THEIA was the Titan goddess of sight (thea) and the shining ether of the bright, blue sky (aithre). She was also, by extension, the goddess who endowed gold and silver with their brilliance and intrinsic value. Theia bore the Titan Hyperion three shining children--Helios the Sun, Eos the Dawn, and Selene the Moon. Her name was derived from the Greek words thea "sight" and theiazô "prophesy". She was also named Aithre (Aethra) "Blue-Sky" and Euryphaessa "Wide-Shining".
FAMILY OF THEIA
THEIA (Theia). A daughter of Uranus and Ge, one of the female Titans, became by Hyperion the mother of Helios, Eos, and Selene, that is, she was regarded as the deity from which all light proceeded. (Hes. Theog. 135, 371 ; Pind. Isthm. v. 1; Apollod. i. 1. § 3, 2. § 2; Catull. 66. 44.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Hesiod, Theogony 132 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Gaia, the Earth] lay with Ouranos (Uranus, Sky) and bare deep-swirling Okeanos (Oceanus), Koios (Coeus) and Krios (Crius) and Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne (Memory) and gold-crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Kronos (Cronus)."
Hesiod, Theogony 371 ff :
"And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helius (the Sun) and clear Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the Dawn)."
Homeric Hymn 31 to Helius (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"Helios (the Sun) whom mild-eyed Euryphaessa (Wide-Shining) [Theia], the far-shining one (phaithonta), bare to the son of Gaia (Gaea, Earth) and starry Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven). For Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaessa, his own sister, who bare him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos (Dawn) and rich-tressed Selene (Moon) and tireless Helios (Sun)."
Homeric Hymn 3 to Delian Apollo 89 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"Leto [on the island of Delos] was racked nine days and nine nights with pangs beyond wont. And there were with her all the chiefest of the goddesses, Dione and Rheia and Ikhnaie (Ichnaea) and Themis and loud-moaning Amphitrite and the other deathless goddesses. Then the child leaped forth to the light, and all the goddesses raised a cry. Straightway, great Phoibos [Apollon], the goddesses washed you purely and cleanly with sweet water, and swathed you in a white garment of fine texture, new-woven, and fastened a golden band about you."
[N.B. The "chiefest of the goddesses" are the Titanides. Amphitrite stands in the place of Tethys, Dione is equivalent to Phoibe, and Ikhnaie "the tracing goddess" is Theia.]
Pindar, Isthmian Ode 5. 1 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Mother of Helios (the Sun), Theia, goddess of many names, thanks to thee men ascribe to gold a strength exceeding all other powers that are. For ships that sail the seas in rivalry and racing chariot steeds for thy honour, O queen, rise to the height of wondrous deeds amidst the whirling wheels of struggle. And in the contests of the Games, he reaps that prize of glory that all hearts desire."
Stesichorus, Fragment S17 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (C7th B.C.) :
"[Helios the Sun] went down into the cup of solid gold, so that he might cross over Okeanos (Oceanus) and reach the depths of holy, dark night and his mother [i.e. Theia] and wedded wife and dear children."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 2 - 3 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Ouranos (Uranus, Sky) . . . fathered other sons on Ge (Earth), namely the Titanes (Titans) : Okeanos (Oceanus), Koios (Coeus), Hyperion, Kreios (Crius), Iapetos (Iapetus), and Kronos (Cronus) the youngest; also daughters called Titanides (Titanesses) : Tethys, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoibe (Phoebe), Dione, and Theia."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 - 9 :
"The Titanes (Titans) had children . . . Hyperion and Theia had Eos (Dawn), Helios (Sun), and Selene (Moon)."
Strabo, Geography 9. 5. 15 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Ikhnai (Ichnae) [in Phthiotis, Thessalia], where Themis Ikhnaia (Ichnaea) is held in honor."
[N.B. Perhaps meaning Themis and Ikhnaia, with Ikhnaia being Theia. Themis was similarly paired with the Titanesss Phoibe at the oracle of Delphoi and with Dione at the oracle of Dodona.]
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Hyperion and Aethra [were born] : Sol [Helios], Luna [Selene], Aurora [Eos]."
ALTERNATE NAMES & TITLES
Divine Inspiration, Prophesy (theiazô)
Sight, Seeing (thea, theaomai)
Blue Sky, Ether (aithrê)
Wide-Shining (eury-, phaethô)
Tracing, Tracking (ikhneuô)
1. The ancient Greeks believed the eyes emitted a beam of invisible light--much like a lamp--which allowed one to see whatever it touched. Hence Theia, mother of sight (thea), was also the mother of the light-beaming sun, moon and dawn.
2. Theia was apparently a female aspect of the primordial deity Aither--the shining ether of the blue sky. In this role she is fittingly described as a daughter of Heaven and mother of the Sun, Moon and Dawn.
3. Theia was also an oracular goddess whose name is connected with the word theiazô, "to divine or prophecy." The Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo seems to equate her with Ikhnaie (Ichnaea), "the tracing goddess," who possessed an oraclular shrine at Ikhnai in Phthiotis. Theia's sister-Titans were also oracular goddesses--Phoibe held Delphoi, Mnemosyne Lebadeia, Dione Dodona, and Themis presided over all the oracles.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th - 4th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Greek Lyric III Stesichorus, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th - 6th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.