Gaea (also spelled as Gaia) was the primordial goddess of the Earth. She was the husband of Ouranos, and the mother of the Titans.
Gaea was one of the first beings to arise from Chaos at the beginning of time along with Erebos, Nyx, Tartarus, and Akhlys. Though sometimes presented as a maternal figure, particularly toward her Titan children, she could also be very cruel. When the Olympians defeated the Titans, she sent Typhon and later the Giants to overthrow them. She is however, ironically somewhat responsible for their rise to power.
Gaea and her husband as well as son Ouranos became partners and brought forth the Titans and their other children:
- Oceanus, Tethys, Hyperion, Koios, Krios, Iapetus, Theia, Cronus, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne and Phoebe
She also consorted with her grandsons, Poseidon and Zeus, her second husband and brother, Tartarus, and her son, Pontus.
- Kybele, Adgistis, Manes
- Antaeus, Charybdis
- Typhon, Echidna, Kampê, Karpoi, Gigantes, Ophiotaurus
- Aigaios, Nereus, Phorcys, Ceto, Thaumas, Eurybia
Gaea also gave birth to the first Cyclopes as well as the Hekatonkheires. She was also the mother of the Protogenos Pontus, the primordial personification of the ocean.
After Ouranos pushed the Hekatonkheires back into Gaea's womb and the Cyclops into Tartarus, Gaea was furious. She asked her children to get rid of Ouranos so she could save her other children, and only Kronos was brave enough to do it. He took a scythe Gaea made and used it to get rid of his father.
However, Kronos didn't rescue his brothers, and Gaea was angry with him. Gaea then prophesied that Kronos in turn was destined to be overthrown by his own son, and so the Titan attempted to avoid this fate by devouring his young. Zeus, through deception by his mother Rhea and with the help of Gaea, avoided this fate, and later rescues the Hekatonkheires from Gaea's womb and the Cyclops from Tartarus, and forced his father to vomit up his brothers and sisters.
A war then started between the Titans and the gods, Hekatonkheires, and Cyclops. The young gods emerged victorious. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades used their father's scythe to chop Kronos into a thousand pieces as he did to Ouranos, and banished the other Titans who sided with Kronos into Tartarus with bonds that they will never break.
Gaea's first attempt to avenge the Titans was, with the spirit of Tartarus, giving birth to Typhon. Typhon, being the father of all monsters, was one of the worst enemies Zeus and the Olympians had to face. He, with the help of Echidna, was able to render Zeus helpless and (because Zeus is immortal) imprison him in a cave. However, with the help of the other gods, Zeus, with his lightning bolts, was able to trap Typhon under Mount Etna. Gaea then made peace with the Olympians and promised not to bother the Olympians again.
However, that was not Gaea's last attempt to overthrow the Olympians. She prophesied that Zeus' wife Metis would bear two children, first a daughter, and second a son who would eventually overthrow him. To avoid this fate, Zeus convinced Metis to transform into a fly, and then swallowed her. But it was too late. Metis already conceived a child. A few days later, Zeus received severe headaches. He convinced Hephaestus to ax his head open and out came a matured Athena. It is unknown if Metis escaped or not, but she never conceived the second child, so Gaea's plan, at least for a time, failed.
Some time later, Gaea used the Giants she has been harboring during the First Olympian War to avenge the Titans by attacking Mount Olympus, only for them to be defeated by the Olympian gods and demigods.