Who is Crius in Greek Mythology?
Crius, according to Greek mythology, was one of the elder Titans born to Uranus and Gaia. Crius was considered one of the four pillars that hold the heavens and the earth apart. He represented the pillar of the south, while the other three pillars were personified by his brothers Iapetus, Coeus and Hyperion.
Crius Origin and Family
Hesiod’s Theogony gives us some of the most concrete information about the titans, including their origins, their heritage what they represented, and in some cases, what they were like.
We understand, as we’ve spoken about before, that Uranus, the sky god, had come to lay with Gaia, the earth goddess, and that between them they gave birth to the ocean god Oceanus, the questioning and intelligent god Coeus, the titan god of heavenly light Hyperion, the titan god of mortality Iapetus, and also the lesser-known titan god of the constellations Crius.
These titan brothers, along with their sisters Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe and Thetis, would proceed the usurper king Cronus—the mad titan who would be responsible for not only the ushering in of the golden age but also its decline.
Whilst many Titans take a back seat to the ark of Cronus and the impending Titanomachy, Cronus and his older brothers Hyperion, Coeus, Iapetus and Crius do play a subtle role in becoming the four cornerstones that held the heavens from the earth, and those that symbolically, became an integral part in Cronus’s reign by supporting him as these very pillars.
As we’ve seen with the previous brothers, each titan served as a keystone in each corner of the world, with Crius being responsible for the southern region. Another idea suggests that the four brothers each represented the cardinal points of Uranus’s body, which they each held down to allow their brother Cronus to castrate him.
Crius Role in the Battle of the Titanomachy
With this in mind, it becomes most likely that when Cronus went to war with his son Zeus and the Olympians in the epic battle for supremacy known as the Titanomachy, Crius sided with his brother.
But like many of the titans, the specific role that Crius played in the battle is just simply not referenced, not even by Hesiod.
Furthermore, details about Crius’s actual nature and the part he might have played in the grander scale of the mythology are utterly scarce. It would seem that whatever exploits he may have contributed to in the battle, or thereafter, are glossed over by Hesiod and Crius, like the other titans, is relegated to Tartarus—that which is the void between the earth— once the battle had been lost.
Crius in Greek Mythology
Whilst tales do exist of the titans imprisoned in Tartarus, such as the account of Coeus going mad and attempting to break free, evidence of Crius’s involvement is blank.
Other stories demonstrate the resilience of the Titans as they break free from their bonds in Tartarus and head towards the exit, only to be stumped by the three-headed dog Cerberus, who guards the way.
Yet again, whilst not specifically mentioned, Crius was likely to be amongst those who came across Cerberus in their attempt to escape the dreaded prison, but like the others, came to his senses and returned to his bonds.
According to the ancient Greek poet Pindar and the ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus, in his play Prometheus Unbound, the titans were eventually released from their captivity after Zeus had shown their mercy. But beyond this, the roles of the Titans are yet again left a mystery.
These early titans are often more of a footnote in the mythology, despite their monstrous size and strength and the very essences that made them so powerful.
In Crius’s case, this was his role as the god of constellations and yet, despite such a grand title and his potential ability to manipulate the stars themselves, he isn’t shown to be doing much at all.
Crius’s Consort and Children
In fact, in Crius’s case, one of his primary roles appears to be merely a way for Hesiod to provide fatherhood to the titan Perses, who was thought to be a titan god of destruction and grand fatherhood to the more popular goddess Hecate.
It was with his titan wife Eurybia, that Crius fathered Perses, along with two other titan children—Astraios, an astrological deity who seemed to have taken after him in his duty of representing the constellations, and the titan Pallas, who was sometimes thought to be a titan god of warcraft.
Astraios who paired with Eos, the dawn, was thought to give birth to the other stars and winds, and in this case, it can be said that Crius as the god of the constellations was named this because he served as the progenitor of the stars themselves.
Meanwhile, his sons, Perses and Pallas might represent his more destructive and violent side that is prevalent amongst the Titans, given that they would come to represent destruction and warcraft respectively.
Whilst Crius is not known for these traits and does not exemplify such behaviours, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he inhibited such features considering the maniacal ways of his brothers, most notably Cronus.
Yet another child who is thought to be associated with Crius in some stories is the dragon or serpent known as Python—a violent son of the Titan who pillaged the houses of the wealthy and ruined the sanctuaries of the gods at Delphi.
It is believed that when Python made a second attempt at doing this, however, he was slain by Apollo, who the residents at Delphi had summoned to protect them.
Crius Depictions and Appearance
The ancient Greek name of Crius (Krios) has some interesting details, most notably its relation to the word ‘ram’. It is thought that he would come to be associated with the starting of the seasons because of the Aries constellation, which in Greek mythology was associated with a ram or a golden ram.
This can be further reinforced by the idea that Crius was situated in the south as a cosmic pillar that separated heaven and earth, and that the Aries constellation rose in the south signifying the arrival of springtime and mark the start of the new year in the ancient Greek calendar.
It is likely that Crius may have been imagined as something of a ram-shaped god, or perhaps bad semblance to a ram himself. Other ideas propose that he might have dressed in the features of a ram, or perhaps donned a ram helmet with horns—Unfortunately, this is the extent of the information available to us regarding the Titan Crius.
It would appear that the Titans, despite being the predecessors of the more popular gods, were not celebrated in the mythology and serve more as ghostly echoes of the past. Perhaps, a sign of the dominance of Zeus who had defeated them and would preside thereafter unchallenged and undefeated by the others in his pantheon.
Image Sources: Deviant Art.