Jápeto or Iapetus (Greek: Ἰαπετός, transl.: Iapetós), in Greek mythology according to the tradition of Hesiod, is one of the 12 classical Titans, sons of Uranus, the starry sky and Gaia, the Earth.
He is the father of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menelaus. He is usually held to be the god-titan of time, life span, and mortality, especially violent death. In Latin, the expression "audax Japeti genus," meaning "the audacious offspring of Jápeto," designates mankind.
Jápeto, "The Piercer" is one of the titans mentioned by Homer in his work The Iliad, as a prisoner in Tartarus alongside Kronos. Lord of the West, he ruled alongside Kronos and his brothers during the Golden Age, when the titans ruled the world and the newly created humanity.
They became rulers, however, by the conspiracy created by their mother against her consort Uranus. Jeppetus, alongside his brothers, set an ambush for him when he came down to lie with Gaia.
Crio, Céos, Hyperion and Apetus positioned themselves at the four corners of the world to hold off the celestial god while Cronos, hidden in the center, castrated Uranus with a scythe.
In this myth, Jeppetus and the three brothers represent the four cosmic pillars that, in Middle Eastern cosmogonies, separate heaven and earth. Jeppetus was the western pillar, a position later occupied by his son Atlas.
Consort and heirs
He is mentioned as the father of four children from his union with the nymph Clemene, daughter of Oceanus and Thetis. These are his descendants:
Atlas - also known as Atlantean: "the one who supports", condemned by Zeus to eternally support the heavens after having supported the titans when the same rebelled.
Prometheus "the one who thinks ahead" - one of the titans who supported Zeus against Kronos. Creator of men and giver of fire to mankind, he was condemned to be chained for 30,000 years, with an eagle eating his liver daily, but was freed by Heracles;
Epimetheus "the afterthought" - created the animals and men with his brother Prometheus. He took Pandora as his wife, who opened the box that spread evil in the world;
Menoethius, "power of pain" - killed by Zeus, who threw lightning at him during the Titanomachy and banished to Tartarus.
The myth of Jápeto was quoted in the work Os Lusíadas (written by Luís Vaz de Camões) by the character Velho do Rastelo.