Titans (lords, rulers) In Greek mythology, primeval gigantic beings; children of Uranus and Gaea. Their number varies, though 12 are generally named, coinciding with the 12 Olympian gods who replaced the Titans as rulers. They are Oceanus, Tethys, Hyperion, Thia, Crius, Mnemosyne (Eurybia), Coeus, Phoebe, Cronus, Rhea, Iapetus, and Themis. Added to the list sometimes are Briareus, Cottus, Gyges, Enceladus, Porphyrion, and Rhoetus, though some accounts say they were just giants, not Titans.

Also called Titans are Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Atlas. Cronus, their leader, overthrew his father, Uranus, and castrated him. Cronus, in turn, was overthrown by his son Zeus. In the ensuing war Iapetus and all the 12 Titans, except Oceanus, sided with their brother Cronus against Zeus. The war continued for 10 years until Zeus, advised by Gaea, released from Tartarus, the lowest section of the underworld, the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, who sided with Zeus and helped him defeat the Titans, who were then cast into Tartarus.

Prometheus also sided with Zeus in the battle and was rewarded. The Titans appear in Hesiod’s Theogony, Hyginus’s Fables, and Apollodorus’s Biblioteca (Library). Keats’s unfinished epic, The Fall of Hyperion, deals with the sun god of the Titans. Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D is subtitled “Titan.”


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante





The Titans are a pantheon of Greek spirits who preceded the Olympian spirits. They are the good-looking children of Gaia and Uranus, who refused to be ruled by the Olympians and so war ensued. The war between the Titans and the Olympians is called the Titanomachie. The war, waged in Thessaly, lasted for ten years. The Olympians finally won when Gaia promised Zeus victory if he would free the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires from their captivity in the abyssal pit of Tartarus. (They are the less attractive children of Gaia and Uranus. Uranus was appalled by their looks and locked them away in Tartarus.) After their defeat, most of the Titans were either locked up in Tartarus or sent into exile to an island far away. Either way the Hecatoncheires have been charged to guardthem. The Titanesses, the Lady Titans, were generally spared.

The fate of the Titans, cast down into the depths, should have given pause to whoever named the great ship Titanic. The Titans are also memorialized in the name given to titanium, a metallic element of exceptional strength used in the production of steel.

Sacred site:

Mount Othrys is to the Titans as Mount Olympus is to the Olympians.

See Also:

Atlas; Gaia; Hekate; Oceanus; Prometheus; Styx; Zeus


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
Greek Mythology

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