A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Αἰθήρ), a personified idea of the mythical cosmogonies. According to that of Hyginus (Fab. Pref. p. 1, ed. Staveren), he was, together with Night, Day, and Erebus, begotten by Chaos and Caligo (Darkness). According to that of Hesiod (Hes. Th. 124), Aether was the son of Erebus and his sister Night, and a brother of Day. (Comp. Phornut. De Nat. Deor. 16.) The children of Aether and Day were Land, Heaven, and Sea, and from his connexion with the Earth there sprang all the vices which destroy the human race, and also the Giants and Titans. (Hygin. Fab. Prof. p. 2, &c.) These accounts shew that, in the Greek cosmogonies, Aether was considered as one of the elementary substances out of which the Universe was formed. In the Orphic hymns

(4) Aether appears as the soul of the world, from which all life emanates, an idea which was also adopted by some of the early philosophers of Greece. In later times Aether was regarded as the wide space of Heaven, the residence of the gods, and Zeus as the Lord of the Aether, or Aether itself personified. (Pacuv. apud Cic. de Nat. Deor. 2.36, 40; Lucret. 5.499; Verg. A. 12.140, Georg. 2.325.)