THE OUREA were the Protogenoi (primeval gods) or rustic Daimones (spirits) of the mountains. Each and every Mountain was said to have its own ancient bearded god. Mountains were occasionally depicted in classical art as bearded old men rising up from between their craggy peaks.
|GAIA (no father) (Theogony 129)
|LIST OF OUREA
AITNA The volcano of Sikelia (Sicily in Italy) and its goddess.
|ATHOS A Mountain of Thrake (North of Greece) and its god.
|HELIKON A Mountain of Boiotia (in Central Greece) and its god. He entered a singing contest with the neighbouring Mount Kithairon.
|KITHAIRON A Mountain of Boiotia (in Central Greece) and its god. He entered a singing contest with the neighbouring Mount Helikon.
|NYSOS A Mountain of Boiotia? (in Central Greece) and its god. He was the nurse of the god Dionysos.
|OLYMPOS 1 A mountain in Thessalia (northern Greece), the home of the gods, and its god.
|OLYMPOS 2 A Mountain of Phrygia (in Anatolia) and its god.
|OREIOS The Mountain-God of Mount Othrys in Malis (central Greece).
|PARNES A Mountain of Boiotia and Attika (in Centra Greece) and its god.
|TMOLOS A Mountain of Lydia (in Anatolia) and its god. He was the judge of a musical contest between Apollon and Pan.
Hesiod, Theogony 129 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And Gaia (Earth) first bore starry Ouranos (Heaven), equal to herself, to cover her on every side. And she brought forth long Ourea (Mountains), graceful haunts of the goddess Nymphai who dwell amongst the glens of the mountains. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus (Sea), without sweet union of love."
Homer's Epigrams VI (from Papyri) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"So much he said [to Asopos?] . . Parnes [mountain between Boiotai and Attika] spoke in turn . . ' [papyrus text fragmentary] Pleasures . . connection by marriage . . that . . of you . . fortune . . I am content . . Kithairon . . them responsible . . and Kithairon . . Plataia [daughter of Asopos] . . is brought . . the lost . . to the . . Wide-spread, tawny Helikon."
Corinna, Fragment 654 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"[Mount Kithairon sang in a contest against Mount Helikon :] That was his [Mt Kithairon's] song; and at once the Mousai (Muses) instructed the blessed ones to put their secret voting-pebbles into the gold-shining urns; and they all rose together, and Kithairon won the greater number; and Hermes promptly proclaimed with a shout that he had won his desired victory, and the blessed ones adorned him with garlands of firs, and his heart rejoiced; but the other, Helikon, gripped by cruel anguish, tore out a smooth rock, and the mountain shuddered; and groaning pitiably he dashed it from on high into ten thousand stones."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 498 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"He [Orpheus] sang of that past age [creation] when Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky) and Pontos (Sea) were knit together in a single mould; how they were sundered after deadly strife; how the Astra (Stars), Selene (the Moon), and travelling Helios (the Sun) keep faithfully to their stations in the heavens; how the Ourea (Mountains) rose; and how, together with ther Nymphai, the murmuring Potamoi (Streams) and all four-legged creatures came to be."
Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 26 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting at Neapolis (Naples) :] Birth of Hermes . . . He is born on the crest of Olympos, at the very top, the abode of the gods . . . He slips out of his swaddling clothes and begins to walk at once and descends from Olympos. The mountain rejoices in him--for its smile is like that of a man--and you are to assume that Olympos rejoices because Hermes was born there."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 150 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The crags of [Mount] Tmolus, steep and wide and high, gazing across the sea, at one side fall to Sardis, at the other reach their end at small Hypaepae. There Pan sang his songs, flaunting among the gently Nymphae, and played light airs upon his pipes, and dared to boast Apollo’s music second to his own, essaying with old [Mountain-God] Tmolus as the judge unequal contest. On his mountain top the judge was seated; from his ears he freed the forest trees; only a wreath of oak fringed his green locks, with acorns dangling round his hollow temples. Then, looking towards the shepherd-god, he said, `The judge attends.’ So Pan made music on his rustic reeds and with his uncouth song entranced the king. Midas by chance was there. To Phoebus [Apollon] next grave Tmolus turned and, as he turned, his fringe of trees turned too . . . with expert touch he plucked the strings and, won by strains so sweet, old Tmolus bade the reed bow to the lyre. The sacred Mountain’s (Mons) judgement and award pleased all who heard."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 192 ff :
"[The witch] Medea [casting a spell] . . . in the deep stillness of the midnight hour . . . To the stars she stretched her arms, and thrice she turned about and thrice bedewed her locks with water, thrice a wailing cry she gave, then kneeling on the stony ground, `O Nox [Nyx the Night], Mother of Mysteries, and all ye golden Astra (Stars) who with Luna [Selene the Moon] succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine triceps (three-formed) Hecate, who . . . dost fortify the arts of magic, and thou, kindly Tellus [Gaia the Earth], who dost for magic potent herbs provide . . . ye Montes (mountains) . . . ye Di Omnes Nemorum (Forest-Gods) . . . be with me now! By your enabling power . . . by my art I sunder serpent’s throats; the living rocks and mighty oaks from out their soil I tear; I move the forests, bid the mountains quake."
Ovid, Heroides 4. 169 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"May the agile goddess [Artemis] wait on you [the hunter Hippolytos] in the solitary glade to keep you safe, and the deep forest yield you wild beasts to slay; so may the Satyri be your friends, and the mountain deities (numina montanum), the Panes, and may the boar fall pierced in full front by your spear; so may the Nymphae . . . give you the flowing water to relieve your parching thirst!"
- Homer, Epigrams - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
- Greek Lyric IV Corinna, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Ovid, Heroides - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.