Print this page

Symbols - What does heaven look like

Hecatonchires

 

Greek mythology used personifications to represent systems of the universe. 

The Greek personifications that are used to describe all the very early systems are the  Hecatonchires, "Hundred-Handed Ones," Latinized Centimani). Their name derives from the Greek hekaton; "hundred" and (kheir; "hand", "each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads" (Bibliotheca), which symbolises great activity, much activity and continuous activity.  And power.

These were three gargantuan figures , giants of incredible strength and ferocity.  They were classified as even more powerful than the Cyclopes who personify the weather systems and the Titans who personify other major earth systems.  They were known as Briares Βριάρεως the Vigorous; Cottus Κόττος the Striker or the Furious, and Gyges Γύγης (or Gyes) the Big-Limbed.

 

They thus represent the gigantic forces of nature which both preceeded life on earth and have continued in a lesser and more subdued form once life was established.  During the War of the Titans, the Hecatonchires threw rocks as big as mountains, one hundred at a time, at the Titans, overwhelming them. 

In Greek  myth, the Cyclopes, Titans and Hundred handers had to be subdued by the gods that were to establish life on the planet [the third generation] before any life could be created.

We can compare this mythological picture with that which scientists have been tentatively able to reconstruct about the planet's past.

The current scientific theory is that about 4.54 billion years ago the Earth and the other planets in the Solar System formed out of the solar nebula —a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun. Initially molten, the outer layer of the planet Earth cooled to form a solid crust. The Moon formed shortly thereafter, 4.53 billion years ago, the theory being that a Mars-sized object with about 10% of the Earth's mass impacted the Earth.  Some of this object's mass merged with the Earth, a portion was ejected into space, and the rest formed the Moon.

 

Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, augmented by ice and liquid water delivered by asteroids and the larger proto-planets, comets, and trans-Neptunian objects produced the oceans. The Earth was constantly bombarded at this time by massive objects from space. Over hundreds of millions of years, the surface continually reshaped itself as continents formed and broke up in a process we now call plate tectonics. Roughly 750 million years ago, for example,  one of the earliest known supercontinents, Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia, 600–540 million years ago, then finally Pangaea, which broke apart 180 million years ago.

The Theogony of Hesiod - translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White [1914]

(ll. 147-163) And again, three other sons were born of Gaia and Uranus, great and doughty beyond telling, Cottus and Briareos and Gyes, presumptuous children. From their shoulders sprang an hundred arms, not to be approached, and each had fifty heads upon his shoulders on their strong limbs, and irresistible was the stubborn strength that was in their great forms. For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, these were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first.

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.