Long before geology and science in general led to a revolution in our understanding of Earth’s ancient story, pre-scientific peoples asked the question, as all of us do: where did all this come from? This Earth? We humans? The life systems of rock, oceans and sky that sustain us? When and how did it all begin?
Those questions remain profound ones, questions that we’re still working to answer. Our human origin story is more finely honed with each passing archeological and genetic discovery—and there are plenty more to be unearthed—while Earth’s origin story, and that of our Solar System and the Universe, is deepened by astrophysical discoveries every day.
However, pre-scientific peoples were just as smart as we are, they just didn’t have our modern tools. Did that prevent them from using their raw senses and storytelling skills to explain where they themselves came from? Certainly not. After all, what’s an ancient father or mother to do when their child asks, “Mommy, where did the stars come from?” Better say something by way of explanation, otherwise your child will think you’re a know-nothing.
And so, around fires in caves and eventually in mud huts and stone cities, origin myths were born. Every band of humans had one, unique to their surroundings.
The ancient Greeks were especially detailed in their fantasies, and no Greek more so than the poet Hesiod, who lived around 700 B.C.
I have based EARTH OVERTHROWN: GAIA and the TITANS, on Hesiod’s Greek genesis story, The Theogony.
In this origin myth, Gaia is the Earth. Her children the Titans create the ecological systems upon her surface. They all take both human and elemental forms, switching easily back and forth, and all have human failings, just like we do.
That makes The Theogony an interesting tale indeed. Jealousy, horror, dashed expectations, war and betrayal stalked the Titans, just like they do we moderns, who fancy that we know so much more than the ancients.
There’s even some humor.
STORYTELLER ODDS BODKIN
MARCH 3, 2022 at 7 pm EST on Zoom
Performed with 12-string guitar
Part I of a 3-part series, POWER MYTHS OF ANCIENT GREECE in March/April