116 Chasm it was, in truth, who was the very first; she soon
Was followed by broad-breasted Earth, the eternal ground of all
The deathless ones, who on Olympo’s snowy summits dwell,
And murky Tartaros hidden deep from Earth’s wide-open roads,
120 And Eros, the most beautiful among the deathless gods—
Limb-loosener he is of all the gods and of all men:
Thought in the breast he overwhelms and prudent planning; then
Out of Chasm Erebos and black Night both were born,
And then from Night came Ether and came Day as well in turn;
125 For Night conceived them, having joined with Erebos in love.
Now Earth first brought forth Ouranos, the starry Sky above,
An equal to herself, so he could cover her around,
And she might serve the deathless gods as firm, eternal ground.
She bore the hills, the gracious haunts of mountain goddesses then—
130 The Nymphs, who range the wooded hills and up and down each glen;
And without sweet desiring love, she bore the barren Sea,
Pontos, the raging salt-sea swell; and when she had lain with Sky,
She bore deep-eddying Ocean and Koios and Kreios too,
Hyperion, father of the Sun, Iapetos also,
135 And Thea and Rhea and Themis and, in turn, Mnemosyne,
Phoebe the golden-crowned one, Tethys lovely to see;
And after these the youngest came, Kronos, crooked and sly,
The cleverest of all her children and his father’s enemy.
And, further, the Kyklopes with their wanton hearts she bore—
140 Brontes, Steropes, Arges: Thunder, Flash, quick-striking Power—
who gave Zeus thunder and who wrought the thunderbolt. Whereas
They were a good deal like the gods in many other ways,
In the middle of their foreheads each one had a single eye—
And hence the name Kyklopes, which means “circle eyes,” you see;
145 For each one had a rounded eye in the middle of his head.
Muscular strength and skill were in their works and all they did.
From Gaia and from Ouranos these others also came—
Three huge and mighty children, whom one even dreads to name:
Kottos, Briareos, Gyges—haughty sons with monstrous forms;
150 For from their shoulders each of them sprouted a hundred arms,
And from each sturdy shoulder fifty heads, ungainly, grew
And sat upon his massive limbs, and each one of this crew
Had endless strength of body in his huge, misshapen girth.
Now of the many children that were born to Sky and Earth,
155 These were the fiercest ones, and from the very outset they
Were hated by their father and he hid them all away,
As soon as they were born, deep in the earth; he took delight
In doing this wicked deed and did not let them reach the light.
But Gaia, thronging inwardly, prodigious, gave a groan,
160 And she devised a crafty piece of cunning of her own.
She made a kind of metal that was gray and very hard,
Fashioned a scythe and showed her children what she had prepared;
And though she grieved in her own heart, to make them bold she said:
“O children, born to me and of a father who is bad,
165 We’ll take an evil vengeance on him, if you should agree:
If anyone was first to do things shameful, it was he.”
She spoke thus, but fear gripped them; not a single word resounded—
Till great and wily Kronos, taking courage, thus responded
In speech addressing his dear mother: “Mother, I promise you,
170 I’ll take this task upon myself and do what I must do.
I do not scruple about our ill-named father; for as you see,
If anyone was first to do things shameful, it was he.”
He finished, and gigantic Gaia’s heart with joy expands.
She hides him in an ambush and she places in his hands
175 A saw-toothed sickle and explains the cunning stratagem.
Great Ouranos came bringing on the night, and as he came
He lay outstretched on Gaia in his longing to make love—
And then his son in ambush reached his left hand out and drove
The sickle with his right hand (it was toothed and of great length),
180 And hacked his father’s genitalia off with all his strength.
Impetuously he reaped them; then he threw them out behind
Him backwards; nor did they fly off fruitless to the wind;
For each one of the bloody drops that flew away soon found
Its path to Earth and was received; and when the year came round,
185 She bore the Furies (Erinyes) and Giants of great might
(They bear long spears; their armor and their weaponry shine bright)
And bore the Nymphs, the Meliai, as they on earth are called.
As soon as with the adamantine metal he had culled
The genitals, he threw them out into the surging main:
190 There on the waves they rose and fell and rose and fell again;
And round about the immortal flesh white foam arose, and from
That foam a girl was born—she first to Kythera did come,
To sacred Kythera, and thence to sea-grit Kypris came,
And stepped upon the shore a lovely goddess with a claim
195 To reverence, and grass sprang up beneath her feet; her name
Is Aphrodite—gods and men both call her this (since from
The aphros she was nurtured—yes, within the frothy foam),
And also Kytherea, since from Kythera she was come,
And Kyprogenia, having been on sea-washed Kypris born,
200 And laughter loving, coming from the members that were torn.
Eros walked beside her; lovely Longing close behind
Followed as soon as she was born and also when she joined
The god’s race; and this honor, from the first, was hers on high—
This portion among human beings and the gods who never die:
205 Fond and familiar talk of girls and pleasure’s sweet caress,
Smiles and deceptions, honeyed love, kindness, gentleness.
Theogony and Works and Days, Hesiod, translation by Catherine Schlegel and Henry Weinfield, University of Michigan Press, 2006.