Aether – Greek Primordial Goddess of the Sky
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Greek mythology told stories of many beings of incredible power. From demigods to the deities of Mount Olympus, ancient Greek religious tradition introduced the world to many individuals of supernatural origin. Some of the most important deities in Greek myths were the primordial gods, who encompassed much of the elements of the natural world.
Of the primordial deities, Aether is regarded as one of the most important and powerful gods as his realm encompassed the sky. In this article, we’ll examine Aether and his importance in Greek mythology, with particular emphasis on his origins, his role in the Greek pantheon, and how he helped regular people in the mortal realm.
Origins of Aether
As a primordial god, Aether was far older than Zeus, Poseidon, and the other main gods that resided on Mount Olympus. According to the Theogony of Hesiod, Aether was born of Erebus, the personification of darkness, and Nyx, the goddess of the night. As a primordial being, Aether had no human form. Rather, the ancient Greeks saw the sky itself as Aether.
Aether and the Greek Pantheon
Owing to his status as a primordial deity, Aether was a god of much renown in the Greek pantheon. Aether was married to his sister Hemera, the goddess of light. Aether and Hemera’s coupling resulted in a several of the most powerful deities in Greek mythology, including Gaia, Thalassa, Tartarus, Pontus, Aergia, and Uranus. Of all their children, Gaia and Thalassa were the most important mythological figures. Gaia became known as the mother of earth and Thalassa the primordial goddess of the oceans.
As the god of the sky, Aether was also the god of the upper air. In Greek tradition, there were three types of air. The poorest type of air was breathed in the underworld by foul creatures. A second type of air was breathed by mortals in the land of the living. The third and most pure type of air was breathed by the gods. It was this purest air that was controlled by Aether.
Aether and Mortals
Although there were several shrines to Aether, the primordial god did not have a temple and no mortals worshipped him. Nevertheless, Aether and Hemera was regarded as benevolent and protective deities in Greek religious tradition. Together with Hemera, Aether brought about the light each day for mortals. This allowed them to feel the sun on their faces and bask in the presence of the Olympic gods and goddesses.
Aether was further regarded as humanity’s protector against Tartarus and Hades. Since Hades ruled over the dark, by bringing in the light, Aether allowed mortal men and women to live without fear of the underworld and the evil creatures that called Tartarus their home. While mostly associated with the sky during the day, Aether nevertheless also controlled the heavenly bodies that occupied the sky during the night, such as the moon and stars.
In the end, by understanding Aether, one can better understand Greek mythology. As a primordial deity, Aether was of immense power, his domain extending all over the world. By understanding this fact, one can more closely understand the cosmology of the Greek world.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com