primeval gods of mountains

When Gaea, the Earth Mother, came into being, some of the first of her many, many children were, quite literally, a part of her. Out of her body, and attached to it, were the OUREA, the first-born elemental god-spirits of stone and rock, the spirits of the steep, craggy mountains that criss-cross the Greek world.

The Ourea numbered ten and showed up on the scene shortly after Gaea's husband Ouranos (the heavens) did. Unlike most Greek mythological figures, the spirits of the stone didn't have a father at all; she just willed them into being and before long, they stood majestically, rising out from her earthen body.

Each and every mountain was said to have its own ancient, serious and wise bearded spirit that gave it life, and they were often shown as wrinkled (yet still powerful looking) old men and women rising up from between the craggy peaks. The Ourea also had cousins called the Nesoi, the god-spirits of islands, which were busted and broken off from the mountains and cast into the sea by Poseidon (who was probably simply having a godly hissy-fit over something that day), forming the many islands that surrounded Greece itself.

The ten Ourea were Etna, Athos, Helicon, Kithairon, Nysos, Olympus 1 (yep, there are two!), Olympus 2, Oreios, Parnes, and Tmolus. Sadly, there aren't any real exciting stories about any of the them (after all, how much can a mountain do? It's not as if they can really go anywhere!!!), as they kept fairly quiet and lived life in the slow lane, thinking slow, deep thoughts and watching the world go by beneath them.

Even though they didn't gain much action and adventure in the stories, each mountain was said to have its own local tenders, called Oreads (oh-ree-adds), and they DO have some info to give up! An Oread was a type of nymph that (surprise!) lived up in the mountains, down in the valleys, and in deep, dark ravines, tending to and watching over the land around their given Ourea.

There are many families of Oreads who differed from each other depending on what mountain they called home. For instance, the Idaeae were from Mount Ida, the Peliades from Mount Pelion, etc. The Oreads were good girl-pals of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, since Artemis preferred the high, rare air of the mountains, the rocky cliffs and precipices of the wooded slopes when she headed out hunting. That made the Oreads the perfect companions for her when she stayed there for awhile to get her hunt on!

While not much is ever said about the Ourea, there is one exception; a few details are tossed out there about a rather stony-faced guy who wore around a cloak made entirely of oak trees; an Ourea named TMOLUS. Tmolus wasn't just the spirit of Mt. Tmolus, he was also the King of of an area called Lydia and husband to to a beautiful girl named Omphale (apparently he could be in two places at once; the privileges of the gods!).

In one situation, he acted as the the judge of a musical contest between the two musically-talented gods Pan and Apollo (which Apollo narrowly won!). Sadly, Tmolus was gored to death by a raging bull on the mountain that bears his name (how can an immortal die? Dunno. Just go with it.) His poor widow, Omphale, did him proud and became Queen-ruler of Lydia herself.



[1] "Mrpsmythopedia"

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