Aether (mythology)

Aether (mythology)

Greek deities
Titans and Olympians
Aquatic deities
Chthonic deities
Personified concepts
Other deities
Primordial deities

Aether (also Æther, Greek: ᾿Αιθήρ), in Greek mythology, is one of the Protogenoi, the first-born elemental gods. He is the personification of the “upper sky,” space, and heaven, and the elemental god of the “Bright, Glowing, Upper Air.” He is the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to normal air (᾿Αήρ, aer), the gloomy lower air of the Earth, which mortals breathe.

In Hesiod‘s Theogony he was the son of Erebus and Nyx and brother of Hemera, both noted in passing in Cicero‘s De Natura deorum, but Hyginus Pref mentioned Khaos as his parent. He is the soul of the world and all life emanates from him. The aether was also known as Zeus‘ defensive wall; the bound that locked Tartarus from the cosmos.

He has several offspring but Hyginus seems to confuse him with Ouranos when saying that Aether had Uranus by Gaia, his daughter. Hyginus is also our source for telling us that Aether is the father of Ouranos, Gaia, and Thalassa by Hemera (his sister). But another source tells us that it is just Ouranos who is his child. And like Tartaros and Erebos, in Hellas he might have had shrines but no temples and probably no cult either. In the Orphic hymns, he is mentioned as the soul of the world from which all life emanates. Callimachus, in calling Ouranus Akmonides, claims him as the son of Akmon, and Eustathius in Alcman tells us that the sons of Ouranos were called Akmonidai.

[edit] Etymology

His name means “light / upper air” or “clear sky” in Ancient Greek, and his other name[verification needed], Akmôn (΄Ακμων), means “meteor / anvil”. In Latin his names are spelled “Aether” and “Acmon”. The word aether has taken on various senses in English, most notably, “luminiferous aether“, the substance formerly believed to permeate the universe and “ether“, one of a class of chemical compounds.


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