Genealogy of Greek mythology: origin of the gods
Not satisfied with what already existed in the way of genealogical trees of the Greek gods, I spent about a week researching and then creating the above genealogy tree of the three generations of the Greek gods, their Roman counterparts and their mortal spouses and/or liaisons. It is purposely small here, but in You and the Universe it is 8½"x11", very legible, and color-coded for each of the three generations of the gods and their mortal consorts. You might just be able to see in the golden lines above (indicating the generation of Olympian gods) that Zeus, the king of the gods, was very active and no stranger to inter-generational incest.
©Carl Woebcke, 2003-2011. All rights reserved.
Since each of the planets is about to be introduced from astronomical, astrological, mythological and personal perspectives (You and the Universe), an overview of the Greek pantheon is in order. A genealogy of the Greek gods is necessarily complex. Not only was there was a great deal of incest, but it spanned all immortal generations as well. This is why the above image resembles a wiring diagram more than a human genealogy tree. For some of the gods there are differing versions as to lineage or origin as well. Venus either issued from the foam of Uranus’ genitals when they were cast into the sea ("Aphrodite" means foam-born in Greek), or she was simply the daughter of Zeus and Dione. And like Aphrodite some immortals have only one parent. Ouranos/Uranus was born of Gaia only, and Athena was born "full-blown" from Zeus’ forehead after Hephaestus struck him with his axe to relieve a splitting headache from Zeus’ having eaten Athena’s mother Metis (so perhaps in some weird fashion Athena did have two parents). I have pursued the Greek rather than the Roman gods because the latter—albeit naming our planets—are primarily derivative of the former.
There are many gods with the same name. Among those with the name "Pallas," for example, we can count:
1) the Titan son of Crius and Eurybia, husband of Styx;
a Giant killed by Athena when he tried to rape her, an act also
3) Athena’s sister, daughter of Triton whom Athena accidentally killed;
goddess Pallas Athena, so named in honor of Pallas 3), or after
5) the son of Evander and an ally of Aeneas;
6) the son of Lycaon and grandfather of the same Evander;
7) the father of Selene and the son of Megamedes; and
8) one of fifty sons of the Athenian king Pandion.
Hesiod’s Theogony, a 1022-line epic poem, is the primary source for the diagram above and for the stories of the gods and goddesses throughout this book. "Theogony" means generations or genealogy of the gods; and Hesiod’s work is a hymn to Zeus with cosmogony (history of the gods) and cosmology. As the early Hellenes sought unanimity in matters of religion, this work served as religious canon for them in the way that Moses’ Bible served the Jews. Although Hesiod wrote in the eighth century BC, he is thought to have drawn on work from millennia earlier. The Theogony, however, is officially considered a poem whose date and authorship are unknown.
In Theogony—after he tells us he has received the Muses’ blessings—Hesiod details the three generations of the gods. The first generation issued spontaneously out of Chaos: Gaia, Nyx, Erebus, Eros and Tartarus. They and their sometimes parthenogenetic offspring are displayed in dark blue and black in the top three lines in the diagram. The second generation—the Titans led by Zeus’ father Kronos— are displayed in red in the third to fifth lines. And the third generation, Kronos and Rhea’s children and their offspring, are shown in the remainder of the diagram.
Except for the Sun, Kronos/Saturn and Ouranos/Uranus, the planets were named for the 12 gods and goddesses who lived on Mt. Olympus known as the Olympians or the Dodekatheon. Indicated by gold lines and text (Roman names on a second line), they were Zeus, his wife Hera, his brothers Poseidon and Hades, Zeus’ sons by Hera: Ares and Hephaestus, Hermes his son by Maia, the twins Apollo and Artemis by Leto, his elder sister Hestia, Athena by Metis, and the foam-born Aphrodite. Hestia, Hebe, Helios, Demeter (Zeus’ sixth sibling), Dionysus, Hades and Persephone were actually a variable group from whose number the 12 Olympian gods were completed. Hestia gave her position to Dionysus to live among mortals, sometimes returning to tend the Olympian hearth when Dionysus would not accept the offer of being an Olympian. Hades (who lived in the underworld of the dead) was often not counted. And the nine months of each year she was not Hades’ queen, Persephone lived on Mt. Olympus with her mother, Demeter.
This Genealogy of the Greek Gods page and much of this 550-page resource website are excerpted from You and the Universe.
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© Carl Woebcke: Genealogy of Greek Mythology: Origin of the Gods, 1991-2011. All rights reserved.