Aether, sometimes also spelled Aither, was a primordial god of light. He was also the god of the sky, which the ancient Greeks considered to be “blue ether” that represented heaven. Aether’s mists were able to fill the space between the transparent mists on the ground and the solid dome that made up the sky. Air on the earth was governed by the primordial goddess Chaos, but all of the air above this was Aether’s domain.
Nyx, the goddess of night, was the mother of Aether. The ancient Greeks believed that the sky was a dome that encased the entirety of the Earth. At night, Nyx was drawing her veil across this dome to obscure the light. This also blocked Aether’s domain from the reach of the ancient Greeks.
In the morning, Hemera would disperse the mists of the night to reveal Aether’s blue ether again. Hemera was both Aether’s sister and his wife. In the ancient Greek tradition, day and night were separate from the sun and the moon. Gods of the sun were regarded differently from gods of the day.
As a primordial god, Aether wasn’t depicted as a humanoid personification of an element. Instead, Aether was considered to literally be that element. This means that all of the air between the sky and Earth’s air was considered to literally be Aether.
Aether was one of three primordial air gods. He represented all of the air at the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. The air directly below him, dispersed over the Earth, was the domain of Chaos. The final air was governed by Erebos, and it was considered to be the mists that existed in the underworld.
Aether was thought to envelop the moon, sun, stars, clouds, and peaks of the mountains. All of these areas were Aether’s domain, while other parts of the Earth fell to Chaos.
Aether did have a female counterpart, referred to as Aethra or Aithre in ancient Greek myths. She was considered to be the mother of the moon and sun as well as the Titaness who governed clear skies.
Different sources have different myths regarding Aether’s parentage. In some, he’s considered to be the son of Nyx and Erebos. In others, he’s considered to be the son of Erebos alone and have no mother. Still other myths contend that he’s the son of Chaos alone, and that Aether is a part of her essence. Finally, some myths believe that Khronos was the father of Aether as well as all the other primordial gods.
Aether’s most notable offspring were Thalassa, the primordial ocean goddess, and Gaia, the mother of the earth. They were a result of his coupling with wife and sister Hemera.
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