Who are the Titans?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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In Greek mythology, the Titans are the children of Uranus, they sky, and Gaea, the earth. They are the generation before the Olympians, the gods and goddesses led by Zeus who are most well known in this tradition.

There are twelve Titans, six male and six female. The male titans are Cronus or Kronos, Iapetos or Iapetus, Hyperion, Oceanus, Coeus or Koios, and Creus or Crius, or Krios. The female titans are Theia, Rhea, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, and Themis. Atlas and Prometheus, both sons of Iapetus, are also considered to be Titans. Cronus has an important counterpart in Roman mythology, in which he is known as Saturn.

Some of the Titans’ names have particular meanings that give insight into their characterization. For example, Mnemosyne means memory, Phoebe means light, and Themis means justice. Although Cronos might look very much like the root for time, it is actually a distinct word.

One of the crucial stories about the Titans, told by Hesiod, recounts that Uranus was jealous of his children and feared their rebellion, so he kept them confined in Gaea. With Gaea’s encouragement, Cronus overthrew Uranus, castrating him with a sickle provided by Gaea, and the Titans took over as rulers of the world.


Once freed, the Titans became the ancestors of most if not all of the major and minor gods in the Greek pantheon. Cronus and Rhea are the parents of Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. Hyperion and Theia are the parents of Helios, the sun god; Selene, the moon goddess; and Eos, goddess of dawn. Oceanus and Tethys are parents of the river gods and Oceanids. Coeus and Phoebe are the parents of Leto. Mnemosyne and Zeus are parents of the Muses. And Themis and Zeus are the parents of the Horae, the Seasons, and the Morae, the Fates.

The Titans have also been immortalized as astronomical names. Cronus, as Saturn, is a planet. The moons of Saturn include Titan, Tethys, Rhea, Iapetus, Hyperion, and Phoebe. Mnemosyne Regio, Themis Regio, and Tethus Regio are regions on Venus, and Rhea Mons and Theia Mons are Venusian mountains. The name 57 Mnemosyne was given to an asteroid as well.

On Earth, Iapetus Ocean is the name given to the precursor of the Atlantic Ocean, which existed 400 to 600 million years ago. Tethys Ocean was located east of Gondwana from about 245 to 65 million years ago.


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