In his epic poem, Theogony, the 8th-century BCE Greek poet, Hesiod, strove not only to tell myths about the gods, but to also trace the lineages and genealogy of the divine beings. In the beginning, claimed Hesiod, there existed a great Chasm from which sprang the primordial deities. The first personified entity that emerged from the Chasm was Gaia (Earth). Similarly, Nyx (Night) and the less-personified Erebos (a realm of darkness) also appeared out of the Chasm. This small cast of Chasm-spawned deities might have been the only gods that the ancient Greek world would have known had not one more being flown out of the Chasm to prod the shy primordial deities into the act of procreation. To fulfill this purpose, the mysterious Chasm created Eros, who brought feelings of attraction and love to the divine world—emotions that would forever change the Greek gods and humanity.
Upon the arrival of this erotic deity and his powerful aphrodisiac side effects, the primordial gods inevitably began to feel quite interested in each other. There was no fighting his influence as, according to Hesiod, Eros was “the dissolver of flesh, who overcomes the reason and purpose in the breasts of all gods and all men” (Theogony, line 120). After falling prey to Eros’ machinations, the gods Nyx and Erebos hooked up to have children. Gaia, too, felt the mood enough to create her own lover, Ouranos (Heaven). Gaia and Ouranos would in turn bring about the Titans, among which the couple of Kronos and Rhea would become the parents to most of the Olympian gods. In turn, the Olympian pantheon, led by ever-lusty Zeus, who would go on to create more gods, demigods and mythical creatures—so on and so forth, all thanks to the power of primordial Eros.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (4th century BCE image of Eros on pottery exhibited in the Blanton Museum of Art – Austin, Texas, USA, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).
- Theogony and Works and Days by Hesiod, translated by M. L. West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, 1999, 2008.