Mythology Monday: Primordial Edition: Tartarus

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Tartarus was the deepest realm of the Underworld as well as the third of the Primordial deities. Some sources describe Tartarus as “the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born” (thank you wikipedia).

It would take nine days to fall to Tartarus from the earth (which was a nine day fall from heaven). Tartarus is separated from the rest of the Underworld by a river of fire called the Phlegethon ( tangent: Styx and Phlegethon were in love but were eternally separated. In the Underworld one flows to the other so they can always be together).

Tartarus had many notable residents, most of whom I’ve discussed in other mythology Mondays. The cyclopes, the giants, and the Titans of course all reside within the depths of Tartarus. But a few humans made their way there as well. Sisyphus, Tantalus, Ixion, and Salmoneus. Most of the humans that ended up in Tartarus did something to upset Zeus.

Tartarus was much more active as a place than a deity, but Rick Riordan described Tartarus as a place as well as a deity best in House of Hades. The primordial deities are difficult to visualize, but his depiction felt spot on.

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4 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Primordial Edition: Tartarus

  1. Hey, gang, though a lot of people are familiar with Greek Mythology and know that definition for Tartarus, for anyone who’s interested, Tartarus is mentioned in the Bible, just once actually, but here’s a bit of info, FYI:

    TARTARUS

    (Tar´ta·rus).

    A prisonlike, abased condition into which God cast disobedient angels in Noah’s day.

    This word is found but once in the inspired Scriptures, at 2 Peter 2:4. The apostle writes: “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.” The expression “throwing them into Tartarus” is from the Greek verb tar·ta·ro´o and so includes within itself the word “Tartarus.”

    A parallel text is found at Jude 6: “And the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Showing when it was that these angels “forsook their own proper dwelling place,” Peter speaks of “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days, while the ark was being constructed.” (1Pe 3:19, 20) This directly links the matter to the account at Genesis 6:1-4 concerning “the sons of the true God” who abandoned their heavenly abode to cohabit with women in pre-Flood times and produced children by them, such offspring being designated as Nephilim.

    From these texts it is evident that Tartarus (as has been concluded by a group of Bible scholars) is a condition rather than a particular location, inasmuch as Peter, on the one hand, speaks of these disobedient spirits as being in “pits of dense darkness,” while Paul speaks of them as being in “heavenly places” from which they exercise a rule of darkness as wicked spirit forces. (2Pe 2:4; Eph 6:10-12) The dense darkness similarly is not literally a lack of light but results from their being cut off from illumination by God as renegades and outcasts from his family, with only a dark outlook as to their eternal destiny.

    Nice review, Kaitlin, and love that artwork! 🙂

    • Wish I could take credit, but I can’t draw stick figures.
      Wow, thanks for all the insights on biblical Tartarus. I knew there was a connection, thanks to Dante, but that reading makes Milton’s Satan make more sense.

  2. Pingback: Mythology Monday: The Underworld | Kaitlin Bevis

  3. Pingback: Mythology Monday: Chthonic Deities | Kaitlin Bevis

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