Greek Mythology Lesson Three

By Grishtha Arya

In the previous installment, Kronos had been snacking on his newborn children. Why? Because he was a cautious (ahem, psychotic) god. Kronos discovered that his son would be the catalyst for his doom. So, he decided to eat all of his offspring. Only it didn’t work out as he hoped.

Rheia grew tired of Kronos’s antics and asked their parents for help while she was pregnant with Zeus. She begged them to come up with one of their famous schemes and make Kronos pay. Ouranos was salivating to help as he was just a touch miffed over the whole castrating thing. Gaia could not stand her child’s pain and also agreed to help Rheia (that’s the official version, but only Gaia knows of her neurotic motivations). They whisked Rheia away to Crete, where she gave birth to Zeus. Rheia handed a stone wrapped in a blanket to Kronos disguised as their son, which he promptly swallowed. And that’s how the gods grew up. Zeus grew strong in Crete under the care of Gaia. His siblings, on the other hand, grew up in Kronos’s stomach (do not ask me how).

Once Zeus was strong enough, thanks to Gaia’s advice and some concoction, he made his father vomit up his siblings. Thus, with his five fully-grown all-powerful siblings, he was able to dethrone Kronos. This did not go well (are you surprised?). The Titans encouraged by Gaia (seriously, whose team is she on?), decided to wage a war against the Olympians. Zeus freed the hundred-handed giants following Gaia’s advice. And these three giants, Obriareus, Kottos, and Gyges, helped the Olympians win the decade-long war. The Titans were successfully imprisoned in Tartarus, and the reign of the Olympians began.

The Great Mother Gaia was incensed. To get revenge, she bore her last child with Tartarus named Typhœus. He was a giant snake man? Something like that. Typhœus then proceeded to challenge Zeus, which led to another epic battle. The Earth shook, the sky thundered, and Zeus defeated Typhœus, banishing him to Tartarus. This led to the conclusion of the events which pissed off Gaia and ended her weird game of roulette (mostly). Zeus became the King of the Gods and married his sister Hera who became the Queen. The Olympians solidified their reign, and the domains were divided among the three brothers. Zeus ruled over the sky, Poseidon was given the sea, and Hades was left with the Underworld. And since the Underworld wasn’t considered to be a part of the Earth, he was excluded from the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was the exclusive club of the main gods of Olympus, the home of the gods. It consisted of five of the original Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia) and Zeus’s children (Ares, Hephaestus, Hermes, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis). In some versions, Hestia is replaced by Dionysus. Ares is the only one of the three children Hera and Zeus had together who was allowed into the elite Pantheon. The others were born to a bunch of goddesses and mortals that Zeus ‘seduced’. It did not go over well with Hera. But she accepted them, more or less. Hephaestus is the only other child born to Hera allowed into the Pantheon. Hesiod states that Hephaestus is solely Hera’s child, born out of parthenogenesis, Gaia style.

And now we arrive at the end of this crazy roller coaster ride. If you somehow followed all that, you now have an understanding of how Greek gods came to be and how they would rate in psych evaluations. Of course, there are other Greek myths that mostly consist of temper tantrums, schemes, and less-than-stellar behaviour—but I will leave that for you to discover. Deakin Library has a few books at Level One, and there’s always the internet.

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