Can the Gods Die?

Asking if the theoi can die is like asking if time can end.

After-all, Kronos is a god. ; )

Chronos Sleeping on Wolff Grave

Statue of Kronos, Titan God of Time & Father of Olympians

I follow the ancient theory that time is cyclical. Pythagoras described history as one Great Year in which the historical cycle comes to an end and the sun, moon, and all other planets return to their original positions. The very same people return to earth and all that had happened will happen again.

It was only later that St. Augustine promoted the Jewish and early Christian theory that time is linear, following an irreversible process, with a unique beginning and ending, and a god that existed before time.

Some things to chew on:

  • The cyclical nature of time is appropriately in line with the theory that the Big Bang repeats itself. The universe (which we could understand as Chaos or “the Void”) expands, but like a rubber band, eventually pulls back upon itself in an implosion before exploding again.
  • Time might appear linear to us who perceive our small length of the great circle as a perfectly straight line with a single beginning and ending.
  • If time is cyclical, then the theoi don’t “die” so much as transform (like Helios into Apollon and Selene into Artemis) through the process and, at the end, revert to the beginning. That is, brought back to Chaos (or “the Void”). Eventually, the Earth (Gaea) is “born” from Chaos, and the theoi are born from Her. And the rest, as they say, is Hesiod.
  • References:

    * Nobel Prize Authors on Time

    Do you think the gods can die?

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    4 comments on “Can the Gods Die?

    1. Khryseis_Astra says:

      I enjoyed this post… It’s pretty much how I think of things myself. 🙂 There are quite a few of our myths, when taken symbolically, that seem to be right in line with modern scientific theory.

    2. I know! It’s really exciting to find these gems. What other examples have you noticed?

    3. Alexander says:

      To the creater of this web page: you’re confusing the primoridial god Chronos with the Titan god Cronos (or Kronos). Chronos is the god of time, and creater of Chaos; while Cronos is the father of Zeus.

      • Alexander, I would like to see your source(s). Here is mine from Theoi.com:
        KHRONOS (or Chronus):

        KHRONOS (or Chronus) was the Protogenos (primeval god) of time, a divinity who emerged self-formed at the beginning of creation in the Orphic cosmogonies. Khronos was imagined as an incorporeal god, serpentine in form, with three heads–that of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his consort, serpentine Ananke (Inevitability), circled the primal world-egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea and sky. Khronos and Ananke continued to circle the cosmos after creation-their passage driving the circling of heaven and the eternal passage of time.

        The figure of Khronos was essentially a cosmological doubling of the Titan Kronos (also “Father Time”). The Orphics occasionally combined Khronos with their creator-god Phanes, and identified him with Ophion. His equivalent in the Phoenician cosmogony was probably Olam (Eternal Time), or Oulomos, as his name appears in Greek transcriptions.

        Khronos was represented in Greco-Roman mosaic as Aion, “eternity” personified. He stands against the sky holding a wheel inscribed with the signs of the zodiac. Beneath his feet Gaia (Mother Earth) is usually seen reclining. The poet Nonnus describes Aion as an old man with long white hair and beard. Mosaics, however, present a youthful figure.

        In this source, reference to “Khronos was essentially a cosmological doubling of the Titan Kronos” links to:

        KHRONOS (or Chronus) was the Protogenos (primeval god) of time, a divinity who emerged self-formed at the beginning of creation in the Orphic cosmogonies. Khronos was imagined as an incorporeal god, serpentine in form, with three heads–that of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his consort, serpentine Ananke (Inevitability), circled the primal world-egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea and sky. Khronos and Ananke continued to circle the cosmos after creation-their passage driving the circling of heaven and the eternal passage of time.

        The figure of Khronos was essentially a cosmological doubling of the Titan Kronos (also “Father Time”). The Orphics occasionally combined Khronos with their creator-god Phanes, and identified him with Ophion. His equivalent in the Phoenician cosmogony was probably Olam (Eternal Time), or Oulomos, as his name appears in Greek transcriptions.

        Khronos was represented in Greco-Roman mosaic as Aion, “eternity” personified. He stands against the sky holding a wheel inscribed with the signs of the zodiac. Beneath his feet Gaia (Mother Earth) is usually seen reclining. The poet Nonnus describes Aion as an old man with long white hair and beard. Mosaics, however, present a youthful figure.

        See: http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Khronos.html

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