "foresight").

Epimetheus and Pandora were married. Pandora had been given a box by Hermes and was instructed never to open it. However, Hermes also gave her curiosity, and she opened it anyway releasing all the misfortunes of mankind. She shut it in time to keep one thing in the box: hope. Thus mankind always has hope in times of evil.

The daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora was Pyrrha, who married Deucalion and was one of the two who survived the deluge.



Hyperion is the Titan of light, an early sun god. He is the son of Gaea and Uranus. He married his sister Theia the Goddess of Sight. Their children are Helius (the sun), Selene (the moon), and Eos (the dawn). In the Homer's Iliad and Odyssey the sun god is called Helios Hyperion, 'Sun High-one'. But in the Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter the sun is once in each work called Hyperonides 'son of Hyperion' and Hesiod certainly imagines Hyperion as a separate being in other places.

In later Greek literature Hyperion is always distinguished from Helios as a Titan, the son of Gaia 'Goddess Earth' and Uranus 'God Sky', and the father of Helios 'God Sun', Selene 'Goddess Moon' and Eos 'Goddess Dawn' by his sister Theia 'Goddess Sight'.



In Greek mythology, Leto is a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe: Kos claimed her birthplace. In the Olympian scheme of things, Zeus is the father of her twins, Apollo and Artemis, the Letoides. Leto is scarcely to be conceived apart from being pregnant and finding a suitable place to be delivered of Apollo, the second of her twins. This is her one active mythic role: once Apollo and Artemis are grown, Leto withdraws, to remain a dim and benevolent matronly figure upon Olympus, her part already played.

In Roman mythology her equivalent, as mother of Apollo and Diana, is Latona.

In Crete, at the city of Dreros, Spyridon Marinatos uncovered an eighth-century post-Minoan hearth house temple in which there were found three unique figures of Apollo, Artemis and Leto made of brass sheeting hammered over a shaped core. Walter Burkert notes (in Greek Religion) that in Phaistos she appears in connection with an initiation cult. Leto was the principal goddess of Anatolian Lycia. Her sanctuary, the Letoon near Xanthos, united the Lycian confederacy of city-states. The people of Cos also claimed Leto as their own.

A measure of what a primal goddess Leto was can be recognized in her father and mother. Her Titan father is called "Coeus," and his name links him to the sphere of heaven from pole to pole. Leto's mother "Phoebe" is precisely the "pure" and "purifying" epithet of the full moon.

Origin and Meaning of Name

Several explanations have been put forward to explain the origin of the goddess and the meaning of her name. Some have seen her as an importation of the ancient Middle Eastern deity Al Latu, Latu meaning Goddess in classical Arabic (Allatu is the feminine form of Allah).

It has also been proposed that the name "Leto" originates from the verb "lanthanein" (to be concealed or oblivious) that also gives "lethe" (oblivion) and "Lotus" (the fruit that brings oblivion to those who eat it). It would thus mean "the hidden one".

Others say it comes from the same origin as "Leda", meaning "woman/wife" in ancient Lydian.

Birth of Artemis and Apollo

When Hera, the most conservative of goddesses - for she had the most to lose in changes to the order of nature ‹ discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she realized that the offspring would cement the new order. She was powerless to stop the flow of events, but she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra firma", the mainland, any island at sea, or any place under the sun.

Some mythographers hinted that Leto came down from the land of the Hyperboreans in the guise of a she-wolf, or that she sought out the "wolf-country" of Lycia for her denning. Most accounts agree that she found the barren floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island, and gave birth there, promising the island wealth from the worshippers who would flock to the obscure birthplace of the splendid god who was to come. The island was surrounded by swans. As a gesture of gratitude, Delos was secured with four pillars and later became sacred to Apollo.

It is remarkable that Leto brought forth Artemis, the elder twin, without struggle or pain - as if she were merely revealing another manifestation of herself. Leto labored for nine nights and nine days for Apollo, according to the Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo, in the presence of all the first among the deathless goddesses as witnesses: Dione, Rhea, Ichnaea, Themis and the "loud-moaning" sea-goddess Amphitrite. Only Hera kept apart, perhaps to kidnap Eileithyia or Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. Instead Artemis, having been born first, assisted with the birth of Apollo. Another version states that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia, and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.

Leto was threatened and assailed in her wanderings by chthonic monsters of the ancient earth and old ways, and these became the enemies of Apollo and Artemis. One was the Titan Tityos, a phallic being who grew so vast that he split his mother's womb and had to be carried to term by Gaia herself. He attempted to waylay Leto near Delphi, but was laid low by the arrows of Apollo - or possibly Artemis, as another myth-teller recalled.

Another ancient earth creature that had to be overcome was the dragon Pytho, or Python, which lived in a cleft of the mother-rock beneath Delphi and beside the Castalian Spring. Apollo slew it but had to do penance and be cleansed afterwards, since Python was a child of Gaia. Sometimes the slaying was said to be because Python had attempted to rape Leto while pregnant with Apollo and Artemis, but one way or another, it was necessary that the ancient Delphic Oracle pass to the protection of the new god.

A Queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. For her hubris, Apollo killed her sons as they practiced athletics, with the last begging for his life, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Zeus after swearing revenge. A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus in Asia Minor and either turned to stone as she wept or killed herself. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves entombed them.

Leto was intensely worshipped in Lycia, Asia Minor. In Delos and Athens she was worshipped primarily as an adjunct to her children. Herodotus reported hearsay of a temple to her in Egypt attached to a floating island called "Khemmis" in Buto, which also included a temple to Apollo. There, Leto was wosrhipped in the form of Wadjet, the cobra-headed goddess of lower Egypt. However, Herodotus didn't believe in the existence of either temple.

Witnesses at the Birth of Apollo

According to the Homeric hymn, the goddesses who assembled to be witnesses at the birth of Apollo were responding to a public occasion in the rites of a dynasty, where the authenticity of the child must be established beyond doubt from the first moment. The dynastic rite of the witnessed birth must have been familiar to the hymn's 8th-century hearers. The dynasty that is so concerned to be authenticated in this myth is the new dynasty of Zeus and the Olympian Pantheon, and the goddesses at Delos who bear witness to the rightness of the birth are the great goddesses of the old order. Demeter is not present; her mother Rhea attends. Aphrodite, a generation older than Zeus, is not present either. The goddess Dione (in her name simply the "Goddess") is sometimes taken by later mythographers as a mere feminine form of Zeus (see entry Dodona): if this were so, she would not have assembled here.

Leto of the Golden Spindle

Pindar calls the goddess Leto Chryselakatos (Sixth Nemean Ode, 36), an epithet that was attached to her daughter Artemis as early as Homer. "The conception of a goddess enthroned like a queen and equipped with a spindle seems to have originated in Asiatic worship of the Great Mother", O. Brendel notes, but a lucky survival of an inscribed inventory of her temple on Delos, where she was the central figures of the Delian trinity, records her cult image as sitting on a wooden throne, clothed in a linen chiton and a linen himation.

The Lycian Peasants

According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, when Leto was wandering the earth after giving birth to Apollo and Artemis, she attempted to drink water from a pond in Lycia. The peasants there refused to allow her to do so by stirring the mud at the bottom of the pond. Leto turned them into frogs for their inhospitality, forever doomed to swim in the murky waters of ponds and rivers. This scene is represented in the central fountain, the Bassin de Latone, in the garden terrace of Versailles.


In Greek mythology, Metis was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus, indeed his equal (Hesiod, Theogony 896) and the mother of Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom. By the era of Greek philosophy Metis had become the goddess of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted "magical cunning" and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus as with the "royal metis" of Zeus. The Stoic commentators allegorized Metis as the embodiment of "wisdom" or "wise counsel", in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance.

Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable aid. In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. In time she began making a helmet and robe for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain and Prometheus, Hephaestus, Hermes, or Palaemon (depending on the sources examined) either cleaved Zeus's head with an axe, or hit it with a hammer at the river Triton, giving rise to Athena's epithet Tritogeneia. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown, armed, and armored, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience. The similarities between Zeus swallowing Metis and Cronus swallowing his children have been noted by several scholars.

The second consort taken by Zeus, according to the Theogony was Themis, "right order". Hesiod's account is followed by Acusilaus and the Orphic tradition, which enthroned Metis side by side with Eros as primal cosmogenic forces. Plato makes poros, or "creative ingenuity", the child of Metis.


In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the Titan chiefly honored for stealing fire from Zeus in the stalk of a fennel plant and giving it to mortals for their use. For that, Zeus ordered him to be chained on top of the Caucasus. Every day an eagle would come and eat his liver, but since Prometheus was immortal, his liver always grew back, so he was left to bear the pain every day. He is depicted as an intelligent and cunning figure who had sympathy for humanity. To this day, the term Promethean refers to events or people of great creativity, intellect, and boldness.

As a god of fire, burning, and craft, Prometheus had a small shrine in the Keramikon, or potter's quarter, of Athens, not far from Plato's Academy.

The Myth

Prometheus was a son of Iapetus by Clymene (one of the Oceanids). He was a brother of Atlas, Menoetius, and Epimetheus. He surpassed all in cunning and deceit. He held no awe for the gods, and he ridiculed Zeus and Zeus's lack of insight and fought alongside of the gods against the Titans.

Prometheus was the creator of man. When he and Epimetheus (hindsight) set out to make creatures to populate the earth under the orders of Zeus, Epimetheus went with quantity and made many creatures, endowing them with many gifts that were alloted to the brother for that purpose (fur, claws, wings, and fins were some of these gifts). While his brother was making creatures, Prometheus was carefully crafting a creature after the shape of the gods. It was a human.

However, Prometheus took so long in crafting his masterpiece that when he was finished, Epimetheus had already used up all the gifts from Zeus. Prometheus was sorry for his creations, and watched as they shivered in the cold winter nights.

He decided to steal fire from the gods after Zeus disagreed with his idea of helping the humans. He climbed Olympus and stole fire from the chariot of Helios (or, in later mythology, Apollo). He carried the fire back in the stalk of a fennel plant, which burns slowly and so was appropriate for this task. Thus mankind was warm.

To appease Zeus, Prometheus told the humans to burn offerings to the gods. He killed a great bull for this purpose. When the gods smelled the offerings, Prometheus decided to play a trick on the gods. The meat he hid beneath a layer of bone and sinew, whilst the bones he disguised with delicious-looking fat. He then offered Zeus his choice of "meat" for the gods to eat. Zeus picked the plate of bones, and Prometheus took the plate of meat for himself and the mortals.

To punish Prometheus for this hubris (and all of mankind in the process), Zeus took fire away from the earth.

Vulcan Chaining Prometheus

To get revenge on Prometheus for his continued offenses, Zeus had Hephaestus (Vulcan) make a woman made of clay named Pandora. Zeus brought her to life and sent her to Prometheus, along with a jar with all the valuable presents she had received from the gods in it. Prometheus was suspicious and would have nothing to do with Pandora, claiming that she was foolish (lacking foresight), and she was sent on to Epimetheus, who married her.

Zeus was further enraged by Prometheus's escape and had Prometheus carried to Mount Caucasus, where an eagle by the name of Ethon (offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna) would eat out his liver; it would grow back each day and the eagle would eat it again.

This punishment was to last 30,000 years. About 30 years into the punishment, Heracles, passing by on his way to find the apples of the Hesperides as part of the Twelve Labors, freed Prometheus, in a bargain he had agreed with Zeus in exchange for Chiron's immortality, by shooting the eagle with an arrow.

Zeus did not mind this time that Prometheus had again evaded his punishment, as the act brought more glory to Heracles, who was Zeus's son. Prometheus was invited to return to Olympus, though he still had to carry with him the rock that he was chained to.

As the introducer of fire and inventor of sacrifice he is seen as the patron of human civilization. Uncertain sources claim he was worshipped in ancient Rome.

He was the father of Deucalion with Celaeno. Epimetheus, the husband of Pandora, was his brother.

The Immortals

Creation: Greek Myth

Creation of the World
In the begining there was only chaos. Then out of the void appeared Erebus, the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night. All else was empty, silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love was born bringing a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea, the earth appeared.

Then Erebus slept with Night, who gave birth to Ether, the heavenly light, and to Day the earthly light. Then Night alone produced Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Nemesis, and others that come to man out of darkness.

Meanwhile Gaea alone gave birth to Uranus, the heavens. Uranus became Gaea's mate covering her on all sides. Together they produced the three Cyclopes, the three Hecatoncheires, and twelve Titans.

However, Uranus was a bad father and husband. He hated the Hecatoncheires. He imprisoned them by pushing them into the hidden places of the earth, Gaea's womb. This angered Gaea and she ploted against Uranus. She made a flint sickle and tried to get her children to attack Uranus. All were too afraid except, the youngest Titan, Cronus.

Gaea and Cronus set up an ambush of Uranus as he lay with Gaea at night. Cronus grabed his father and castrated him, with the stone sickle, throwing the severed genitales into the ocean. The fate of Uranus is not clear. He either died, withdrew from the earth, or exiled himself to Italy. As he departed he promised that Cronus and the Titans would be punished. From his spilt blood came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinnyes. From the sea foam where his genitales fell came Aphrodite.

Cronus became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires in Tartarus. He married his sister Rhea, under his rule the Titans had many offspring. He ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus both had prophesied that he would be overthrown by a son. To avoid this Cronus swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at the treatment of the children and ploted against Cronus. When it came time to give birth to her sixth child, Rhea hid herself, then she left the child to be raised by nymphs. To concel her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloths and passed it off as the baby to Cronus, who swallowed it.

This child was Zeus. He grew into a handsome youth on Crete. He consulted Metis on how to defeat Cronus. She prepaired a drink for Cronus design to make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Cronus to accept his son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as Cronus's cupbearer. This gave Zeus the opertunity to slip Cronus the specially prepaired drink. This worked as planned and the other five children were vomitted up. Being gods they were unharmed. They were thankful to Zeus and made him their leader.

Cronus was yet to be defeated. He and the Titans, except Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Oceanus, fought to retain their power. Atlas became their leader in battle and it looked for some time as though they would win and put the young gods down. However, Zeus was cunning. He went down to Tartarus and freed the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Prometheus joined Zeus as well. He returned to battle with his new allies. The Cyclopes provided Zeus with lighting bolts for weapons. The Hecatoncheires he set in ambush armed with boulders. With the time right, Zeus retreated drawing the Titans into the Hecatoncheires's ambush. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundreds of boulders with such a fury the Titans thought the mountains were falling on them. They broke and ran giving Zeus victory.

Zeus exiled the Titans who had fought against him into Tartarus. Except for Atlas, who was singled out for the special punishment of holding the world on his shoulders.

However, even after this victory Zeus was not safe. Gaea angry that her children had been imprisoned gave birth to a last offspring, Typhoeus. Typhoeus was so fearsome that most of the gods fled. However, Zeus faced the monster and flinging his lighting bolts was able to kill it. Typhoeus was burried under Mount Etna in Sicily.

Much later a final challenge to Zeus rule was made by the Giants. They went so far as to attempt to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain in an effort to reach the top. But, the gods had grown strong and with the help of Heracles the Giants were subdued or killed.

The Creation of Man by Prometheus
Prometheus and Epimetheus were spared imprisonment in Tatarus because they had not fought with their fellow Titans during the war with the Olympians. They were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure.

Prometheus had assigned Epimetheus the task of giving the creatures of the earth thier various qualities, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, wings. Unfortunately, by the time he got to man Epimetheus had given all the good qualities out and there were none left for man. So Prometheus decided to make man stand upright as the gods did and to give them fire.

Prometheus loved man more then the Olympians, who had banished most of his family to Tartarus. So when Zeus decreed that man must present a portion of each animal they scarified to the gods Prometheus decided to trick Zeus. He created two piles, one with the bones wrapped in juicy fat, the other with the good meat hidden in the hide. He then bade Zeus to pick. Zeus picked the bones. Since he had given his word Zeus had to accept that as his share for future sacrafices. In his anger over the trick he took fire away from man. However, Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought it back again to man. Zeus was enraged that man again had fire. He decided to inflict a terrable punishment on both man and Prometheus.

To punish man, Zeus had Hephaestus create a mortal of stunning beauty. The gods gave the mortal many gifts of wealth. He then had Hermes give the mortal a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. This creation was Pandora, the first women. A final gift was a jar which Pandora was forbidden to open. Thus, completed Zeus sent Pandora down to Epimetheus who was staying amongst the men.

Prometheus had warned Epimetheus not to accept gifts from Zeus but, Pandora's beauty was too great and he allowed her to stay. Eventually, Pandora's curiosity about the jar she was forbidden to open became to great. She opened the jar and out flew all manor of evils, sorrows, plagues, and misfortunes. However, the bottom of the jar held one good thing - hope.

Zeus was angry at Prometheus for three things: being tricked on scarifices, stealing fire for man, and for refusing to tell Zeus which of Zeus's children would dethrone him. Zeus had his servants, Force and Violence, seize Prometheus, take him to the Caucasus Mountains, and chain him to a rock with unbreakable adamanite chains. Here he was tormented day and night by a giant eagle tearing at his liver. Zeus gave Prometheus two ways out of this torment. He could tell Zeus who the mother of the child that would dethrone him was. Or meet two conditions: First, that an immortal must volunteer to die for Prometheus. Second, that a mortal must kill the eagle and unchain him. Eventually, Chiron the Centaur agreed to die for him and Heracles killed the eagle and unbound him.

Greek Creation Myth

In the beginning there was an empty darkness. The only thing in this void was Nyx, a bird with black wings. With the wind she laid a golden egg and for ages she sat upon this egg. Finally life began to stir in the egg and out of it rose Eros, the god of love. One half of the shell rose into the air and became the sky and the other became the Earth. Eros named the sky Uranus and the Earth he named Gaia. Then Eros made them fall in love.

Uranus and Gaia had many children together and eventually they had grandchildren. Some of their children become afraid of the power of their children. Kronus, in an effort to protect himself, swallowed his children when they were still infants. However, his wife Rhea hid their youngest child. She gave him a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed, thinking it was his son.

Once the child, Zeus, had reached manhood his mother instructed him on how to trick his father to give up his brothers and sisters. Once this was accomplished the children fought a mighty war against their father. After much fighting the younger generation won. With Zeus as their leader, they began to furnish Gaia with life and Uranus with stars.

Soon the Earth lacked only two things: man and animals. Zeus summoned his sons Prometheus (fore-thought) and Epimetheus (after-thought). He told them to go to Earth and create men and animals and give them each a gift.

Prometheus set to work forming men in the image of the gods and Epimetheus worked on the animals. As Epimetheus worked he gave each animal he created one of the gifts. After Epimetheus had completed his work Prometheus finally finished making men. However when he went to see what gift to give man Epimetheus shamefacedly informed him that he had foolishly used all the gifts.

Distressed, Prometheus decided he had to give man fire, even though gods were the only ones meant to have access to it. As the sun god rode out into the world the next morning Prometheus took some of the fire and brought it back to man. He taught his creation how to take care of it and then left them.

When Zeus discovered Prometheus' deed he became furious. He ordered his son to be chained to a mountain and for a vulture to peck out his liver every day till eternity. Then he began to devise a punishment for mankind. Another of his sons created a woman of great beauty, Pandora. Each of the gods gave her a gift. Zeus' present was curiosity and a box which he ordered her never to open. Then he presented her to Epimetheus as a wife.

Pandora's life with Epimetheus was happy except for her intense longing to open the box. She was convinced that because the gods and goddesses had showered so many glorious gifts upon her that this one would also be wonderful. One day when Epimetheus was gone she opened the box.

Out of the box flew all of the horrors which plague the world today - pain, sickness, envy, greed. Upon hearing Pandora's screams Epimetheus rushed home and fastened the lid shut, but all of the evils had already escaped.

Later that night they heard a voice coming from the box saying,

"Let me out. I am hope."

Pandora and Epimetheus released her and she flew out into the world to give hope to humankind.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Gilgamish (Mesopotamia/Babylon/Iraq)

The principle deities involved in Gilgamesh are as follows:

* Adad (Wer; Sumerian: Ishkur): God of the storm, son of Anu.
* ANU (Sumerian: An="heaven"): God of the sky, father of the gods (particularly Enlil and Aruru); ~Ishtar's father by his first consort Antu/Anatum; son of Ansar and Kisar.
* ARURU, Belet-ili ("Lady of the Gods"), Mammitum, Mami, Ninhursanga, (Sumerian: Ninhursag "Queen of the Mountains", Ki, Ninmah "Exalted Lady", Nintu "Lady who gave birth"): the Mother Goddess who created man with Ea's help. That is, she gave birth to the first men, to take up the yoke imposed by Enlil, her brother [or ~spouse]. The clay she was given by Ea was accidentally mixed with a god's blood, thus imparting to man the divine elements of reason and self-consciousness. She and An were probably the progenitors of most of the gods.
* EA (Nudimmud="Man fashioner"; Sumerian: Enki): Clever god who lives in the freshwater Ocean Below (Babylonian: Apsu, the "Great Deep"), sent the Seven Sages to civilize mankind, and saved mankind from Enlil's wrath; son of Ansar and Kisar. Enki was god of intellect, creation, wisdom and medicine, etc.
* ENLIL ("Lord Wind"; Kur-gal; Ellil): the ruling god on earth and its humans; son of An (heaven) and Ki (earth). Consort is Ninlil. Father of Sin.
* Ereshkigal ("Mistress of the Great Earth"; Irkalla; Allatu): bitter queen of the Netherworld; ~sister of Ishtar; rules with consort Nergal; or [Sumerian] married to Gugalanna.
* ISHTAR (pron. "ISH-tar"; also Irnini; Sumerian: Inanna="Queen of Heaven"): goddess of sexual love and war; the Babylonian Venus; daughter [or consort of ] Anu and Antu (or for Sumerians of the Moon God Sin and Nanna).
* Namtar ("Doom"): her minister or vizier and the angel of death.
* SHAMASH (pron. "SHAM-ash"; Babbar; Sumerian: Utu): Sun god; son of Sin and Ningal; patron of travelers and Gilgamesh's special protector; believed to be brother of Ishtar in Ur; wife/consort is Aya/Aia goddess of Dawn.
* Sin (Namra-Sit, Sumerian: Nanna): Moon god, ~son of Enlil and the raped Ninlil; father of Utu/Shamash and (as believed in Ur) Ishtar; married to Ningal.

Other human and divine figures include:

* Ashur (A-sir, Arusar, A-shar, Assur): god of Assyria and war. He is a "King of the Igigi".
* Belet-seri (Beletseri): scribe to Ereshkigal in Netherworld.
* Dumuzi (Damuzi; Sumerian: Tammuz=Akkadian vegetation god; ~Adonis): former lover, ~brother, and husband of Ishtar, punished by annual death for 6 months in summer and descent to the underworld; son of Ea.
* ENKIDU (pron. "en-KI-du"; "Lord of the Pleasant Place", or "Enki's (i.e., Ea's) creation" ): wild man made by gods as Gilgamesh's equal in Babylonian tradition (or as his servant in Sumerian tradition). Stressed syllable is "ki".
* Errakal: a manifestation of Nergal as a god of wanton destruction.
* HUMBABA (pron. "hum-BA-ba"; Sumerian Huwawa): monstrous guardian of the Forest of Cedar.
* Lugalbanda ("Little Lord"): deified father of Gilgamesh.
* Marduk: son of Ea and Dumkina; eventually the central god of Babylon but minor in Gilgamesh. Bel ("Lord", Canaanite: Baal) may be the same god.
* Nergal (Erragal, Erra, Engidudu): god of plague and war, later husband of Ereshkigal; lover of Mami.
* Ninazu ("Lord Doctor"): Ereshkigal's son.
* Ningal ("Great lady"; Nikkal): wife of moon, mother of the sun Utu/Shamash.
* Ningishzida ("Lord of the True Tree"): chamberlain to Ereshkigal.
* NINSUN (pron. "NIN-sun"; "Lady/Queen of the Wild Cow"): Gilgamesh's mother; a minor goddess.
* Ninurta ("Lord Earth"): son of Enlil.
* Scorpion-man (aqrabuamelu; girtablilu): the guardians of the gates of the underworld.
* SHAMHAT (pron. "SHAM-hat", meaning "Well-endowed"; Shamkatum): cultic prostitute.
* SHIDURI (pron. "shi-DU-ri"; "She is my rampart"): goddess who runs alehouse at the edge of the world. ~ a manifestation of Ishtar.
* Shulpae ("Manifest hero"): husband of Mother Goddess.
* Thunderbird (Anzu).
* Ur-Shanabi (pron. "ur-shan-A-bi") Old Babylonian: Sursunabu): The boatman of Uta-Napishti who ferries daily across the waters of death which divide the garden of the sun from the paradise where Utnapishtim lives for ever (the Sumerian Dilmun). By accepting Gilgamesh as a passenger he forfeits this right, and accompanies Gilgamesh back to Uruk instead.
* UTA-NAPISHTI (pron. "U-ta-na-PISH-ti", meaning "I Found life"; Atra-napishti; Utnapishtim; Atram-hasis; Atrahasis; Sumerian: Ziusudra="Life of Distant Days"): King (or wiseman) of Shurappak who survived the Deluge and was made immortal; son of Ubar-Tutu. In the separate Sumerian work "Instructions of Shuruppak" 26C BC, [he or] his father is Utnapishtim of Shuruppak son of Ubar-Tutu/Ubaratutu.

The Annunaki (Sumerian: Anunna) were the gods [mostly] of the Netherworld taken together; the Igigi were the gods [mostly] of the heavens.

"In Babylonian myths, Tiamat [primitive chaos] is a huge, bloated female dragon that personifies the saltwater ocean, the water of Chaos. She is also the primordial mother of all that exists, including the gods themselves. Her consort is Apsu, the personification of the freshwater abyss that lies beneath the Earth. From their union, saltwater with freshwater, the first pair of gods were born. They are Lachmu [Lahmu] and Lachamu [Lahamu] > parents of Ansar [Anshar] and Kisar [Kishar] > parents of Anu and Ea." [modified from]

Summary of the standard version of Gilgamesh
by Sin-liqe-uninni c. 1200 BCE:
"He who saw the Deep"

As you read this short summary, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Themes. The first things you want to sort out are the ideas which seem to animate the work. One of the problems with literature, art, mythology, etc., is that you can never be quite sure that you've correctly identified the central ideas or philosophy of the work, but you should take a stab at it anyway. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as one and only one idea in a work of literature, and that in most art and literature, like life, there is no one correct answer concerning any single issue. To identify an idea, question, or theme that the work seems to treat, look for specific places where that idea seems to be a concern; mark these passages and combine and contrast them when you begin to try to resolve what the work seems to be about. The questions I provide in these reading notes are meant to organize the families of questions you can bring to these texts.

2. Structure. Try to define for yourself the overall structure of the story. This narrative has two distinct parts; what are these parts and how are they separated? How do events in the second part of the narrative repeat or develop ideas in the first part of the narrative? Do these events contrast with or develop themes and values articulated in the first part of the narrative?

3. The Nature of the Heroic. When you read the myth, notice how Gilgamesh is presented as superhuman, so powerful that the gods create a counterpart to moderate his desires and actions. Do you get the sense that Gilgamesh and Enkidu should have spared the demon of the cedar forest? Despite all of Gilgamesh's power, he is unable to prevent Enkidu's death, and the narrative changes direction. How can one describe Gilgamesh as a hero in the last half of the work? What has he achieved at the end of the poem? Why is this important?

4. The Gods. The gods in Gilgamesh are a bit problematic. How do the gods behave? What is their relation to humans? How much freedom do humans have, or are they merely subject to the will of these gods?

Hebrews Reader Genesis: The Flood
6. The Flood. The story of the Flood is a familiar one, as we shall see in Genesis and Popol Vuh (Plato also gives an account of the Flood and the city of Atlantis in the dialogue, Critias ; the Nez Perce of the Palouse also have a flood story in which the only humans that survived did so by climbing the mountain, Yamustus, that is, Steptoe Butte). The earliest surviving reference to the Flood goes back to 1900 B.C. Why is it brought in here? Why do the gods bring on the Flood? Is any reason given? (Later compare the reasons for the floods in Genesis and Popol Vuh.) What does it tell us about the nature of history and the relation of the gods to humanity?


Tablet 1: Gilgamesh's reign, his prowess and tyranny; Creation of his rival Enkidu

The story begins as if by a narrator of a later era. Gilgamesh had all knowledge and wisdom, he was "he who saw the Deep" [Deep=nagbu, the cosmic domain of the god of wisdom, Ea], "surpassing all other kings". He built the walls of the great city of Uruk/Erech (in Sumeria, near Ur and modern Basra), and the temple Eanna within dedicated to Ishtar and Anu. He had all his labors and exploits carved in a lapis lazuli tablet. The tablet invites us to view the greatness of this city, its high walls, the foundations laid by the Seven Sages, etc. The story begins when Gilgamesh is a young king:

He is the son of [the now deified] King Lugalbanda and Ninsun ("Lady/Queen of the Wild Cow", a minor goddess), "2/3 of him god", with human form given by Lady of the Gods (Aruru, Belet-ili, Mother Goddess) and perfected by Nudimmud (Ea). He is a man of great beauty and physical prowess. He dug wells [oases] and restored the cult worship centers destroyed by the Flood.

However, he is young and oppresses his people harshly with tyranny, claiming the jus primae noctis with each bride, and constantly staging contests that apparently harass or humiliate the young men. The people call out to the sky-god Anu, the chief god of the city (and Father of the gods), to help them. In response, Anu tells the people to summon Aruru (Belet-ili, the Mother Goddess) to create a wild man, Enkidu, out in the harsh and wild forests surrounding Gilgamesh's lands. This brute Enkidu is equal in strength to Gilgamesh and is to serve as his rival to give Uruk some rest.

A hunter/trapper soon discovers Enkidu running naked roaming, grazing, and gathering at the water hole with the wild animals. The hunter's father advises him to go into the city and take the temple harlot Shamhat with him to the forest. When she sees Enkidu, she is to offer herself to the wild man. If he submits to her, the trapper says, he will lose his strength and his wildness and the animals will abandon him.

The hunter goes to Uruk and tells this story to Gilgamesh--he gives him the same advice as his father had, to take Shamhat to entice Enkidu.

Shamhat, encouraged by the hunter, meets Enkidu at the watering-hole where all the wild animals gather; she offers herself to him and he partakes nonstop for 6 days and 7 nights. The animals then shun him and he feels weakened and defiled, but he has gained reason and understanding. She offers to take him to Uruk and its temple to see all the joys of civilization--she offers to show him Gilgamesh, whom divine Shamash (the sun god) loves.

Shamhat tells Enkidu of Gilgamesh's two dreams which anticipated the arrival of Enkidu-Gilgamesh related these to his mother Ninsun: In the first a meteorite falls to earth which is so great that Gilgamesh can neither lift it nor turn it. The people gather around the meteorite, and Gilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife. His mother interprets that a comrade will come to him who will save him and whom she will make his equal. In the second, Gilgamesh dreams that an axe appears in a street. The people gather around the axe, and Gilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife. His mother again prophesies that a comrade will come to him who will save him and whom she will make his equal. Gilgamesh welcomes receiving the man who will counsel him.
Tablet 2: The taming of Enkidu; his fight and friendship with Gilgamesh; the proposed journey to the Forest of Cedar

Enkidu and Shamhat have coupled for 6 days and 7 nights. The shepherds in their camp teach him how to tend flocks, and give him bread to eat, ale to drink, and clothes. He is also cleaned up and shorn by a barber.

A man tells him of an upcoming wedding banquet. Gilgamesh will make his customary claim to the first night with the bride, which makes Enkidu angry. Enkidu enters the city of Uruk and the people recognize his similarity to Gilgamesh. As Enkidu enters the city, Gilgamesh is about to exert his claim to the bride's first night. Infuriated, Enkidu stands in front of the door of the marital chamber and blocks Gilgamesh's way. They fight furiously until Gilgamesh wins out; the two embrace and become devoted friends. Gilgamesh introduces Enkidu to his mother. Enkidu, who is an orphan and has no brother, weeps.

Gilgamesh proposes a quest (seemingly out of the blue): they are to journey to the great Forest of Cedar and cut down all the cedar trees (or a single great cedar). To do this, they will need to kill its guardian, the great demon Humbaba, created by Enlil (ruler of earth and men) to terrify men away. Enkidu knows about Humbaba from his days running wild in the forest, and fears him ("his voice is the Deluge, his speech is fire, and his breath is death"--he is second in fearfulness only to Adad, the Storm god). He tries in vain to convince Gilgamesh not to undertake this folly. Gilgamesh says "as for man, [his days] are numbered, whatever he may do, it is but wind". Enkidu reluctantly consents, and they forge great hatchets, axes, and daggers for the fight.

Gilgamesh announces to the crowd and the elders of Uruk his plans to cut down the cedar and win an eternal name for himself. They will all celebrate on his return. Enkidu asks the elders to stop Gilgamesh, who also fail to sway him.
Tablet 3: Preparations for the journey to the Forest of Cedar

The elders of the city protest Gilgamesh's endeavor, but agree reluctantly. They place his life in Enkidu's hands. Gilgamesh goes to ask his mother's blessing. She laments her son's fate in a prayer to Shamash (the sun-god and patron of travelers), asking why he had put such a restless spirit in her son and asking him for his protection, for his path to be well lit, for him to send winds against Humbaba, etc. She hopes that Gilgamesh will someday be made a god. Ninsun also adopts Enkidu as her son, and asks him to guard Gilgamesh's life.

Enkidu and Gilgamesh perform rituals to aid a safe journey. Gilgamesh instructs the officers in how to run the city in his absence. They again advise him to keep Enkidu out in front.

In panic, Enkidu again tries to convince Gilgamesh not to undertake this journey, but Gilgamesh is confident of success.
Tablet 4: Journey to the Forest of Cedar

The journey to the cedar forest takes 1 1/2 months, 50 leagues a day. On every 3rd day, they pitch camp and dig a well [an oasis]. Gilgamesh climbs to a mountain top and prays to Shamash to bring him a dream, and Enkidu makes a House of the Dream God to encourage these dreams. He guards the doorway to the house as Gilgamesh dreams. Shamash sends Gilgamesh prophetic dreams in the middle of the night. After each dream, Gilgamesh awakens sensing that a god has gone by. These dreams all seem ominous, but are given favorable interpretations by Enkidu:

(1) The first is only partially preserved and deals with a mountain that falls...
(2) In the second, Gilgamesh dreams that a mountain threw him down, but a man saves him--Enkidu says the mountain is not Humbaba.
(3) Gilgamesh dreams of the earth rumbling, a storm, darkness, lightning, fire... Enkidu interprets that the battle draws near, that they will see radiant auras of Humbaba, that Lugalbanda (Gilgamesh's father) will help him lock horns like a bull with Humbaba.
(4) Gilgamesh has seen a Thunderbird (Anzu, a lion-headed eagle or flying stallion) in the sky with mouth of fire, its breath death, as well as a man... Enkidu explains the man was Shamash and that they will bind the wings of the Thunderbird.
(5) Gilgamesh dreams of a bull he takes hold of and a [man] who gives him water. Enkidu says the bull represents Shamash who will aid them in their time of peril, and the man with water was Lugalbanda.

Near the entrance to the Forest of Cedar, Gilgamesh begins to cry with fear. Shamash calls to him, ordering him to hurry and enter the forest while Humbaba is not wearing all 7 cloaks of his armor [auras], but only one. Enkidu loses his courage and wants to withdraw, but Gilgamesh encourages him onward. Humbaba bellows. [They may begin fighting Humbaba here--a large part of the tablet is missing.]
Tablet 5: Combat with Humbaba

Gilgamesh and Enkidu admire the beautiful Forest of Cedar and the Mountain of Cedar where the gods and goddesses have their secret abode and throne. Enkidu encourages Gilgamesh. Hearing their sounds, Humbaba comes roaring up to them and warns them threateningly. Gilgamesh is fearful and considers retreating, but Enkidu encourages him to confront Humbaba head on. The fight begins. Shamash sends violent winds against Humbaba, and the men get the upper hand. Humbaba pleads for his life, offers Gilgamesh all his trees, but Enkidu insists that Gilgamesh kill him to establish his fame, even though the gods will be angry. Humbaba mockingly asks if Gilgamesh the king takes orders from his servant, and asks Enkidu to request his life be spared. Humbaba curses Enkidu, foretelling that Enkidu will not grow old. Gilgamesh draws his dirk and smites Humbaba in the neck, cutting off his head. The mountains quake and tremble. [Some of the following is from the older Old Babylonian version.] Gilgamesh also slays all 7 of Humbaba's auras. Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut down some of the trees of the cedar forest and in particular the tallest of the cedar trees, to make a great cedar gate for the city of Uruk. They build a raft out of the cedar and float down the Euphrates river to their city, bringing Humbaba's head.
Tablet 6: Ishtar and the Bull of Heaven

Back in Uruk, Gilgamesh cleans up and is dressed in his royal cloaks and crown. He attracts the attention of the goddess of sexual love Ishtar, who asks him to be her husband--she will grant his animals great fertility and strength, etc. But Gilgamesh refuses her with insults, citing all the mortal lovers that Ishtar has had, and recounting their dire fates. These included Dumuzi (Tammuz), the lover of her youth now doomed [to spend 6 months of the year in the Netherworld], the allalu-bird, the lion, the horse, the shepherd, the grazier, the herdsman, and even her father's gardener Ishullanu who she turned into a dwarf. Insulted and enraged at the slander, Ishtar ascends to her parents in heaven: the sky-god Anu and Antu [in other myths, she is the daughter of Sin the moon god]. She begs her father to let her have the Bull of Heaven [the constellation Taurus] to wreak vengeance on Gilgamesh and his city, saying otherwise she will release the dead from the Netherworld to eat the living. Anu gives her the nose-rope of the bull, and she leads it down into Uruk. The bull goes on a rampage, drying up the woods and the river, etc. When the bull snorts, pits are opened up in the earth and hundreds of people fall through to their deaths. Even Enkidu is almost killed. He seizes the bull by the tail and instructs Gilgamesh to kill it with his knife directed to a certain spot behind the horns, which Gilgamesh does. They offer the heart to Shamash. Ishtar laments, and Enkidu says that he and Gilgamesh might have killed her next. He rips off one of the haunches of the bull and hurls it toward her. Ishtar holds rites of mourning over the haunch while men admire Gilgamesh's bull trophy and he makes offerings to Lugalbanda. He boasts of his success and makes merry.
Tablet 7: Enkidu's vision of the Netherworld and his own death

Enkidu has a dream about a council of the gods. In it Enlil declares that one of the two men who have killed the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba must die. Shamash speaks up in their defense, and Enlil rebukes him. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh he knows that he is to die, and in a delirium he speaks to the door [city gate?] made from the great cedar, as if it were a man. He is blasphemous: had he known his fate, he would have used the cedar instead at Shamash's temple at Larsa, Ebabbara. Now as he weeps with Gilgamesh, he considers tearing it down. Gilgamesh chastises his friend, and says he will be left in sorrow by Enkidu's death. Gilgamesh will pray to Anu, Enlil, and Ea. Enkidu asks Gilgamesh not to make any material offerings. Enkidu then prays directly to Shamash for his life. Enkidu curses the hunter/trapper who found him, and especially the cultic harlot, Shamhat, foretelling a miserable and lonely fate for her--she who had weakened him and left him defiled.

But Shamash reminds Enkidu that Shamhat treated him well and introduced him to his friend. Gilgamesh will honor Enkidu in death. Enkidu relents and blesses the harlot--he predicts she will have many lovers including a wealthy man who abandon his wife.

Enkidu recounts a dream: a great demon comes to him, turns him into a dove, and drags him to "the house of darkness" Irkalla (the Netherworld and home of Ereshkigal), where all the dead end up. The House of Dust has various types of priests, former kings, the queen of the Netherworld Ereshkigal, her scribe Belet-seri, etc. She asks who has brought him there. [the rest is lost].

Enkidu asks Gilgamesh not to forget him and all they went through together. Enkidu lays sick for twelve days, expressing regret he does not die in combat and shall not make his name, finally dies.
Tablet 8: The funeral of Enkidu

Gilgamesh mourns deeply, and utters a long lament, ordering all to mourn his dead friend: the paths of the Forest of Cedar, the elders, the people, the hills and mountains, the pastures, trees, animals, rivers, the young men of Uruk, the shepherds, the brewer, Shamhat, etc. He compares Enkidu to a trusted weapon at his side, a wild ass, a donkey, and a panther. What is this sleep that has come over him? He covers the face of Enkidu, pulls out his own hair, and rips off his clothes.

At dawn, he calls for the artisans to construct an elaborate and ornate statue of Enkidu. Enkidu will be honored in the underworld. Gilgamesh will provide jewels, precious stones, gold, ivory, weapons, oxen and sheep, and other treasures to gain him favor with the gods and inhabitants of the underworld. He makes an offering to Ishtar, and to the moon god Namra-Sit [Sin], to Ereshkigal, to Dumuzi "the shepherd beloved of Ishtar", to Namtar [vizier of the Netherworld], Hushbisha (the stewardess), to Qassu-tabat [the sweeper], to Ninshuluhha (cleaner of the house), to Bibbu (the butcher), to Dumuzi-abzu (scapegoat of the Netherworld), ... [missing parts].

Gilgamesh considers damning the river [Euphrates, to construct a tomb in the river bed]. [The remaining description of the funeral is missing.]
Tablet 9: The wanderings of Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh continues to mourn, and wanders in the wild, contemplating that he will also die. He fears death, and seeks eternal life through Uta-napishti, son of Ubar-Tutu. [His tale of the Flood is told below.]

He comes to a mountain pass, sees lions, prays to the moon god Sin. Later that night he grows glad of life and kills the lions, eats them and clothes himself in their skins. He digs wells [oases] that have not existed before.

Shamash asks him where he is wandering, and Gilgamesh wonders if he will be able to rest in the Netherworld. Gilgamesh asks when the dead will see the rays of the sun again.

He arrives at the twin mountains of Mashu which guards the sun at sunrise and sunset [?] and support the heavens. Scorpion men, whose glance is death, guard its gates as well as the sun at sunrise and sunset. Gilgamesh covers his face. They realize that Gilgamesh is part god and ask him why he has come, observing that no man has reached these mountains before. Gilgamesh says he is seeking Upa-napishti, who found eternal life and may be able to tell him the secret. Unable to deter him, they describe an underground route or dark tunnel under the mountains, the path of the Sun-God [when the sun returns to the east at night?]... They wish him a safe passage [warning him that he must get to the end before the sun catches up with him]. In darkness he hurries through the passage and emerges in advance of the Sun. He has entered a garden of jewels, with carnelian trees in bloom, a lapis lazuli tree, other trees made of precious stone, jewels, and coral. He is seen by a female figure [Shiduri?].
Tablet 10: Gilgamesh travels to Uta-napishti at the edge of the world

Shiduri is a wise old tavern keeper who lives by the sea-shore. She sees him coming and bars the gate. He threatens to smash down the door, and she allows him in. He tells of his friend Enkidu, how they slew Humbaba, etc. She wonders why he now appears so gaunt, why he sorrows so. He laments again the loss of his friend. He did not relinquish his body until maggots dropped from his nostril! He tells of his own intense fear of death, of turning to clay like Enkidu. He asks for the way to Upa-napishti the Distant across the ocean. Shiduri says there is no longer a way for humans to make this journey--only Shamash can cross the ocean, it is a perilous journey, and midway lie the Waters of Death. She tells him of Ur-shanabi, Uta-napishti's boatman, who with the Stone Ones is the only one who can travel across the Water's of Death and survive. Gilgamesh rushes and attacks the Stone Ones, smashing them and throwing them into the river. He then encounters Ur-shanabi. Ur-shanabi also asks why he appears so gaunt, and he again tells of losing his friend, of their exploits, and his own fear of death and desire for immortality. He asks him about the way to Uta-napishti. The ferryman tells him that this has been prevented, since the Stone Ones, who were essential, have been destroyed by Gilgamesh. Soon, apparently changing his mind, he advises Gilgamesh to cut several trees down to serve as punting-poles of great length and thus an alternative form of propulsion. With the many punting poles, Gilgamesh can push the boat and never touch the dangerous Waters of Death. They make the journey in 3 days. After Gilgamesh used up all the poles, he makes a sail out of Ur-shanabi's garments.

At last, they approach the distant shore. Uta-napishti wonders who Gilgamesh is. Uta-napishti asks him why he is so gaunt and Gilgamesh again tells of losing Enkidu, their exploits, his fear of dying, his grieving, etc. He has had little sleep, has scourged himself, etc. Uta-napishti tells him not to chase sorrow, that his lot when a well-fed and clothed king was better than that of the fool [probably suggesting his present state]. He speaks words of wisdom: the responsibility of a king to provide for his people and the temples, etc.; man is destined to die, to be "snapped off like a reed in a canebrake", death is inevitable for all men; the river rises and the flood washes away the houses of men; the dead are like the abducted. He tells of the assembly of the Anunnaki, the great gods [mostly of the Netherworld], how they established Death and Life with Mammitum (Aruru/Mother Goddess).
Tablet 11: Uta-napishti denies him immortality; Gilgamesh returns to Uruk

Gilgamesh asks Uta-napishti how he came to be immortal, and Uta-napishti recounts the story of how he and his wife were the sole human survivors of the Deluge and Flood:

He was the king of Shuruppak, on the banks of the Euphrates. The gods decided to send down the Deluge (apparently Enlil especially wished to punish mankind). Ea slyly warned Uta-napishti to build a boat, abandon his wealth, and take aboard the seed of all living things. He obeyed Ea, and deceptively told his fellow citizens, as instructed, that he was hated by Enlil and could no longer live on his ground, but must go to Ocean Below (Apsu) to live with Ea. He also deceived them, saying that abundant rain, birds, fishes, bread-cakes, and wheat would come to them. The carpenter, ship-wright, and reed-worker assembled at dawn and began construction. The ship [actually a barge] was to be one acre in area, square in shape, with 6 decks, well sealed with pitch and tar. He fed the workers well. They oiled the boat. At last he went aboard the boat with all his wordily wealth, silver and gold, many creatures, and his kin, and he sealed the hatch. He gave his palace to the shipwright. At dawn, the Storm God Adad brought up great clouds. The god of wanton devastation Errikal [a manifestation of Nergal] uprooted mooring poles, Ninurta [Enlil's son] made the weirs overflow, and the Anunnaki started fires over the countryside. Adad then smashed the land to pieces with powerful winds. Then the Deluge came, which was so intense it even frightened the gods, who fled to Anu in heaven. Belet-ili [Mother Goddess] cried out in despair, lamenting that her speaking out in the god's assembly had brought this punishment on to the very humans to whom she had given birth. The Anunnaki gods also wept. The storm, wind, and Deluge all lasted 6 days and 7 nights, then came to an end. All the people had turned to clay, the flood plain flattened. The boat ran aground [i.e., perched above the submerged peak] of Mount Nimush [in the Zagros mountains ? of Kurdistan]. Uta-napishti released a dove, the next day a swallow, the next day a raven--when the latter does not return, he knew that he was near land. He made sacrifices which pleased the gods, who gathered like flies (since the absence of humans had left them starved for sacrifices). Belet-ili blamed Enlil for causing this destruction. Enlil arrived angry, wanting to be sure that there was not even a single survivor. Ea accused him of a lack of good counsel, that he could have used other means to punish and diminish the numbers of men without destroying them completely. Enlil debated what to do with Uta-napishti, and Ea acknowledged that he was responsible for warning him. Enlil decided to make Uta-napishti and his wife immortal.

Uta-napishti now challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for 7 nights [presumably as a test of how worthy for immortality he is], but the exhausted Gilgamesh quickly falls asleep. Uta-napishti has his wife bake a loaf of bread and place it by Gilgamesh each day he sleeps. Thus, by means of the varying states of decay of the loaves, he proves to Gilgamesh when he awakens how long he has slept (initially, Gilgamesh thinks it has only been a moment). Gilgamesh again expresses his fear of Death. Uta-napishti banishes Ur-shanabi for bringing the forbidden visitor. He asks Ur-shanabi to clean Gilgamesh up, cast off the pelts and dress him in royal robes, and return him to his kingdom. They prepare to return by boat. Uta-napishti offers Gilgamesh a parting gift in the form of instructions for finding a prickly plant, the "Plant of Heartbeat" that will restore youth. Gilgamesh burrows down to the Ocean Below and retrieves the plant [coral?]. Gilgamesh plans to test it's effectiveness on an old man first. But on their way back, they stop by a pool and bathe, and a snake sneaks up and steals the plant, youthfully shedding its skin in the process. Gilgamesh weeps at losing the only treasure he brings from the trip--and he lacks the tools to reopen the channel to the Ocean Below, even if he did turn back.

Back at last in Uruk, he tells Ur-shanabi to climb the walls and admire the foundations laid by the Seven Sages, etc. [just as the first tablet had urged].