The Ancient Greek Titans
The Titans were a race of powerful deities that ruled during the legendary Golden Age of man. Led by their patriarch, Cronus, feared for their might and power. The Titanides were the female counterparts of the Titans. They were also powerful deities and ruled alongside the Titans during the Golden Age.
The Titans and Titanides were born from the union of Gaia (the earth) and Uranus (the sky). They were the first generation of gods and goddesses. The Titans comprised six males: Cronus, Coeus, Crius, Iapetus, Hyperion, and Oceanus; and six females: Rhea, Theia, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, and Themis.
Eight of the twelve brothers and sisters married each other, while two married outside of their immediate family, while two of the Titanides married their nephew Zeus, and the other two Titans married a half-sister and a niece.
But their offspring eventually ended their reign. Their children, the Olympians, overthrew the Titans. Led by Zeus, the Olympians waged a war known as The Titanomachy against the Titans and imprisoned them in Tartarus.
For more on the Greek Pantheon, check out the article Greek Pantheon: The Olympians.
According to Greek mythology, Coeus was one of the Titans and the husband of Phoebe. He was an obscure titan, with his primary position being the grandfather of the Olympians Apollo and Artemis. Like the other Titans, they imprisoned him after the Titanomachy. While imprisoned, insanity overtook him, where he broke free of his bonds and attempted to escape Tartarus. Cerberus thwarted his escape.
Coeus’s name meant “query” or “questioning”, which is fitting for his role as the titan of intelligence. They also knew him as Polus, which meant “the grey one”. Coeus symbolized the axis of the universe and was the titan of creative intelligence and oracles.
In Greek mythology, Crius was one of the Titans, the descendants of Uranus and Gaia. He was not particularly well known and was the least individualized of all the Titans. He is most famous for being the grandfather of Perses and Hecate.
Cronos was the god of harvest and was known for his wisdom. Cronos led the war that overthrew the primordial gods. Cronos castrated Uranus as his last move towards his rise to power, marking the start of The Golden Age, where immortality wasn’t present.
Cronos’ wife was Rhea, with whom he had several children, including Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, and Demeter. Cronos was known for swallowing his children whole as soon as they were born, as someone had prophesied him that one of them would overthrow him as he had overthrown Uranus. Zeus eventually tricked Cronos into vomiting up his siblings, who then overthrew Cronos and banish him to Tartarus.
Hyperion, one of the twelve titans, was the son of Uranus and Gaia. His consort was Thela and the father of Helios, Selene, and Eos. Hyperion was known as the “Lord of Light,” and he was often associated with the sun. He was a powerful god, and he played a major role in the Greek pantheon.
Iapetus was one of the Titans, the first generation of divine beings, and the father of Atlas, Prometheus, Menoetius and Epimetheus. Hesiod calls him the son of Uranus and Gaia, while other sources call him the son of Aether and Gaia or the son of Cronus and Philyra.
Iapetus’ children are said to be the ancestors of humankind, providing a few of the worst qualities among people. For example, they knew Prometheus for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humans, while we know Epimetheus for being the one who gave humans their various qualities (such as strength, speed, etc.) without thinking of the consequences.
The Titan god of the ocean in Greek mythology was Oceanus. He was one of the Titans, and the eldest son of Uranus and Gaia. Oceanus was a very important god, as he ruled over all the water in the world, both fresh and salt. He was told to be the great river that encompasses the entire world.
Oceanus was said to have married his sister, Tethys, with whom he had thousands of children – the water nymphs. He was a very peaceful god and didn’t take part in any of the wars between the Titans and the Olympians.
Although not as well-known as some of the other Greek gods, Oceanus was an important figure in mythology. He represented the vast and powerful forces of nature, which were both awe-inspiring and dangerous.
Mnemosyne was the Titanides of remembrance and memory. She was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus, and the sister of Cronus and Rhea. Mnemosyne was married to Zeus, and together they bore the Muses—the nine goddesses of inspiration for science, literature and the arts. Mnemosyne was also the mother of the Sirens.
Mnemosyne raised a pool in Hades, which was the opposite of the river Lethe. The Lethe river was to be drunk by souls being reincarnated in order to wipe the memory of a soul’s past life. The pool that Mnemosyne lived over would prevent a soul’s memory from being lost, as well as prevent its reincarnation.
Mnemosyne was a symbol of the power of memory, and her cult was associated with oracles and prophecy. They often invoked her in order to help remember poems and stories before being told, or to help preserve the memory of someone who had passed away.
Phoebe was one of the Titanides, daughters of the Primordial Gods. She was married to Coeus and was the grandmother of the two Olympian gods Apollo and Artemis, as well as the goddess of witchcraft and magick, Hecate.
Her name carried the meaning “bright” and was used for many of the lunar goddesses and the solar God. Phoebe was said to have been a very kind and helpful goddess, always willing to lend a hand or offer advice.
She was known for her prophetic powers and was often consulted by mortals on matters of great importance.
Rhea was the Titanides goddess of fertility and the mother of the gods. She was the queen deity during The Golden Age and gave birth to five of the Olympians: Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera and Hestia – as well as Hades.
Rhea was known for her great beauty and wisdom. She was respected by all the gods and mortals.
Rhea’s husband was Cronus, the Titan god of time, and together they had six children. However, Cronus was afraid that his children would overthrow him as he had overthrown his own father, Uranus. To prevent this from happening, Cronus ate each of his children as they were born.
Horrified by Cronus’s actions, she gave birth to Zeus in secret. Hiding him away on the island of Crete. When Zeus was grown, he confronted Cronus and freed his siblings. The Olympians then overthrew the Titans, and Rhea became the queen of Olympus.
Tethys was the Greek Titanides who was married to the ocean god Oceanus. However, they eventually divorced because Tethys was so fertile that the couple would have caused the earth to flood.
Tethys played no real active role in the pantheon but was instead viewed as a passive and protective deity.
Theia was one of the twelve Titanides, who were the children of the Titan’s Cronus and Rhea. She was married to her brother Hyperion, with whom she had three children: Helios, Selene, and Eos.
She was the goddess of brilliance and sight. She wasn’t mentioned much in history, aside from her important role of being the mother to the celestial deities. Even though she isn’t spoken about often, Theia still played a significant role in Greek mythology.
Themis was the Titanides goddess of law and order. She is said to have been the one who first taught humans the art of prophecy, and she also presided over the ceremonies of oath-taking.
Themis was also the mother of the Horae, the goddesses of the seasons, with Zeus. Together, she and Zeus bore the Moirai, also known as the Fates, who were the incarnations of destiny.