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Γαῖα). The Greek goddess of the earth. According to Hesiod she came into being after Chaos, and brought forth of herself the Sky (Οὐρανός), the mountains, and the Sea (Πόντος). By Uranus she was mother of the Titans, Cyclopes, and Hecatoncheires. From the blood of her mutilated husband sprang the Erinyes, Giants, and Melian nymphs; to Pontus she bore Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia. Other terrible beings, such as the giants Typhon, Antaeus, and Tityus, were her offspring, as also the autochthones or aborigines, such as Erechtheus and Cecrops. In Homer she is invoked with Zeus, the Sun, Heaven, and Hell as a witness to oaths, and was worshipped with the sacrifice of a black lamb; but she was especially honoured as the mother of all, who nourishes her creatures and pours rich blessings upon them. In Athens, in particular, she was worshipped as κουροτρόφος, or the nourisher of children, and at the same time as the goddess of death, who summons all her creatures back to her and hides them in her bosom. She was honoured also as the primeval prophetess, especially in Delphi, the oracle of which was at first in her possession as the power who sent forth the vapours which inspired the seer. The corresponding Roman goddess was Tellus (q.v.).

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