The image I finally chose for the front cover is Nyx by Gustave Moreau.
The Goddess Night, according to Hesiod’s Theogony, was one of the first entities to come into existence and she is the mother of many important deities/ personifications, not least of which are Sleep, Death and the tribe of Dreams.
I also enjoyed Hesiod’s description of how Night shares a great house beneath the horizon with her daughter Day – like the couple in the weathervane, they are never in the house at one time but greet each other on the threshold at dawn and dusk. It would be nice to think that as the sun lightens or darkens they have a few moments to pass the time together.
Gustave Moreau held out an alternative choice for a book cover that I was tempted by – his depiction of Hesiod himself being inspired by the Muse on Mount Helicon as the poet describes in Theogony 2.22-35. To me the Hesiod who comes to life in the pages of Works and Days seems much less of a romantic figure than the youth depicted here. I imagine him as a sturdy, bearded farmer with a thick cloak , broad-brimmed hat and sensible
I also considered what might be regarded as the most obvious choice for the story of the first generations of the Godes – Goya’s dark and terrifying portrayal of Saturn Devouring his Children, but ,somehow, the moody
Night Sky of Moreau won the um, day.
In the Beginning was Chaos presents an overview of Greek creation myths from the manifestation of the primal entities Chaos, Gaia and Eros to the inter-generational struggles for supremacy between Ouranos and Cronos and then Cronos and the Titans against Zeus and the Olympians.
Subsequent chapters introduce the Olympian deities and their stories, including the myth of Demeter and Persephone and the cattle-raiding expedition of the infant Hermes.
The concluding section of In the Beginning focuses on Greek myths of human origins, with emphasis on the story of the heroic Prometheus, the Ages of Man and culminates with the tale of Deucalion’s flood with its remarkable parallels to the biblical tale of Noah.
In writing this book, I wanted to stay close to the ancient texts which were my sources, preserving many of the details and in places, I hope, something of the energy and flavour of the ancient authors comes through.
The main sources for the creation myths of In the Beginning are: Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, the Homeric Hymns, Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, The Library of Apollonius of Alexandria and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.