Tuesday, July 02, 2013

CHAOS - the origin of myth

According to the early Greek poet Hesiod, the first event to occur in the cosmos was the birth, or "coming-into-being," of Chaos. After Chaos followed Gaia (earth), Tartarus (cosmic prison), and Eros (erotic love).

These beings were the Primordial Four-the first four entities identified. Everything that came into the world thereafter derived ultimately from one or more of the Primordial Four. Chaos did not signify a state of utter disorder, as the word now implies; rather it was "bounded space," as in a chasm.
Indeed, the words "chaos" and "chasm" are etymologically related. In the logic of the myth Chaos offered room in which the world could develop. Chaos had a dual nature: it was not only a physical thing but also a personality, a living being out of which two other cosmic entities, Darkness and Night, emerged, which in turn produced other elements of the cosmos.

Like Darkness and Night, the descendants of Chaos were mostly intangible elements such as Death, Sleep, and Discord.
In the first century CE the Roman poet Ovid presented a different mythic cosmogony, in which the world initially consisted of shapeless matter, Chaos, within which reigned confusion and discord. Opposites warred with each other: heat with cold, wet with dry, hard with soft, heavy with light. Nature or some god liberated these elements, brining order to the universe. In Ovid's version, Chaos was truly characterized by a state of "utter disorder."

Many cosmogonic myths tell of an initial being or substance that contains within itself many of the eventual constituents of the cosmos. Examples are Tiamat (Mesopotamia) and Ginnungagap (Scandinavia).
by William Hansen

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