E. Staﬀord / Religion and the Arts 13 (2009) 419–447
works survive only in the form of fragmentary quotations in later authors,the ﬁrst relatively complete example being Apollodorus’s
Library of Greek Mythology
, written in the ﬁrst or second century CE.
Some of the earlier works oﬀer alternative versions of the ﬁrst stages of creation, though oftenemploying the same characters,
but the fact that Apollodorus substan-tially follows Hesiod suggests that the latter’s vision of the origins of thecosmos and the establishment of divine order came to hold authority.Hesiod’s account of the very beginnings of things is brief (
ll. 116–22): the four primordial elements—Chaos, Earth, artaros, andEros—simply come into being; there is no explanation of the process of this becoming, or description of the pre-existing state of the universe(ll. 192–211). Tis brevity is explicable in terms of the poem’s focus onthe Succession Myth, which occupies much of the poem, whereby Zeus’s just rule is established over gods and men. Te Succession Myth might bebest summarized as follows (able 1): Earth bears Heaven, who becomesher consort and begets Ocean, the itans, and Kronos, who castrates hisfather and overthrows Heaven’s rule; Kronos in turn is overthrown by his son Zeus, who ﬁnally establishes order on Olympos after ﬁghting oﬀ various threats to his supremacy.Much scholarship has been devoted to demonstrating the parallels betweenthis story and various Near Eastern mythologies,
but an aspect of particu-lar interest for this paper is the way in which Hesiod treats natural ele-ments and abstractions.
Te Earth plays a fundamental role in the story,bearing Mountains and Sea by herself, as well as Heaven, by whom sheultimately becomes mother or grandmother of nearly all the gods. Bothshe and the many parts of the natural world which feature amongst her
Tere is a convenient Oxford World’s Classics English translation of Apollodorus, withhelpful introduction and notes by R. Hard (tr. 1997)
Apollodorus: Te Library of Greek Mythology
. Te fragments of earlier works are collected in Fowler’s 2000 edition.
For example, ime is a primordial element for Pherecydes, alongside Zeus and Earth, while Acusilaus puts all the gods in direct descent from Chaos via Eros. On alternativecosmologies, see brieﬂy Gantz 1–2 and 739–44; Orphic cosmologies are treated at greaterlength in West’s translation of the
18–31 provides a summary; both Burkert,
Te Orientalizing Revolution
Te East Face of Helicon
explore the broader issue of oriental inﬂuences on Greek culture.
Te Orientalizing Revolution
and Duchemin demonstrate the extent to which this treatment, too, is subject to oriental inﬂuences. See Gantz 3–27 for discussionof the literary and artistic representation of “primordial elements” and various naturalphenomena.