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

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