Tartarus is infernal abyss of Greek mythology, which is used as a pit of suffering for the wicked and as a dungeon for the Titans.IT is also the name of a deity, a primordial being that existed before the Olympian gods, and their predecessors, the Titans.
The concept of Tartarus as a place is much better known than the deity. Initially, Tartarus was imagined as a great pit beneath the earth but it was later re-imagined as a type of hell, where those who committed heinous crimes whilst alive were punished.
Tartarus in Hesiod’s Theogony
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Tartarus is one of the first beings to have emerged at the creation of the universe, and was the opposite of Gaia (Earth),
“First came the Chasm; and then broad-breasted Earth, secure seat forever of all the immortals who occupy the peak of snowy Olympus; the misty Tartara (the plural of ‘Tartarus’) in a remote recess of the broad-pathed earth;”
16th-century manuscript of Theogony. (Public Domain)
Like the other primordial figures, Tartarus was thought of as a purely elemental being, rather than a god, like the Titans or Olympians, and is closely linked to its concept as a place. For instance, Gaia was not a deity of the earth, but the Earth itself. Similarly, Tartarus was not a deity of the Pit, but the Pit itself.