I am wondering whether, in Greek mythology, the Titans as a "class" or a "whole" represented some idea, facet of life, what have you, and whether the gods as a "class" or "whole" represented some other idea, etc. I know that various Titans were said to have control over this part of nature or that part of the psyche etc., and the same with the gods. But my question is, did these two "classes of deities" as two "wholes" represent something to the Greeks? For example, I have read somewhere -- and I can't find the link and I have no idea whether the author was correct -- that the Titans represented the more primitive aspects of the human psyche while the gods represented the more developed, creative, civilized aspects. (BTW, I know there is another question on this site about the difference between Titans and gods but, even though it was interesting for sure, it does not ask what I am asking here.)

  • This is a universal theme across multiple faiths. It can arise from a melding of old gods with new as cultures conquer each other, like The Fomorians and the Tuatha de Dann, It is thematically present in many faiths, though, like Tiamat vs Marduk, or even God as the old testament God vs the new testament God. It represents reconciling the old with the new. Alienating the old is risky, but you want to subtly discredit it to assert the supremacy of a new idea or culture. I'd give this as an answer, but I don't have any references.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


A simple way to look at it is Titan are often associate with natural forces and phenomena, such as Eos, "Dawn".

The wiki for Eos may be confusing—there she is listed both as titan and god, but this is elucidating:

  • Titans are the order of god that is pre-Olympian specifically.

Helios, the sun, likewise, is one of the most famous titans. Tethys & Oceanus were embodiments of the sea. Cronus is also a very famous titan, cognate with Chronos, the embodiment of time, reinforced by his status as a god of harvest, which implies marking the passage of time from planting to ripening and harvest. Rhea, similarly is an embodiment of earth, with her name meaning "ground", but even interpretations of her name as "flow" in the sense of "discharge" implies giving birth, as she is the mother of the Olympians. (Essentially, a secondary form of Gaia, the mother of all, aka the Earth.)

Even the etymology supports the idea of natural forces per the term titanic, as something big and indestructible. Usage predates the linked reference, with OED listing:

1628 R. Knevet Στρατιοτικον sig. F3v Titanicke pride, that God to his face dares

1838 Hesperian May 19/2 What would have become of one of your prosers in the Johnsonian circle?..In their titanic struggles he would have been regarded as an ‘unconsidered trifle’.

This categorization is not strict however, as Mnemosyne is also considered a titaness. Thus we may regard titans as abstract forces or function of nature, which comprise and produce the phenomenal world.

A good place to read about the creation of the universe in this context is Hesiod's Theogony.

Aphrodite may also be a special case, as, in the Hesiod, she pre-dates the Olympians, but was made an Olympian, later claimed to be a daughter of Zeus. Aphrodite herself is the embodiment of the natural force of desire, and in this was was said to the the one goddess with power over mighty Zeus himself. Eros is also considered to be both the oldest and youngest of the gods.

(Mythology is not an exact science;)

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