***Courtesy Of Lady.Grey***
Chaos: Chaos was the first being to come into existence and few details are given on Chaos, as it was an empty void that simply appeared. Chaos was lifeless matter, with no form, and held all the elements. Some myths say that Chaos actually originated from the two Gods below: Anake and Khronos. Though Hesoid and Ovid disagree.
The Protogenoi: The earliest beings that originated from Chaos. These primeval gods were the first elements of the universe itself; Air, Earth, Sea , Sky, Underworld, Darkness, Night, Light, Day, Procreation, Time.
Ananke (Anance): The Goddess of inevitability, compulsion & necessity, who created herself. She was shown as a serpent-like being who encompassed the universe within her arms. She is forever coiled around Khronos, her mate.
Khronos (Chronus): God of Time. Similar to Anake, he was self-formed. He is shown with a serpent-like body and three heads: a mans, a bulls, and a lions. He doubled as the Titan Kronos and was referred to as 'Father Time.’
Gaia (Gaea): Goddess of Earth. She was known as the ‘Great Mother' and bore children to Ouranos, Pontos, & Tartaros. In artwork she is shown as a motherly looking women, clothed in green, never able to leave her element and attached to the Earth. In mythology she was the adversary of most other Gods. She fought with her husband Ouranos when he locked her sons away inside her. Then she fought her own son when he did the same, helping Zeus to fight him. Then she fought Zeus when he bound her Titan-borne sons in Tartaros.
Ouranos (Uranus : God of Sky. He was a personification of the sky and husband of Gaia. In art, he is not shown for some significant amount of time. Though in the Roman-era, he appeared behind Gaia with the zodiac wheel in his hand. Together with Gaia, he had 12 sons and 6 daughters. He locked his eldest, Kyklopes and Hekatonkheires, in the Earth because he was disgusted by their appearances. When Gaia had her sons rebel, four took their places at the corners of the world and held him down. The fifth took a sickle that was given to him by his mother and castrated Ouranos. His blood fell to Earth and made the Erinyes and Gigantes.
Eros:God of Love and Procreation. In Hesoid's version of the beginning, he describes Eros as 'fairest among the deathless Gods'. Sometimes he was referred to as 'Phanes' and thought of as equal to 'Thesis' and 'Physis'. In pre-Homeric myth, he was the son of Aether and Hemera. Appearance-wise, Eros is shown as a youthful boy with golden wings, usually carrying a bow and arrows that were gold-tipped.
Nyx:Goddess of Night. A firstborn elemental god, daughter of Chaos. She bore children to her brother, Erebus, and some of her own creation. Her children include Aether (Light), Hemera (Day), Moros (Doom), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), Charon, the Fates, Nemesis (Retribution), and Eris (Strife). Most of her other children were personifications of vague abstracts. Apate (Deceit), Geras (Old Age), the Keres (Dooms), Momos (Blame), Oizus (Misery),and Philotes (Tenderness). Nearly all of them dwelt in the underworld. She is either shown as simply night, or as a winged Goddess.
Erebos (Erebus): An elemental God of Darkness. Erebus was born along with Gaea, Eros and Nyx. He was both brother and consort to Nyx. He fathered Aether and Hemera. He was thought to be a personification of a specific region in the Underworld where the dead must pass, being near Tartarus. Hades was another name of his. His dark mist encompassed the edge of the world and filled the hallows of Earth. He is not shown in most art.
Tartarus: Personification of the deepest part of the Underworld.
Aither (Aether): Another elemental God. He was God of Upper Air (the heavens). Above him was Ouranos, and below passed his mother Nyx and his sister Hemera. Some mythology shows his counterpart as being Aithre, the Titanis of Clear Blue Sky. Aether is thought of as the highest of the airs, the air that the Gods themselves breathe. The middle being Chaos and the last being Erebus. Some say he was the father of Uranus. In Hesoid's Theology, Aether acted as Zeus's defensive wall that locked Tartarus away from the rest of the Cosmos. He is called the 'Soul of the world'.
Hemera: Goddess of Day. Daughter of both Erebus and Nyx, and sister/wife of Aether. Hemera's job was to disperse night's mist and let light from the heavens shine down to Earth in order to bring morning. She was closely identified to Hera and Eos, though Hesiod describes her as more of a divine substance rather than a being. However, in Cicero's De Natura Deorum it is said that if Uranus is a God than Hemera must be as well. Mythology lists Thalassa as their child.
Pontus: Personification of the Sea. Son of Gaea. He fathered Nereus, Eurybia, Thaumas and Phorcys. He also fathered the sea beast, Ceto. His son was more prevalent in Mythology. It is said that his wife was Thalassa.
Nereus: A God of the Sea. He married Doris and bore the Nereids, which are fifty sea-nymphs. It is said that he is a shape-shifter and has prophetic powers.
Ourea: Primeval Gods, sometimes thought of as Spirits, of each mountain.
Okeanos (Oceanus): Titan God or the river Okeanos, which circled the entire Earth. His wife was Tethys. Together they formed the river gods and nymps of springs and fountains. He was less active than his brother, Titans. He did not help castrate Ouranos and did not fight the young Olympian Gods. He is shown with bull horns atop his head, the lower half of his body being serpentine.
Nesoi: Primeval Gods of the islands. It is said that Poseidon broke them apart and cast them into the sea.
The Nymphai (Nymphs) : generally female deities who were personifications/beings of certain types of landforms. They can be categorized as such: Celestial Nymphs, Wood Nymphs, Water Nymphs, Land Nymphs and Underworld Nymphs. Though there are a few exceptions to this: for instance, the Naides, the Muses, and such. Some nymphs were classified by their locations. They were close to the Gods of nature (Hermes, Dionysus, Artemis, Poseidon, Demeter). Usually nymphs are shown as beautiful women who dwell in the wilderness. Their numbers were infinite. They, of course, were ranked far low below Gods, Goddesses, Demigods, but they often attended meetings and activities on Olympus.
Classes of Nymphai:
- Anthousai- Flower Nymphs.
- Aurai- Cooling Breeze Nymphs
- Bakkhai- Bacchic Nymphs
- Boukolai- Same thing as Epimelides. Rustic Nymphs
- Dryades- Forest Nymphs (tree nymphs, oreiades mountain nymphs, meliai ash-tree nymphs, hamadryades oak nymphs, meliades fruit tree nymphs)
- Epimelides- Pasture Nymphs
- Halial- Sea Nymphs (This includes the Nereides)
- Heleionomai- Fresh Water & Marsh Nymphs
- Krenaiai- Well Nymphs
- Lampades- Torch Bearers
- Leimenides- Water-Meadow Nymphs
- Limnatides- Lake Nymphs
- Meliades- Crazed Nymphs (often tore men/animals apart and ate them)
- Melial- Honey Nymphs
- Melissai- Honey Nymphs
- Naiades- Usually daughters of River Gods
- Nephelai- Cloud Nymphs
- Nymphai- Minor spirits of nature.
- Pegaiai- Spring Nymphs
- Potameides- River Nymphs
- Thyiades- Wild Nymphs
Note: These are various types of nymphs found all throughout Greek literature. They do not all show up in the same sources, same time, etc.
Cetus- meaning Sea-Monster
Belua Ponti- meaning Monsters of the Deep
The Ketea were the monsters of the Sea. They were depicted as long serpent-like fish with row after row of sharp teeth. Sometimes they were shown having Nereides riding side-saddle on them. They were said to lurk at the very bottom of the water, due to their massive size and presumably heavy figures. Certainly the stories of these near-invincible, deadly beasts scared early sailors and fishermen.
Translation means 'Millipede'.
Gigantic sea-monsters with hair lining their nostrils at the end of its large snout,flat and long crayfish-like tails and rows of webbed feet lining their flanks. These feet propelled the Skolopendra through the water at amazing speeds, often (supposedly) turning over Greek merchant ships. Many brave men tried to hunt the Skolopendra but it was said to possess the ability to throw out its stomach to rid itself of any hooks, then swallow its stomach and put it back in place. The Skolopendra is unique in nature, considering it is one of few sea-monsters that did not originate from Poseidon.
The Ketos Troias: (translation meaning 'Trojan Sea-Monster') was sent by Poseidon to ravage the land of Troy. Kind Laomedon refused to pay Poseidon for building the city walls. A local oracle prophesied that the king must give up his daughter as a sacrifice to sate the beast. Laomedon, realizing his mistake, chained Hesione to the rocks lining the water. She was rescued by Herakles and the Ketos Troias was killed with a fish-hook. It is depicted as a large water dragon.
The Ketos Aithiopios: (translation meaning 'Monster of the Deep') was another sea-beast sent by Poseidon to ravage Aithiopia. Queen Kassiopeia boasted that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than the Nereides. Andromeda was chained to the rocks as a sacrifice for the beast. However, Perseus saw the girl and slew the beast- flying away to make her his bride. It's argued over whether he turned the monster to stone with Medusa's head, which he was carrying back to Greece. The Ketos Aithiopios is most commonly referred to as 'The Kraken'. Interestingly enough, the 'Kraken' can be found in many other stories- not just Greek. They were said to lurk near Norway/Iceland and drag ships down. Mythology describes them as being many armed, or tentacled, and nearly as tall as mountains. The artwork based off them resembles cephalopoda such as giant squids with hard shells like giant turtles.
Delphin (translated to dolphin) was an attendant of Poseidon. He served
Poseidon and helped him as a messenger. However, one day when Poseidon's
wooing scared Amphitrite away, Delphin found the nymph and convinced her to marry Poseidon. He was made into a constellation as a show of Poesidons gratitude.
This is not a surprising story, since dolphins are found in many Greek myths. They were portrayed as 'helpers of men’. They were scared to both Aphrodite and Apollo, serving as messengers for Poseidon.
Skylla (or Scylla) and Kharybdis (or Charybdis) are a well-known part of Homer's 'Odyssey'. Scylla, meaning to tear or rend, was a monstrous seabeast (though its debated as to whether or not she was a goddess) that dwelled within the rocks of a narrow strait sitting opposite of Kharybdis.
She had six heads that would dart out and steal men from their ships if they passed too close.In ancient pottery or drawings she is shown as a goddess with a large fish-tail and clusters of canine parts around her midsection. Homer gives a lengthy description of her. Skylla had twelve feet, six gigantic necks (each adorned with a terrifying head that was lined with three rows of teeth). Her voice sounded similar to the yelps of a dog. Thusly, it is not surprising that the greek word 'skyllaros' means hermit-crab, 'skylax' means dog or dog-shark and the word 'skyllo' means 'to rend'.
Kharybdis, on the other hand, had a name that translated roughly to swallow and belch. It was either a sea monster or a goddess who was in the form of a huge whirlpool. It swirled opposite of Skylla, into the straits of Messina. It is debated as to whether Kharybdis was a goddess of tides, or a living personification of whirlpools. Nevertheless, she was identical to Keto Trienos or Ceto, a marine goddess who went by the name 'Three Times'.
Seirenes, or Sirens, are famous in mythology for being sea nymphs that lured sailors to a cold, rocky death by singing bewitching songs. The Latin word siren translates into Entwiner or Binder. "They are mantic creatures like the Sphinx with whom they have much in common, knowing both the past and the future," Harrison observed. "Their song takes effect at midday, in a windless calm. The end of that song is death." Some stories portray the sirens as handmaidens to Persephone. When Hades took her, Demeter (her mother) gave them each bodies of birds and sent them to find her. They gave up and settled on the island of Anthemoessa. Sometimes they were thought to be the daughters of Achelous, a river God. The Argonauts encountered them, yet passed unharmed as Orpheus drowned out their bewitching song with his own. Then Odysseus sailed through and was bound the his mast, all of his men having their ears stuffed with wax. In distress and frustration, the sirens threw themselves against the rocks and into the sea to die.
Amphisbaena ("go both ways")
A serpent in Greek mythology that has two heads, one at either end of its body. Because of this, it cane move in either direction. Its eyes are bright and glow. If the serpent was to be cut in half, it would rejoin its parts. It can place its tail (which would be its other neck) in its mouth and move like a hoop. Occasionally it is depicted with wings and two legs. Sources vary in describing the origins of the amphisbaena, but one such source says that the amphisbaena was born from blood dripping out of Medusa's head when Perseus flew over the desert. It was also found in Medieval bestiaries. It is said to have been used in folk medicine: for women, wearing a live amphisbaena would promote healthy pregnancy. Wearing a dead one would help with joint pain/arthritis and other ailments.
Centaurs in mythology are depicted as having the upper torso of a human and the lower body of a horse (including hind legs and a tail). Some variations occur. There are deer-centaurs, dog-centaurs, etc. Often they were shown as drunk, angry and cunning creatures. (This is often the case, as they were said to be followers of Dionysus, the wine God). They would eat raw flesh and occasionally cause havoc for any people they were around. Zeus would sometimes send the centaurs to punish Gods/humans.
The Griffin was a monster depicted as having the body of a lion, and the wings/head of an eagle (and in some cases a serpent tail). It is said to have built nests, like a bird, but would lay an agate instead of an egg. They were thought to be creatures who seek out gold and other riches. Their portrayal varies. Some stories describe them as wise, similar to dragons in mythology. Other stories compare them to the Sphinx, a trickster. It is said to have pulled Apollo's chariot, because it was stronger than any animal and could fly.
Harpies changed many times through the course of Greek mythology. They began as personifications of strong winds, and eventually turned into spirits and physical beings. They were depicted as beautiful winged women, however, over time they came to look like winged monsters with the face of old women and sharp talons. It is said that Zeus would send them to snatch things away from the Earth. Because of this, many disappearances were often said to be the fault of a harpy.Aside from this, they were also known for punishing people.
- Evens, Cheryl and Millard, Anne. Greek Myths and Legends.
- Hesiod, Theogony 116
- Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 1
- Oppian, Cynegetica 2. 410
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 17
- Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 17 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.)
- Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 47 (from Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey 12. 168) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.)
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E7. 20 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.)
- Homer, Odyssey 12. 84 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.)
- Aelian, On Animals 13. 23 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.)
- Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 35. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.)
- Lycophron, Alexandra 951 ff
- Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 31