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Who is Hyperion in Greek Mythology? - Story & Facts

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

There was more to Greek mythology than just the gods. In this lesson, we are going to get to know a different divine being and see what role he played in the Greek cosmos.

Hyperion

You know how sometimes the light hits at just the right angle and it almost feels divine? Well, to the ancient Greeks it might have been. All things in nature were attributed to some deity, and in this case that was the deity Hyperion. Hyperion was a Titan who presided over heavenly light and was father to the other lights of the heavens (we'll get to that in a minute). He was a deity of watchfulness, a pillar that held the cosmos in place, and the one to set the patterns of days. How's that for a divine light?

Hyperion was a Titan and the personification of heavenly light
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Origin and Role with the Titans

Hyperion was one of the Titans, beings of great power who often personified cosmic forces. His parents were the primordial beings Uranus (the sky) and Gaia (the Earth). In these ancient times, Uranus behaved as a tyrant towards his children, prompting Hyperion's bother, Kronos, to plot a coup against him.

When Uranus came to Gaia, Hyperion and three brothers (Krios, Koios, and Iapetos) pinned him down so that Kronos could castrate him. Thus, the Titans overthrew their father and started a new era. Since the four brothers were responsible for restraining Uranus and keeping him from Gaia, they became the four cardinal pillars that hold up the sky and keep it from colliding with the world.

Hyperion and the Heavenly Lights

Over time, Hyperion married his sister Theia, Titaness of the mystical shimmering blue color of the sky called the 'aether' (sometimes spelled aither). Together, the Titan of heavenly light and Titaness of the aether had three children representing the three lights of heaven: Eos (Dawn), Helios (Sun), and Selene (Moon).

Helios and Selene, Sun and Moon, were children of Hyperion
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Since Hyperion was the father of the dawn, Sun, and Moon, it's safe to assume that he represented the pillar of the east, the direction from which these heavenly lights appeared. However, his significance may be even greater than that. Think about this question: What is a day? What is a month? What is a year? Our calendars are based on the cycles of the Sun and the Moon. Hyperion set these heavenly bodies in motion as his children, and taught them the cycles that we use to measure our lives.

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