KRIOS (or Crius) was one of the elder Titan gods, sons of Ouranos (the Sky) and Gaia (the Earth). Led by Kronos, the brothers conspired against their father and prepared an ambush for him as he descended to lie with Earth. Krios, Koios, Hyperion and Iapetos were posted at the four corners of the world where they seized hold of the Sky-god and held him firm, while Kronos, hidden in the centre, castrated him with a sickle.
In this myth the four brothers probably represent the four cosmic pillars found in near-Eastern cosmogonies which separated heaven and earth. In this case, Krios was surely the Titan of the pillar of the south, while his brothers Koios, Iapetos, and Hyperion were gods of the pillars of the north, east and west respectively. Krios' connection with the south is found both in his name and family connections--he is "the Ram," the constellation Aries, whose springtime rising in the south marked the start of the Greek year; his eldest son is Astraios, god of the stars; and his wife is Eurybia, a daughter of the sea.
The Titanes were eventually deposed by Zeus and cast into the pit of Tartaros. Hesiod describes this as a void lying beneath the foundations of the cosmos, where earth, sea and sky all have their roots. Here the Titanes shift in cosmological terms from being holders of heaven to bearers of the entire cosmos. According to Pindar and Aeschylus (in his lost play Prometheus Unbound) the Titanes were eventually released from the pit through the clemency of Zeus.
CRIUS or CREIUS (Krios), a son of Uranus and Ge, and one of the Titans, who was the father of Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses. (Hesiod. Theog. 375; Apollod. i. 1. § 3, 2. § 2.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
Hesiod, Theogony 133 & 207 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Gaia the Earth] lay with Ouranos (Sky) and bare deep-swirling Okeanos, Koios and Krios and Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Kronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire . . .
And he [Ouranos] used to hide them all [Hekatonkheires and Kyklopes, brothers of the Titanes] away in a secret place of Earth (Gaia) so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light : and Ouranos (Sky) rejoiced in his evil doing. But vast Gaia (Earth) groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons [the six Titanes]. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart : `My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.'
So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Kronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother : `Mother, I will undertake to do this deed.'
So he said: and vast Gaia (Earth) rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.
And Ouranos (Sky) came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Gaia (Earth) spreading himself full upon her. Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him . . .
These sons whom be begot himself great Ouranos (Sky) used to call Titenes (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards." [N.B. Hesiod in the last few lines says that all six brothers were involved in the ambush and castration of Ouranos : five straining to hold him fast, while the sixth, Kronos, cut off his genitals.]
Hesiod, Theogony 375 ff :
"And Eurybia, bright goddess, was joined in love to Krios and bare great Astraios, and Pallas, and Perses."
Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 100 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"Bright Selene (the Moon), daughter of the lord (anax) Pallas, Megamedes' son, had just climbed her watch-post." [N.B. Megamedes "the great lord" is presumably another name for Krios.]
Aeschylus, Prometheus Unbound (lost play) :
In Aeschylus' lost play Prometheus Unbound the chorus consisted of the Titan sons of Ouranos--Krios, Koios, Iapetos and Hyperion (and perhaps also Kronos)--released by Zeus from Tartaros. It is not known if the brothers were named in the play or individualised in any way.
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 2 - 3 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Ouranos (Sky) . . . fathered other sons on Ge (Earth), namely the Titanes : Okeanos, Koios, Hyperion, Kreios, Iapetos, and Kronos the youngest; also daughters called Titanides: Tethys, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Dione, and Theia . . .
Now Ge (Earth), distressed by the loss of her children into Tartaros [the Kyklopes and Hekatonkheires], persuaded the Titanes [Koios, Hyperion, Kreios, Iapetos and Kronos] to attack their father, and she gave Kronos a sickle made of adamant. So all of them except Okeanos set upon Ouranos (Heaven), and Kronos cut off his genitals, tossing them into the sea . . .
Thus having overthrown Ouranos’ rule the Titanes retrieved their brothers from Tartaros and gave the power to Kronos."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 :
"The Titanes had children . . . To Kreios and Eurybia, the daughter of Pontos, were born Astraios, Pallas, and Perses."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 66. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The Titanes numbered six men and five women, being born, as certain writers of myths relate, of Ouranos and Ge, but according to others, of one of the Kouretes and Titaia, from whom as their mother they derive the name they have. The males were Kronos, Hyperion, Koios, Iapetos, Krios and Okeanos, and their sisters were Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe and Tethys. [N.B. He omits Theia.] Each one of them was the discover of things of benefit to mankind, and because of the benefaction they conferred upon all men they were accorded honours and everlasting fame."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 27. 11 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Rivers come down from the mountains above Pellene [in Akhaia], the one on the side nearest Aigeira being called Krios, after, it is said, the Titanos (Titan), which rises in Mount Sipylos and is a tributary of the Hermos." [N.B. The Akhaian Mount Sipylos and River Hermos were presumably named after the famous Lydian mountain and river of the same name. Titanes such as Atlas and Prometheus were also associated with both Lydia and the Peloponnese.]
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 6. 5 :
"The most widespread tradition [for the naming of Pytho, Phokis] has it that the victim of Apollon’s arrows rotted here, and that this was the reason why the city received the name Pytho . . . The poets say that the victim of Apollon was a Drakon posted by Ge to be a guard for the oracle. It is also said that he was a violent son of Krios, a man with authority around Euboia. He pillaged the sanctuary of the god, and he also pillaged the houses of rich men. But when he was making a second expedition, the Delphians besought Apollon to keep from them the danger that threatened them."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 38. 90 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"When I [Helios the Sun] reach Krios [here the constellation Aries the Ram], the centre of the universe, the navel-star of Olympos, I in my exaltation let the Spring (Eiar) increase."
Krios was probably associated with the constellation Aries, which was Greeks named Krios ("the Ram"). This was the first of the constellations whose springtime rising marked the start of the new year in the ancient Greek calendar. Krios was in this sense also the primordial god of the constellations who ordered the measures of the year, just as his brother Hyperion--father of sun, dawn and moon--ordered the days and months. His mythical descent into Tartaros may have represented the descent of setting constellations beneath the horizon into the netherworld.
Krios' sons Pallas and Perses may have presided over specific constellations : Perses "the Destroyer" name associates him with either Perseus or the scorching dog-star Sirios, and the sometimes goat-skinned Titan Pallas "the spear-brandishing one" over Auriga (the Charioteer) and the storm-bringing, goat-star Capella. Perses' daughter Hekate was also connected with Sirios. The third son Astraios was the god of stars in general and the seasonal winds. In the guise of the rustic Aristaios he summoned the Etesian Winds which eased the scorching heat of midsummer brought on by the dog-star.
Krios amy also be related to the old Euboian divinities Karystos and Sokos, fathers of the honey-men Aristaios and Melisseus. Indeed, Pausanias mentions a legend describing Krios as an Euboian god.
Krios was perhaps imagined as a ram-shaped god, or at least with ram-like features such as curled horns like the Libyan god Ammon. His sons also appear to have possessed animal-like features--Pallas, whose skin became Athene's aigis or goat-skin shield, was goatish, Perses father of the dogish Hekate, was perhaps dog-like, and Astraios, father of horse-shaped wind-gods, may have been equine in form.
Krios' brothers Koios and Iapetos, and sons Pallas and Astraios, also occur in lists of combatants from the Gigantomakhia (War of the Giants), suggesting his presence also in the conflict, perhaps under another name.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
- The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th-4th B.C.
- Aeschylus, Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd A.D.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.