The etymology of the Gaia hypothesis

Amid the desperate search for classical names to lend weight to the study of asteroids palaeotectonic features, and even theories of the Earth system, there has been one particularly unfortunate choice.

Gaia (Earth) emerged from Chaos, the great void of emptiness within the universe.  She gave birth to Uranus (Sky), apparently by some form of parthenogenesis.  Their incestuous coupling produced the 3 Cyclopes, 3 Hecatoncheires and the 12 Titans. Uranus was a bad father and husband. He particularly hated the Hecatoncheires (they had 100 arms and 50 heads each), and stuck them deep within Gaia’s womb causing her to plot against him.  To rid herself of Uranus she begged her children to kill him. All refused apart from the youngest child, Chronos (Time and the father of Zeus).  Gaia made Chronos a flint sickle, which he used to castrate his father and threw his testicles into the sea.  From the spilt blood came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs and the Erinnyes.  When Uranus’ severed genitalia landed in the sea, foam bubbled around them. From this foam sprang Aphrodite (meaning foam-born), Goddess of Love.

This doesn’t quite tally with the eponymous hypothesis, but seems to have a more realistic ring for what we know about Earth history.


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