Titans of Greek Mythology: Facts & Overview

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  • 0:02 The Titans
  • 0:27 Birth of the Titans
  • 1:27 The Olympians & Defeat…
  • 3:11 Prometheus and Man
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Deering

Mary has a Master's Degree in History with 18 advanced hours in Government. She has taught college History and Government courses.

Explore the mythology of the Ancient Greeks through stories about the Titans, the first Greek gods. Learn about the birth of the Titans and their defeat by a new generation of gods, led by Zeus. Discover the Titan Prometheus, who first gave fire to mankind.

The Titans

In Greek mythology, the Titans were a group of twelve immortal brothers and sisters. They were among the first Greek gods. Although they were eventually replaced by more familiar figures, like Zeus, the Titans played an important role in Greek mythology and helped the Greeks to explain natural phenomena like earthquakes or the development of tools such as fire for cooking and heating one's home.

Birth of the Titans

According to legend, the Titans were the children of Gaia, Mother Earth, and her husband, Uranus, the god of the sky. Gaia and Uranus had produced six children before Gaia gave birth to the Titans. Their first children were monstrous and terrifying creatures, including three one-eyed Cyclopses and three Hundred-Handed Giants. Uranus was frightened of the dreadful children he had produced, and he banished them to the deepest pit in Tartarus, the underworld.

The twelve Titans were the next children of Gaia and Uranus, and they were as beautiful and wonderful as the first children had been hideous. Uranus loved the Titans and granted them many magical powers. The Titans and their children were the first true Greek gods, and the Greeks believed that they controlled many different aspects of the natural world. For example, Helios drove the chariot that pulled the sun across the sky from east to west. His sister, Selene, pulled the moon across the skies at night. Other gods controlled the rivers and the oceans.

Birth of the Olympians & Defeat of the Titans

In time, Cronus, the youngest of the Titan children, replaced Uranus as the leader of the immortal gods. Cronus was married to his sister, Rhea. Cronus and Rhea had several children; however, like his father, Cronus was frightened of his children - and so each time Rhea gave birth, Cronus swallowed the infant whole. Rhea was distraught by the loss of her children, so she petitioned Gaia for help. The next time Rhea gave birth, Gaia hid the infant, Zeus, deep in a cave. Rhea then gave Cronus a rock wrapped in baby blankets, which he swallowed immediately.

In time, the baby Zeus grew into a strong and powerful young god. One day, with the help of his mother, Zeus snuck into Cronus' home and pretended to be a servant. When Cronus called for a drink, Zeus brought him one laced with poison. Cronus became violently ill and vomited up each of the children he had swallowed, who were now fully-grown gods. Zeus and his brothers and sisters united against Cronus and the other Titans and the two sets of gods battled for supremacy.

Gaia promised Zeus that the Cyclopses and Hundred-Handed Giants would help him to defeat Cronus and the other Titans if he would free them from Tartarus. Zeus found the monstrous Cyclopses and Giants and with their help, he defeated the Titans and trapped Cronus and his allies deep in the underworld. The Ancient Greeks believed that the strange rumblings and movements of the earth during an earthquake were the result of the Titans, looking for a way out of their dark prison. Some of the Titans who had not helped Cronus in battle remained free. Zeus' mother, Rhea, continued to live with her children on Mount Olympus, the home of the new generation of gods, known as the Olympians.

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