In most sources, Olympian gods were (nearly?) all directly descended from Chaos.

Were they unique in this (having a shared ancestor deity, not too far up the family tree), or was it a common thing for a polytheistic pantheon?

  • 3
    I don't think you even need to go as far as Chaos. The 12 Olympians were all children or grandchildren of Chronus and Rhea, right? (that Zeus did get around)
    – femtoRgon
    May 17, 2015 at 4:13
  • 1
    I personally disagree with Yannis about this question: I don't think these types of "list every ancient religion with x characteristic" questions are helpful because (1) they're hard to answer no matter how narrow x is and (2) what are you learning other than "there are a lot of gods who are descended from one family". I personally think comparative questions should be along the lines of "why are myth x and myth y similar in z way," because only two religions are being compared and the question is more interesting.
    – user62
    May 17, 2015 at 12:29
  • @Christofian - with all due respect, the fact that you don't learn anything from comparative type information does not imply others don't
    – DVK
    May 17, 2015 at 19:00
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    @DVK to elaborate on my first point, this is essentially a myth identification question, except that instead of asking for one myth, you're asking for every myth with a certain characteristic. I'm sure if I were to go to SciFi.SE and ask "in what stories are all the main characters part of the same family" I would be downvoted. I don't think we should have myth-id questions in the first place, but if we are going to have them, I'm going to put my foot down on questions where the goal is to identify every myth with a certain characteristic.
    – user62
    May 18, 2015 at 18:32
  • If we are going to have comparison questions, they should be like this one (mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/53/…): it's comparing two specified myths, and not asking for a list of myths that are similar to another myth.
    – user62
    May 18, 2015 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


In the Babylonian creation mythos, the Enuma Elish, the gods are created as a result of the union between two primordial entities: Apsu (male) and Tiamut (female):

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being...
Ages increased,...
Then Ansar and Kisar were created, and over them....
Long were the days, then there came forth.....
Anu, their son,...
Ansar and Anu...
And the god Anu...
Nudimmud, whom his fathers, his begetters.....
Abounding in all wisdom,...'
He was exceeding strong...
He had no rival -
Thus were established and were... the great gods.


Later in the epic, Apsu wishes to kill his offsprings (for being a bit too noisy), which results in him being killed by his grandson Ea (aka Enki), who then becomes leader of the pantheon. The epic has broad similarities with Hesiod's Theogony and with the Jewish Genesis myth, and could perhaps have been an inspiration for both.

Wikipedia has a helpful diagram of the family tree of the Babylonian gods.

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