Three Alternative Cosmogonic Myths

Acusilaus, fr. 6b.

“Hesiod seems to me in his account to have made Khaos the first element, and then he developed Gaia [earth] first from there. But Acusilaos, as I understand it, posited that it was unknown in most places that Khaos was the first principle. And [he added] that two things came after this single beginning: Erebos [darkness, which was male, and Night, which was female. From these two having sex, he claimed that Aithera [sky/air], Erôs [sex] and Mêtis [wisdom] were born. According to the account of Eudêmos, [he claims] a great number of the rest of the gods were born in addition to these from those first [parents] too.”

῾Ησίοδος δέ μοι δοκεῖ πρῶτον γενέσθαι τὸ Χάος ἱστορῶν … τὴν δὲ Γῆνπρώτην ἐκεῖθεν παράγειν … ᾿Ακουσίλαος δὲ Χάος μοι ὑποτίθεσθαι δοκεῖ τὴν πρώτην ἀρχὴν ὡς πάντηι ἄγνωστον. τὰς δὲ δύο μετὰ τὴν μίαν·῎Ερεβος μὲν τὴν ἄρρενα, τὴν δὲ θήλειαν Νύκτα … ἐκ δὲ τούτων φησὶ
μιχθέντων Αἰθέρα γενέσθαι καὶ ῎Ερωτα καὶ Μῆτιν … παράγει δὲ ἐπὶτούτοις ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν καὶ ἄλλων θεῶν πολὺν ἀριθμὸν κατὰ τὴν Εὐδήμου ἱστορίαν (F 117 Sp.).

Derveni Papyrus, Fr. 14F Benarbé

“Zeus was first born, Zeus with bright lightning was born last.
Zeus is the head, the middle, and from him all things come.
Zeus is the breath of all things and is the fate of all things.
Zeus is the king. Zeus of bright lightning is the ruler of everything.”

Ζεὺς πρῶτος <γένετο, Ζεὺς> ὕστατος <ἀργικέραυνος>
Ζεὺς κεφα<λή, Ζεὺς μέσ>σα, Διὸς δ’ ἐκ <π>άντα τέτ<υκται,>
<Ζεὺς πνοιὴ πάντων, Ζεὺς πάντων ἔπλετο> μοῖρα
Ζεὺς βασιλεύς, Ζεὺς δ’ ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων ἀργικέραυνος.

Procl. Comm. On Plato’s Rep. v.1-1= fr. 111f Benarbé

“Time [Khronos], that ageless, imperishable wit, gave birth to Sky [Aithêr]
And then great Void [Khasm], a monster here and there,
There was no boundary, no floor, nor any foundation.”

Αἰθέρα μὲν Χρόνος οὗτος ἀγήραος, ἀφθιτόμητις
γείνατο καὶ μέγα Χάσμα πελώριον ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα,
οὐδέ τι πεῖραρ ὑπῆν, οὐ πυθμήν, οὐδέ τις ἕδρα.



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