The Titans The First Greek Gods

the twelve titans
The Twelve Titans

The myths of Ancient Greece chronicle a very interesting tale of human existence, filled with iconic gods and goddesses that controlled the destiny of mortals. These deities were said to come from forces of nature that were referred to as Titans in Hesiod’s epic Theogony.  They were said to be the first twelve children of Uranus (Father Sky) and Gaea (Mother Earth). The Titans were elemental rather than human, however their story is filled with more passion, greed, heroism, and violence than a modern day drama

In Greek mythology

The stages of mortal existence are separated into ages.

The first of these was the Golden Age when the Titans ruled, and it represented a time when peace and harmony reigned. The tranquility was not all that it appeared though, and it came at a rather horrific price. Uranus was displeased with the younger children that Gaea gave birth to after the first twelve, considering the many arms of the Hecatonchires and the one-eyed Cyclopes to be hideous.  He imprisoned them in Gaea’s womb, which was Tartarus, the very pit of the Earth. This put Gaea in great agony, both physical and emotional and it led her to encourage the twelve children that remained free to overthrow Uranus.

The only one of the twelve children that would do the deed was Cronus, the youngest. He already was envious of his father’s power, and relished the chance to take over.  Gaea made him a sickle which was to be used to castrate Uranus upon his next visit to her.

When Uranus arrived to meet with Gaea, Cronus attacked him, cutting off his genitalia with four of his brothers holding their father down.  Some accounts say that Uranus died at this point, others keep him alive but with no real power.  Hesiod wrote that Uranus was furious at the betrayal, calling Cronus and his brothers and sisters titanes or “strainers”.  This was said to indicate they had stepped or strained over the line of their accepted place.  He also predicted that Cronus would reap what he sowed and be defeated by one of his children.

There are differing accounts as to the exact number of Titans, as many of their descendants also share the name.  The ‘elder gods’ or the original twelve Titans are as follows:

  • Cronus
  • Rhea
  • Hyperion
  • Oceanus
  • Coeus
  • Crius
  • Iapetus
  •  Themis
  • Thea
  • Mnemosyne
  • Phoebe
  • Tethys

They ruled the universe unopposed until history repeated itself and they were overthrown by their own children, the gods of Olympus.


Cronus is often referred to as the god of time and was the leader of the Titans.  He took his sister Rhea as his wife, but he was in constant fear of his father’s prediction about one of his children defeating him.  He impregnated Rhea many times, but upon each birth Cronus would devour the child, hoping to keep the prophecy from coming to pass.


Rhea, the Titan goddess of fertility, was angered by Cronus swallowing her children.  When she became pregnant with Zeus, she decided enough was enough.  She had Zeus secretly, hiding him away in Crete and presented Cronus with a stone wrapped to look like an infant.  Cronus swallowed the stone, unaware that one of his children had survived.


Hyperion was the Titan god of light and his children were Eos (the dawn), Helios (the sun), and Selene (the moon).  His mate was Theia, who was said to create the beautiful blue in the sky, and he was one of the four who assisted Cronus in defeating Uranus by holding him down as the castration was done.  He is also known as a ‘watcher from above’.


Oceanus was said to be the Titan god of the great River Okeanos, a large freshwater stream that circled what they believed was the flat earth.  The Ancient Greeks believed that all of the celestial bodies came from this river, and that Oceanus was in charge of raising and lowering them each day.  He remained neutral both in the uprising against his father and in the Titanomachy ten year war against the Olympian gods.


Coeus was the Titan god of knowledge and intellect, and is one of the brothers that assisted Cronus in gaining control from Uranus.  The legends have Coeus as the central or “north” pole, indicating that he was holding down his father from the north when Cronus emasculated him.   He was married to his sister Phoebe and the constellations and oracles revolved around them.


Crius was the Titan that seemed to blend in rather than stand alone.  He assisted Cronus in defeating their father by holding him down from the south, and was one of the ones banished to Tartarus at the end of the Titanomachy.  He is mostly noted for his children and grandchildren.  Together with his half sister Eurybia, he fathered Astraios (god of dusk) Pallus, (god of war) and Perses, (god of destruction) and was grandfather to Hekate (goddess of magic).


Iapetus was the Titan god of mortal life span, which during the Golden Age was said to be much longer than modern times.  He is the father of Atlas and is thought to have held the west pillar of Uranus when Cronus attacked him.   He was also the father of Prometheus and Epimethius who were said to have a major role in the creation of mortals and other earthly creatures.


Themis was the Titan goddess of law and order and was the interpreter of the divine rule of the gods.  These laws were in essence the conscience of humanity, and the ability to determine right from wrong.  She was one of the first wives of Zeus and it was inferred that he consulted with her in matters of divine law.  Out of all the Titan goddesses, she is the one most closely associated with her mother Gaea ( Gaia is spelled many different ways but this one seems to be the right way as it was first spelled).


Thea represented sight and clarity, and was also the goddess that brought beauty to precious stones.  She was the mother of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn.   She was the keeper of the Phthiotis oracle, or a portal to deeper knowledge.  Three of her sisters were keepers of the other oracles, while Themis had access to all four of them.


Mnemosyne was the Titan goddess of memory and oral history.  She was the mother of the Muses, who inspired the songs and writings for posterity.  The Lebadeia oracle was in her possession and she was responsible for the language and chronicling the history through words to be remembered.


Phoebe was the Titan goddess of deeper thinking intellect.  As the wife of Coeus they had a balance between higher consciousness and logical reasoning.  Phoebe is often associated with radiance or brilliance and was the keeper of the Delphoi oracle.  Prophecy also went hand in hand with her knowledge and many sought her counsel.


Tethys was the wife of Oceanus.  Her duty was to constantly provide fresh water throughout the earth to replenish it.  She was the mother of the fresh streams and rivers as well as the clouds.  She would take from her mate Oceanus new water which she would then feed into her children so the streams could grow.

Descendants of the Original Twelve Titans

There were descendants of these original twelve that were also referred to as Titans.  Gods and goddesses such as Aesteria, Eos, Prometheus, Atlas, Leto, and others were the children of the original twelve, and continued ruling and developing the earth and heavens for many years during the Golden Age.  However, the burning prophecy of Uranus to Cronus came to pass when Zeus, who had been hidden away at birth by his mother Rhea rose up against his father to defeat the Titans.  This war was known as the Titanomachy, and lasted approximately ten years.  It ended with the Titans defeat and Zeus banishing them to the depths of Tartarus.  It was then that the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus began their rule.

The Titans were deposed from power, however their legacy remained in those who defeated them.  The legends speak not just of powerful deities but the very forces of nature that created the heaven and the earth.  The days of gods and goddesses are long gone but the myths of their existence remain.  Temples and monuments, crumbling yet still standing are a testament to this time as well as poetry and artifacts.  The knowledge that has been gained in the thousands of years humankind has existed has not diminished the ancient tales that speak of a time when people walked with the gods and goddesses along with the forces of nature that created them.

Below is a family tree of the gods from the beginning.

The famliy tree of the Greek gods
The famliy tree of the Greek gods (Image courtesy of


Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2011


The Complete World of Greek Mythology

World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide

16 thoughts on “The Titans The First Greek Gods”

    1. Her name is spelled many different ways but in the family tree of the gods it is spelled Gaea and as far as I know this is the correct way of spelling her name thanks very much I will add some thing in there

  1. I always thought this was a myth but now really believe that such deities did exist. They are even mentioned in the Bible! When the “sons of heaven” came down to earth and had relations with the women on the earth, the giants appeared. The giants in genesis=the titans? It is said that The Deluge wiped them out but then later after the flood they appeared again before being killed off for contaminating or trying to contaminate human DNA. Apollo, Zeus, Artemis are also mentioned! Except in the bible they are viewed as bad and says not to worship them. Very sick stuff!

  2. I agreed with TheSlonelGal. I also can’t help but wonder, how come this things were made by humans? Is it because of their wild imagination? or it is because those things supernatural is what they want to obtain? or maybe, it did exist..did really exist unknown by us living in new generation…

  3. well,,,for me,,,we just accept things that we wanted to believe so that we cannot make our self tired of thinking if it is true,,,

  4. anonymous your just been ignorant!!! this world is ignorant the government is messsing with every one and pretty soon we all are going to go thru a big chaos and some mania is gonna happen to every one!!

  5. Thanks to this i can finally complete my research paper. (p.s. i also agree with TheSloneGal)

  6. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful information specially the closing section 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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