The Ancients Knew Atmosphere Was Chaotic

I wish our modern “scientists” took just a little time to learn a bit of ‘classical knowledge’, and maybe even spend a little time soaking up some of the old culture and learning what their “Gods” were and what their names meant.


January 6th, 2009 by sabrina

Khaos is the Greek Goddess of the air. There are two schools of thought as to how she came into existence—either she was the first being (in the beginning, there was only chaos), or she is the daughter of Ananke and Khronos, two of the primeval Gods. In the first instance, Khaos created Erebos (God of darkness), Nyx (Goddess of the night), Aither (God of light), and Hemera (Goddess of the day). In the second, she is the sister of Erebos and Aither. Either way, Khaos represented the empty misty air in between the earth and the heavens. Her name, which means “the gap” or “the chasm,” is also seen as Khaeos, Chaos, or Chaeus.

Yes, the old Greek Goddess of the atmosphere, the “gap” (one envisions the tropopause ;-) is Chaos.

Oh, the irony… As they know they can not model or predict Chaos ;-)

And, of course, there’s a wiki:

Chaos (Greek χάος khaos) refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth.

The motif of chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in such myths, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East.

Shades of “Slaying the Sky Dragon”!

The origins of the chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.
Early work by German academics in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Zorastrian), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.

This myth was ultimately transmitted into the religions of the Ancient Near East (most of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family) most likely initially through interaction with Hittite speaking peoples into Syria and the Fertile Crescent. The myth was most likely then integrated into early Sumerian and Akkadian myths, such as the trials of Ninurta, before being disseminated into the rest of the Ancient Near East. Examples of the storm god vs. sea serpent trope in the Ancient Near East can be seen with Baʿal vs. Yam (Canaanite), Marduk vs. Tiamat (Babylonian), and Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Jewish) among others.

There is also evidence to suggest the possible transmission of this myth as far east as Japan and Shintoism as depicted in the story of Susanoo vs. Yamata no Orochi. The exact route of this particular transmission is unknown.

The chaoskampf would eventually be inherited by descendants of these ancient religions, perhaps most notably by Christianity. Examples include the story of Saint George and the Dragon (most probably descended from the Slavic branch of Indo-European and stories such as Dobrynya Nikitich vs. Zmey Gorynych) as well as depictions of Christ and/or Saint Michael vs. the Devil (as seen in the Book of Revelation among other places and probably related to the Yahweh vs. Leviathan and later Gabriel vs. Rahab stories of Jewish mythology). More abstractly, some aspects of the narrative appear in the crucifixion story of Jesus found in the gospels.

And here we are to this day, living that same tale. On one side, the folks fighting for order and understanding, working to slay that sky dragon: The Chaos. On the other, the confusion of the devil of deception that claims it can control or predict the Khaos of the atmosphere.

The more things change, the more I think we need to teach the classics…

Totally Gratuitous Link

This is a totally gratuitous link to a page that describes “1800 and Froze to Death” or “the year without a summer” or 1816.

Just because I want to keep a copy of the link somewhere, and what could be more Chaotic than a year without a summer ;-)

A sample of the text:

Several cold spells in May 1816 delayed the start of the planting season. June began well, but crops were lost in a cold spell between the 5th and 11th. Snow accumulated throughout all but southernmost New Hampshire. A warm spell starting the last third of June provided hope that summer had arrived, but a killing frost on July 9th dashed that hope. The rest of the month was warmer, but didn’t equal the warmest days of June. A warming trend in August abruptly ended with frost on the 21st and a worse one on the 30th.

Some crops did well, apple and pear harvests were very good, perhaps due in part to the cold weather being hard on insect pests. Potatoes did well too. Some people were able to raise a good crop of wheat, and they were rewarded with prices that were double that of normal years. Increased farm efficiencies have exceeded inflation – the high price was never equaled until the 1970s.

In Ashland, Reuben Whitten shared his wheat crop with his neighbors. After his death in 1847, they paid for his headstone in his family graveyard. Later, relatives erected a monument saying “A pioneer of this town. Cold season of 1816 raised 40 bushils of wheat on this land whitch kept his family and neighbours from starveation.” His farm was on a south facing hillside, so probably benefited from the extra sun and being above the valley chill.

Note to self: Have a farm on a south facing hillside (north facing in the souther hemisphere) and above the valley. Grow apples and pears and barely…

(Do you have to ask about the barley? Hey, it’s cold tolerant and whiskey keeps ;-) But growing some wheat and potatoes would be OK too ;-)

Subscribe to feed


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Ancients Knew Atmosphere Was Chaotic

  1. Otter says:

    Added this one to my faves, for future study of the links. I am very big on mythology for my own science-fiction / fantasy writing, and the ancient stories you refer to, sound a Lot like my characters….!

    But then, that was the idea. Toss in HPL and you get the idea…

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. Again, deeply surprised by your unending imagination. However, whensoever anyone, in our time of “consensual” idiocy, speaking of “chaos” it is a justification of those who do not LIKE anything resembling an order in nature, ergo it is another “jewel” from those secularist liberals along with “abortion”, “female´s liberation”, “human rights (theirs, of course, not ours)”, “global warming”, etc.,etc.
    Because of this it is very important your quote: ” Khaos represented the empty misty air in between the earth and the heavens. Her name, which means “the gap” or “the chasm,” is also seen as Khaeos, Chaos, or Chaeus.
    Effectively, ancients, not being “distracted” (the contrary force to “attracted”) by the so many colorful “screens” which continuously sucks up our scarce life force, btw. almost exhausted by the also “liberal” philosophy about “sex”, conceived only as a means for pleasure, in its entropic aspect and not in its negentropic quality, knew more about music, one of their scarce “distractions” available then; so they knew what a “gap”, an “interval”, was, according to the cosmological law of the octave: a place where, either, it was needed a “shock”, a helping force from the outside to keep the octave going ahead, a role that anyone could know then as the necessity of “eating”, or it was produced an “emission”, to fulfill the same law in producing external “results” (a musical note, a baby, a soul). Programmers like you know about this law, as the necessity of an input and an output for a program to flow.
    But such a modern version of “chaos”, that anarchic principle always implicit in every liberal utterance, means “lack of order”, as such of course it is “revolutionary” and totally and supremely destructive and as stupid and foolish as the will of cancer cells to corrupt an organism invaded by such “ideologies”, it only leads to the death of the organism and, of course, the cataclysmic death of those “intelligent, free and wise” cancer cells themselves.
    This is why ETHICS means order, means a hierarchy (Greek: hierarchia (ἱεραρχία), from hierarches, “leader of sacred rites”) is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being “above,” “below,” or “at the same level as” one another.
    Do you want a traditional example of such a hierarchy?, the Kabbalah, also spelled Kabala or Cabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ literally “receiving”), is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (his creation)
    Which is really a Cosmology, as any other representation, scheme of the order of things in the universe. The Incas also had, as all the old cultures of the world, such a vision of the ORDER, contrary to CHAOS:Uku Pacha (“the lower world”) was the underworld (similar to Hell or Hades), located in the center of Earth. Kay Pacha was the world in which we live. Hanan Pacha (“higher world”) was the Heavenly underworld. Only righteous people could enter it (much like Heaven), crossing a bridge made of hair.
    . Bad luck guys!, Chaos only exists in the mind of the beholder! and when, by necessity the movement of energy needs recharging or discharging (in those “gaps” or intervals).
    Now, if you want a mechanical and working example of the sacred law rediscovered by Pythagoras with his Monochord, see how a “Ram pump” works to achieve its “goal” of reaching a higher “pitch”, a higher “head” in pumping water.

    You see? Anarchism such as “Oh, boy I am free!”, it is but an illusion of the fools: There are two ways, two ladders: One going up and one going down, either we chose EROS, life, or we chose TANATHOS, death; either we chose our dear and illusory “freedom” leading only to collapse or we chose going “against the wind”, the hard way up, to real freedom and life eternal, reaching the highest energy levels possible. It´s up to you kids!

  3. omanuel says:

    I too am amazed and pleased by E.M.’s imagination – a rare and valuable talent indeed!

    You too are blessed, adolfogiurfa, or you would not have recognized this.

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: I think the following from M.Vukcevic inadvertedly went to the spam:

    Vinča is a small town on river Danube, not far from Belgrade. I visited it couple of times as a student, since it is location of a nuclear research institute. It is also location of one of the oldest European civilisations.
    The Vinča culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in Southeastern Europe, dated to the period 5500-4500 BCE. Named for its type site, Vinča-Belo Brdo (White Hill), a large tell settlement discovered by Serbian archaeologist Miloje Vasić in 1908, it is thought to represent the material remains of a prehistoric tribal society mainly characterised by their settlement pattern and ritual behaviour.

  5. Pascvaks says:

    Ahhh.. yes! Khaos, the invisable mist we breathe, without whom we will surely die, and truly fast indeed! Today we call her, and think of her as, ‘Atmosphere’. Too bad her old name has been changed in time by man to mean something else entirely. Too bad for man, that is. Fortunately, however, she is still with us and we are now able to take her along wherever we go… surely we must, without her we die a painful death, and quickly too.

    It’s amazing to contemplate the gods. But, just think about the incredibly intelligent minds that created them out of nothing and made them accountable in a higher order for everything that exists. These wizards in the flesh thought of everything and achieved the impossible in a very short time. Nothing stood the test of time that was not of the purest metal and, incredibly, their work glistens and sparkles to this day. What hath man rought? God!

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Maybe we could start a fad of saying things like “In study of the atmosphere, called Khaos by the Greeks…” or even “When looking at low Khaos air temperatures”… could help enlighten some folks ;-)


    The Vukcevik posting was ‘in moderation’ due to a change of posting name (but with the same email address).

    I particularly enjoy the ‘strain’ between the old meaning of Khaos and the new meaning of Chaos so would love playing that against someone fretting over “Climate Chaos” ;-)




    I just see what is… a ‘connection engine’ that just notices the ‘disconnect’ between what folks have told me and ‘what just is’… It generally has gotten me in trouble as most folks want as little as possible to do with reality and logical consistency. Oh Well ;-)

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    I like the idea of using Khaos to have special specific meaning rather then the general word of chaos that can mean several things. As with Aether for the base material of space instead of ether which can mean a number of things. While Aether is in chaos it is not Khaos. Emmmm or actually they the same thing with different names.????????? Now I am confused or confusing. :-( pg.

  8. omanuel says:

    @E.M. Smith

    Fodder for your consideration:

    1. Life on planets may be a natural part of the great dynamic universe, powered by neutron repulsion and continuously bathed in radiation (E = hv) and potential energy stored as rest mass (E = mc^2) coming from pulsar cores of stars.

    2. Humans may be the only form of life that cannot accept their dependence on Nature:

    a.) We respond to good fortune with pride, arrogance and a feeling of self-importance.
    b.) We respond to misfortune with anger, resentments, remorse, and self-pity.

    This human handicap has been exacerbated by modern science and the assumption that everything, absolutely everything, in the universe is controlled by cause and effect, except for humans !

  9. Pascvaks says:

    @omanuel –
    Humans are really only going through a ‘phase’, everyone has these, those above us on the ladder of evolution have experienced it already and recognize it for what it is; those who have not, have no idea what you’re talking about, it’s all greek to them; but one day, they too will experience tour current phase, treat your words as so much hot air, and then –eventually– they too will change and know of what you speak. Evolution is like a v e r y s l o w c h e m i c a l r e a c t i o n.

  10. omanuel says:


    I have updated this summary

    Does anyone here object to the proposed solution?

  11. Pascvaks says:

    @omanuel –
    Your proposed ‘solution’ is a good one.

  12. omanuel says:


    I believe we have identified the essential problem revealed by Climategate – world leaders focused on the advantages of their plan and overlooked the two disadvantages (1) and (2) listed in the abstract.

    Probably few would object to the proposed solution shown below the abstract.

    Still missing: A leader to implement this, someone with the strength of character of Moses, Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Abraham Lincoln.

  13. Pascvaks says:

    @OManuel –
    The objective is a good one but, I believe, the ‘missing element’ is not a leader. We would –and I’m sure our children will too– crucify even the best of them. I foresee another two thousand years of bumps and grinds, beatings and murders, insults and injuries, booms and busts, hot and cold spells, floods and droughts, and very slow progress, before we see anything that even approximates the solution. And… I think I’m being optimistic too.

  14. Pascvaks says:

    a ‘late thought’ (forgive my attempt at humor, please;-) –

    People move at the speed of smell. When the sh^# get’s too deep and smelly, they’ll move. But, there’s no telling which way they’ll move, or how far, or even if they’ll take the old folks and babies with them.

  15. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks: When we were kids we learned how the devil was, as tradition told us how he was, however nobody taught us that he not necessarily had an arrow ended tail (perhaps it was symbolic, as showing its tendency toward the world of below) and we never saw a specimen like that. However, after having lived more than 70 years, I have realized that there are devils around us, tailless of course, with a distinct behavior like the cancer cells, trying to disrupt the correct functioning of the body/universe, but presenting their ideology always as a “good one”, thus convincing “sensible hearted people/fools”; so when all their sh^# is globally and equally distributed through their media, it becomes very hard for us, not so foolish by inheritance, people, to convince others of these devilish ideologies.

  16. omanuel says:

    Robert Fisk of The Independent newspaper [1] and some other bloggers [2] suggest it is world bankers who promote globalization (United Nations) and post-modern, consensus science in exchange for loss of constitutional “Bill of Rights” [3].

    They even suggest that current unrest in the Middle East, the great Arab/Muslim awakening, is in response to this new form of world tyranny.

    Unrest is worldwide, but I doubt if the unholy alliance is limited to bankers [4].

    What do others here think?





  17. 5do12net says:

    This is wonderfol, great post

Comments are closed.