Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
Titans and the Golden Age of Man in Greek mythology
Men lived like gods without sorrow of heart... - Hesiod, 700 BC
The Titans are the Elder Gods of Greek mythology. They were a race of powerful deities who descended from Gaia and Uranus. These mighty gods ruled during the Golden Age -- this is known as the first period of the Ages of Man. The Golden Age was an era of primordial peace and harmony with Nature in a land of splendor. They were the twelve children of Uranus and Gaia, Heaven and Earth
Gaia and Uranus
Gaia is the embodiment of Earth. She is the primal Greek goddess and the Greek version of Mother Nature. She is Ma-Ga, Mother Gaia, the primordial deity in the Ancient Greek pantheon and is considered the Mother Titan, or Great Titan.
In Theogony, Hesiod, who is thought to have been active around 700 BC, as a Greek poet, tells how Gaia arose after Chaos, cosmos, the void state preceding the creation of the universe. She was the everlasting foundation of the gods of Olympus. She brought forth Uranus, the starry sky, her equal, to cover her, the hills (Ourea), and the fruitless deep of the Sea, Pontus, "without sweet union of love," out of her own self through parthenogenesis. But Hesiod later tells the story a little differently:
She lay with her son, Uranus, and bore the world-ocean god Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and the Titans Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, and Phoebe of the golden crown, and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronus the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.
Gaia was the mother of many other gods according to various myths, either by parthenogenesis or with Uranus. In Greek mythology, Gaia and Uranus began the creation of life upon Earth.
The Golden Age of Man
People of the Golden Age lived an idyllic and pleasant life, untainted by
moral perversion and degradation. In Greek mythology there are five Ages of Man: Golden, Silver, Bronze, Iron, and Present. The present is considered to be on the downward side -- it is the era of decline and corruption of civilization.
Hesiod is credited with first identifying the Golden Age in Works and Days. Along with the Golden Age, he also brought to light the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and Iron Ages.
Hesiod maintained that during the Golden Age, before materialism became popular that primitive life of abundance without work prevailed, for Earth produced all the necessary foods:
Men lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all devils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
End of the Golden Age
According to Hesiod, this pleasant Golden Age came to an abrupt end when the Titan Prometheus gifted to mankind fire and all the arts. This angered Zeus to no end, so he punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock. If that was not enough, Zeus had an eagle to come daily for eternity and eat Prometheus' liver which grew back each time the eagle devoured it.
Then we have Pandora. She was the beautiful maiden whom Epimetheus, Prometheus' brother, received as a gift from the gods. Pandora's relentless curiosity opened the box which released all manner of evil upon the world.
Thus ended the idyllic and pleasantly abundant Golden Age of Man.
painting: The Golden Age by Pietro da Cortona, 1596 - 1669
from Wikimedia Commons
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