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Is the Biblical Noah Mentioned in Greek Mythology?

Depiction of Uranus on the Pergamon Altar
Depiction of Uranus on the Pergamon Altar. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0

The connection between the Bible’s story of Noah and Greek mythology is usually discussed in the context of the legend of the Flood of Deucalion. That was a flood which Zeus sent to wipe out humanity, apart from a chosen man and his wife, which is very similar to the story of the Flood found in the Bible. However, there is another character in Greek mythology who seems quite similar to Noah.

The rainmaker in Greek mythology

The Bible’s story of Noah firmly associates him with rain. In fact, the Bible first mentions rain in connection with Noah. Of all of the characters in the Bible, Noah has the closest link with the particular weather phenomenon. With this in mind, it is worth wondering which character from Greek mythology might have the closest connection to rain.

As it happens, there is one famous figure whose very name connects him to rain. The figure in question is Uranus, the primordial god and personification of the sky. His name also appears as ‘Ouranos’ in some modern sources, the spelling of which is closer to the original Greek.

The name of this god comes directly from an Indo-European root meaning “to rain.” Scholars understand the name Uranus as meaning “the rainmaker,” or possibly “the lord of rain.” In either case, this shows a close association between Uranus and the concept of causing the rain.

Given Noah’s close connection to the dramatic rainfall of the Flood, this indicates that there might be a connection between him and this figure from Greek mythology.

The story of Noah and Uranus from Greek mythology

As well as the etymology of the name, the actual story of Uranus from Greek mythology is similar to the story of Noah. Uranus was a very primordial figure. He lived extremely far back in history, near the start of the world. This is similar to Noah, who lived quite far back in human history according to the Bible.

In fact, he was the founder of the post-Flood world, just as Uranus from Greek mythology was the founder of the Titans and, by extension, the gods and all of humanity.

In Hesiod’s Thegony, we learn the story of how Uranus despised the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Both of these were different groups of giants. Uranus hated them and banished them to Gaia, the goddess of the earth. Scholars believe this is a reference to their being banished to Tartarus, the lowest level of the underworld.

The idea of Uranus, the rainmaker, hating these giants and banishing them to the underworld is similar in concept to the story of Noah. In conflict with the group of giants known as the Nephilim, Noah worshipped God. With the coming of the Flood, which Noah knew about in advance, the giants were killed. Although the details differ, the essential idea is similar.

The sons of Noah in Greek mythology

Additional confirmation that the stories of Noah and Uranus in Greek mythology stem from the same origin is the information about their sons. For example, one of Noah’s three sons was Japheth. He was the forefather of the Greeks, according to the Bible book of Genesis.

Regarding Uranus, one of his sons was named Iapetus. This is an exact equivalent of the name ‘Japheth.’ Since Iapetus was the forefather of humanity in Greek mythology, this provides even more reason for associating him with Noah’s son Japheth, the forefather of the Greeks.

Another of Uranus’ sons was Cronus. He was closely associated with Africa and was the forefather of its population, just like Noah’s son Ham. In Greek mythology, the Titan Cronus got into conflict with his father. As early as Hesiod’s Thegony, we find the story of Cronus castrating Uranus.

Although this does not match anything from the Bible itself, the Book of Genesis does contain a story of Ham encountering his father passed out and naked in his tent. Ham was apparently guilty of some serious sin, although the Bible does not specify. According to later Jewish tradition, Ham castrated his father Noah during this event.

Cursing his descendants

Regardless of what happened in the original account, the Bible explains clearly what happened next. Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan. He prophesied that Canaan would become the lowest of his brothers and a slave to them. This was evidently meant to be understood in terms of their descendants.

Interestingly, this fits another detail from the Thegony. There, Hesiod explains what happened after Cronus castrated his father Uranus. The primordial god declared that “vengeance for this deed would come soon afterwards.”

Again, although the details differ, it is clear that the basic elements of the story are the same. In both the case of Noah in Jewish tradition and the case of Uranus from Greek mythology, they are castrated by their son. In response, the father declares an ominous prophecy about some kind of vengeance.


In summary, we can see that there is good evidence for concluding that Noah in the Bible and Uranus in Greek mythology both stem from the same origin. Just as Noah was associated with the Flood, Uranus’ name means “rainmaker.” They both have stories about being in conflict with a group of giants who are then destroyed or banished to the underworld right at the beginning of the world’s history.

The evidence from their sons confirms this connection. The name of Noah’s son Japheth clearly matches Uranus’ son Iapetus. Cronus, as the forefather of the Africans, clearly matches Noah’s other son, Ham. Finally, both sons supposedly castrated their father, resulting in a curse from their father in response.

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