Phanes: The God of Life in Greek Mythology


     Phanes is a little known deity in Greek Mythology and is associated with the God of Life. He is often associated with Chaos as well as the deity of creation. He was the son of Chronos, check below.

Phanes in Greek Mythology:

     Phanes means light and, in Greek Mythology, is a deity born from the cosmic egg (in this case, big bang as we know it today) that divided Aeon and Ananque, is the eldest deity of Creation, but could also be considered the son of Hydros and Gaia or of Porus and Penia. He could also be called Ericapeus, Priapus, Antauge, Phaeton and Protogon. He was considered the same as Eros.

     Phanes was the ruler of the gods, God of Life and gave the scepter of his reign to Nyx, his only daughter (according to Orphic tradition), who in turn gave it to his son Uranus. The scepter was taken by force by Uranus' son Kronos, who lost it to Zeus, the ultimate ruler of the universe. It is said that Zeus devoured Fanes to seize his primordial power over all creation and share it among a new divine generation: the Olympians.


     When Kronos - the ancient god of gods - swallowed his children so that none of them would take his place, according to an ancient prophecy, Phanes (The God of Life) intervened and brewed a potion that made him vomit Zeus, Poseidon and Hades with life so that they could, when they grow up, rule respectively: sky, seas and the underworld.

Phanes is associated with "Life" because his image is similar to that of Asclepius (God of Medicine) and Hermes (although messengers from the gods, he is also associated with medicine). The serpent is wrapped around his body, as in the case of Asclepius and Hermes, around his staff.


     In Orphic cosmogony, Phanes is often equated with Eros or Mithra, and has been described as a deity emerging from a cosmic egg entwined with a serpent. He had a helmet and wide golden wings. Orphic cosmogony is bizarre and quite different from the creation sagas offered by Homer and Hesiod. Scholars have suggested that Orphism is "non-Greek" and even "Asian" in its conception, because of its inherent dualism.

     Chronos (God and Representation of Time) is said to have created the silver egg of the universe, from which the firstborn androgynous deity Fanes arose. This deity was a male God, in an Orphic hymn he is called "Lord Priapos". Phanes was a deity of light and goodness, whose name meant "to bring light" or "to shine"; a firstborn god of light who emerged from a void or a watery abyss and gave light to the universe. Nyx (Night) is often considered the daughter of Fanes or eldest wife.

Previous Myths:

     Many topics from earlier myths are apparent in the new tradition. It is believed that Fanes, the God of Life, was hatched from the World Egg of Chronos (Time) and Ananke (Need or Fate) or Nyx in the form of a black bird and wind. His oldest wife, Nyx, called him Protogenus. By creating the night, Phanes created the time of day and also invented the method of creation through mixing.

     He was made ruler of the deities. This new Orphic tradition asserts that Fanes passed the scepter to Nyx; Nyx later gave the scepter to his son Uranus; Kronos confiscated his father's scepter, Uranus; and finally the scepter held by Kronos was seized by Zeus, who now holds it. Some Orphic myths suggest that Zeus intended to pass the scepter to Dionysus.

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