|Member of the Titans|
|Parents||Uranus and Gaia|
|Consort||Asia or Clymene|
|Offspring||Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Anchiale, Buphagus|
In Greek mythology, Iapetus (//; Ancient Greek: Ἰαπετός, romanized: Iapetós), also Japetus, is a Titan, the son of Uranus and Gaia and father of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius. He was also called the father of Buphagus and Anchiale in other sources.
Iapetus was linked to Japheth (יֶפֶת) one of the sons of Noah and a progenitor of mankind in biblical accounts. The practice by early historians and biblical scholars of identifying various historical nations and ethnic groups as descendants of Japheth, together with the similarity of their names, led to a fusion of their identities, from the early modern period to the present.
In Hesiod's Works and Days Prometheus is addressed as "son of Iapetus", and no mother is named. However, in Hesiod's Theogony, Clymene is listed as Iapetus' wife and the mother of Prometheus. In Aeschylus's play Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is son of the goddess Themis with no father named (but still with at least Atlas as a brother). However, in Horace's Odes, in Ode 1.3 Horace writes "audax Iapeti genus ... Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit" ("The bold offspring of Iapetus [i.e. Prometheus] ... brought fire to peoples by wicked deceit").
The sons of Iapetus were sometimes regarded as mankind's ancestors[by whom?], and as such some of humanity's worst qualities were said to have been inherited from these four gods, each of whom were described with a particular moral fault that often led to their own downfall. For instance, sly and clever Prometheus could perhaps represent crafty scheming; the inept and guileless Epimetheus, foolish stupidity; the enduring, strongest and powerful Atlas, excessive daring; and the arrogant Menoetius, rash violence.
Iapetus as the progenitor of mankind has been equated with Japheth (יֶפֶת), the son of Noah, based on the similarity of their names and the tradition, reported by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews), which made Japheth the ancestor of the "Japhetites", i.e. the Indo-European speaking peoples. Iapetus was linked to Japheth by 17th-century theologian Matthew Poole (and more recently by Robert Graves) and by John Pairman Brown.
|Iapetus's family tree |