Gaia (Γαία in Ancient Greek) is the primordial Greek goddess personifying the Earth, and the leading antagonist of the second series, The Heroes of Olympus. She was the third (in some stories first) being to arise from Chaos at the beginning of time. Her Roman counterpart is Terra. Terra is the Latin/Roman word for earth. Though sometimes presented as a maternal figure, particularly toward her Titan children, she can also be very cruel. In mythology she mainly exists as an enemy of the Olympians, sending Typhon and later the Giants to overthrow them. She is, however, ironically somewhat responsible for their rise to power.
She was the Protogenos (primeval divinity) of earth, one of the primal elements who first emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea and sky. She was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods were descended from her union with Ouranos (the sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos (the sea), the Gigantes from her mating with Tartaros (the hell-pit) and mortal creatures were sprung or born from her earthy flesh.
In myth Gaia appears as the prime opponent of the heavenly gods. First she rebelled against her husband Ouranos (Sky) who had imprisoned her sons in her womb. Then later, when her son Kronos defied her by imprisoning these same sons, she assisted Zeus in his overthrow of the Titan. Finally she came into conflict with Zeus, angered with him for the binding of her Titan-sons in the pit of Tartaros. In her opposition she first produced the tribe of Gigantes and later the monster Typhoeus to dethrone him, but both failed in both attempts.
In the ancient Greek cosmology earth was conceived as a flat disk encircled by the river Okeanos, and topped above by the solid dome of heaven and below by the great pit of Tartaros. She herself supported the sea and mountains upon her breast.
Gaia was depicted as a buxom, matronly woman, half risen from the earth (as in the image right) in Greek vase painting. She was portrayed as inseparable from her native element. In mosaic art, Gaia appears as a full-figured, reclining woman, often clothed in green, and sometimes accompanied by grain spirits—the Karpoi.
Gaia is one of the oldest of the Primordial gods, goddesses, Titans, and Titanesses. Being the all-encompassing Mother Earth, she can manipulate the Earth and sense everything that occurs on or within it. Mythology presents Gaia as seldom taking a physical form, her spirit instead remaining within the Earth itself. It's said that if she were to rise in her full physical form she would be more terrible and powerful than any other force on the living planet. She may have some power over the Underworld as she was able to bring many back from the dead by opening new exits out of the underworld.
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