Phew. After several unexpected delays, I am finally ready to begin a new series of blog posts. I don’t know about you, but I have always been fascinated by Greek mythology. I devour documentaries on Ancient Greece and the gods, I love movies that deal with this material, I read historical fiction novels that take place in this era, and in college I took a class on the subject. With things such the Percy Jackson book series and the movies Immortals and Wrath of the Titans, Greek mythology has once again become a topic of interest within the world of pop culture, so it seemed like a good subject to cover here.
There are way too many interesting gods to include them all this go around – the series would go on for the rest of the year. Instead, I am only going to cover the biggies right now and I will revisit the topic later on to touch on some of the others. Without further ado, let’s dig in!
When asked to think about the Greek gods most people will immediately jump to names like Zeus or Hades or Athena. These are all names of gods who are a part of what is known as the Olympian gods. For people who have never really looked into or studied the subject, these are the only group of gods they know. But the Olympian gods were not the first gods of Greek mythology.
Just as with the religions of today, the Ancient Greeks had their own creation story which can be found in Hesiod’s Theogony. According to the story, there was a period of nothingness known as Chaos. From Chaos came the first of the divine beings, including Gaia, who was the Earth. Without a mate Gaia was still able to give birth to Uranus (the Sky), Ourea (the Mountains), and Pontus (the Sea).
After this, Gaia started to mate with Uranus. Uranus must have known how to please her because the two of them got busy. Together they created three cyclopes, three Hecatonchires (this means “hundred hands”), and the twelve Titans.
Uranus was not very fond of the Hecatonchires, so he decided to hide them away inside Gaia (remember, she is the Earth). Gaia was not happy about this. At all. So she went to her other children, the Titans, and asked if any of them would be willing to exact punishment upon their father. Cronus (you may know him better as Kronos) volunteered for the task.
Armed with a sickle, Cronus succeeded in castrating his father. ***As an aside, the results of this castration were so disturbing that they have stuck with me during the seven years that have passed since I took the college course where I studied the Theogony. Uranus’ blood fell on the earth creating the Furies, giants, and nymphs (Meliai) and – the part that REALLY stuck with me – his testicles fell into the sea where the… *stuff* mixed with the sea foam and created the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Yep. That is really what it says. I remember reading that part over several times before I believed it.
Anyway, Cronus married his sister Rhea and the two gave birth to the first six of the Olympian gods: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Cronus had received a prophecy that said one of his children would end up overthrowing him. Naturally, he didn’t want this to happen. So what did he do? Well, duh! He swallowed his children.
Rhea was not too happy with this arrangement, so she went to mom and dad for help. When it was time for her to give birth to Zeus, Gaia sent her to Crete and gave Cronus a large stone to swallow instead of the child. Zeus was able to grow up in secret. When Zeus was grown, Gaia somehow tricked Cronus into regurgitating his other five children who then joined Zeus in war against the Titans.
The war went on for ten years. It was not until Zeus released the Hecatonchires that his side was able to win the upper hand (I’m sure there is a pun in there somewhere involving the hundred hands) and send Cronus and the other Titans into Tartarus, thus entering in the age of the Olympian gods.
I hope that you enjoyed learning the tale of the Titans and will check back for the stories of the three brothers, and I don’t mean the ones from Harry Potter.
What did you think? How does this story of the Titans measure up with what you know from things in pop culture? Let me know in the comments.