ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The God Chaos in Greek Mythology

Updated on December 15, 2016
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

Today, when most people talk about chaos, they are talking about disorder or disarray, in Ancient Greece though, when people talked of Chaos they could well have been talking about a god with that name.

Chaos of course is not a well known deity of the Greek pantheon, and most people will think of Greek gods in terms of Zeus and other gods of Mount Olympus. Zeus and the other Olympian gods though, were latecomers to the wider Greek pantheon.

Zeus' Ancestors

A basic family tree of Zeus will see the supreme god of Mount Olympus, named as the son of Kronos, the supreme god amongst the Titans; the Titans being the rulers of the cosmos usurped by Zeus and his siblings.

Kronos, and the other Titans, were the offspring of the preceding supreme deity and god of the sky, Ouranos; and Ouranus was the son of mother earth, the primordial deity, Gaia.


Workshop of George Frederic Watts (1817–1904) PD-art-100
Workshop of George Frederic Watts (1817–1904) PD-art-100 | Source

The Primordial Deities of Ancient Greece

In the Theogony, the Greek poet Hesiod would name Gaia as one of the four original primordial gods and goddesses, a group collectively known as the Protogenoi. The other Protogenoi, aside from Gaia, being Eros (love), Tartarus (underworld) and Chaos; of the four, Hesiod would also write that Chaos came into existence first.

Chaos would be portrayed as a female deity, but she would have no physical form, and instead was considered to be the vast nothingness that came into existence at the very start of time. Thus, according to Hesiod, Chaos had no parents.

The Theogony, written in 700BC, is a primary source, and one of the few works form the period that survives intact into the modern day. The Theogony is the genealogy of the gods, but Hesiod’s timeline of the gods is not the only one.

Fragments of other works from antiquity, name Chaos as an offspring of Chronos, the god of time, and Ananke, the goddess of inevitability.

The Creation

James Tissott (c1896-1902) PD-art-100
James Tissott (c1896-1902) PD-art-100 | Source

Descendants of Chaos

Taking Hesiod’s lineage of the gods though, Chaos would become parent to the goddess of the night, Nyx, and the god of darkness, Erebus.

Hesiod would specifically state that Gaia, Eros, and Tartarus were born in the same way as Chaos, although alternative sources would name these three other primordial gods as children of Chaos.

The name Protogenoi means “first born”, and in total Hesiod would name nine Protogenoi; Chaos, Tartarus, Eros and Gaia, Nyx and Erebus (the offspring of Chaos), Hemera and Aether (the offspring of Nyx and Erebus), Ouranus, Pontus and the Ourea (the offspring of Gaia).

The word Protogenoi therefore becomes a misnomer, with Hemera and Aether being grandchildren of Chaos, and therefore hardly “first born”.

The Fates

E Vedder PD-art-100
E Vedder PD-art-100 | Source

The Role of Chaos in Greek Mythology

In English, the name Chaos can be translated as meaning “gap”, and in later Greek mythology this was a role that the goddess would fill. Aether was considered to be the air of the heavens, whilst the dark and foreboding air of the underworld was Erebus; and the gap in between was filled with air that was Chaos.

Chaos is not a goddess who is referred to a great deal in surviving texts, but the deity is considered to be a goddess of fate, in much the same way that her daughter Nyx, and granddaughters, the Fates (the Moirai), were.

Centuries later, the ideas of Hesiod, and other Greek poets, were expanded on by the Roman poet, Ovid. Ovid would write that all of the elements, therefore, earth, air, water and fire, came forth from Chaos, and so ultimately everything was derived from the goddess.

So, whilst today, chaos means disorder and disarray, in antiquity Chaos meant the source of the whole natural order of the cosmos.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)