We think of ancient Greece as one place, one time, but the reality is that the classical Greek stories we know come from a time only a few hundred years before the New Testament. The religions of the people there changed gradually from matriarchal to patriarchal with the Indo-European invaders who brought their own sky god, Zeus.
These grandmothers of the gods were local creatrix goddesses or other revered spirits of the land, the sea, the earth and the sky, who were then incorporated into the invaders religion, much like the European goddesses became saints.
DIONE The Titanis-goddess of the Oracle of Dodona. She was the mother of Aphrodite by Zeus. Her name literally only meant the Goddess. She may have been the Phoencian goddess of the sea, in charge of water, fate, beauty, weather, stars, and planets. At her oracle at Dodona, only old women were allowed to speak the rites and answer questions. While very little is known about her, she appears to be pre-Greek and she has a look-like sister in the Near East who was sister to Astarte.
MNEMOSYNE The elder Titanis-goddess of goddess of memory, words and language. She was the mother by Zeus of the nine Mousai (Muses). In a non-literate culture, memory is paramount. People were taught to memorize works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, not only the words, but the presentation. She is memorialized by the memory trick called a mnemonic, such as the rhyme to remember which months have 30 days.
PHOIBE The elder Titanis-goddess of intellect and the Oracle of Delphoi. She was the grandmother of the god Apollon and of two of the most powerful goddesses of Ancient Greece: Hecate, goddess of witchcraft and sorcery, and Artemis, goddess of hunting, children, animals, and chastity.
RHEA The Queen of the Titanes and goddess of female fertility and the wild mountains. She rescued her infant son Zeus from the maw of Kronos who had devoured her other five children.Naturally, all the girls wanted him; but Cronus (who I think was in love with Rhea as well) chose her to be his wife. Rhea thought it was destiny’s will, and that dreams do came true. (In the end, it proved to be a nightmare rather than a dream.)The two begot some beautiful and pretty powerful children:
Hestia, fire goddess; Demeter, vegetation goddess; Hades, god of riches; Poseidon, god of earthquakes; and Hera, air goddess.
TETHYS The elder Titanis-goddess of nursing and of the underground sources of fresh-water. She was the mother of the Rivers and Springs. Also seen as a most ancient pre-Greek goddess with Nyx (night) and Gaea (earth). She nursed Hera, queen of the gods, even after her worship faded. Tethys was the mother of 3000 Oceanides and all the river gods .
THEIA The elder Titanis goddess of sight, and the precious value of gold, silver and gemstones. She was the mother of Sun, Moon and Dawn, another goddess overrun by the Indo-Europeans. Theia was the mother of Helios, Selene and Eos (mother of the Winds). Her name also means goddess.
THEMIS The elder Titanis-goddess of natural order, divine law and tradition, and the oracles of the earth. She was the mother by Zeus of the Fates and Seasons. She was the divinity from which all light proceeded. She was the mother of sight. And above all, her name simply means “Sight” or Prophecy.She was at first THE goddess of prophecy; with which she presided over the most ancient earthly oracles, including Olympia and Dodona. To add to that, she had also received the Oracle of Delphi, ‘homerically’ called Pytho, from Gaea herself. (Mother Earth used to own the oracle herself.)Themis used to be ‘The Voice’of Delphi. No copyright infringementintended here babies. I got the logo here.From there, she became ‘The Voice’ who, as Theoi Project says: first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality, such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance, conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the gods. One of them was Themis, where she was known as JUSTITIA (hence, justice… duh). As such, she was the embodiment of the divine rightness of law; and the personification of the moral force in judicial systems. She could have just been the world’s (and beyond’s) first lawyer.
My agent suggested that I might write a book about goddesses for writers, so you may see more of these sorts of posts.
- Monaghan, P. (1997) The new book of goddesses and heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn