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Chapter 3: Myths of Creation


As a preliminary, you should read the Commentary for Chapter 3. In what ways can you expand on the identification of various approaches to the study of myth?


Familiarize yourself with the map of the Central Mediterranean.


Investigate the images of Eros from the Perseus Project. Within the Vase Catalog, do a keyword search for illustrations of Ge/Gaia, Selene, Helius, Endymion, and Tithonus.


From the Perseus Project, read Apollodorus’ account of Creation and consider how it differs from that of Hesiod. Compare both these accounts with Plato’s discussion of God and Creation in the Timaeus 26e–48e.
From the Perseus Project read Strabo’s account of the worship of Selene and the use of human sacrifice.
Read W. H. Auden’s poem “Ode to Gaea’ and compare his view with what you have read of the Greek conception.
Consult the first two chapters of F. Graf, Greek Mythology: An Introduction, for a more complete understanding of myth and the scholarly approaches that have been brought to bear on this subject.

Compact Discs and Videos

From the discography you may want to listen to one or more of the following:

Converse, Frederick Shepherd (1871–1940). Endymion’s Narrative: Romance for Orchestra. Inspired by Keats, “Endymion, A Poetic Romance.” The Louisville Orchestra, First Edition Encores, cond. Mester. Albany Records TROY 030-2. Includes Chadwick, Euterpe: Concert Overture for Orchestra.

Haydn’s oratorio The Creation was set to words based on Milton’s Paradise Lost. Nevertheless, the orchestral introduction, “Representation of Chaos,” with which the work begins, shares in the spirit of the Greek creation myth, whose purpose is to show how order emerged from Chaos (i.e., the void).

Rick Wakeman and Ramon Remedios, A Suite of the Gods. “Dawn of Time” and “Chariot of the Sun.” If you like these New Age songs, you may want to hear the others that are appropriate as you proceed in the text: “The Oracle;” “Pandora’s Box;” “The Flood;” “The Voyage of Ulysses;” and “Hercules.”


Observe the description of the Sun’s journey across the sky in Mimnermus, fragment 10.


What is chaos in English, and how does it contrast with “cosmos” and related words? How do the aurora australis and aurora borealis get their names from Aurora, goddess of the dawn? What is a cornucopia? What does cyclopean mean, and Gaia hypothesis? Explain titan and titanic, ocean, and heliotrope and its derivatives. What is a phaëton?

Essay Questions

  1. How do the details surrounding Aphrodite’s birth illustrate her essentially sexual nature?

  2. What is a hieros gamos, and how is it continually employed in the myths thus far?

  3. How might the story of Cronus’ usurpation of Uranus’ place be understood in a psychological interpretation?

  4. What is the place and role of the mother-goddess in Greek mythology?

  5. What is the place and role of the father-god in Greek mythology?

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