Greek Gods

Greek Primordial Gods

The Greek primordial gods were the first beings to populate the cosmos and gave birth to all the subsequent gods, creatures, and mortals of Greek mythology. Two of these primordial gods, Gaia and Uranus, were the parents of the Titans and the grandparents of the Olympians.

Greek Primordial Gods Hero

Top Questions

  • How were the primordial gods born?

    The earliest primordial gods—Chaos, Gaia, Eros, and Tartarus—came into existence spontaneously, without parents. The first children of these self-generated gods, whom the primordial gods begot without mates, can also be counted among the primordial gods.

  • What were the primordial gods like?

    Unlike the younger Greek gods (including the Olympians), the primordial gods were not generally regarded as anthropomorphic (that is, as having human qualities and attributes). Instead, they represented natural or abstract forces. Gaia, for example, was the earth; Uranus was the sky; Eros was love (or lust); and so on.

  • Were the primordial gods worshipped?

    The primordial gods were not widely worshiped in ancient Greece. Out of all of them, Gaia was probably worshipped the most. Others, like Nyx, were worshped extensively by unorthodox sects like the Orphics. Others still, like Chaos, had no known cult at all.

Overview

The primordial gods were the first beings to emerge after the creation of the cosmos. Unlike the Titans and Olympians, the primordial gods were not generally anthropomorphic—that is, they did not have the physical appearance and qualities of human beings. Many of them were personifications of elements or natural forces—most notably, Gaia (earth) and her consort Uranus (sky).

Together, Gaia and Uranus gave birth to many key deities and creatures of Greek mythology. For example, they were the parents of the Titans, who overthrew Uranus and became the rulers of the cosmos (until they, in turn, were usurped by the Olympians).

The primordial gods, having ceded their power to their descendants, were not widely worshiped in ancient Greece. However, Gaia was seen as the mother of creation. The most significant of the primordial beings, she was worshiped as one of the “chthonic” gods, a special class of deities associated with the earth, death, and the Underworld. The chthonic gods were honored through special rituals, such as nocturnal sacrifice or holocaust sacrifice (that is, a sacrifice in which the victim is completely burned rather than cooked and eaten).

List of Greek Primordial Gods

  • Chaos

    The “abyss”—the original Greek entity of creation

    Chaos was one of the primordial gods and, according to the common tradition, the very first being that came into existence. Best translated as “Abyss” or “Chasm,” Chaos usually assumed the form of a great and indeterminate void.

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  • Erebus

    Greek personification of darkness and consort of Nyx

    Erebus, son of Chaos and personification of darkness, was one of the first gods that populated the cosmos. Together with his sister-consort Nyx, Erebus fathered numerous children, representing various personifications and abstractions.

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  • Eros

    “Passion” or “love” personified and one of the first beings of Greek mythology

    Eros, loveliest of the Greek gods, was the personification of passion and procreation who emerged at the beginning of the cosmos. He was often imagined as Aphrodite’s companion. Later authors sometimes multiplied him into a collection of mischievous gods known as “Erotes.”

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  • Gaia

    First deity in all of Greek mythology; associated with agriculture and fertility

    Gaia was the embodiment of the earth itself, a Greek deity and the mother of all life. She gave birth to the Titans and raised the god Zeus in secret, helping him to overthrow his tyrannical father, her own son Cronus.

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    Gaia, Greek Titan (3x2)
  • Nyx

    Embodiment of night and consort of Erebus

    Nyx, daughter of Chaos and personification of the night, was among the first Greek gods of the cosmos. She bore numerous children, both with her brother-consort Erebus as well as on her own, representing various personifications and abstractions.

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  • Ourea

    The “mountains” personified, born to Gaia at the dawn of creation

    The Ourea were primordial gods who personified the mountains. They were born to Gaia, the goddess of the earth, at the beginning of the cosmos, along with their brothers Uranus (the sky) and Pontus (the sea).

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  • Pontus

    Greek primordial deity and briny personification of the sea

    Pontus, born to Gaia at the beginning of the cosmos, was the Greek primordial god who personified the sea. Together with his mother Gaia, he fathered many ancient sea deities, including Nereus, Phorcys, and Ceto.

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  • Tartarus

    One of the first beings in existence, embodying the dark Underworld

    Tartarus was a primordial deity and the embodiment of the deepest, darkest part of the Underworld. With Gaia, the personification of the earth, he fathered the terrible monster Typhoeus.

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  • Uranus

    Father of the Titans and primordial Greek deity who embodied the sky

    Uranus was the primordial Greek deity embodying the sky, the air, and the heavens. Along with Gaia, the personification of the Earth, he fathered the Twelve Titans, the youngest of whom (Cronus) eventually overthrew him.

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