Miscellaneous Myths: The Theogony (Greek Creation Myth)

Miscellaneous Myths: The Theogony (Greek Creation Myth)

You know how urban fantasy writers really like doing that “all myths are true” thing, so they try really hard to find some way to make sense of every world mythology being real all at once? And how sometimes it works okay, but sometimes it just comes across as really busy and incoherent? Well, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about Greek mythology: Hesiod did it first. See, Greek mythology isn’t internally consistent– –because no mythology is– –but that didn’t stop Greek writers like Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer and one of the earliest sources we have, from trying to make consolidated narratives out of every random regional myth they could get their hands on. In Hesiod’s case, his efforts famously produced the Theogony, an attempt to outline the genealogy of EVERY SINGLE GREEK GOD. I’m not talkin’ the Big Twelve here–I mean ALL of ’em. You wanna know the names of all 50 Nereids? All 3,000 Oceanid nymphs? Well, Hesiod maybe can’t give you all 3,000, but he’s more than happy to rattle off 41 of ’em! Ever wonder what specific combination of Titanic boinking produced the Oneiroi? The Ash Nymphs? The Hesperides? Well, don’t you worry–Hesiod has it down! Everyone’s got a place in the family tree! EVERYONE. So, yeah, on a scale of 1 to American Gods, Hesiod’s ranking maybe a 3 and 1/2 on the Actually Making This Interesting Meter. That said, the Theogony is more than the world’s most pompous flash card set. Scattered haphazardly through its endless lists of meaningless names is a genuinely fascinating narrative of gods and monsters and the creation of the ancient Greek world we all know and love. So, let’s set aside the genealogical aspect for now and focus on the fun part: the ancient Greek creation myth. So, in the beginning, there’s nothing but Khaos, a vague entity representing some sort of primordial emptiness pre-anything happening. But it’s not alone for long, as soon enough, Gaia, Tartaros, and Eros pop out of nowhere, representing the primordial earth, abyss, and existential concept of love, respectively. Khaos takes a cue and spoots out Erebos and Nyx–darkness and night, respectively– –and then, I guess, goes and takes a nap, because that’s the last we hear of it forever. While Nyx and Erebos are off bumping abstract concepts and creating the day-night cycle, Gaia crafts herself a partner: an equal and opposite in the form of Ouranos, the sky to her earth. The two of them promptly get bizay and crank out three sets of siblings: first, twelve Titans, then three Cyclopses, and finally, three Hecatoncheires, ludicrously powerful giants with fifty heads and a hundred arms each. Now, the Titans, Cyclopses, and Hecatoncheires have their differences, but they’re united in their complete and utter hatred of Ouranos for… seemingly no reason at first, although it rapidly becomes justified, when Ouranos takes to imprisoning his more monstrous-looking children in secret locations under the earth. Gaia gets fed up with Ouranos’ shenanigans and comes up with a plan to knock him down a peg. She forges a sickle out of grey adamant and calls up her Titan children, asking them to help her take down Ouranos so they can take his place ruling the universe. The Titans are a bit skittish, but the youngest, Kronos–Titan of the harvest–accepts the task, and ambushes Ouranos, castrating him with the sickle. And in case you were wondering what happened to the balls, don’t you worry! Hesiod’s worldbuilding rule is “waste not, want not.” They fall into the ocean and start foaming, and from that foam arises none other than the radiant Aphrodite, who presumably spent the next few millennia showering with a thousand-yard stare. So Kronos supplants Ouranos, and Ouranos officially dubs him and his siblings Titans, which apparently means “stretchers,” the idea being that they stretched beyond their means in order to overthrow him. So this is officially when the Titan Age begins. Coincidentally, this is also around the time a whole bunch of death and destruction gods and classic monsters start popping out of the woodwork. So Kronos takes his sister Rhea as a wife and they start cranking out kids, but Gaia and Ouranos warn Kronos that he’s fated to be overthrown by one of his children. So as a safety precaution, Kronos swallows each of his children as soon as they’re born. Bit extreme, but I guess the god of safe contraceptive measures didn’t exist yet. After losing Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon to Kronos’ exceedingly inefficient heir-disposal method, Rhea asks Gaia and Ouranos for help keeping her sixth kid–Zeus–alive, and Gaia spirits the baby away to a secret location in the mountains while Rhea replaces him with a blanket-covered rock. So young Zeus is raised in secret by Gaia, and somewhere along the line decides the thing to do is supplant his father Kronos and take his place as ruler of the universe. So, with the help of Metis–an Oceanid nymph with a serious talent for cunning plans– he slips Kronos a poison that causes him to throw up the kids he ate. Zeus, now allied with his five siblings, gives himself an additional edge by freeing the three Cyclopses from their prison, and in gratitude, they forge him his lightning bolts. Zeus, now geared up with weapons and allies, rallies support from the frankly ridiculous number of minor gods running around at this point and goes to war with the Titans. The conflict lasts for ten straight years, until Gaia suggests that Zeus could maybe free the Hecatoncheires, too, and it turns out the ridiculously strong, fifty-headed, hundred-handed, rock-chuckin’ giants were exactly what he needed to turn the tables and finally overthrow Kronos. Kronos and his allies are thrown into Tartaros and Zeus takes his place as King of the Cosmos, after a short interlude, where he, Poseidon, and Hades draw lots to determine who exactly gets to lord over what bits of the universe. So, Zeus marries Metis and she gets pregnant, but Zeus is warned by Gaia and Ouranos that Metis is destined to bear thoughtful children more cunning than Zeus: first a daughter, and then a son, who will eventually overthrow him. Determined to stay Super-Cool God-Emperor of Everything forever, Zeus reacts by eating Metis, but not in, like, a murder way; in, like, a… subsuming-her-essence-into-himself-so-she-can-provide-him-with-wisdom-and-advice kind of way… Is that better…? Eh, still a huge dick move. Also really ironic, considering Metis helped him overthrow Kronos by making him puke. Guess the lesson here is “never do any favors for Zeus.” In the meantime, Zeus marries Hera, and she has Ares and Hephaistos, then he has a fling with Leto that produces Artemis and Apollo, and then one day, Zeus develops an absolutely splitting headache. And when he responds extremely literally by actually splitting his head open to relieve the pressure, Metis’ daughter Athena pops out of his forehead, fully grown and ready to kick some ass. Turns out, absorbing your pregnant wife can have unforeseen medical consequences. *extremely sped up* Ask your doctor if absorbing your pregnant spouse is right for you. Side effects may include migraines, dizziness, and childbirth. *normal speed* Anyway, rounding out the Olympian roster, Zeus has a fling with the Pleiad Maia, producing Hermes, and lastly, a complicated fling with the moral Semele, producing the equally-complicated Dionysos. Zeus, having successfully dodged the destiny of being supplanted by his own kid by learning the lessons of history that his father failed to internalize, proceeds to flagrantly bang his way across the entire Mediterranean, secure in the knowledge that this could literally NEVER go badly for him. Ever. EVER. Nope–Zeus’ divine down-unders are a consequence-free zone. Except that one time where he had to specifically not bang Thetis because she was fated to bear a son stronger than his father, but other than that, no worries, right? Seriously. Why keep tempting fate? Just bag it up if ruling the cosmos is so important to you. ♫ Welcome to your life ♫ ♫ There’s no turning back ♫ ♫ Even while we sleep ♫ ♫ We will find you acting on your best behavior ♫ ♫ Turn your back on Mother Nature ♫ ♫ Everybody wants to rule the world ♫ *guitar* ♫ It’s my own design ♫ ♫ It’s my own remorse ♫ ♫ Help me to decide ♫ ♫ Help me make the most of freedom and of pleasure ♫ ♫ Nothing ever lasts forever ♫ ♫ Everybody wants to rule the world ♫

Comments (100)

  1. Zeus the god of one-night stands

  2. What's that song you used at 4:30? The song that is used every time shit gets serious in a weird way

  3. Hestia the overlooked

  4. Briareus ima use that name

  5. Anyone else kind of miffed that Athena can't be the one to overthrow Zeus because she's a *womz????*
    Like…Athena should overthrow Zeus and be Queen of Olympus. Fullstop.

  6. What about Typhon?

  7. Local god too horny to function

  8. If she was gonna have two babies then why did only one baba, homegirl Athena, show up? She probably absorbed him in the “womb” or more likely the head. ‘‘Tis why she is the goddess of lots o’ things.

  9. Can anyone provide the name of the song at 3:14

  10. 4:07 Someone please tell me what music this is

  11. Kratos is definitely an asshole in the original 3 games, but boy do I not feel sorry for Zues

  12. Oh well this is awesome!!!

  13. What's the background music when zuse got a headache and boom athena came out. And I cant spell.

  14. What songs were used in the background of the video?

  15. I have a theory that Metis is still inside of Zeus seething over being betrayed and waiting for the day she will be freed. At which point she will start plotting her revenge by first turning into the type of gal Zeus would typically hump in order to seduce him and wa-lah she will have the son she needs to bring Zeus down Morgan Le Fey style.

  16. Why are were there gay men in Greece but no lesbians?

  17. 1:54 I think I know where you live =P


  19. It’s always a good idea to swallow your children if they are destined to beat you XD

  20. The reason the Titans, Cyclopses and Hecatoncheires hated Oranos was because he would not stop bonking his mother long enough to let his children be born.

  21. 0:12 One author that does this really well is Rick Riordan.

  22. Extra Credit version is so dark, I definitely prefer this one

  23. Gonna just say this.
    Metus was destined to bear a child meant to overthrow Zeus First a daughter then a son. Zeus reacts by absorbing her. Zeus is now part Metus. Athena comes out his head. A daughter. Then later Zeus inadvertently kills a lover who has a premature baby as a result. He stitches the baby to his leg to help him grow.
    So technically Dionysus could be considered the second child of Metus, as Zues it now one with her. And he's clearly a son.
    So clearly Zeus I keeping the kiddo drunk, still trying to delay the inevitable XD.

  24. This guy made the entire family tree!?

  25. Aphrodite… is Zeus’s aunt

  26. I would kill for a full cover of everybody wants to rule the world from Red

  27. My headcanon is that Hades became lord of the underworld because, who knows, maybe he really only took it to be as far away from this flock of overpowered, wreckless doucebags as possible XD who wouldn't rather sit in a place they stay clear of with a queen (eventually), a few other trusted allies and a giant dog 🙂 most stories about him kind of boil down to him taking his job very seriously and trying to keep the life-death balance up, right? (perhaps another reason why he wanted Persephone to be his wife – two godesses of fertility may have made the balance difficult) Last but not least, his concept is kind of philosophical … like, everyone avoids death, of course, but if you take a closer look, it’s in no way evil. Like I said, someone responsible is taking care of everything in that relation 🙂
    Edit: plus, his house was described as „full of guests“, so he wasn’t lonely in any way – in the end he‘s the personified happy outcast who‘s perfectly fine with only being surrounded by people he personally likes

  28. Can we get like maybe mp3 links to the song covers at the end.

  29. Wait who was metis' son

  30. 4:35 They fused i guess

  31. Slowed the Athena birth bit…noice

  32. I'm surprised that no Ancient Greek poet made a character that Zeus didn't know the name of until after she had a son. And when he did find out, it was Metis. And then Zeus panics because he probably won't be able to get rid of this kid through normal means because they're, at the very least, a demigod.

  33. Zeus: I was destined to rule the sky

    Posiden: I was destined to rule the sea

    Hades: Oh, well imagine as I'm pacing the pews in a church corridor and I can't help but to hear, no I can't help but to hear an exchanging of words….. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WEDDING!

  34. 5:23 name of song plz

  35. No one:

    Not even the eaten Metis:

    Zeus: has a mini rave in his head

  36. Why the heck did Hades have to be cute af? Damn it OSP, you turned me bi

  37. Causes of problems in Ancient Greece;
    5%: hubris
    5%: prophecy
    90%: Zeus refusing to keep his toga on for more than 10 minutes

  38. Hey, in my mind, Kratos is the canon bookend to all this shit

  39. The anime Ayashi no ceres, a fairy loses her wings or refered to as a scarf or cloak and scientists were hiding it and doing experiments.

  40. "Welcome to the esoteric birth club!"
    That one killed me😂😂😂👌

  41. When Kronos was eating his children, he be like “ GET IN MAH BELLY!”

  42. Honestly, I love seeing curbstomp battles (or at least, battles strongly in one’s favor instead of totally) on this channel

    The person winning either just does an attack with a semi-bored expression


  43. 1:11 – I know it's greek mithology, but still… What the Helheim?!

  44. Hades is a emo boy

  45. I love her baby hands! I’ve watched the channel for years and I don’t know how I haven’t noticed them!

  46. I still love the singing as the credits go by, feels so homely

  47. How is the song from 1:06 called?

  48. Zeus is very big brain.

  49. gotta buy the Theogony

    BUT HOW?

  50. Not gonna lie, Kronos looks badass with his sickle in your art style.

  51. Come oooon. Cut Zeus some slack. As you said. The God of Contraceptives hadn’t been born yet. So he had to keep trying until he/she was. 😉

  52. The moment I saw Kratos on screen the only thing I heard was "ZEUS!!!!!!!!"

  53. Two words: BABY HADES 🥺

  54. What the song at 5:23?

  55. I legit love teenage Hades

  56. How is aeros around before aphrodite


  58. behold: the mighty titans, the fearful cyclopeses, and the heck-tonk dudes

  59. 4:46 – poor Hefasteus

  60. Man Rick Riodans gonna have his hands full should he start messing with the Aztecs

  61. I can't believe this was posted a year ago. It felt like just a few months at best. You, Red and Blue, are doing amazing jobs as creators and I wish you both only the most amazing and truly mystifying adventures. We all appreciate you two.

  62. I love how I feel like I remember more about Greek Mythology from Percy Jackson than I do from my Philosophy lectures XD

  63. Hades is best boy.

  64. I mean, what about Amalthea, the goat/nymph that nursed baby Zeus? and the fun story of what become of the stone that Kronus vomited up that Rhea had switched out with Zeus?

  65. That kinda makes sense, seeing that the fertility goddess came from a very fertile organ.

  66. wait I thought it was a scythe not a sickle

  67. Wait wait wait
    Isnt Eros Aphrodite's son?
    But he was made before her???

  68. The ending song is really pretty that’s ones my favorite cover you’ve sang

  69. Funny thing is Kronos was afraid he was gonna get castrated himself….and we all know how that ended

  70. I recently picked up Supergiant's new game "Hades" on early access on Steam. You play as Zagreus, secretly child to Hades and Persephone (the rest of the characters, Olympians included, believe you're the child of NYX and Hades) trying to climb out of the underworld to meet his birth mother.

    You also encounter "Chaos, the primordial originator" as part of gameplay/story. Needless to say both this video and the one on Dionysus (who according to said video has an epthet named Zagreus. That's fkin wild) is UTTERLY fascinating in that context.

    Big kudos.

  71. I often wonder what became of that prophecy about Zeus’s son who was destined to be more powerful than him/could overthrow him, too. Like, I thought “fate” was unavoidable even to the gods, so at some point the prophecy would have to come true, right? Idk.

  72. Red: Theogony
    Me: The agony
    My mom: slaps me with her slipper

  73. ‘All myths are true’… I want to see one where Yog sothoth and Cthulhu exist alongside the Greek gods.

  74. This is one of my favourite videos, period.

  75. Ah heck, I'll go ahead and say it: A while back, while I was on a big Greek Mythology kick, I made a comic based on the Greek Creation Myth which, though I never finished it, I'm still kind of proud of (I'm gonna remake it though, since my artstyle has changed a LOT since then). I cut it off at the point where Zeus was born because, tbh, I mostly wanted to focus on the Protogenoi, but I still had fun with it! I'm especially happy with some of the choices I made for the Protogenoi's designs–I made a good 80% of them dinosaurs.

  76. Heck you ouranos, Heck you chronos, heck you Zeus. THE POOR CHILDREN

  77. Try out Shin Megami Tensei. It's basically the predecessor to Pokémon in which you catch actual gods, demons, angels and heroes from various myths and religions.

  78. 3:41 they are so young and adorable.

  79. That one giant in the 2:00 mark is pointing upwards in a style that a founding father has.

    Did u just slip in a Hamilton reference?

  80. Gaia didn't craft Uranus she gave birth to him then married to him

  81. 4:45 oh no Hera casually throwing Hephaestus over her shoulder

  82. I thought the first of the hecatoncheiries was named brian…

  83. 01:41 And that the moment the most old pun was created. Uranus.

  84. The ending the best ,your signing is amazing >-< !!!! I wish i could listen to more songs like dis !!
    Sorry im being annoying ;-:

  85. I wonder if Zeus gets a panic attack every time he gets a migraine? Does he think "Oh no, will my destroyer pop out of my head now?"

  86. What is the song at 5:25 called?

  87. Kronos lived long enough to see himself become the villian O__O

  88. I really like when Kissing Strangers shows up, always makes me laugh

  89. "I can bang everything less than SIX legs!" XD

  90. Wait a sec, was Chronos the youngest of the Titans, or the oldest?

  91. 5:11 broke my 50$ headphones. Granted they were 4 years old

  92. gaea and ouranous is like those mother and son fling movies where the mom ends up pregnant and the dad is like what the fuck

  93. 5:29 sooooooooooooooo, when does Kratos come in to this?

  94. The part with Zeus interacting with Thetis at end is kind of funny, MAINLY with Thetis giving the guy a look like are you really Zeus? I heard he comes on to any women?

  95. Weirdly enough, other myths place Nyx as the primordial thing before all things even Chaos.

  96. You know, i TRIED to listen to the original version of the song at the end AFTER listening to the Ruule version and i just thought, "how could this ever NOT be disturbing and creepy?"

  97. Aphrodite is stored in the balls

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