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Titanesses: The Forgotten Goddesses

As we continue our exploration of the mighty Titans, let's meet the Titanesses, the immortal daughters of Heaven and Earth.

The Pleiades, an 1885 painting by artist Elihu Vedder


Divinities of Heaven: The Titanesses

Have you ever heard of a female Titan? These giant goddesses were part of a powerful race that ruled the world before the Olympians! The male Titans, who we learnt about last month, are known for their incredible strength – but the Titanesses represented different aspects of their mother Earth. Let’s meet all six daughters of Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Gaia):

  • Tethys: a sea goddess and the nurse of all life

  • Rhea: the queen of Titans and the goddess of motherhood and fertility

  • Themis: the goddess of wisdom, justice and order

  • Phoebe: the goddess of brightness and intelligence

  • Theia: the goddess of vision and light

  • Mnemosyne: the goddess of memory and Earth’s history

The Titanesses were neutral during the great war between Cronus and Zeus, which went on for ten long years! After the war, the Titanesses were not banished to the underworld like their brothers, and instead were allowed to remain free. Two of the Titanesses had children with Zeus: Themis gave birth to the Fates and the Hours, and Mnemosyne gave birth to the nine Muses (the goddesses of poetry, history, inspiration and music).

Mythic Profile – Theia: The Titaness of Vision and Light

A carved relief of Theia, dedicated by the priest Lakrateides and his family to the Eleusinian deities. 100–90 BC. Archaeological Museum of Eleusis.

One of the six Titanesses was Theia, the most brilliant of all! She was the goddess of all things bright and sparkly – from the glistening atmosphere, to the radiance of gold and silver, and even your eyesight!

A Sparkling Sky

Have you ever looked at the sky and wondered how some parts seem to shimmer? The ancient Greeks called it aether, the pure air breathed by the gods. As the goddess of the shining sky, Theia represented this shimmering upper atmosphere! Aether is trapped between the sky and Earth, which makes sense considering Theia is a daughter of Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Gaia).

Gold myrtle wreath, 4th-3rd century BCE. On display in Gods, Myths & Mortals exhibition, Hellenic Museum.

Dazzling Jewels

Curious about how gold, silver and other shiny jewels are so… sparkly? In ancient myth, it was believed that Theia endowed precious metals and gemstones with their radiance and value, like this gold myrtle wreath! If you haven’t already, you can see its beauty for yourself on display in Gods, Myths & Mortals at the Hellenic Museum.

The Power of Sight

In Greek mythology, Theia was also an oracular goddess, known for her powers of sight and wisdom. The ancient Greeks believed that her eyes emitted beams of light, giving mortals the ability to emit light through their own eyes! Of course, we know this is not true today.

Theia's Shining Children

The goddess married Hyperion, the Titan of heavenly light, and gave birth to three children: Helios (the Sun), Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the Dawn). It makes sense that two gods of light would have children who embodied shining elements of the sky!



The Jewel of Theia... but make it bouncy!

We've now learned that in mythology, Theia was believed to give gold, silver and jewels their sparkling appearance. Let's make our own sparkling 'jewel' in the form of a glittering bouncy ball! Follow the instructions below to make your own.

As always, we love to see your creations. If you gave this activity a go, why not get a parent or guardian to share with us on social media? Find us on Facebook.

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