Summary of the Greek Creation Myths from Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days
Excepted from Mark Morford, Classical Mythology
GENESIS FROM CHAOS
Hesiod in his epic poem the Theogony offers the earliest Greek version of genesis. CHAOS (“yawning void”) provides the beginning for creation. Out of Chaos the universe came into being. Later writers interpret Chaos as a mass of many elements (or only four: earth, air, fire, and water) from which the universe was created. From Hesiod’s Chaos came Ge, Tartarus, Eros, Erebus, and Night.
GAIA [geye'a], GAEA [jee'a], or GE [gay]. Most important and first, Gaia, the earth and fertility mother, came from Chaos. Contemporary feminist approaches to mythology lay great importance on the fact that many early societies first conceived of deity as a woman.
EROS [er'os] (CUPID). From Chaos came Eros, the potent concept of Love, which is fundamental.
TARTARUS [tar'ta-rus], or TARTAROS. Tartarus, which came out of Chaos, was an area in the depths of the earth. It became a place of punishment in the Underworld; EREBUS [er'e-bus], or EREBOS, its darkness, became another name for Tartarus itself.
THE HOLY OR SACRED MARRIAGE OF EARTH AND SKY
URANUS [ou'ra-nus and you-ray'nus], or OURANOS. Of the elements that Gaia, earth, produced on her own, most significant is Uranus, the male sky or heavens, with his lightning and thunder. The deification of the feminine, mother earth, and masculine, god of the sky, is basic to mythological and religious thinking. Their marriage is designated as a HOLY, or SACRED MARRIAGE, a translation of the Greek HIEROS GAMOS [hi'er-os ga'mos], which has become the technical term.
THE CHILDREN OF URANUS AND GAIA
The holy marriage of sky and earth produced the following:
The three CYCLOPES [seye-klo'peez], or KYKLOPES: each CYCLOPS [seye'klops], o KYKLOPS, meaning “orb-eyed,” had only one eye in the middle of his forehead. The Cyclopes forged lightning and thunderbolts.