Who Unites and Divides


Ζεύς ἐστιν αἰθήρ, Ζεὺς δὲ γῆ, Ζεὺς δ' οὐρανός,

Ζεύς τοι τὰ πάντα χ' ὥτι τῶν δ' ὑπέρτερον

(τμῆμα 70 τοῦ Αἰσχύλου)

Zefs is Aithír, Zefs is earth, Zefs is the sky:

Zefs, mark you, is all that and mightier yet.

(trans. by the author)

ὦ Ζεῦ, πάτερ Ζεῦ, σὸν μὲν οὐρανοῦ κράτος, σὺ δ΄ ἔργ' ἐπ' ἀνθρώπων ὁρᾶις λεωργὰ καὶ θεμιστά, σοὶ δὲ θηρίων ὕβρις τε καὶ δίκη μέλει.

(τμῆμα 177 τοῦ Ἀρχιλόχου)

“Oh Zefs, Father Zeus! Yours is the power of heaven, and you behold the deeds of men, those who are villainous and those in the right, and you take interest in the insolence and the justice of the wild beasts!”

(trans. by the author.)


11. ZEFS (Zeus; Ζεύς, ΖΕΥΣ) Pronounced: zĕfs; the diphthong εύ is pronounced like the ef in left.

The parentage of Zefs

Zefs is the son of Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα). And when Rǽa came to be the mother of Zefs she became Dîmítîr (Dêmêtêr, Δημήτηρ). [1]

The siblings of Zefs

Zefs is the youngest of his siblings who are as follows: the lovely Goddesses Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία) and Íra (Hêra, Ήρα), and his mighty brothers Ploutôn (Plutô, Πλούτων) and Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν).

The wives and children of Zefs

Zefs is called the Father of Gods and Men. He is supreme, and because of his position and his countless glorious qualities, Zefs is one the very most important of all deities in Ællînismόs (Hellênismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. By countless liaisons, Zefs fathered numerous children, indeed, he fathered all of creation, but some of the most famous of his wives, consorts, and children are as follows:

Mítis (Mêtis, Μῆτις), who he is said to have swallowed, by whom he fathered Athîná (Athêna, Ἀθηνᾶ) from his own head. Mítis is the great primordial Titan Goddess who in Orphic theogony is equated with Phánîs (Phanês, Φάνης). She is also called the first wife of Zefs.

Thǽmis (Themis, Θέμις) by whom he fathered the Óhrai (Hôrae, the Seasons or Hours, Ὧραι) and the Mírai (Moirai, the Fates, Μοῖραι). Thǽmis is called "Good Counsel" and she is associated with divine law often revealed through oracle. Thǽmis is sometimes called the second wife of Zefs.

Evrynómî (Eurynomê, Εὐρυνόμη) by whom he fathered the Kháritæs (Charites, Χάριτες). Evrynómî is a daughter of Tîthýs (Têthys, Τηθύς) and Ôkæanós (Ôceanus, Ὠκεανός) and is sometimes thought of as the third wife of Zefs.

Dîmítîr (Dêmêtêr, Δημήτηρ) by whom he fathered Pærsæphónî (Persephonê, Περσεφόνη). When Rǽa gave birth to Zefs, she became Dîmítîr and her daughter, Pærsæphónî, holds, in the succession of Queens, a similar position to Diónysos in his seat in the succession of Kings. Dîmítîr is sometimes thought of as the fourth wife of Zefs.

Mnîmosýnî (Mnêmosynê, Μνημοσύνη) by whom he fathered the Mousai (Muses, Μοῦσαι). Mnîmosýnî is the great Titan Goddess of Memory and is sometimes thought of as the fifth wife of Zefs.

By his sister Íra, to whom he is married, he fathered the Olympians Árîs (Arês, Άρης) and Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος), as well as the Goddess Ívî (Hêbê, Ἥβη). Íra is the final wife of Zefs and the third in the succession of the Three Queens.

Lîtóh (Lêtô, Λητώ) by whom he fathered the twins Ártæmis (Artemis, Ἄρτεμις) and Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων). Lîtóh is the Titan daughter of Phívî (Phoebê, Φοίβη) and Kíos (Coeus, Κοῖος).

By Dióhnî (Dionê, Διώνη), he fathered Pándimos Aphrodítî. According to the mythology, Zefs pursued Dióhnî, who avoided his advances, and Zefs' semen fell into the sea from which Pándimos Aphrodítî was born, she who blesses the sexual unions of mortals. Ouranía Aphrodítî, she who harmonizes the soul, was born from the genitals of Ouranós (Οὐρανός) as they fell into the sea after Krónos castrated his father.

By Maia (Μαῖα), he fathered Ærmís (Hermês, Ἑρμῆς). Maia is the daughter of Átlas (Ἄτλας) and Pleiónî (Pleionê, Πλειόνη).

By Pærsæphónî (Persephonê, Περσεφόνη), he fathered Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεύς). Pærsæphónî is the great Goddess of the Mysteries, the great Kórî (Corê, Κόρη) who has come to earth for the benefit of all.

By Sæmǽlî (Semelê, Σεμέλη), he fathered Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος) from the heart of Zagréfs. Sæmǽlî is the daughter of Armonía (Harmony, Ἁρμονία) and Kádmos (Cadmus, Κάδμος).

By Alkmínî (Alcmênê, Ἀλκμήνη), he fathered Îraklís (Hêraclês, Ἡρακλῆς), the great saviour of mankind. Alkmínî is the daughter of Anaxóh (Anaxô, Ἀναξώ) and Îlæktrýôna (Êlectryôn, Ἠλεκτρύωνα).

The Mythology of Zef's Rise to Supremacy

Krónos, the father of Zefs, received an oracle that one of his children would overthrow him, so he swallowed each as they were born to Rǽa. When Zefs came forth, Rǽa became Dîmítîr. She connived against Krónos and gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth rather than surrender her last child to him. Krónos swallowed the stone and vomited up all the children. Ploutôn (Pluto, Πλούτων) now took his seat on Earth and Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν) assumed the governance of the Sea and the Middle Sky up to the moon. Zefs was taken in haste to the Cave (Ἄντρον) of Nyx (Night, Νύξ). When he grew in strength, Nyx advised him to intoxicate his father with honey and usurp the throne. Zefs explained all this to his mother Dîmítîr and she then held a great banquet for her husband, serving him generous helpings of honey. Krónos got very drunk and wandered off into the oaken forest falling down into a deep sleep. Zefs, with the help of his cohorts, bound and castrated him, as Krónos had castrated his father. Thus, Zefs defeated Krónos. He then consulted his deposed father as to how to set up the kingdom and the Olympian Gods took governance over the Natural Laws. Now the Goddess Nyx advised him, telling Zefs to engulf everything, the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the stars, to surround them in the Aithír (Aether, Αἰθήρ). He then swallowed Phánîs (Phanês, Φάνης) and drew everything into his belly, creating everything anew [2]. Having accomplished everything, Zefs took the staff of Phánis along with his thunderbolts and mounted a she-goat to journey to his mighty throne in the Heavens. Thus Zefs ascended to become the king of Gods and men forever and ever. This mythology can be found in Orphic theogony along with appropriate citations; most of these citations, both in Greek and in translation, can be found in the notes to the essay on Krónos. [3]

Introduction to Zefs

Zefs is supreme; even Fate is subservient to him. He is the great Olympian, whom even the Gods obey: he is the king and father of Gods and men (Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε). His sister Íra (Hêra, Ήρα) sits at his side and is his equal:

Orphic frag. 132.

“Hence Juno (Ήρα) proceeds together with Jupiter (Ζεὺς), generating all things in conjunction with the father. Hence, too, she is said to be equal in rank with Jupiter, as is likewise Rhea with Saturn (Κρόνος). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (Kronian) power. Earth (Γαῖα) also is equal in dignity with Heaven (Οὐρανός). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” [4]

Orphic frag. 163:

“But the Demiurgus, who is the great Jupiter (Ζεὺς), is conjoined with Juno (Ήρα). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” [5]

Zefs oversees and manages the whole Kózmos (Cosmos, Κόσμος).

Zefs hears everything; therefore it would have to be assumed that he possesses some sort of omnipresence:

Orphic frag. 168, lines 19 and 20:

"Nothing which is, no word nor cry nor noise nor voice,

escapes the ear of the mightiest son of Krónos." [6]

Mind (Nous, νοῦς = νόος) is the dominion of Great Zefs.

Zefs is the source of all prophecy and Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων) speaks his oracles.

Zefs rules the sky, lightning and thunder and tempest, which he produces by shaking his mighty Aiyís (Aegis, Αἰγίς).

Zefs cares for all the affairs and sufferings of man and punishes those who commit injustice. He presides over the entire state and every family and person. His dominion is that of Justice, Law and Order.

Zefs is God of hosts and God of guests who protects travelers and strangers and presides over hospitality (Xænía, Ξενία) and the rights and sanctity of suppliants.

Zefs presides over oaths, which are sworn to his name.

Zefs is accompanied by the Goddesses Vía (Βία, Power) and Níkî (Nike, Νίκη, Victory), along with their brothers Krátos (Cratus, Κράτος, Authority) and Zílos (Zêlos, Ζῆλος, Competition); these four siblings all being progeny of the Titánæs (Titans, Τῑτᾶνες) Styx (Στύξ) and Pállas (Πάλλας), this according to Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 383-388. According to the same source, they fought beside him in the Titanomakhía (Battle of the Titans, Τιτανομαχία) in which Zefs ascended to the throne of Gods and men forever and ever, and they never leave his side (Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 389-405. Cf. above The Mythology of Zef's Rise to Supremacy). There is no mention of the Titanomakhía in the Orphic fragments as the mythological defeat of Krónos is told differently.

The lion and the eagle are associated with Zefs, as well as the oak. The Orphic hymns call for storax (use benzoin) to be offered to him. We can offer cakes in the shape of goats and cows and bulls, as these animals were sacrificed to him in antiquity.

Zefs Unites, Zefs Divides

Zefs is he who unites, and he who divides. This was described in Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος:

"But it appears that the name of him who was called his (Τάνταλος) father, is composed in an all-beautiful manner, though it is by no means easy to be understood: for in reality the name of Jupiter (Ζεύς) is, as it were, a sentence; but dividing it into two parts, some of us use one part, and some another, for some call him Ζῆνα (the poetical, accusative of Zefs), and some Διά (separation). And these parts collected into one, evince the nature of the God; which, as we have said, a name ought to effect: For there is no one who is more the cause of living, both to us and every thing else, than he who is the ruler and king of all things. It happens, therefore, that this God is rightly denominated through whom life is present with all living beings; but the name, though one, is distributed, as I have said, into two parts, viz. into δια and ζηνα." [7]

Therefore Zefs is "he who unites and he who divides," as is explained in Próklos (Proclus, Πρόκλος):

"For he (ed. the Dimiourgós, Ζεύς) divides the soul into parts, harmonizes the divided parts, and renders them concordant with each other. But in effecting these things, he energizes at one and the same time Dionysiacally [i.e. Bacchically] and Apolloniacally. For to divide, and produce wholes into parts, and to preside over the distribution of forms, is Dionysiacal; but to perfect all things harmonically, is Apolloniacal. As the Demiurgus, therefore, comprehends in himself the cause of both these Gods, he both divides and harmonizes the soul." [8]

The concept of uniting and dividing is related to the dual name of the God: Zefs and Diós. Ζεὺς is etymologically related to ζεῦξις, "to yoke". Διός (genitive of Ζεύς) is etymologically related to Δί, Δία = Ζεύς; διά, poet. διαί, "through;" διαιρέσιμος "divisible," διαίρεσις "divisibility."

Zefs is the Dimiourgós (Demiurgus or Demiurge, Δημιουργός)

Zefs utilizes ("swallows," as is said in the fragments) the power of Phánîs (Phanês, Φάνης). Zefs does not create ex nihilo, "out of nothing," as is said in monotheistic religions, but he creates out of what is pre-existent---ex materia---"from material." In reality, Zefs does not create, he reveals and transforms what is there already. Visit this page: Creator God. This is portrayed in the mythology when he swallows all of the kózmos into his belly, reordering the universe, and in the many stories in which Zefs pursues Goddesses and mortal women; this being demonstrative of his genitive power.

The Three Zefs

Zefs, as we speak of him on this page, is Olympian Zefs, for there are three we call Zefs:

1. Olympian Zefs (Ζεὺς Ὀλυμπιακός)

2. Zefs of the Sea and the Middle Sky (Ζεὺς Θαλάσσιος: Ποσειδῶν)

3. Zefs of the Earth (Ζεὺς Χθόνιος: Πλούτων).

In the words of Próklos:

"He (Olympian Zefs) is also the summit of the three, has the same name with the fontal (he who is the source) Jupiter (Ζεύς), is united to him, and is monadically called Jupiter. But the second is called dyadically, marine Jupiter and Neptune (Ποσειδῶν). And the third is triadically denominated, terrestrial Jupiter, Pluto (Πλούτων) and Hades (Ἅιδης). The first of these also preserves, fabricates, and vivifies summits, but the second, things of a second rank, and the third those of a third order. Hence this last is said to have ravished Proserpine (Περσεφόνη), that together with her he might animate the extremities of the universe." [9]

Zefs wields the Keravnós (Thunderbolt, Κεραυνός); Poseidóhn wields the Tríaina (Trident, Τρίαινα); Ploutohn possesses the Áïdos kynǽin (Dog-skin Cap, Ἄϊδος κυνέην), which renders the wearer invisible. All these weapons and symbols of power were created by the Kýklôpæs (Cyclôpes, Κύκλωπες).

The Six Vasileis

Zefs (Ζεὺς) is the personalized, primordial evolution of the non-personal Water (Hydor, Ὕδωρ); therefore, his position as supreme is not arbitrary [13]. The mythology surrounding this progression is symbolic. It is represented by the Six Kings (Βασιλεῖς. Βασιλεύς is nom. singular.): Phánîs, Nyx, Ouranós, Krónos, Zefs, and Diónysos.

The marriage of Zefs and Íra (Hera)

Zefs is the true king of Gods and of all of creation. He is the father of Gods and men (Πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε Θεῶν τε).

In the mythology, Íra (Hêra, Ήρα) is said to be his sister and wife. The meaning of this symbolic language is as follows. Zefs is the manifestation of the active kozmogonic substance: Water [10]. Íra is the manifestation of the receptive kozmogonic substance: Earth. These kozmogonic substances are primal --- from the beginning --- and exist together; therefore, poetically, they are siblings, i.e. brother and sister. Without the interaction of Earth and Water, of Zefs and Íra, there is no creation; therefore, they are, poetically, married; and they are equals.

The philosopher Próklos (Proclus, Πρόκλος) explains marriage between Gods thus:

"That Ocean (Ὠκεανός) is said to have married Tethys (Τηθύς), and Jupiter (Ζεὺς married) Juno (Ήρα), and the like, as establishing a communion with her, conformably to the generation of subordinate natures. For an according co-arrangement of the Gods, and a connascent (i.e. born together) co-operation in their productions, is called by theologists marriage (Θεογαμία, marriage between Gods)." [11]

We celebrate the marriage of Zefs and Íra with the Thæogamía Festival, which we observe early in the solar year. In ancient times it was celebrated perhaps 26 or 27 of the Attic month of Gamilióhn (Gamelion, Γαμηλιών), late in January, in the month of Ydrokhóos (= Aquarius, Υδροχόος). The entire month of Gamilióhn, the "marriage month, was dedicated to Íra. The zodiacal month of Ydrokhóos is also her domain.

The voice and action of Zefs on Earth

Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων) sits at the right hand of Zefs and articulates the will of the Father through his oracular ability. Apóllôn is the voice of Zefs on Earth for which he is called the Orthós Lógos (Ὀρθός Λόγος), the True Word, for Apóllôn does not lie. Diónysos (Διόνυσος) makes manifest the providence of Zefs by means of his Mysteries. When Zefs acts on Earth, this is Diónysos. Thus, Zefs speaks through Apóllôn and acts through Diónysos.

Ζεὺς, Διός, and Δηώ

There is confusion between the words Διός and Δηώ:

Διός is the genitive of Ζεὺς; it means "of Zefs."

The name Δηώ is a name of Δημήτηρ. The dǽlta (Δ) at the beginning of both names became Γ (γάμμα). The first syllable Δη became Γῆ. Δη was a word meaning "earth" but became Γῆ. The word μήτηρ means "mother," therefore Δημήτηρ means "Earth-Mother."

Two Orphic Hymns to Zefs (there are more)

Orphic Hymn to Zefs (from the Orphic Hymns, number 15)

Orphic Rhapsodic Hymn to Zefs (from the Orphic Theogony)

The Foresight and Compassion of Zefs: Pærsæphóni and Diónysos

Zefs fathered a new generation of beings...our generation...with immortal souls but with bodies subject to dissolution by sickness, old age, and violence. This generation experiences great beauty but also persistent sufferings. When the body dies, the soul eventually returns in a sorrowful circle of rebirths (κύκλος γενέσεως). This state of existence is the best possible condition, constrained by natural law. Zefs foresaw the sufferings of his creatures, and in great compassion for our interminable tribulations, he conceived a solution. The liberation which wide-eyed Zefs conceived can be uncovered in the great stories of our religion.

According to the symbolic mythic language, Zefs pursued his mother Rǽa, who transformed into Dîmítîr (Demeter, Δημήτηρ) at his own birth. Dîmítîr assumed the shape of a snake in order to escape his advances, but Zefs then also became a snake, and they united in a Knot of Îraklís (Hêraclês, Ἡρακλῆς) and produced the Daughter (Core, Κόρη) Pærsæphónî, destined to promote great Mysteries. When she was of age, Zefs came to Pærsæphóni, again in the form of a serpent, united with her, and she conceived a son [12]. This son is Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεύς) who was sacrificed by the Titánaes (Titans, Τιτᾶνες) [13] but whose still-beating heart was retrieved by Athîná (Athêna, Ἀθηνᾶ) and delivered to Zefs in a silver casket [14].

Sæmǽlî (Semelê, Σεμέλη) was the daughter of Armonía (Harmony, Ἁρμονία) and Kádmos (Cadmus, Κάδμος). Because of her two-fold beauty, of body and soul, and her suitability as a vessel, Zefs wooed and then united with her. Sæmǽlî conceived a child from the beating heart of Zagréfs. The fetus began to grow in her womb. Zefs, in his love for Sæmǽlî, granted her anything she desired. At the behest of Íra, disguised as a housemaid, Sæmǽlî insisted that Zefs appear to her in his true form. He did so, since he had sworn an oath, and her body was burnt away, unable to bear the glory of Olympian Zefs. The fetus was saved and Zefs sewed it up in his own leg. When the months were up he bore a son [18]. This son is Diónysos who, with his Mysteries, frees us from the vicious circle of births (κύκλος γενέσεως). Thus, the providence of Zefs is completed by Diónysos, who intoxicates the soul with the Aithír of his father, and, by means of the Mystíria, sets us free. [15]

From this story it can be understood that Zefs has compassion for all creation and that the entire religion, having its purpose to fulfill his providence, is based wholly on this compassion.

All these stories can be found in greater detail in Orphic theogony.

ἀλλὰ βίον μερόπων ἑτερότροπος εἶχεν ἀνίη

ἀρχόμενον καμάτοιο καὶ οὐ λήγοντα μερίμνης.

καὶ Διὶ παμμεδέοντι δυηπαθέων γένος ἀνδρῶν

ἄμμορον εὐφροσύνης ἐπεδείκνυε σύντροφος Αἰών:

οὔ πω γὰρ τοκετοῖο λεχώια νήματα λύσας

Βάκχον ἀνηκόντιζε πατὴρ ἐγκύμονι μηρῷ,

ἀνδρομέης ἄμπαυμα μεληδόνος: οὐ τότε λοιβὴ

ἠερίους ἐμέθυσσε πόρους εὐώδεϊ καπνῷ οἰνοβαφής

But the life of men is consumed by many forms of sorrow, commencing with toil and never-ceasing anxiety. And Aióhn (Αἰών), his companion, revealed to Zefs, the much-suffering race of men, who have no share in merriment: for not thus far had the Father loosed the threads of childbirth and dispatched Vákkhos from his pregnant thigh, (to give) humans rest from their sorrow: for not yet did the libation intoxicate the pathways of misty air with fragrant wine-soaked vapor. (Διονυσιακά Νόννου 7.7-15, trans. by the author)

For a more thorough discussion of this topic: The Compassion of Zefs.

Zefs in Iconography

In art, Zefs is depicted as regal, mature, powerful, and bearded. He wields the thunderbolt as his scepter, or sometimes he will be depicted with a separate staff. He is crowned with olive or oak leaves. The eagle is often at his side and he holds an image of Victory in his hand, and sometimes a cornucopia.

Zefs can be represented by the lion, the bull, or the eagle, the animals which most exemplify power and authority.

The philosopher Porphýrios (Porphyry, Πορφύριος) says:

"Zeus, therefore, is the whole world, animal of animals, and God of Gods; but Zeus, that is, inasmuch as he is the mind from which he brings forth all things, and by his thoughts creates them. When the theologians had explained the nature of God in this manner, to make an image such as their description indicated was neither possible, nor, if any one thought of it, could he show the look of life, and intelligence, and forethought by the figure of a sphere.

"But they have made the representation of Zeus in human form, because mind was that according to which he wrought, and by generative laws brought all things to completion; and he is seated, as indicating the steadfastness of his power: and his upper parts are bare, because he is manifested in the intellectual and the heavenly parts of the world; but his feet are clothed, because he is invisible in the things that lie hidden below. And he holds his sceptre in his left hand, because most close to that side of the body dwells the heart, the most commanding and intelligent organ: for the creative mind is the sovereign of the world. And in his right hand he holds forth either an eagle, because he is master of the Gods who traverse the air, as the eagle is master of the birds that fly aloft - or a victory, because he is himself victorious over all things." [16]

Zefs and the Generations of Man

Zefs rules over the third Generation of Man, called the Titanic Age. [17]

EPITHETS: For the many names of Zefs, visit this page: Zefs - the Epithets


Modern hymn to Zefs

Kallímakhos' Hymn to Zefs

Klæánthis' Hymn to Zefs


From Kallímakhos of Alexandria:

Hail! greatly hail! most high Son of Cronus, giver of good things, giver of safety. Thy works who could sing? There hath not been, there shall not be, who shall sing the works of Zeus. Hail! Father, hail again! and grant us goodness and prosperity. Without goodness wealth cannot bless men, nor goodness without prosperity. Give us goodness and weal. [18]

From Áratos of Soléfs:

ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα, τὸν οὐδέποτ᾽ ἄνδρες ἐῶμεν

ἄρρητον: μεσταὶ δέ Διὸς πᾶσαι μὲν ἀγυιαί,

πᾶσαι δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἀγοραί, μεστὴ δὲ θάλασσα

καὶ λιμένες: πάντη δὲ Διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες.

τοῦ γάρ καὶ γένος εἰμέν: ὁ δ᾽ ἤπιος ἀνθρώποισιν

δεξιὰ σημαίνει, λαοὺς δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἔργον ἐγείρει,

μιμνῄσκων βιότοιο, λέγει δ᾽ ὅτε βῶλος ἀρίστη

βουσί τε καὶ μακέλῃσι, λέγει δ᾽ ὅτε δεξιαὶ ὧραι

καὶ φυτὰ γυρῶσαι καὶ σπέρματα πάντα βαλέσθαι.

αὐτὸς γὰρ τά γε σήματ᾽ ἐν οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξεν,

ἄστρα διακρίνας, ἐσκέψατο δ᾽ εἰς ἐνιαυτὸν

ἀστέρας οἵ κε μάλιστα τετυγμένα σημαίνοιεν

ἀνδράσιν ὡράων, ὄφρ᾽ ἔμπεδα πάντα φύωνται.

τῶ μιν ἀεὶ πρῶτόν τε καὶ ὕστατον ἱλάσκονται.

χαῖρε, πάτερ, μέγα θαῦμα, μέγ᾽ ἀνθρώποισιν ὄνειαρ,

αὐτὸς καὶ προτέρη γενεή. Χαίροιτε δὲ Μοῦσαι

μειλίχιαι μάλα πᾶσαι: ἐμοί γε μὲν ἀστέρας εἰπεῖν

ᾗ θέμις εὐχομένῳ τεκμήρατε πᾶσαν ἀοιδήν.

"From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed; full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men; full is the sea and the havens thereof; always we all have need of Zeus. For we are also his offspring; and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood. He tells what time the soil is best for the labour of the ox and for the mattock, and what time the seasons are favourable both for the planting of trees and for casting all manner of seeds. For himself it was who set the signs in heaven, and marked out the constellations, and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons, to the end that all things might grow unfailingly. Wherefore him do men ever worship first and last. Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men. Hail to thee and to the Elder Race! Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one! But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay, even as is meet, to tell the stars." [19]

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.


[1] Orphic frag. 145. (106. 128) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 403e, (90, 28 Pasqu.):

Ῥείη τὸ πρὶν ἐοῦσα, ἐπεὶ Διὸς ἔπλετο μήτηρ, Δημήτηρ γέγονε.

“Formerly she was Rǽa, but when she came to be the mother of Zefs (Ζεύς), she became Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ).” (trans. by the author)

[2] Orphic frag. 164. (117) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος B prooem (I 206, 26 Diehl):

μαῖα, θεῶν ὑπάτη, Νὺξ ἄμβροτε, πῶς, τάδε φράζε, πῶς χρή μ' ἀθανάτων ἀρχὴν κρατερόφρονα θέσθαι; καὶ ἀκούει παρ' αὐτῆς

“(Zeus speaks to Nyx) Good mother, highest of the Gods, immortal Nyx, show me this, how am I to set up my stout-hearted rule among the Deathless Ones? and she hears him” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 165. (122) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος I 28c (I 313, 31 Diehl):

πῶς δέ μοι ἕν τε τὰ πάντ' ἔσται καὶ χωρίς ἕκαστον; αἰθέρι πάντα πέριξ ἀφάτωι λάβε, τῶι δ' ἐνὶ μέσσωι οὐρανόν, ἐν δέ τε γαῖαν ἀπείριτον, ἐν δὲ θάλασσαν, ἐν δὲ τὰ τείρεα πάντα τά τ' οὐρανὸς ἐστεφάνωται.

(Zeus speaks to Night): "How can I have all things one yet each one apart? (Nyx answers:) 'Take hold round about all things with the unutterable Aithír, and in its midst place the vault of heaven, the immense earth, the sea, and all the constellations crowning heaven.' ” (trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 167. (120. 121) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος I 29a (I 324, 14 Diehl):

ὣς τότε πρωτογόνειο χαδὼν μένος Ἠρικεπαίου

τῶν πάντων δέμας εἶχεν ἑῆι ἐνὶ γαστέρι κοίλῃ,

μεῖξε δ' ἑοῖς μελέεσσι θεοῦ δύναμίν τε καὶ ἀλκήν,

τοὔνεκα σὺν τῶι πάντα Διὸς πάλιν ἐντὸς ἐτύχθη.

"Thus then taking hold of the power of first-born Irikæpaios (Ἠρικεπαῖος)

he carried the form of all things in the hollow of his own belly,

he mingled his own limbs with the power and strength of the God,

for that reason with him all things within Zefs were made new." (trans. by the author)

σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 28c (I 312, 26 Diehl):

αἰθέρος εὐρείης ἠδ' οὐρανοῦ άγλαὸν ὕψος,

πόντου τ' ἀτρυγέτου γαίης τ' ἐρικυδέος ἕδρη,

Ὠκεανός τε μέγας καὶ νείατα Τάρταρα γαίης

καὶ ποταμοὶ καὶ πόντος ἀπείριτος ἄλλα τε πάντα

πάντες τ' ἀθάνατοι μάκαρες θεοί ἠδὲ θέαιναι,

ὅσσα τ' ἔην γεγαῶτα καὶ ὕστερον ὁππός' ἔμελλεν,

(v. fr. 169)

ἐνγένετο, Ζηνὸς δ' ἐνὶ γαστέρι σύρρα πεφύκει.

"the luminous summit of immense aithír and heaven,

the seat of the barren sea and illustrious earth,

great Ocean and deep Tártaros (Τάρταρος) beneath the earth,

and rivers and the limitless sea and all other,

all the deathless happy Gods and Goddesses,

all that existed and all that will to come to be,

all come about and bestrewn in the belly of Zefs (Ζεύς).” (trans. by the author)

[3] For the more familiar mythology, see Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 453-491.

[4] Orphic frag. 132. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 18c (I 46, 27 Diehl):

ἥ τε οὖν Ἥρα συμπρόεισι τῶι Διὶ πάντα ἀποτίκτουσα σύν τῶι πατρί· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς (fr. 163) αὐττῶι | 47 Dlchl προσαγορεύεται· καὶ ἡ Ῥέα τὼι Κρόνωι· πάσης γάρ ἐστι τῆς Κρονίας δυνάμεως κόλπος ἡ θεὸς αὕτη· καὶ ἡ Γῆ τῶι Οὐρανῶι· πάντων γάρ ἡ Γῆ μήτηρ, ὧν ὁ Οὐρανὸς πατήρ.

“Hence Juno (Ήρα) proceeds together with Jupiter (Ζεύς), generating all things in conjunction with the father. Hence, too, she is said to be equal in rank with Jupiter, as is likewise Rhea with Saturn (Κρόνος). For this Goddess is the bosom of all the Saturnian (Kronian) power. Earth also is equal in dignity with Heaven (Οὐρανός). For Earth is the mother of all things, of which Heaven is the father.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

[5] Orphic frag. 163. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 31a (I 450, 20 Diehl):

ὁ δὲ δημιουγὸς αὐτός, ὁ μέγιστος Ζεύς, συζογεῖ τῆι Ἥραι· διὸ καὶ ἰσοτελὴς αὐτῶι καλεῖται, καὶ ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν προεληλύθασι πατέρων.

“But the Demiurgus, who is the great Jupiter (Ζεύς), is conjoined with Juno (Ήρα). Hence also, she is said to be of equal rank with him, and proceeds from the same fathers.” (trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820)

[6] Orphic frag. 168. (123. 43) Πορφύριος, Εὐσέβιος Εὑαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευή (Praeparatio evangelica Book 3, chapter 9, p. 100a – 105d [I 121, 12 Dind.) Versus Orphici etiam ap. Stob. Eclog. I 23 (I 29, 10 Wachsm.). Vs. 17-20 quoque Euseb. 1. 1. III 11 (I 130, 28 Dind.); vs. 20 extr. Etiam I 129, 29 Dind.; vs. 31, 32 l.l. XIII 13 (II 216, 1 Dind.) v. quoque fr. 169. Lines 19 and 20:

"...οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν

αὐδὴ οὔδ' ἐνοπὴ οὐδὲ ϰτύπος οὐδὲ μὲν ὄσσα,

ἣ λήθει Διὸς οὖας ὑπερμενέος Κρονίωνος.

"Nothing which is, no word nor cry nor noise nor voice,

escapes the ear of the mightiest son of Krónos." (trans. by the author)

[7] Κρατύλος Πλάτωνος 395e-396b, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1804.

[8] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος, Diehl pagination: 200C, 2,197; trans. Thomas Taylor, 1820.

In σχόλιον Δαμασκίου επί Φαίδωνος Πλάτωνος 3 states similar, that creation has a twofold nature, united or divisible, and that the divisible is under the dominion of Diónysos.

[9] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος, trans. Thomas Taylor.

The Three Zefs are Ploutôn, Poseidóhn, and Zefs. They can be understood from the perspective of the Orphic Egg. Ploutôn rules the center (the yolk); Poseidóhn rules the middle (the liquid, or white of the egg); Zefs rules the cortex, (the shell or outer layer: Nous, mind). They are also known as Zefs of the Earth (Ploutôn or Zefs Khthónios), Zefs of the Sea (Poseidóhn), and Zefs of the Sky (Olympian Zefs):

"...but they themselves cast lots for the sovereignty, and to Zeus was allotted the dominion of the sky, to Poseidon the dominion of the sea, and to Pluto the dominion in Hades." (Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου I:2, trans. J.G. Frazer, 1921.)

Also compare this passage from the ancient Alexandrian poet Kallímakhos:

"Fairly didst thou wax, O heavenly Zeus, and fairly wert thou nurtured, and swiftly thou didst grow to manhood, and speedily came the down upon thy cheek. But, while yet a child, thou didst devise all the deeds of perfect stature. Wherefore thy kindred, though an earlier generation, grudged not that thou shouldst have heaven for thine appointed habitation. The ancient poets spake not altogether truly. For they said that the lot assigned to the sons of Cronus their three several abodes. But who would draw lots for Olympus and for Hades – save a very fool? for equal chances should one cast lots; but these are the wide world apart. When I speak fiction, be it such fiction as persuades the listener’s ear! Thou wert made sovereign of the Gods not by casting of lots but by the deeds of thy hands, thy might and that strength which thou hast set beside thy throne." (εἰς Δία Καλλιμάχου 54-66, trans. A.W. Mair and G.R. Mair, 1921)

[10] Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς) says that everything that is, comes from Earth and Water. In this context, Water, or in ancient Greek, Ýdôr (Hydôr, Ὕδωρ), includes Aithír (Aether, Αἰθήρ) and Pyr (Fire, Πῦρ). Orphic theogony describes the progression of Zefs from Aithír, which, in this context, is saying Water.

[11] σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος , trans. Thomas Taylor.

[12] Orphic frag. 58. (41) Πρεσβεία περί των Χριστιανών Ἀθηναγόρου 20 p.22, 10 Schw.:

καὶ ὅτι τὴν μητέρα Ῥέαν ἀπαγορεύουσαν αὐτοῦ τὸν γάμον ἐδίωκε, δρακαίνης δ´ αὐτῆς γενομένης καὶ αὐτὸς εἰς δράκοντα μεταβαλὼν συνδήσας αὐτὴν τῷ καλουμένῳ Ἡρακλειωτικῷ ἅμματι ἐμίγη (τοῦ σχήματος τῆς μίξεως σύμβολον ἡ τοῦ Ἑρμοῦ ῥάβδος), εἶθ´ ὅτι Φερσεφόνῃ τῇ θυγατρὶ ἐμίγη βιασάμενος καὶ ταύτην ἐν δράκοντος σχήματι, ἐξ ἧς παῖς Διόνυσος αὐτῷ·

"...and how he persecuted his mother Rhea when she refused to wed him, and, she becoming a she-dragon, and he himself being changed into a dragon, bound her with what is called the Herculean knot (ed. marriage knot), and accomplished his purpose, of which fact the rod of Hermes is a symbol; and again, how he violated his daughter Phersephoné, in this case also assuming the form of a dragon, and became the father of Dionysus." (trans. Rev. B. P. Pratten, 1885.)

[13] Orphic frag. 34. (196) Λόγος Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως II 17, 2-18, 1 (I 14, 7 Staeh):

ὃν εἰσέτι παῖδα ὄντα ἐνόπλῳ κινήσει περιχορευόντων Κουρήτων, δόλῳ δὲ ὑποδύντων Τιτάνων, ἀπατήσαντες παιδαριώδεσιν ἀθύρμασιν, οὗτοι δὴ οἱ Τιτᾶνες διέσπασαν, ἔτι νηπίαχον ὄντα

“...for while still a child, and the Curetes danced around [his cradle] clashing their weapons, and the Titans having come upon them by stealth, and having beguiled him with childish toys, these very Titans tore him limb from limb when but a child..." (trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1884.)

Orphic frag. 35. (200) Λόγος Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως II 18, 1. 2 (I 14, 16 Staeh):

"οἱ δὲ Τιτᾶνες, οἱ καὶ διασπάσαντες αὐτόν, λέβητά τινα τρίποδι ἐπιθέντες καὶ τοῦ Διονύσου ἐμβαλόντες τὰ μέλη, καθήψουν πρότερον: ἔπειτα ὀβελίσκοις περιπείραντες

" 'ὑπείρεχον Ἡφαίστοιο.' "

“...the Titans who had torn him limb from limb, setting a caldron on a tripod, and throwing into it the members of Dionysos, first boiled them down, and then fixing them on spits,

" 'held them over the fire.' "

(trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1880.)

[14] Orphic frag. 35 (200) Λόγος Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἕλληνας Κλήμεντος του Ἀλεξανδρέως II 18, 1. 2 (I 14, 16 Staeh):

Ἀθηνᾶ μὲν οὖν τὴν καρδίαν τοῦ Διονύσου ὑφελομένη Παλλὰς ἐκ τοῦ πάλλειν τὴν καρδίαν προσηγορεύθη

“Athene, to resume our account, having abstracted the heart of Dionysos, was called Pallas, from the vibrating of the heart" (trans. Rev. William Wilson, 1880)

[15] The story of Sæmǽli and the birth of Diónysos is told very elaborately in Διονυσιακά Νόννου Books 7, 8, and 9 but it can be found in many collections of mythology from antiquity.

[16] On Images Πορφυρίου, Fragment 3, excerpt, trans. Edwin Hamilton Gifford.

[17] Orphic frag. 140. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Πολιτείας Πλάτωνος II 74, 26 Kr.

ὁ μὲν θεολόγος Ὀρφεύς τρία γένη παραδέδωκεν ἀνθρώπων· πρώτιστον τὸ χρυσούν, ὅπερ ὑποστῆσαι τὸν Φάνητά φησιν· δεύτερον τὸ ἀργυροῦν, οὗ φησιν ἄρχαι τὸν μέγιστον Κρόνον· τρίτον τὸ Τιτανικόν, ὅ φησιν ἐκ τῶν Τιτανικών μελῶν τὸν Δία συστήσασθαι.

“The theologian Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) taught that there are three generations of men: the very first a golden age, which, he says, Phánîs (Φάνης) was the very one to create; the second is silver, where he says that the sovereignty was with mighty Krónos (Κρόνος); the third is the Titanic age, he says, which Zefs (Ζεύς) composed from the limbs of the Titans "

(trans. by the author)

Orphic frag. 141. σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Ἔργων καὶ Ἡμερῶν Ἡσιόδου 126 (Gaisf. II 121, 18):

ὁ μὲν Ὀρφεὺς τοῦ ἀργυροῦ γένους βασιλεύειν φησὶ τὸν Κρόνον

“Truly, Orphéfs (Ὀρφεὺς) says Krónos reigns over the silver race.”

(trans. by the author)

Unlike this Orphic idea, Plátôn and others describe the ages of man differently. The reign of Krónos and Rǽa is called the golden age in Πολιτικός Πλάτωνος 268e-272c. Cf. Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι Ἡσιόδου 109-201.

[18] εἰς Δία Καλλιμάχου, 90-95; trans. A.W. Mair, 1921.

[19] Φαινόμενα Ἀράτου του Σολέως 1-18. Trans.G. R. Mair, 1921.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

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