Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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In the Hesiodic theogony, the infinite empty space, which existed before all things (Theog. 116, 123). It is not, however, a mere abstraction, being filled with clouds and darkness; from it proceed Erebus and Nyx (Night), whose children are Aether (upper air) and Hemera (Day). In the Orphic cosmogony the origin of all goes back to Chronos, the personification of time, who produces Aether and Chaos. In the Aristophanic parody ( Birds, 691) the winged Eros in conjunction with gloomy Chaos brings forth the race of birds. The later Roman conception (Ovid, Metam. i. 7) makes Chaos the original undigested, amorphous mass, into which the architect of the world introduces order and harmony, and from which individual forms are created. In the created world (cosmos, order of the universe) the word has various meanings: - the universe; the space between heaven and earth; the under-world and its ruler. Metaphorically it is used for the immeasurable darkness, eternity, and the infinite generally. In modern usage "chaos" denotes a state of disorder and confusion.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Chaos'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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