From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Member of the Titans
Personal information
ParentsUranus and Gaia
ConsortAsia or Clymene
OffspringAtlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Anchiale, Buphagus

In Greek mythology, Iapetus (/ˈæpɪtəs/)[1] (also Japetus (Ancient Greek: Ἰαπετός Iapetos))[2] was a Titan, the son of Uranus and Gaia[3][4][5][6] and father of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius. He was also called the father of Buphagus[7] and Anchiale[8] in other sources.

Iapetus has been equated with Japheth (יֶפֶת) the son of Noah as the progenitor of mankind based on the similarity of their names and the tradition. Iapetus was linked to Japheth by 17th-century theologian Matthew Poole,[9] Robert Graves,[10] and John Pairman Brown.[11]


Iapetus ("the Piercer") is the one Titan mentioned by Homer in the Iliad as being in Tartarus with Cronus. He is a brother of Cronus, who ruled the world during the Golden Age.[12]

Iapetus' wife is usually described as a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys named either Clymene (according to Hesiod[13] and Hyginus) or Asia (according to Pseudo-Apollodorus).

In Hesiod's Works and Days Prometheus is addressed as "son of Iapetus", and no mother is named. However, in Hesiod's Theogony, Clymene is listed as Iapetus' wife and the mother of Prometheus. In Aeschylus's play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a brother). However, in Horace's Odes, in Ode 1.3 Horace writes "audax Iapeti genus ... Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit" ("The bold offspring of Iapetus [i.e. Prometheus] ... brought fire to peoples by wicked deceit").

The sons of Iapetus were sometimes regarded as mankind's ancestors, and as such some of humanity's worst qualities were said to have been inherited from these four gods, each of whom were described with a particular moral fault that often led to their own downfall. For instance, sly and clever Prometheus could perhaps represent crafty scheming; the inept and guileless Epimetheus, foolish stupidity; the enduring, strongest and powerful Atlas, excessive daring; and the arrogant Menoetius, rash violence.[14]


Iapetus's family tree [15]
The RiversThe OceanidsHeliosSelene [16]EosAstraeusPallasPerses
IAPETUSClymene (or Asia[17]Themis(Zeus)Mnemosyne
Atlas [18]MenoetiusPrometheus [19]EpimetheusThe HoraeThe Muses


  1. ^ Wells, John (14 April 2010). "Iapetus and tonotopy". John Wells's phonetic blog. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  2. ^ Of uncertain etymology; R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a pre-Greek origin (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, pp. 573–4).
  3. ^ Hesiod, Theogony, 135.
  4. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Bibliotheca historica, 5.66.3
  5. ^ Clement of Alexandria. Recognitions, 31
  6. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, 1.1.3
  7. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 8.27.17
  8. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s. v. Anchiale
  9. ^ Matthew Poole, Commentary on the Holy Bible (1685), vol.1, 26
  10. ^ Robert Graves, The Greek Myths vol. 1 p. 146
  11. ^ John Pairman Brown, Israel and Hellas (1995), 82
  12. ^ Homer. Iliad, 8.478–481
  13. ^ Hesiod. Theogony, 507
  14. ^ Smiley, Charles N. "Hesiod as an Ethical and Religious Teacher", The Classical Journal, vol. XVII, 1922; pg. 514
  15. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 132–138, 337–411, 453–520, 901–906, 915–920; Caldwell, pp. 8–11, tables 11–14.
  16. ^ Although usually the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, as in Hesiod, Theogony 371–374, in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (4), 99–100, Selene is instead made the daughter of Pallas the son of Megamedes.
  17. ^ According to Hesiod, Theogony 507–511, Clymene, one of the Oceanids, the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, at Hesiod, Theogony 351, was the mother by Iapetus of Atlas, Menoetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus, while according to Apollodorus, 1.2.3, another Oceanid, Asia was their mother by Iapetus.
  18. ^ According to Plato, Critias, 113d–114a, Atlas was the son of Poseidon and the mortal Cleito.
  19. ^ In Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 18, 211, 873 (Sommerstein, pp. 444–445 n. 2, 446–447 n. 24, 538–539 n. 113) Prometheus is made to be the son of Themis.