Greek and Roman Mithology
Mitología griega y romana # Myths. Entertaining stories. Gods and goddess. Titans. Cyclopes. Giants. Ancient religion
- Enviado por: Vanessa Barnuza
- Idioma: inglés
- País: España
- 14 páginas
Greek Name Roman Name Occupation
Zeus Jupiter Captain of Gods
Poseidon Neptune God of the Sea
Hades Pluto God of the Underworld
Hera Juno Goddess of Marriage/Queen of Gods
Hestia Vesta Goddess of the Hearth/Home
Ares Mars God of War
Athena Minerva Goddess of Education/Science/Virginity
Apollo Apollo/Sol/Pheobus God of Sun
Artemis Diana Goddess of the Hunt/The moon
Aphrodite Venus Goddess of Love/Beauty
Hermes Mercury God of Commerce/Speed
Hephaestus Vulcan God of the Forge/Fire
Eros Cupid God of love
Persephone Proserpina Unwilling bride of Pluto
Goddess of spring
Dionysos Bacchus God of wine/God of revelry
Demeter Ceres Goddess of earth and Harvest
Pan Inuus/Faunus Son of Hermes 1/2 goat Trickster
Kastor & Polydeukes Castor & Pollux The Heavenly Twins
Aeolus --- King of Winds
Boreas --- North Wind
Zephir --- West Wind
Notus --- South Wind
Eurus --- East Wind
Iris --- The Rainbow Goddess
Aether --- Greek God of Light
Hygeia --- God of health
Hebe --- Goddess of Youth
Hecate Trivia Goddess of the dark/magic
Eris Discordia Goddess of discord
Nike Victory Goddess of victory
Erinyes Furies -Delivered Justice
Eos Aurora Goddess or the Dawn
Hespera --- Goddess of Dusk
Hypnos --- God of sleep
Nemesis --- Goddess of Revenge
Mors --- God of Death
Morpheus --- God of Dreams
Hercules --- God of strength
The Greek myths are not scientifically true. They are not empirically
verifiable, experimentally duplicable, nor fact-linked. No scientist has
captured, weighed, nor measured the parts of a satyr, or a wood nymph, much
less an Olympian. Nobody has beli eved in or worshiped Zeus for well over a
thousand years. Nevertheless, the Greek myths are permanent.
Throughout Western history students have returned to the Greek experience
and renewed its influence. We acknowledge the timeless and ever-present
intellectual and spiritual influence of these Greeks. This is because they
deal so well with the deepest hu man problems: love, war, sin, death,
courage, pride, and tyranny. Moreover, they deal with man's relations with
the divine powers, which are often felt to be irrational, cruel, or even
Through the evolution of the myths we can trace the discovery of Western
man. By discovering man, the Greeks realized the worth of the individual;
and conversely the recognition that the individual's claim to value and
importance must be tested by the de mands of character. Man may be the
measure of all things, or he may be the thing measured and found wanting.
The Greeks realized that the principal feature of man is not individualism,
but humanism which means educating man into his true form--the real human
If all this strikes you as unduly profound, then enjoy the tales as simply
amusing and entertaining stories, which is also what they are.
Mythology  Myth. Mythology teaches you what's behind literature and
the arts; it teaches you about your own life.
Myth  A myth is a leyend or story, ussualy one that attemps to
account for something in nature. That are always in some sense religios.
Myths represents the deepest wishes and fears of human beings.
Gods and goddess According to the Greek Mythology the divinities
lived on Mount Olympus(temple). The temples of the gods have a lots of
roman columns. But the gods can't go down with the ordinary people, only
titans, warriors, etc. Every god have diferent power.
Here are some of the most important titans, gods and goddess with the
God of gods, king of sky and weather. Zeus overthew his Father Cronus. He
then drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Zeus won the draw and
became the supreme ruler of the gods. He is lord of the sky, the rain god.
His weapon is a thunderbolt that he hurls at those who displease him. He is
married to Hera but, is famous for his many affairs. He is also known to
punish those that lie or break oaths.
Gaea is the Earth goddess. She mated with her son Uranus to produce the
remaining Titans. Gaea seems to have started as a Neolithic earth-mother
worshipped before the Indo-European invasion that eventually lead to the
Uranus is the sky god and first ruler. He is the son of Gaea, who created
him without help. He then became the husband of Gaea and together they had
many offspring, including twelve of the Titans.
His rule ended when when Cronus, encouraged by Gaea, castrated him. He
either died from the wound or withdrew from earth
Cronus was the ruling Titan who came to power by castrating his Father
Uranus. His wife was Rhea. Their offspring were the first of the Olympians.
To insure his safety Cronus ate each of the children as they were born. This
worked until Rhea, unhappy at the loss of her children, tricked Cronus into
swallowing a rock, instead of Zeus. When he grew up Zeus would revolt
against Cronus and the other Titans, defeat them, and banish them to
Tartarus in the underworld.
Cronus managed to escape to Italy, where he ruled as Saturn. The period of
his rule was said to be a golden age on earth, honored by the Saturnalia
Rhea was the wife of Cronus. Cronus made it a practice to swallow their
children. To avoid this, Rhea tricked Cronus into swallowing a rock, saving
her son Zeus.
Oceanus is the unending stream of water encircling the world. Together with
his wife Tethys produced the rivers and the three thousand ocean nymphs.
Tethys is the wife of Oceanus. Together they produced the rivers and the
three thousand ocean nymphs.
Hyperion is the Titan of light, the father of the sun, the moon, and the
Mnemosyne was the Titan of memory and the mother of Muses.
Themis was the Titan of justice and order. She was the mother of the Fates
and the Seasons.
Iapetus was the father of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Atlas.
Titan of Intelligence. Father of Leto.
Titan of the Moon. Mother of Leto.
Prometheus was the wisest Titan. His name means "forethought" and he was
able to foretell the future. He was the son of Iapetus. When Zeus revolted
against Cronus Prometheus deserted the other Titans and fought on Zeus side.
By some accounts he and his brother Epimetheus were delagated by Zeus to
create man. In all accounts, Prometheus is known as the protector and
benefactor of man. He gave mankind a number of gifts including fire. He also
tricked Zeus into allowing man to keep the best part of the animals
sacrificed to the gods and to give the gods the worst parts.
For this Zeus punished Prometheus by having him chained to a rock with an
eagle tearing at his liver. He was to be left there for all eternity or
until he agreed to disclose to Zeus which of Zeus children would try to
replace him. He was eventually rescued by Hercules without giving in to
Epimetheus was a stupid Titan, whose name means "afterthought". He was the
son of Iapetus. In some accounts he is delegated, along with his brother
Prometheus by Zeus to create mankind. He also accepted the gift of Pandora
from Zeus, which lead to the introduction of evil into the world.
Atlas was the son of Iapetus. Unlike his brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus,
Atlas fought with the other Titans supporting Cronus against Zeus. Due to
Cronus' advance age Atlas lead the Titan's in battle. As a result he was
singled out by Zeus for a special punishment and made to hold up the world
on his back.
Metis was the Titaness of the forth day and the planet Mercury. She presided
over all wisdom and knowledge. She was seduced by Zeus and became pregnant
with Athena. Zeus became concerned over prophecies that her second child
would replace Zeus. To avoid this Zeus ate her. It is said that she is the
source for Zeus wisdom and that she still advises Zeus from his belly.
It may seem odd for Metis to have been pregnant with Athena but, never
mentioned as her mother. This is because the classic Greeks believed that
children were generated soley from the fathers sperm. The women was thought
to be nothing more then a vestal for the fetus to grow in. Since Metis was
killed well before Athena's birth her role doesn't count.
Demeter is the godess of corn, grain, and the harvest. She is the daughter
of Cronus and Rhea. It is Demeter that makes the crops grow each year. The
first loaf of bread from the harvest is scarificed to her.
Demeter is intimately associated with the seasons. Her daughter Persephone
was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. In her anger at her
daughter's loss Demeter laid a curse on the world that caused plants to
wither and die, the land became desolate. Zeus became alarmed and sought
Persephone's return. However, because she had eaten while in the underworld
Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that Persephone would
spend four months each year in the underwold. During these months Demeter
greves her daughters absence, and withdraws her gifts from the world,
creating winter. Her return brought the spring.
Demeter is also known for founding the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were huge
festivels held every five years. They were importaint events for many
centuries. Yet, little is known of them as those attending were sworn to
secrecy. The central tenant seems to have been that just as grain returns
every spring after its harvest and wintery death, so too the human soul
could be reborn after the death of the body.
Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. After her abduction by Hades
she became his wife and Queen of the underworld.
Dionysus is the god of the vine. He invented wine and spread the art of
tending grapes. He has a dual nature. On the one hand bringing joy and
devine ecstasy. On the other brutal, unthinking, rage. Thus, reflecting both
sides of wines nature. If he choses Dionysus can drive a man mad. No normal
fetters can hold him or his followers.
Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele. He is the only god to have a mortal
parent. Zeus came to Semele in the night, invisable, felt only as a devine
presence. Semele was pleased to be a lover of a god, even though she did not
know which one. Word soon got around and Hera quickly assumed who was
responsible. Hera went to Semele in disguise and convinced her she should
see her lover as he really was. When Zeus next came to her she made him
promise to grant her one wish. She went so far as to make him swear on the
River Styx that he would grant her request. Zeus was madly in love and
agreed. She then asked him to show her his true form. Zeus, was unhappy, and
knew what would happen but, having sworn he had no choice. He appeared in
his true form and Semele was instantly burnt to a crisp by the sight of his
glory. Zeus did manage to rescue Dionysus and stiched him into his thigh to
hold him until he was ready to be born. His birth from Zeus alone conferred
immortality upon him.
Dionysus problems with Hera were not yet over. She was still jealous and
arranged for the Titans to kill him. The Titans ripped him into to pieces.
However, Rhea brought him back to life. After this Zeus arranged for his
protection and turned him over the mountain nymphs to be raised.
Dionysus wandered the world actively encouraging his cult. He was
accompanied by the Maenads, wild women, flush with wine, shoulders draped
with a fawn skin, carrying rods tipped with pine cones. While other gods had
templaces the followers of Dionysus worshipped him in the woods. Here they
might go into mad states where they would rip apart and eat raw any animal
they came upon.
Dionysus is also one of the very few that was able to bring a dead person
out of the underworld. Even though he had never seen Semele he was concerned
for her. Eventually he journeyed into the underworld to find her. He faced
down Thanatos and brought her back to Mount Olympus.
Dionysus became one of the most important gods in everyday life. He became
associated with several key concepts. One was rebirth after death. Here his
dismemberment by the Titans and return to life is symbolically echoed in
tending vines, where the vines must be pruned back sharply, and then become
dormant in winter for them to bear fruit. The other is the idea that under
the influence of wine, one could feel possessed by a greater power. Unlike
the other gods Dionysus was not only outside his believers but, also within
them. At these times a man might be greater then himself and do works he
otherwise could not.
The festivel for Dionysus is in the spring when the leaves begin to reapper
on the vine. It became one of the most important events of the year. It's
focus became the theater. Most of the great greek plays were initially
written to be performed at the feast of Dionysus. All who took part writers,
actors, spectators were regaurded as scared servents of Dionysus during the
Eros is the son of Aphrodite. Eros is the god of love. In particular erotic,
romantic, love. He is often represented blindfolded because, love is often
blind. His "weapon" is darts or arrows. In either case the tips have been
magically treated to produce either uncontrolable love or unsurmountable
disintrested in the first person seen be Eros's victim after wounding.
Hebe is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the goddess of youth. She,
along with Ganymede are the cupbearers to the gods. Hebe is Hercules wife.
Hebe is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the goddess of discord. In
addition to her main activity of sowing discord, she frequently accompanies
her brother Ares to battles. On these occasions she rides his chariot and
brings her son Strife.
Eris is unpopular and frequently snubbed as a guest by the other gods and
mankind. This was not always a safe thing to do. The most dramatic example
being the Trojan War, which was an indirect result of not inviting Eris to a
Helios was the greek sun god. He may be thought of as a personification of
the sun. He plays little role in the myths. He became rather overshadowed by
Apollo the lord of the sun. He was the son of Hyperion.
Thanatosos was the greek god of death. He may be thought of as a
personification of death. He plays little role in the myths. He became
rather overshadowed by Hades the lord of the sun.
Pan is the son of Hermes. He is the god of goatherds and shepherds. He is
mostly human in appearnce but, with goat horns and goat feet. He is an
excellent musician and plays the pipes. He is merry and playful frequently
seen dancing with woodland nymphs. He is at home in any wild place but, is
favorite is Arcady, where he was born. He is always in pursuit of one of the
nymphs but, always rejected because he is ugly.
His name is the basis for the word "panic". There are two differing
explanations for this. The first is that he was present when Zeus defeated
the Titans and claimed that it has his yelling that caused the Titans to
flee. However, this seems at odds with his being Hermes son. The second is
that he created the noises in the woods at night the scared travelers.
Nemesis means righteous anger, due enactment, or devine vengence. This god
helped to avenge those who were wronged.
They are the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. There are three Graces: Aglaia
(Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer). The are known for
singing and dancing for the gods.
They are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They are known for the music
of their song, which brings joy to any who hear it. There are nine Muses,
each with her own specialty: Clio (History), Urania (Astronmy), Melpomene
(Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry),
Erato (Love Poetry), Polyhymnia (Songs to the Gods), Euterpe (Lyric Poetry).
Also known as the Furies, punish crime. They persue wrong doers
relentlessly, until death, often driving them to suicide. They are
particularly concerned with matricide. There are three Erinnyes, Tisiphone,
Megaera, and Alecto. The Erinnyes came from the blood of Uranus when he was
The Fates have the subtle but, awesome power of deciding a mans destiny. The
assign a man to good or evil. There most obvious choice is chosing how long
a man lives. There are three Fates. Clotho, the spinner, who spins the
thread of life. Lachesis, the measurer, who choses the lot in life one will
have and measures off how long it is to be. Atropos, she who can not be
turn, who at death with her shears cuts the tread of life.
The Fates are old and predate the gods. It is not entirely clear how far
their power extends. It is possible that they determine the fate of the gods
as well. In any case, not even the most powerful is willing to triffle with
Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. After the overthow of their Father Cronus
he drew lots with Zeus and Hades, another brother, for shares of the world.
His prize was to become lord of the sea. He was widely worshiped by seamen.
He married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titon Oceanus.
At one point he desired Demeter. To put him off Demeter asked him to make
the most beautiful animal that the world had ever seen. So to impress her
Poseidon created the first horse. In some accounts his first attempts were
unsucessful and created a varity of other animals in his quest. By the time
the horse was created his passion for Demeter had cooled.
His weapon is a trident, which can shake the earth, and shatter any object.
He is second only to Zeus in power amongst the gods. He has a difficult
quarrelsome personality. He was greedy. He had a series of disputes with
other gods when he tried to take over their cities.
Hades is the brother of Zeus. After the overthow of their Father Cronus he
drew lots with Zeus and Poseidon, another brother, for shares of the world.
He had the worst draw and was made lord of the underworld, ruling over the
dead. He is a greedy god who is greatly concerned with increasing his
subjects. Those whose calling increase the number of dead are seen
favorably. The Erinnyes are welcomed guests. He is exceedingly disinclined
to allow any of his subjects leave.
He is also the god of wealth, due to the precious metals mined from the
earth. He has a helmet that makes him invisable. He rarely leaves the
underworld. He is unpitying and terrible, but not capricious. His wife is
Persephone whom Hades abducted. He is the King of the dead but, death itself
is another god, Thanatos.
Hestia is Zeus sister. She is a virgin goddess. She does not have a distinct
personality. She plays no part in myths. She is the Goddess of the Hearth,
the symbol of the house around which a new born child is carried before it
is received into the family. Each city had a public hearth sacred to Hestia,
where the fire was never allowed to go out.
Hera is Zeus wife and sister. She was raised by the Titans Ocean and Tethys.
She is the protector of marrage and takes special care of married women.
Hera's marriage was founded in strife with Zeus and continued in strife.
Zeus courted her unsuccesfully. He then turned to trickery, changing himself
into disheveled cuckoo. Hera feeling sorry for the bird held it to her
breast to warm it. Zues then resumed his normal form and taking advantage of
the suprise he gained, raped her. She then married him to cover her shame.
Once when Zeus was being partcularly overbearing to the other gods, Hera
convinced them to join in a revolt. Her part in the revolt was to drug Zeus,
and in this she was successful. The gods then bound the sleeping Zeus to a
couch taking care to tie many knots. This done they began to quarrel over
the next step. Briareus overheard the arguements. Still full of gratitude to
Zeus, Briareus slipped in and was able to quickly untie the many knots. Zeus
sprang from the couch and grapped up his thuderbolt. The gods fell to their
knees begging and pleading for mercy. He seized Hera and hung her from the
sky with gold chains. She wept in pain all night but, none of the others
dared to interfere. Her weeping kept Zeus up and the next morning he agreed
to release her if she would swear never to rebel again. She had little
choice but, to agree. While she never again rebeled, she often intrigued
against Zeus's plans and she was often able to outwit him.
Most stories concerning Hera have to do with her jealous revenge for Zeus's
infidelities. Her sacred animals are the cow and the peacock. Her favorite
city is Argos.
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. He was disliked by both parents. He is the
god of war. He is considered murderous and bloodstained but, also a coward.
When caught in an act of adultery with Aphrodite her husband Hephaestus is
able publically ridicule him. His bird is the vulture. His animal is the
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She sprang full grown in armour from his
forehead, thus has no mother. She is fierce and brave in battle but, only
wars to defined the state and home from outside enemies. She is the goddess
of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She invented the bridle, which
permitted man to tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the
plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She is the embodiment of wisdom,
reason, and purity. She was Zeus's favorite child and was allowed to use his
weapons including his thunderbolt. Her favorite city is Athens. Her tree is
the olive. The owl is her bird. She is a virgin goddess.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin sister is Artemis. He is the
god of music, playing a golden lyre. The Archer, far shooting with a silver
bow. The god of healing who taught man medicine. The god of light. The god
of truth, who can not speak a lie.
One of Apollo's more importaint daily tasks is to harness his chariot with
four horses an drive the Sun across the sky.
He is famous for his oracle at Delphi. People travled to it from all over
the greek world to devine the future.
His tree was the laurel. The crow his bird. The dolphin his animal.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, desire and beauty. In addition to her
natural gifts she has a magical girdle that compels anyone she wishes to
desire her. There are two accounts of her birth.
One says she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.
The other goes back to when Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his severed
genitles into the sea. Aphrodite then arose from the sea foam on a giant
scallop and walked to shore in Cyprus.
She is the wife of Hephaestus. The myrtle is her tree. The dove, the swann,
and the sparrow her birds.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is Zeus messenger. He is the fastest
of the gods. He wears winged sandals, a winged hat, and carries a magic
wand. He is the god of thieves and god of commerce. He is the guide for the
dead to go to the underworld. He invented the lyre, the pipes, the musical
scale, astronomy , weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics, and the care of
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Her twin brother is Apollo. She is
the lady of the wild things. She is the huntsman of the gods. She is the
protector of the young. Like Apollo she hunts with silver arrows. She became
associated with the moon. She is a virgin goddess, and the goddess of
chastity. She also presides over childbirth, which may seem odd for a
virgin, but goes back to causing Leto no pain when she was born. She became
associated with Hecate. The cypress is her tree. All wild animals are scared
to her, especially the deer.
Hephaestus is the son of Zeus and Hera. Sometimes it is said that Hera alone
produced him and that he has no father. He is the only god to be physically
ugly. He is also lame. Accounts as to how he became lame vary. Some say that
Hera, upset by having an ugly child, flung him from Mount Olympus into the
sea, breaking his legs. Others that he took Hera's side in an arguement with
Zeus and Zeus flung him off Mount Olympus. He is the god of fire and the
forge. He is the smith and armorer of the gods. He uses a volcano as his
forge. He is the patron god of both smiths and weavers. He is kind and peace
loving. His wife is Aphrodite. Sometimes his wife is identified as Aglaia.
The creation of the world
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of this myth is the extensive use of names
that seem difficult to non native Greek speakers to pronounce. This
sometimes causes frustration and loss of track when trying to establish the
continuing relationship between these characters in the birth of the world.
So you have to be patient and try to associate these names with the
characters and events that took place...
It all started when Chaos, Gaia (Earth) and Eros started to mix with each
other leading to the Gods. So In Greek mythology, the creation of the world
starts with the creation of the different classes of Gods. in this case,
Gods refers to the characters that ruled the Earth (without necessarily
possessing any divine attributes) until the "real" Gods, the Olympians came.
So after this brief introduction, the next step to examine in the creation
of the world is the creation of the Gods (which really is the same thing,
it's just that when you are interested in the creation of the world, you
look at the very beginning of the creation of the Gods, while, to examine
the creation of the Gods, you have to look a little deeper).
So? What are you waiting for? Move on to the sequel. The Gods.
Hesiod's Theogony is one of the best introductions we have on the creation
of the world. According to Hesiod, three major elements took part in the
beginning of creation. Chaos, Gaia, and Eros. It is said that Chaos gave
birth to Erebos and Night while Ouranos and Okeanos sprang from Gaia. Each
child had a specific role, and Ouranos's duty was to protect Gaia. Later on,
the two became a couple and
were the first Gods to rule the world. They had twelve children who where
known as the Titans. Three others known as the Cyclopes, and the three
hundred handed Giants.
The situation from here on however wasn't too good. Ouranos wasn't too
pleased with his offsprings because he saw them as a threat to his throne.
After all, there would come a time when they would grow up, and perhaps
challenge his command. Ouranos eventually decided that his children belonged
deep inside Gaia, hidden from himself and his kingdom. Gaia who wasn't too
pleased with this arrangement agreed at first, but, later on chose to give
her solidarity to her children. She devised a plan to rid her children from
their tyrant father, and supplied her youngest child Kronos with a sickle.
She then arranged a meeting for the two in which Kronos cut off his father's
genitals. The seed of Ouranos which fell into the sea gave birth to
Aphrodite, while from his blood were created the Fates, the Giants, and the
Kronos succeeded his father in taking over the throne and married his sister
Rhea. He also freed his siblings and shared his kingdom with them.Okeanos
was given the responsibility to rule over the sea and rivers, while Hyperion
guided the Sun and the stars. And time went by... Sooner than later Kronos
had his own children, and the very same haunted his father came
back to torment him as well.
Kronos decided that the best way to deal with this problem was
to swallow all his children.
However, what goes around comes around, and once again the mother decided it
was time to free her children. Rhea, Kronos's wife, managed to save her
youngest child, Zeus by tricking Kronos into swallowing a stone wrapped in
clothes instead of Zeus himself.
The great Zeus was then brought up by the Nymphs in Mount Dikte in the
island of Crete. In order to cover the sound of his crying, the Kouretes
danced and clashed their shields. As Zeus entered manhood, he had the
strength few dare dream of. He dethroned his father, and freed his siblings
from his father's entrails. It was now Zeus's turn to rule the world...
In the begining there was only chaos. Then out of the void appeared Erebus,
the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night. All else was empty,
silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love was born bringing a start of
order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea, the
Then Erebus slept with Night, who gave birth to Ether, the heavenly light,
and to Day the earthly light. Then Night alone produced Doom, Fate, Death,
Sleep, Dreams, Nemesis, and others that come to man out of darkness.
Meanwhile Gaea alone gave birth to Uranus, the heavens. Uranus became Gaea's
mate covering her on all sides. Together they produced the three Cyclopes,
the three Hecatoncheires, and twelve Titans.
However, Uranus was a bad father and husband. He hated the Hecatoncheires.
He imprisoned them by pushing them into the hidden places of the earth,
Gaea's womb. This angered Gaea and she ploted against Uranus. She made a
flint sickle and tried to get her children to attack Uranus. All were too
afraid except, the youngest Titan, Cronus.
Gaea and Cronus set up an ambush of Uranus as he lay with Gaea at night.
Cronus grabed his father and castrated him, with the stone sickle, throwing
the severed genitales into the ocean. The fate of Uranus is not clear. He
either died, withdrew from the earth, or exiled himself to Italy. As he
departed he promised that Cronus and the Titans would be punished. From his
spilt blood came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinnyes. From the
sea foam where his genitales fell came Aphrodite.
Cronus became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and the
Hecatoncheires in Tartarus. He married his sister Rhea, under his rule the
Titans had many offspring. He ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus
both had prophesied that he would be overthrown by a son. To avoid this
Cronus swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at
the treatment of the children and ploted against Cronus. When it came time
to give birth to her sixth child, Rhea hid herself, then she left the child
to be raised by nymphs. To concel her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling
cloths and passed it off as the baby to Cronus, who swallowed it.
This child was Zeus. He grew into a handsome youth on Crete. He consulted
Metis on how to defeat Cronus. She prepaired a drink for Cronus design to
make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Cronus to accept his
son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as Cronus's cupbearer.
This gave Zeus the opertunity to slip Cronus the specially prepaired drink.
This worked as planned and the other five children were vomitted up. Being
gods they were unharmed. They were thankful to Zeus and made him their
Cronus was yet to be defeated. He and the Titans, except Prometheus,
Epimetheus, and Oceanus, fought to retain their power. Atlas became their
leader in battle and it looked for some time as though they would win and
put the young gods down. However, Zeus was cunning. He went down to Tartarus
and freed the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Prometheus joined Zeus as
well. He returned to battle with his new allies. The Cyclopes provided Zeus
with lighting bolts for weapons. The Hecatoncheires he set in ambush armed
with boulders. With the time right, Zeus retreated drawing the Titans into
the Hecatoncheires's ambush. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundreds of
boulders with such a fury the Titans thought the mountains were falling on
them. They broke and ran giving Zeus victory.
Zeus exiled the Titans who had fought against him into Tartarus. Except for
Atlas, who was singled out for the special punishment of holding the world
on his shoulders.
However, even after this victory Zeus was not safe. Gaea angry that her
children had been imprisoned gave birth to a last offspring, Typhoeus.
Typhoeus was so fearsome that most of the gods fled. However, Zeus faced the
monster and flinging his lighting bolts was able to kill it. Typhoeus was
burried under Mount Etna in Sicily.
Much later a final challenge to Zeus rule was made by the Giants. They went
so far as to attempt to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain
in an effort to reach the top. But, the gods had grown strong and with the
help of Heracles the Giants were subdued or killed.
The ancient Greeks are both like and unlike us. In the realm of values we
share much in common; but as far as customs, both social and religious, they
are quite alien. We share more customs with the people of medieval Europe. A
medieval churchman and a modern fundamentalist, for example, might be
shocked at Greek-Polytheism and the Greek depictions of divinities in the
guise of nude human beings.
Some of the important differences between the ancient Greek and modern
Western religions are:
1. The Greeks maintained no class or caste of priest. The father in a Greek
family was priest within his own house and some prominent magistrate was
chief priest of the city-state. Sometimes a religious office was hereditary
and at other times offices were elected. Priests were expected to marry and
have families, to lead normal lives, and to have a trade or profession. The
priestly duties and rites were honorary functions. Moreover, for the worship
of goddesses there were priestesses.
2. Greek religion was without dogma or a sacred book. A diverse amateur
priesthood functioning in a polytheistic setting naturally made no claim to
a unique validity of one set of rites or beliefs.
3. No religious prosecution. As there was no dogma there was no reason for
either heretics or martyrs. As religion was personal and not organized there
was no thought of excluding, denying, or even diminishing the cults of other
gods. Rather the Greek s saw foreign deities as being like their own.
Amon-ra, Yahweh, or Baal were compared to Zeus, or thought of as being Zeus
with another name. To assert that their religion was the only true religion
and that their neighbor's religion was false, would ha ve seemed
ill-mannered to the Greeks.
4. The Greek temple was the house for the cult figure. For the most part
ceremonies, such as the offering of burnt sacrifices, took place outside the
temple. The Panathenaea, a festival honoring Athena, began with dances,
singing and a torch race; then athletic games, musical competitions, and
finally a great procession. The purpose of the procession was the decoration
of the cult statue of Athena with a new cloak. All of the festival took
place, quite naturally, outside. Temples did house certain c ivic and
personal documents; mistreated slaves could seek sanctuary inside temples,
and the gold plate on cult figures was converted into money in times of
civic need, but the main function of the temple remained the house for the
god, not as a meeting pl ace for the faithful.
The Greek imagination produced innumerable gods and demi-gods, not to
mention heroes. There were gods of rivers and streams, of air, of memory, of
the arts, and so on; but there were only twelve accorded seats on high
Olympus. It is on these highest god s that our attention will focus.