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From Ancient Greek χθόνιος (khthónios, in or under the ground), from χθών (khthṓn, ground).



chthonian (not generally comparable, comparative more chthonian, superlative most chthonian)

  1. Pertaining to the underworld; being beneath the earth.
    • 1872, Robert Brown, Poseidôn: A Link between Semite, Hamite, and Aryan, page 70:
      Consus, moreover, is regarded as a god of the lower world, or Chthonian divinity—another circumstance which connects him with Poseidôn, whose character becomes more and more Chthonian the farther his cultus is traced into the East, where also his phase as lord of knowledge and wisdom appears more manifestly.
    • 1950, W. K. C. Guthrie, The Greeks and Their Gods, 1955, Beacon Press, p. 219,
      ...I intend to apply the name chthonian to all gods and spirits of the earth, whether their functions are concerned with agriculture or with the grave and the world beyond, or (as often) with both.
    • 1969, Vincent Vycinas, Earth and Gods: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger[1], page 196:
      The Olympian religion is truly Olympian when it rests on Chthonian grounds, and the Chthonian religion is truly Chthonian when it stands in the Olympian light.
    • 2007, Jennifer Lynn Larson, Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide[2], page 12:
      Even an “Olympian” deity such as Athena Polias at Athens may have chthonian features, such as her association with the snake, a creature symbolic of the earth.
    • 2015, Susan Deacy, Gods—Olympian or Chthonic, in Esther Eidinow, Julia Kindt (editors), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion, page 359,
      For example, the Oresteia, 'that treasure house of chthonian concepts' (Scullion 1994: 111), categorizes gods in ways that do not match the rigid terms of the foundational scholarship on Olympian versus chthonian deities.

Related terms[edit]