There is an idea among some people that it is wrong to worship the Titans of Greek religion because They are/were enemies of Zeus and the Olympians. If this is a thing that people choose to do for themselves, so be it. But I do want to discuss the idea of it being wrong, the idea of the Titans being somehow unworthy of our regard, worship and in some cases even love.
Why Not Worship Titans?
We should perhaps begin with why people may think it is wrong to worship the Titans. For that we should also start with who and what the Titans are. It’s fairly simple, the main Titans are the 6 sons of Ouranos (Sky) and Gaia (Earth). Because of the actions of Ouranos against His other children Gaia asked Her sons to rise up against Him. They did, He was defeated, the Titans ruled. Beyond this there are also the 6 daughters of Ouranos and Gaia, the Titanides or Female Titans. And pretty much all of the offspring of the 11 Titans who are not Kronos.
It is Kronos who is the reason there might be some problems with worshipping the Titans and Their offspring. Kronos, given warning by prophecy that His son would take over His rulership, swallowed all of His children except Zeus, who was hidden by trickery. Zeus rose up and fought His father, releasing His siblings. There was a war between the children of Kronos and the Titans. The Titans were subsequently thrown into Tartaros and Zeus became King.
This is an extremely simplistic version of events. But, basically, the Titans were the enemies of the Olympians and as such it could be problematic to worship Them.
Not All Titans
The most compelling argument in defence of Titan worship is the fact that not all of the Titans fought against Zeus and His siblings. In fact several of Them joined Zeus and fought against the Titans. The most notable Titans that joined the children of Kronos, were Prometheus and Hekate.
Prometheus was at first on the side of the Titans, but He is also pretty good at the whole foresight thing, as well as being quite tricky, and could see the way the battle would turn. When the Titans refused to listen to His advice, He turned coat and joined Zeus – who was quite willing to listen to His advice. Prometheus is often forgotten about by us because while He sided with the Olympians during the Titanomachy, He did also do a few things afterwards that made Zeus quite angry and got Prometheus chained to a mountain and punished for centuries.
Hekate on the other hand is the most honoured by Zeus. There is no mention I know of where She sided with the Titans at all, instead everything speaks of how She fought with Zeus, and She fought well. We sometimes forget Her warrior side. After all of this, when Zeus became the King of the Gods, He honoured Her above all and did not seek to limit Her or take anything from Her that She already had. And so She kept Her power over the three realms, and soon came to have power in the Underworld as well. Some interpret the Theogony to mean that Hekate didn’t have too much power to begin with but Zeus gave Her power over the three realms. I don’t agree with this interpretation, but even if it is true – what other deity was given so much from Zeus?
These are only two Titans, others also joined Zeus. Several lived on Olympus or continued on in Their original ways. Several have Their own stories that happened well after the Titanomachy. They were not all punished by Zeus, They were not all enemies of Zeus. Among Them are Helios, Selene, Asteria, Leto, Metis, Themis and so many more. If so many Titans were on Zeus’ side or happily lived with the younger Gods after the war… why would it be wrong to worship Them?
The Titans were Forgiven
Many people seem to have missed this little fact, but eventually Zeus did release the Titans from Tartaros, or wherever They were (Atlas for example was not in the Underworld). According to the lost play of Aeschylus, Prometheus Unbound (of which we have only fragments via other writers references) Kronos and the Titans were released while Prometheus was bound, and They were given leave to visit Him.
According to several ancient writers, including Hesiod, after being released, Kronos is given rule over Elysium. Yes, the Elysian Fields, of all the places. One must ask if it wouldn’t be a very, very good idea to be worshipping the ruler of Elysium, in the hopes of gaining His favour.
If Zeus has forgiven Them, then it stands to reason that He bears Them no enmity, or no more than He might bear any other being that we might worship. If He bears Them no enmity, then how is it wrong to worship Them?
The Titans are Gods
But I think the most important reason we have for worshipping the Titans is this, They are Gods whatever the name applied to Them as a group. Whatever wars They have fought, whatever enemies They have made – They are Gods of Hellenic history and tradition. What They have done to each other is not for us to judge, the Gods do Their own things and we have no way to really understand or judge any of it. The Titans are Gods and this means They are worthy of worship just like any other deity on this planet (or off it).
This doesn’t mean we must worship the Titans, this doesn’t mean we must acknowledge Them at all. Just like we do not have to worship every younger God, or every elder God or Protogenoi – we do not have to worship the Titans either. It is our choice who we pay attention to and offer sacrifice to. But They are worthy, nothing could make Them unworthy, because They are Gods. They are worthy, They are Gods, They are deserving of worship. It cannot be wrong to worship Them, because They are Gods.
It’s not like the ancient Greeks and Romans completely ignored the Titans either. Kronos had a temple in what is now southern Spain, according to Strabo, and Pausanias notes a temple to Kronos in Athens itself. The Athenians had a festival in honour of Kronos, called the Kronia which was held on 12th of Hekatombion (around late July, early August).
So, the ancients were fine with worshipping the Titans (even if They were not as popular as the younger Gods). The Titans are Gods who can do for or to you just as much as any other deity can. The Titans may have been enemies of Zeus, but They are not so now. And not all of the Titans were enemies of Zeus in the first place.
If you choose to not worship the Titans, that is fine. But don’t make that choice based on the idea that it would be wrong to worship Them – that isn’t fair to Them, or you. Because you may find much to gain from interaction with Them.
Sources, References, and Further Reading
- Aeschylus, Prometheus Unbound scholia
- Hesiod, Works and Days
- Hesiod, Theogony
- Pausanias, Description of Greece
- Strabo, Geography