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The Greek God Uranus (Ouranos): Facts & Symbol

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  • 0:02 The Myth of Uranus and Gaea
  • 1:18 Legacy of Uranus
  • 1:55 Uranus as a Symbol
  • 2:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Flint Johnson

Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow

This lesson discusses the background of the Greek God Uranus, or Ouranos. We'll explain his function in the Greek pantheon, as well as his symbolism as the original male.

The Myth of Uranus and Gaea

In Greek Mythology, Gaea, or the name for Mother Earth, existed at the beginning of time as a carryover of the Great Goddess religion. In that role, she gave birth to Uranus, the sky and her lover. Each night, Uranus would wrap himself around Gaea and mate with her. As a result, Gaea would occasionally give birth to children. First, there were the six boys and six girls who were called the Titans. This was followed by the Hekatonkheires and the Cyclopes. Uranus hated them all, so he imprisoned them in Tartarus, a prison deep in the earth. There they caused their mother great pain. To ease it, Gaea made a blade of flint and begged her sons to castrate Uranus so that he would have no more power over them. Cronus (also spelled Kronos and Cronos), the youngest Titan, finally agreed to do it. Thereafter, Uranus no longer wrapped himself around Gaea at night; he only stayed in the heavens, and Cronus became the leader of the gods. He brought his siblings up from Tartarus and allowed them to rule with him.

Castration wasn't the end of Uranus' life-giving powers, though. When the blood from his genitals dripped onto the earth, it gave birth to the giants, the Erinyes or furies, and the nymphs. His genitals fell into the ocean and created Aphrodite.

Legacy of Uranus

After Uranus was castrated, he predicted that his son would likewise be overthrown by his own offspring just as he had been. To keep this from happening, Cronus swallowed all of his children until Rhea, his mate, gave him a rock to swallow in place of Zeus. Zeus grew up, then Zeus gave him poison that made Cronus throw up all of his children at once. When they had emerged again, the gods fought the Titans in a great war. Eventually the gods would defeat them, and Zeus put the Titans in the same prison that Uranus had imprisoned them in, Tartarus. Luckily for Zeus, his father never made the same prediction as Uranus had made, so he never fought a war with his own children.

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