In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a few famous mothers from mythology.
In the Beginning…
Gaia (or Gaea) was the original Earth Mother - or should I say, Mother Earth - in Greek mythology. Her fertility was quite literally legendary. Indeed, Gaia gave birth to a plethora of important children. In the opening lines of his epic that details the genealogy of the gods, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod writes of Gaia:
“With their divine voices
they first sing the glory of the sublime races of the gods
from the beginning, the children born to Gaia and vast Ouranos
and to their offspring, the gods who give blessings.”
(Hesiod, Theogony, lines 43-46)
A comprehensive list of Gaia’s children would easily be an entire post, so for today, I will stick with some of the more memorable offspring.
With Ouranos (the personification of Heaven), Gaia gave birth to the Cyclopes, Hecatoncheires, and the Titans. Later, from the blood of Ouranos, Gaia produced the Erinyes and the Giants.
All this talk leads me to the next group of mythological mothers…
The Mothers of All Monsters
Monsters of many varieties haunted the imaginations of the ancient Greeks. These creatures are found inhabiting works such as the Odyssey of Homer and the Theogony of Hesiod. But don’t forget that monsters had mothers too. Indeed, many monsters were the offspring of two noteworthy mythological figures, specifically Echidna and Nyx.
Finally, let’s end this survey of mythological mothers with some of the females who gave birth to legendary heroes and heroines, and in some cases even gods and goddesses. This select list include some of my favorite moms from myth.
Thetis - This Nereid married the mortal man Peleus, to whom she bore the hero Achilles.