Erebus in Greek Mythology: Birth, Family, Personification, & Power

Erebus in Greek mythology is a primeval god of darkness

In the Theogony, an epic written by famous Greek poet Hesiod, Erebus is described as the personification of darkness. Being one of the first generation of deities that appeared at the beginning of the cosmos, Erebus was not often worshiped by the ancient Greeks.

It’s often said in the myths that Erebus was one of the two offspring of Chaos (or Khaos). The other deity was Nyx, the primordial goddess of the night. Greek goddess Nyx was such an extremely powerful and dangerous deity that even Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, feared her.

Erebus’ mother, Chaos, often holds the distinguished honor of being the first being to emerge in the cosmos. Not only is she a deity, she is also seen as a thing. According to some accounts however, Chaos resides in the space between Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Gaia). However, in some other versions of the story, Chaos lies just beneath Tartarus, a deep abyss in the Greek underworld.

Erebus

Ancient Greek poet Hesiod’s explanation of the emergence of the first deities (i.e. primordial deities) in Greek mythology

Hesiod states that Erebus and Nyx appeared after other primordial deities such Gaia (Earth), Eros (Love), and Tartarus (Abyss) had emerged. In this creation myth, Erebus takes his sister Nyx as his consort, and the two deities go on to bring forth many deities, who themselves were personifications of abstract concepts or places. By Nyx, Erebus fathered two deities – Aether (Bright Upper Sky) and Hemera (Day).

In the Fabulae, a book written by Latin author Hyginus, Erebus is instead the brother of Nyx (Latin Nox), Hemera (Latin Day), and Aether. In this account, Erebus is the offspring of Caligine (Mist) and Chaos.  Erebus and Nox then go on to give birth to deities such as the Fates (the Moirai), the Hesperides (Nymphs of the West), Styx, the Keres (bringers of violent death), Nemesis (Divine Retribution), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), Geras (old age), and Eris (Strife).

According to Birds, the work of ancient Greek comedy-writer Aritophanes, Erebus, Nyx, Chaos and Tartarus were the first deities to appear. They emerged long before the coming of the Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Gaia). In this account, Eros (Love) is the offspring of Erebus and Nyx.

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Erebus in Greek mythology

Erebus

According to ancient Greek poet Hesiod, Greek god Erebus was one of the first primordial deities that bursts onto the scene at the beginning of creation. Erebus is the brother of Nyx (Night) and the offspring of Chaos.

Erebus: Fast Facts

Personification of: Darkness

Parent: Chaos

Siblings: Nyx (Night)

Children: Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day).

By the primordial goddess Nyx, Erebus also fathered personified deities like Moros (Doom), Apate (Deceit), Nemesis (Retribution), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), Oizys (Pain), Eris (Strife and discord), Momus (Satire/Mockery), the Moirai (Fates), Philotes (Friendship), Geras (Old Age), the Hesperides (the Daughters of the Evening), and the Oneiroi.

Residence: Tartarus

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