Happy Father’s Day! …or Should I Say Happy Sky-Father’s Day
OURANOS (or Uranus) was the primeval god (protogenos) of the sky. The Greeks imagined the sky as a solid dome of brass, decorated with stars, whose edges descended to rest upon the outermost limits of the flat earth. Ouranos was the literal sky, just as his consort Gaia was the earth.
Ouranos and Gaia fathered twelve sons and six daughters. The eldest of these–the giant Kyklopes and Hekatonkheires–he locked away inside the belly of Earth. Gaia suffered immense pain and persuaded her Titan sons to rebel. Four of these were set as sentinels at the four corners of the world, ready to grasp their father as he descended to lie upon the Earth. The fifth took his place in the centre, and armed with an adamantine sickle, castrated Ouranos while his brothers held him firm. The sky-god’s blood fell and drenched the earth, producing the avenging Erinyes and the Gigantes.
After his downfall, Ouranos prophesied the fall of the Titanes and the punishment they would suffer for their crimes–a prophecy which was later fulfilled by Zeus who deposed the brothers and cast them into the Tartarean pit.
Ouranos does not occur in early Greek art, however Egyptian representations of the sky-goddess Nut show how he was imagined–as a gigantic, star-spangled man with long arms and legs, who rested on all fours, with his finger-tips in the far east, his toes in the far west, and his arching body raised to form the dome of the sky. In Roman-era art he was often depicted as Aion, god of eternal time, in the guise of a man standing above the reclining form of Gaia (Earth) holding the zodiac wheel in his hand.
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