Creation Myths

The stories of creation according to Greek Mythology and the psychological importance of this understanding.


The Cosmological Function of Mythology

It was a fundamental belief of Ancient Greek mythology that the world began from Chaos and, from that chaos, order sprung in the form of the goddess Gaia known as a sort of Mother Earth figure. It is from her that order, patterns, and unity were brought to the universe and it is to her that all life in the universe is credited.


Mythology brings its own sense of order and unity to the universe by establishing patterns and providing explanations for the constant change and cycles of nature as well as the volatile state of human political and social systems.

Mythology provides not only an explanation for the origin of the cosmos but also how that order is continually upheld, and why when it isn’t – and life gets messy – there are reasons and forces behind those moments of chaos.

It anchors man in a version of reality that is comprehensible and comforting and provides direction both practically and metaphysically.

Myths from beginning to end

An important theme of mythology is a depiction of cosmogony, or a story of the origin of the universe.

From the ancient Babylonians to the Norse to even modern Christianity, most origin myths of the universe, or stories of cosmogony, describe the world in its original state as a void or form of chaos. From this void, order is formed.


It is important to recognize that ancient people saw the world innately as one of disorder and chaos and that it is only through the power of intelligent deities that an order or structure was formed.

This concept also helps explain the need for sacrifice and worship of the gods and deities in that they were the first to create order and continue to uphold it and steer the world away from its natural state of chaos.

Primordial deities

The Ancient Greeks believed that the universe started as a void of disorder embodied in the primordial deity, Chaos. Chaos was one of the three primordial beings present at the start of the universe along with Gaia, or Earth, and Uranus, the god of the heavens.

These three primordial beings, Gaia, Chaos, and Uranus, represent the three most essential elements of the universe, primordial chaos and disorder, the Earth, and the Heavens or the spiritual aspect of life.


These three primordial beings not only gave life and order to the universe and represent the origin of the cosmos, but they also gave life to the twelve Titans. The Titans were the first gods and goddesses considered to be the children of these primordial beings that were given dominion over the universe.

The rise of the titans

The Ancient Greeks believed that there were primordial beings that created the universe – Chaos, Gaia, and Uranus. These primordial beings created the universe and then Gaia gave inhabitants to the universe by giving birth to the first generation of gods and goddesses known as the Titans with her husband Uranus.

These twelve Titans were giant in stature and were the first deities with control over the natural world, such as the eldest Titan, Oceanus who claimed dominion over the sea. However, they were kept enslaved by their tyrant father, Uranus, who was afraid of their power.

Gaia was disgusted by Uranus’ enslavement of their children and so she made a diamond sickle for her son, Cronus, a king among the Titans who held dominion over time and the seasons. Cronus usurped his father and unleashed the Titans from their enslavement in the underworld. This began, according to Greek mythology, the Age of the Titans or the Golden Age.

The Titanomachy

The Titans ruled the earth after being freed from enslavement by their king, Cronus. Cronus was aided with a sickle from his mother, Gaia, in order to rise up against the father of the Titans, Uranus. Cronus used the sickle to castrate his father, Uranus and buried him in the underworld.


Cronus and his sister, Rhea bore the first generation of what the Greeks came to know as the Olympian gods and goddesses. The first Olympians were Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera.

However, Cronus was given a prophecy that just as he had overthrown his father, his own son would one day overthrow him. Determined to extend his reign, Cronus devoured his sons every year upon their births.

But Cronus did not eat Zeus. Instead, Cronus was tricked by his wife, Rhea, who gave him a sack of rocks wrapped in swaddling cloths and hid their son, Zeus.

After escaping Cronus’s grasp, Zeus grew strong and after reaching adulthood he and his siblings went on to wage a mighty war against his father and all the Titans. This war was called the Titanomachy in Hesiod’s Theogony and it represents the end of an era for the Ancient Greeks.

The Rise and Rule of the Olympians

When studying Greek Mythology, most of the focus is placed on the myths of the Olympian gods and heroes such as Zeus, Poisodon, Hades, Heracles, and many more.

The ancient Greeks saw their many gods and goddesses as victors in a cosmic battle that happened in an earlier era, and saw the world they lived in as one with a set origin and complex history.


This is important to recognize as it provided the Ancient Greeks with a way to orient themselves in the universe. They could identify the beginning of the universe and trace the history of the rise and fall of deities that led them and their gods to their present circumstances.

Introduction to Prometheus

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, the Titanomachy was the time of war between the Titans, the original twelve ruling gods, and their descendants, the Olympians. Prometheus was a Titan and he was considered a trickster and the god of fire. After the Titanomachy, Prometheus, who sided with the Olympians, and Zeus were constantly tricking and deceiving one another.

After one such trick in which Prometheus fooled Zeus into eating the bones and fat instead of the rich meat during a feast at Mount Olympus, Zeus punished both Prometheus and humanity by removing fire from man’s grasp.


Defying Zeus and hoping to spare humanity further suffering, Prometheus stole the fire back from the gods and returned it to humanity.

As punishment for his defiance of Zeus, Zeus chained him to a rock in the Caucasus mountains where an eagle came every day to eat his liver. As an immortal, Prometheus’ liver constantly regenerated in time for it to be eaten the next day, leaving him in eternal, repetitive punishment.

The Importance of Prometheus and His Immortal Fire

This myth of Prometheus importantly shows the connection between humanity and the gods and how the Ancient Greeks saw themselves at the mercy of the will and whim of the gods. It also shows how the Greeks credited the gods with the advancement of society and civilization.

It may be hard to recognize in modern society, but the possession of fire allowed for the advancement of technology and the development of civilizations, and the Ancient Greeks believed it was through god’s intervention that humanity was given this technological advancement.

This myth further illustrates the close connection between humanity and the gods and the importance that was placed on worship and ritual in ancient Greek culture in order to thank and please the gods.

The myth of Prometheus also shows the human characteristics assigned to the gods and goddesses. It is Zeus’ wounded ego from Prometheus’ malicious tricks that leads to the suffering of humanity. The gods display both the positive and negative sides of human emotion and characteristics despite their supremacy towards humanity.

Primordial chaos

Over the Delphi Temple, or the Temple of Apollo, is the inscription, ‘Gnothi se auton.’ Translated, this means, ‘Know Thyself.’

The myths in Greek Mythology represent important psychological developments of society as well as providing a unifying structure and view of the cosmos.

In studying the creation of the universe according to Greek Mythology, one can begin to see a pattern of psychological development as well. The Greeks believed that the world is innately one of chaos and that the Primordial beings gave rise to the structure of the earth and heavens. Aside from the main primordial beings– Chaos, Gaia, and Uranus– there were other primordial beings representing the most essential elements of the universe.

These other primordial beings were Moros, or ‘Doom,’ then Hypnos, meaning ‘sleep,’ and Oneiroi, or ‘dreams.’

Part of the chaos that the universe was born from were these three elements. This shows that aside from the development of the natural world, the Ancient Greeks saw the development of the psychological or moral world.

The elements of ‘doom,’ ‘sleep,’ and ‘dreams’ were seen as continuations of the primordial chaos from which the world originated that were also essential elements of each individual.

Humanity’s Psyche

According to the Greeks, these other primordial deities, Moros, Hypnos, and Oneiroi which mean ‘doom,’ ‘sleep,’ and ‘dreams’ respectively, still reign in the world and represent a continuation of the primordial chaos that is built into humanity’s psyche.

It is not until the birth of the Olympians that other deities personifying moral and psychological traits begin to form order from the primordial chaos. Horai, or ‘hours/seasons,’ Moirai, meaning ‘fate/share’, Nemesis, or ‘punishment for injustice,’ and the Muses meaning ‘beauty /art’ all emerge with the Olympian gods.


These new gods and goddesses represent the development of psychological order and balance over the forces of primordial chaos at play in the universe, and within our own psyches.

The orderliness of Fate, proper worship, and inspiration for the arts and sciences are seen as signs of the rule of the Olympians or signs of order and justice being formed from the primordial chaos.

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