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Meet Theia - The Greek Goddess Of Light

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Before Zeus and the reign of the Olympian Greek gods, there were the Titans. These large, powerful beings provide the foundation for many of the stories of Greek mythology. Theia was one of the original twelve Titans, born to Uranus and Gaia.

Theia was the Titan goddess of shining and light, associated with all that glimmers. She endowed gold, silver, other metals, and gems with their radiance and intrinsic value. In fact, Pindar’s odes described Theia as the goddess after whom people beheld gold as the most valuable shining object.

Goddess Woman in Cosmic space

Greek goddesses are good archetypal figures because of their exaggerated personalities.

The Goddess

Like her sisters Phoebe and Themis, Theia was also an oracular goddess associated with prophecies. She was the prophetic deity of a shrine in Thessaly. Additionally, Theia was closely tied to sight because the ancient Greeks believed her eyes emitted beams of light that helped them see with their own mortal eyes.

Because of her connection to light, she is often depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair and light surrounding her (or light held within her hands). Theia married her Titan brother, Hyperion, the god of light. Together, they bore three children: Helios the sun god, Selene the moon goddess, and Eos the dawn goddess.

Helios lived in a golden palace at the far east of the earth and he pulled the sun from east to west every day in a golden chariot drawn by four winged horses. Selene had power over the moon and rode in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds, often depicted wearing a golden cloak.

Eos awoke each morning from the edge of Oceanus and her golden rays would overcome the morning mist and lingering shadows of the night. Some myths say she rode in a winged-horse drawn golden chariot, while others say she had white wings and could fly herself. Hyperion and his brothers were the gods responsible for creating mankind.

Each Titan gave humans one of their senses. Hyperion, which means “he who watches from above,” gave men the sense of sight. Theia, his wife who was closely associated with sight, was able to support this gift to mankind. Eventually, the Titans who once ruled the world were overthrown by Zeus and his siblings after a decade-long fight for power.

The Olympian gods took overruling and were revered by the Greeks. The daughter of Uranus and Gaia, Theia was one of the first twelve Titans in Greek mythology. With her lover and brother Hyperion, Theia fought alongside her fellow Titans in the cataclysmic conflict known as the Titanomachy; when they ultimately lost the conflict, however, she was condemned to the dismal realm of Tartarus.

The name “Thea,” alternatively spelled Theia, simply meant “goddess” and was derived from the ancient Greek word theos. This ancient Greek word is also the root of modern English terms such as “theism” and “theology.” Theia was something referred to as Euryphaessa, meaning “wide-shining” or “all-bright”.

Theia’s most common epithet, Euryphaessa (the “wide-shining”), suggests that she had an association with heavenly bodies and other forms of light; such as association was further supported by her motherhood of Helios (sun), Selene (moon), and Eos (dawn). How this relationship shaped her other attributes remains unclear.

The daughter of primordial deities Gaia, who embodied mother earth, and Uranus, who personified the heavens above, Theia was one of twelve children known as the Titans. Among her other brothers and sisters were the other Titans - Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, Oceanus, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, Thea, Themis, and Rhea - as well as the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, baneful monsters who terrorized gods and mortals alike.

In her womanhood, Theia took her brother Hyperion as her lover. They had three children, each associated with the light of a celestial body: Helios, the incarnation of the sun; Selene, who embodied the moon and gave off pale light; and Eos, the dawn, whose light preceded Helios every morning.

Theia appeared in many sources of Greek mythology thanks to her position as mother of the sun god Helios, and, to a lesser extent, mother of Selene and Eos. As Hesiod writes in the eighth century BCE: “And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helius (sun) and clear Selene (moon) and Eos (dawn) who shines upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven.”

The seventh century BCE Homeric Hymn to Helios similarly praised the sun god’s mother, here referred to as Euryphaessa: “And now, O Muse Calliope, daughter of Zeus, begin to sing of glowing Helios whom mild-eyed Euryphaessa, the far-shining one, bear to the Son of Earth and starry Heaven. For Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaessa, his own sister, who bore him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos and rich-tressed Selene and tireless Helios who are like the deathless gods.”

The lyric poet Pindar further praised the sun’s “bright” and “shining” mother in the fifth of his Isthmian odes, written in the fifth century BCE: “Mother of the Sun, Theia of many names, for your sake men honor gold as more powerful than anything else; and through the value, you bestow on them, o queen, ships contending on the sea and yoked teams of horses in swift-whirling contests become marvels.”

Attributes Of The Goddess Of Light

The name “Thea,” alternatively spelled Theia, simply meant “goddess” and was derived from the Greek word theos. This ancient Greek word is also the root of modern English terms such as “theism” and “theology.” Thea was sometimes referred to as Euryphaessa, meaning “wide-shining” or “all-bright.”

Theia’s most common epithet, Euryphaessa (the “wide-shining”), suggests that she had an association with heavenly bodies and other forms of light; such as association was further supported by her motherhood of Helios (sun), Selene (moon), and Eos (dawn). How this relationship shaped her other attributes remains unclear, particularly with Hades, the god of the dead.

The daughter of primordial deities Gaia, who embodied mother earth, and Uranus, who personified the heavens above, Theia was one of twelve children known as the Titans. Among her brothers and sisters were the other Titans - Coeus, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, Oceanus, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, Thea, Themis, and Rhea - as well as the Hecatoncheires and the Cyclops, baneful monsters who terrorized gods and mortals alike.

In her womanhood, Theia took her brother Hyperion as her lover. They had three children, each associated with the light of a celestial body: Helios, the incarnation of the sun; Selene, who embodied the moon and gave off pale light; and Eos, the dawn, who light preceded Helios every morning.

It was natural for Helios to seek help from his mother, Theia, for this reason. This was the reason for solar eclipses, according to ancient Greek mythology. In Selene, the moon goddess, she told her mother about the fears that the darkness will create, and Theia provided her daughter with more moonlight to prevent night fears.

Theia had the ability to prophesy as she was associated with certain types of light. It was thought to have features such as seeing the future, prophecy, and wisdom. At Thessaly located in Phthiotis Theia was believed as the goddess of prophecy in a temple of prophecy in this region.

Theia is not mentioned in many Greek myths but it is assumed that she played a supporting role in many of them as Hyperion’s wife. Hyperion and his brothers, also brothers of Theia, were seen as the gods responsible for the creation of man. Each god gave mankind one of their senses.

It is assumed that Hyperion was the god who enabled men to see, for his name translates to “he who watches from above.” Another supporting clue to this assumption is that Theia, the goddess of sight, was part of the reason Hyperion gave mankind his chosen gift.

Some mythology experts don’t agree with this story but it’s worth mentioning the fate of Theia and her children. Uranus, her and her husband’s father, had chosen them to be the pair that would take over his throne when the time came. But Cronus an egomaniac, Theia and Hyperion’s brother, was jealous of his father’s choice and set out to find a way to make the throne his.

He kidnapped Helios, Selene, and Eos and before their parents knew that their children were missing, Cronus drowned them in the River Eridanus. He then told their parents that Uranus had committed the murders because he feared them. Hyperion believed him and vowed to seek revenge.

Family Of The Goddess

Theia was married to her brother Hyperion. He was the Titan god of light, which may have been responsible for the tolls of their three children.

Helios

Helios was the Titan god of the sun. He lived in a golden palace on the far east corner of the earth. He would travel from the east to the west in his golden chariot during the day, which was pulled across the sky by four winged horses. He would wear a radiant circle as he traveled across the sky. During the evening hours, he would descend into a golden cup and be carried back to his golden palace until doing the same the next day.

His daily routine was described by Homer as: “Driving his horse, he shines upon men and immortal gods. His eyes gaze piercingly out of his golden helmet, bright rays beam brilliantly from his temples, and the shining hair of his head graciously frames his far-away face. A rich, fine-spun garment gleams on his body and flutters in the winds, and stallions carry him.” When Apollo was born, Helios passed on his responsibilities to him. However, he was still the personification of the sun.

Selene

Theia’s daughter Selene was known as the Titan goddess of the moon. She would also ride a chariot through the sky, pulled by winged horses, while wearing a golden cloak. She would eventually be replaced by Artemis. She fell in love with a mortal named Endymion. Zeus eventually granted him the gift of immortality and eternal youth.

Together, Endymion and Selene had 50 daughters, known as the Menae. They represent the 50-month lunar cycle of each Olympiad. However, he fell into a state of eternal slumber by Mount Latmos. Selene would come and visit every night. Selene is also associated with lunar elements, such as lunacy, the calendar months, and the tides of the ocean. She had a child with Zeus named Pandela, the goddess of dew.

Eos

Eos was known as the goddess of the dawn. She would rise each day before morning from the edge of Oceanus. Her golden rays would overcome the morning mist and the remaining shadows of the night. Some myths say that she was carried across the sky in a gold chariot with winged horses while others say that she herself had white wings that enabled her to fly.

She was fittingly married to her cousin Astraeus, the god of dusk. Aphrodite had set a curse upon her though and she found herself uncontrollably attracted to mortal men. She eventually fell in love with the prince of Troy, Tithonus. Zeus also granted the prince with immortality but Eos forgot to ask for the god to grant her lover eternal youth and he continued to age.

According to some sources, he eventually became the first grasshopper. But before this, Eos and Tithonus had two sons. The first was Memnon who became king of Ethiopia and the second was Emathion who became the king of Arabia.

Beautiful young woman Aphrodite style with golden necklace jewelry.

Despite their immortality and similarities to modern-day superheroes, Greek gods and goddesses are plagued with personal flaws and negative emotions.

Appearance Of The Goddess

Theia is always pictured as a strikingly beautiful woman. She typically has long hair and flowing clothing that helps show the light around her. It’s not uncommon for her to be either directing light towards the earth or moon or even holding the light in her hands. In other artistic representations, she is shown with a child, as she was the mother of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn.

The main symbol of Theia is her eyes. Because the Greek’s believed that her eyes emitted a beam that allowed them to see, her eyes were the most important to them. In artistic representations of the goddess, she is often shown with the sun or moon but these would be better classified as symbols of her children. Shining, shimmering, splendid.

Theia was also a goddess of glittering and the blue sky in particular, and of glory in general. Aside from the vast expanse of the sky and sight, Theia also had dominion over precious metals and gems. She endowed gold, silver, and gems with their brilliance and value. Theia is described as the goddess of light and shining after whom men honored gold as the most powerful shining object.

Theia possesses the conventional physical attributes of the Olympian gods. Like all Olympians, she is immortal. She has not aged since reaching adulthood and cannot die by any conventional means. She is immune to all Earthly diseases and is resistant to conventional injury. If she were somehow wounded, her godly life force would enable her to recover with superhuman speed.

It would take an injury of such magnitude that it dispersed a major portion of her bodily molecules to cause her a physical death. Even then, it might be possible for a god of significant power such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo or for a number of Olympian gods of equal power to work together to revive her.

Theia also possesses superhuman strength and her Olympian metabolism provides her with far greater than human endurance in all physical activities. Theia has mystical abilities to tap into and manipulate solar energies, enabling her to conjure and control nearly infinite amounts of light and heat.

She could incinerate virtually anything in her proximity or render herself so hot that she could not be touched, even by other golds. She could summon and project portions of super-heated matter such as plasma which could explode at will, burning all that she touched.

Theia could also control all forms of fire, whether she had created them or not, causing it to erupt into a blaze at will or die out completely. She could also mystically levitate herself at will within an area of heated air. Contrary to thought, she is not vulnerable to water or cold, but it can slow her down and interrupt the strength of the force of her power.

Conclusion

Theia seems here a goddess of glittering in particular and of glory in general, but Pindar the poet’s allusion to her as “Theia of many names” is telling, since it suggests assimilation not only to the similar mother-of-the-sun goddess-like Phoebe and Leto but perhaps also to more universalizing mother-figures like Rhea and Cybele.

Theia’s mythological role as the mother of the moon goddess Selene is referenced in the application of the name to a hypothetical planet which, according to one theory, collided with the Earth, resulting in the Moon’s creation. Theia is sometimes seen as a kind and beautiful goddess, but her blessings are sometimes to be feared.

Worship of Theia may include prostration, and the burning of oils and incense, particularly at dawn or dusk. Worship of Theia is not as common as the worship of many other Hellenistic gods. Some sects believe that Theia can grant the ability to see ghosts and spirits, as well as other forms of clairvoyance.

Because of this many sects that worship Theia also encourage experimentation with paranormal romance. Theia was the Titan goddess of shining and light, associated with all that glimmers. She endowed gold, silver, other metals, and gems with their radiance and intrinsic value.

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