GAEA

ΓΑΙΑ

Or Ge (Gê), the personification of the earth. She appears in the character of a divine being as early as the Homeric poems, for we read in the Iliad (iii. 104) that black sheep were sacrificed to her, and that she was invoked by persons taking oaths. (iii. 278, xv. 36, xix. 259, Od. v. 124.) She is further called, in the Homeric poems, the mother of Erechtheus and Tithyus. (Il. ii. 548, Od. vii. 324, xi. 576; comp. Apollon. Rhod. i. 762, iii. 716. According to the Theogony of Hesiod (117, 12,5, &c.), she was the first being that sprang front Chaos, sand gave birth to Uranus and Pontus. By Uranus she then became the mother of a series of beings, -- Oceanus, Coeus, Creius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rheia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Thetys, Cronos, the Cyclopes, Brontes, Steropes, Arges, Cottus, Briareus, and Gyges. These children of Ge and Uranus were hated by their father, and Ge therefore concealed. them in the bosom of the earth; but she made a large iron sickle, gave it to her sons, and requested them to take vengeance upon their father. Cronos undertook the task, and mutilated Uranus. The drops of blood which fell from him upon the earth (Ge), became the seeds of the Erinnyes, the Gigantes, and the Melian nymphs. Subsequently Ge became, by Pontus, the mother of Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia. (Hes. Theog. 232, &c.; Apollod. i. 1. § 1, &c.) Besides these, however, various other divinities and monsters sprang from her. As Ge was the source from which arose the vapours producing divine inspiration, she herself also was regarded as an oracular divinity, and it is well known that the oracle of Delphi was believed to have at first been in her possession (Aeschyl. Eum. 2; Paus. x. 5. § 3), and at Olympia, too, she had an oracle in early times. (Paus. v. 14. § 8.) That Ge belonged to the theoi chthinioi, requires no explanation, and hence she is frequently mentioned where they are invoked. (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. vi. 39; Ov. Met. vii. 196.) The surnames and epithets given to Ge have more or less reference to her character as the all-producing and all-nourishing mother (mater omniparens et alma), and hence Servius (ad Aen. iv. 166) classes her together with the divinities presiding over marriage. Her worship appears to have been universal among the Greeks, and she had temples or altars at Athens, Sparta, Delphi, Olympia, Bura, Tegea, Phlyus, and other places. (Thuc. ii. 15; Paus. i. 22. § 3, 24. § 3, 31. § 2, iii. 11. § 8, 12. § 7, v. 14. §8, vii. 25. § 8, viii. 48. § 6.) We have express statements attesting the existence of statues of Ge in Greece, but none have come down to us. At Patrae she was represented in a sitting attitude, in the temple of Demeter (Paus. vii. 21. § 4), and at Athens, too, there was a statue of her. (i. 24. § 3.) Servius (ad Aen. x. 252) remarks that she was represented with a key. At Rome the earth was worshipped under the name of Tellus (which is only a variation of Terra).

The Union of Earth and Sea, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish Baroque painter

The Union of Earth and Sea, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish Baroque painter