chaos


chaos
/kay"os/, n.
1. a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
2. any confused, disorderly mass: a chaos of meaningless phrases.
3. the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.
4. (cap.) the personification of this in any of several ancient Greek myths.
5. Obs. a chasm or abyss.
[1400-50; late ME < L < Gk; akin to CHASM, YAWN, GAPE]
Syn. 1. disarray, jumble, turmoil, tumult.
Ant. 1. order, peace, calm.

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In Greek cosmology, either the primeval emptiness before things came into being or the abyss of Tartarus, the underworld.

In Hesiod's Theogony, there was first Chaos, then Gaea and Eros. The offspring of Chaos were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night). Ovid gave Chaos its modern meaning: the original formless and disordered mass from which the ordered universe is created. The early church fathers applied this interpretation to the creation story in Genesis.

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▪ ancient Greek religion
Greek“Abyss”

      in early Greek cosmology, either the primeval emptiness of the universe before things came into being or the abyss of Tartarus, the underworld. Both concepts occur in the Theogony of Hesiod. First there was Chaos in Hesiod's system, then Gaea and Eros (Earth and Desire). Chaos, however, did not generate Gaea; the offspring of Chaos were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx. Nyx begat Aether, the bright upper air, and Day. Nyx later begat the dark and dreadful aspects of the universe (e.g., Dreams, Death, War, and Famine). This concept tied in with the other early notion that saw in Chaos the darkness of the underworld.

      In the later cosmologies Chaos generally designated the original state of things, however conceived. The modern meaning of the word is derived from Ovid, who saw Chaos as the original disordered and formless mass, from which the maker of the Cosmos produced the ordered universe. This concept of Chaos also was applied to the interpretation of the creation story in Genesis 1 (to which it is not native) by the early Church Fathers.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

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