According to Greek mythology, Coeus is the Titan God of the North, and the Titan of Resolve and Intelligence as well as the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve. The etymology of Coeus’ name provided scholars to theorise that he was also the God of intellect and represented the inquisitive mind, resolve and foresight.
Coeus was the son of Uranus and Gaia and was married to his sister Phoebe, the Titan of Radiance and Prophecy. Together, the couple may have possibly functioned as the primal font of all knowledge in the cosmos. Together they had Lelantos (air), Leto (motherhood) who bore Apollo and Artemis by Zeus, and Asteria (Astrology). Coeus is not known for his active role in Ancient Greek religion, but his importance lies in the children he bore. Coeus and Phoebe both possessed the gift of prophecy and passed this to his grandson, Apollo who eventually would take over the Oracle of Delphi.
Coeus alternative name is Polos (“of the northern pole”) and this has tied him as being involved in the dethroning of their father, Uranus. Coeus and his brothers personified the great pillars that held heaven and earth apart and played the role of holding down Uranus so Cronus could castrate him. The other three pillars represented Hyperion, Iapetus and Crius.
Coeus is considered to be the wisest of the Titans, and his intellect combined with his gift of prophecy contributed to the lasting success of the Titans in the war against the Olympians. It was a ten-year war called the Titanomachy, a series of battles fought in Thessaly between the two warring sides long before the existence of humankind. This campaign represented a mythological shift that the Ancient Greeks may have been inspired by the Eastern civilisations. Similar myths of a War in Heaven are familiar throughout Europe and the Eastern Ancient world, where one generation of deities opposes the other. In the end, Coeus, along with the other Titans were cast down to Tartarus. Trying to escape and overcome by madness, Coeus broke the chains that had imprisoned him but was forced to stay by Cerberus, the guardian of the underworld. In some stories, Zeus eventually released the Titans and in others they remained stuck in the Underworld for eternity as punishment for rising against the Olympians.
Coeus’ fame is likely due to his grandchildren Apollo and Athena. Apollo was the God of music, healing, light and truth and was known as the Archer. He had the necessary task of harnessing his four-horse chariot to move the sun across the sky. Apollo also inherited his grandfather’s prophetic abilities and was in charge of the Oracle in Delphi. Two distinct cults were attributed to his worship. Athena was the goddess of reason and wisdom, intellectual activity, courage, civilisation, law and justice, strategic warfare, arts and literature. Athena often aided heroes in their journeys throughout Greek mythology and was an extremely competent war strategist. Athens was aptly named after Athena who embodied the idea of civilisation, arts, law and justice.
Other Interesting Facts About Coeus
- Coeus respective Roman deity was Polus, the celestial axis around which the heavens revolved
- Represented in art Coeus is portrayed with large round eyes, with long wavy hair and a long wavy beard
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