, sing. Τιτάν
The sons and daughters of Uranus and Gê or Gaea (Earth), originally dwelling in
heaven, whence they are called Οὐρανίωνες
. They were twelve or thirteen in number who fall
generally into pairs, viz., Oceanus and Tethys representing the sea; Hyperion and Theia (sun
and moon); Coeus and Phoebe (light or star deities); Creios and Eurybia (deities of
strength); Cronus and Rhea (heaven and earth); Themis and Mnemosyné, and Iapetus
who was to produce mankind (Hes. Th. 133
; Apollod. i.1.3
). It is said that Uranus, the first ruler of the
world, threw his sons, the Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handed)—Briareus, Cottys,
Gyes—and the Cyclopes—Arges, Steropes, and Brontes—into
Tartarus. Gaea, indignant at this, produced iron, persuaded the Titans to rise against their
father, and gave to Cronus an iron sickle. They did as their mother bade them, with the
exception of Oceanus. Cronus, with his sickle, mutilated his father. (See Uranus
.) From the drops of his blood there sprang the
Erinnyes, Alecto, Tisiphoné, and Megaera. The Titans then deposed Uranus,
liberated their brothers who had been cast into Tartarus, and raised Cronus to the throne.
But Cronus hurled the Cyclopes back into Tartarus, and married his sister Rhea. Having been
warned by Gaea and Uranus that he should be dethroned by one of his own children, he
swallowed successively his children Hestia, Demeter, Heré, Pluto, and Poseidon.
Rhea therefore, when she was pregnant with Zeus, went to Crete, and gave birth to the child
in the Dictaean Cave, where he was brought up by the Curetes. When Zeus had grown up he
availed himself of the assistance of Thetis, the daughter of Oceanus, who gave to Cronus a
potion which caused him to bring up the stone and the children he had swallowed. (See Cronus
United with his brothers and sisters, Zeus now began the contest against Cronus and the
ruling Titans. This contest (usually called the Titanomachia
) was carried on in Thessaly, Cronus and the Titans occupying Mount
Othrys, and the sons of Cronus Mount Olympus. It lasted ten years, till at length Gaea
promised victory to Zeus if he would deliver the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires from Tartarus.
Zeus accordingly slew Campé, who guarded the Cyclopes, and the latter furnished
him with thunder and lightning. The Titans then were overcome, and hurled down into an abyss
below Tartarus, and the Hecatoncheires were set to guard them (Hes.
Th. 617Hes. Th., 697Hes. Th., 851
; Apollod. i.2.1
Pausan. viii. 37, 3; cf.
Il. xiv. 279
). It must be observed that the fight of the Titans is
sometimes confounded by ancient writers with the fight of the Gigantes. (See Gigantes
The myth of the Titans grew out of an attempt to reconcile the Greek religion with that of
other non-Greek nations who had occupied the Greek lands before them. Hence many of its
features, especially the account of the wounding of Uranus, are not of a
Greek character, and are ignored by Homer, but preserved by Hesiod. The Titan dynasties
represent primitive alien supreme deities who have been brought into connection with the
supreme Zeus of the Greeks and the other Olympian deities. In the Greek conception of the
story, the Titans express the more terrible forces of nature, and also the struggle against
the will of Zeus—i. e.
against the lawful and orderly course
of things (cf.
Il. viii. 478 Il., xiv. 200 Il., xv. 224
p. 701). See Meyer, Die Giganten und
Titanen (Leipzig, 1887)
The name Titanes is also given to those divine or semi-divine beings who were descended
from the Titans, such as Prometheus, Hecaté, Latona, Pyrrha, and especially Helios
(the Sun) and Selené (the Moon), as the children of Hyperion and Thia, and even
the descendants of Helios, such as Circé.