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In Greek mythology the Prôtogenoi (pl.; Gr. Πρωτογενοι, sing. Protogenos) are a genealogy of primordial Greek gods, the name literally means "first born" or "primeval" and are a group of deities born in the beginning of our universe.

The Protogenoi are the first entities or beings that come into existence. They form the very fabric of our universe and as such are immortal. The Prôtogenoi are a group of gods from which all the other gods descend. Although generally believed to be the first gods produced from Chaos, some sources mention a pair of deities who were the parents of these Prôtogenoi. These deities represent various elements of nature. Chaos has at times been considered, in place of Ananke, the female consort of Chronos.

These are the gods who make up the Prôtogenoi:

  • Chaos (Void) - genderless (sometimes poetically female)
    • Phanes (Generation) or Himeros or Eros elder (Procreation) or Protogonos (the First Born) – male
    • Phusis (Nature) or Thesis (Creation) – female
    • Erebos (Mists of Darkness) – male
    • Nyx (Night) – female
  • Ananke (Inevitability) – female
  • Chronos (Time) – male
  • Gaia (Earth) – female
    • The Ourea (Mountains) – male
    • The Nesoi (Islands) – female
    • Uranus (Heaven) – male
      • Tethys (Fresh Water) – female
      • Oceanus (Ocean) or Hydros (Water) – male
  • with Aither (not offspring of Gaia)
    • Pontos (Water, the Seas) – male
    • Tartarus (the great stormy Hellpit, which was seen as both a deity and the personification) – male

Alternatively attested genealogy structures

The ancient Greeks proposed many different ideas about primordial deities in their mythology, which would later be largely adapted by the Romans. The many religious cosmologies constructed by Greek poets each give a different account of which deities came first.

  • The Iliad, an epic poem attributed to Homer about the Trojan War (an oral tradition of 700 or 600 BCE) states that Oceanus (and possibly Tethys, too) is the parent of all the deities.[1]
  • In Hesiod (c. 700 BCE) Chaos ("void", "gap") stands at the beginning, followed by Nyx, Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros. After these forces manifest on their own, they have children through various methods, including Erebus, Pontus, Ourea, the Titans, and Aether.
  • Alcman (c. 600 BCE) made the water-nymph Thetis the first goddess, producing poros "path", tekmor "marker" and skotos "darkness" on the pathless, featureless void.
  • Orphic poetry (c. 530 BCE) made Nyx the first principle, Night, and her offspring were many.
  • Also in the Orphic tradition, Phanes (a mystic Orphic deity of light and procreation, sometimes identified with the Elder Eros) is the original ruler of the universe, who hatched from the cosmic egg.[2]
  • Aristophanes (c. 456–386 BC) wrote in his Birds, that Nyx is the first deity also, and that she produced Eros from an egg.

Philosophers of Classical Greece also constructed their own metaphysical cosmogonies, with their own primordial deities:

  • Pherecydes of Syros (c. 600-550 BCE) made Chronos ("time") the first deity in his Heptamychia.
  • Empedocles (c. 490–430 BCE) wrote that Aphrodite and Ares were the first principles, who wove the universe out of the four elements with their powers of love and strife.
  • Plato in (360 BCE) introduced the concept in Timaeus, the demiurge, modeled the universe on the Ideas


Chaos, Aether, Gaia, Uranus, Hemera, Chronos, Eros, Erebus, Nyx, Ophion, Tartarus, Moros and Phanes.


  1. Homer. The Iliad (Book 14)
  2. PHANES: Greek protogenos god of creation & life

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Protogenoi. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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