The Destructive Power of Love in Hesiod's Theogony
Love is one of the most fundamental forces at work in Hesiod's Theogony.Ê Personified as Eros, Love is one of the first gods to appear.Ê Although he is parentless and fathers no children of his own, he plays catalyst to the reproductive creation of the world.Ê Just as the world is not perfect, however, so Eros is not an entirely benevolent power.Ê He affects all beings indiscriminately, which results in the proliferation of monsters and dark forces.Ê He is also persistent in his work, continuing to facilitate the production of new gods who threaten the established ones, causing tensions, rivalries, and all out war.Ê In fact, we find that Love?s creative power is the root cause of a lot of problems.
The most obvious destructive result of love is its role in the creation of both harmful powers and vicious creatures.Ê Echidna, daughter of Keto and Phorkys and great-granddaughter of Night, is one such monster.Ê Hesiod describes her as ?half fair-cheeked and bright-eyed nymph / and half huge and monstrous snake? (298-299).Ê Despite her dark nature, she is not immune to Eros? lure.Ê She ?[lies] in love / with Typhaon, that lawless and dreadful ravisher? (306-307) and ?[bears] a harsh-tempered brood? (308).Ê Evil begets evil, and the children of Echidna and Typhaon faithfully follow their parents? inclinations.Ê The best-behaved child of this union turns out to be Hades? fifty-headed watchdog Kerberos, who, despite being gainfully employed, is ?a stubborn and unspeakable creature?and shameless eater of raw flesh? (310-312).Ê The others, including the Hydra of Lerna and fire-breathing Chimaira, as well as the offspring Echidna bears to Orthos ? the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion ? are unrelenting agents of destruction.Ê Herakles and other heroes must subdue these creatures in order to restore harmony to the regions where the beasts run wild.Ê However, while Echidna and her spawn cause localized trouble, the most powerful of the monsters is Typhoeus, a giant with fifty snakeheads who threatens Olympus itself.Ê Love?s role in his origin is explicit; he is the youngest child of Gaia, who ?goaded by Aphrodite?[lies] in love with Tartaros? (822).Ê Zeus? battle with Typhoeus creates tremors deep enough to shake the underworld (851-853) and the giant?s strength is such that it takes a constant battering of thunderbolts to finally fell him.Ê When he collapses, he spews flame across the earth until it melts (861-862).Ê All this destruction comes about as a result of Love?s goading.
The monsters that spring from Love?s primal urgings are forceful and dangerous, but even Typhoeus is limited in his potential for sheer damage.Ê Dark gods, on the other hand, are unbound by material constraints and have a far greater influence.Ê Night, who had previously mated with Erebos and produced Ether and Day (124-125), also ?[gives] birth to hideous Moros and black Ker / and then to Death and Sleep and to the brood of...