"The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends toward serenity." This quote by André Gide perfectly encapsulates the story of the Titans. Most commonly known as the antagonists of the pantheon of gods led by Zeus, the Titans embody "unrest" and "transience" for the modern listener, but for reasons less than the obvious. History, after all, is the story of the winners, and the world of the ancient Greeks was a world of a very real, highly querulous pantheon that it behooved ancient writers to glorify in their works.
Unlike the other gods, the Titans' appearance in ancient Greek writing is limited, and the full treatment of their "history" appears, predominantly, in just two works: Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days. The story of the Titans appears in both works in different degrees of detail, and for that reason, any work about their story has to incorporate references from each. Rather than becoming ensnared in source criticism, it's necessary to combine the works to create a fuller picture of the mythology Hesiod expounds.
For example, it's worth noting that the Theogony, at least, has all of the hallmarks of a "hymn to the glory of Zeus the King." The reason for this is that, throughout the work, Zeus is lauded as being the progenitor of "order" in the cosmos, once he had defeated his enemies and ceased to battle monsters. It will soon become apparent that Zeus is not only the "lord of gods and men," but also the revolutionary leader of a new power system. This understanding of the cosmos as a political arena is vital to the interpretation of the myth of the Titans.
By looking at these works of Hesiod, it's possible to get a better understanding of how the ancient Greeks viewed their cosmos, their pantheon of gods, and the power struggles their deities went through in order to become dominant celestial beings. The Titans play a much larger part in this process than they are often given credit for, and the importance of their lasting effect upon the cosmos, the mythology, and the ancient Greek psyche cannot be overstated.
©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors