Uranus' Revenge - Rise of the Olympians
Cycles of Fate and RevengeBy N.S. Gill
The Olympian gods and goddesses, who include Zeus (Jupiter*), Hera (Juno), and Poseidon (Neptune), came to power at the expense of their father, the Titan Cronus (Saturn). Cronus had come to power at the expense of his father, Uranus/Ouranos (Sky). Cronus had disfigured his father rendering him unfit to rule. Although Uranus didn't plan for or arrange it, his grandchildren avenged his disfigurement. This article shows how Uranus got his inevitable revenge.
Zeus Assumes Power
(Summary from Greek Creation Myths):
Earth and Sky produced numerous offspring, 100-armed monsters, cyclops, and the giant Titans.
Earth was saddened by the fact that Sky wouldn't let her children see the light of day, so she forged the sickle with which her son Cronus unmanned his father. From severed genitals of the dethroned Sky sprang Aphrodite. From his blood dripping on Earth sprang the much needed spirits of Vengeance.
Limited in their choice of suitable anthropomorphic mates from among their fellow Titans**, the two humanoid Titans, Cronus and his sister Rhea, started a family. Their union produced the humanoid immortal gods and goddesses Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus.
Saturn Devouring His Son
Courtesy of ibiblio.com
When her last child was due to be born, a grieving Rhea turned to her own parents. Since Earth had suffered similarly when her husband had tormented her, and since her husband, Sky, had endured an appropriate punishment and lost his prominence, Earth and Sky could advise Rhea effectively. In accordance with the plan the three concocted, she tricked her mate, Cronus. When Cronus asked for the next baby so he could swallow it, Rhea gave him a stone, instead. This baby was their last child, Zeus. Zeus was then spirited off to safety where he grew to manhood. When he returned to his parents, someone, perhaps the Titaness Metis, perhaps Zeus, tricked with an emetic or forced Cronus into regurgitating his other children. Zeus and his sisters and brothers were re-united. Some say this made Zeus the oldest of the children, but he wasn't yet king of the gods. Mount Olympus [see Map section dI], they fought for 10 years alongside Zeus and his siblings. Ranged against the gods and their allies, the Titan brothers and sisters of Cronus, fought from their station atop Mount Othrys.
Eventually the Olympians won, the Titans were imprisoned in Tartarus, and Zeus was made king.
[8.8.3] When I began to write my history I was inclined to count these legends as foolishness, but on getting as far as Arcadia I grew to hold a more thoughtful view of them, which is this. In the days of old those Greeks who were considered wise spoke their sayings not straight out but in riddles, and so the legends about Cronus I conjectured to be one sort of Greek wisdom. In matters of divinity, therefore, I shall adopt the received tradition.
-- From a public domain translation of Description of Greece 8.8.3, by Pausanias; translated by W. H. S. Jones and H. A. Ormerod.
The Vengeance CycleRevenge is serious business. In The House of Atreus, the cycle of revenge ended in a father (Agamemnon) killing his daughter Iphigenia and in turn being killed by his wife, Clytemnestra, or her lover, Aegisthus (Agamemnon's cousin). The son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, Orestes, had no choice but to revenge his father by killing his mother. The Furies had to pursue the matricide. Similarly, when Cronus mutilated his father Uranus, he knew he deserved payback at the hands of his son Zeus. It's hard to understand why this tradition didn't carry through into the next generation -- why no one unseated the king of the Olympian gods. It was supposed to happen....
Knowing that "Metis [wisdom or cunning] was destined to produce ... an unruly son, the future king of gods and men," Zeus took more thorough precautions than his father had. Instead of just consuming the offspring, he swallowed the pregnant Metis. Stuck inside Zeus' belly, she continued to provide him with knowledge of good and evil. And that was the end of it.
Why didn't Zeus get his comeuppance? Was it because the Greeks didn't view Zeus' acts as reprehensible? No, says Norman O. Brown in his introduction to Hesiod's Theogony, it's because Zeus established a new world order based on law. Since Zeus represented the state, he was himself above its laws.
A nice tidy explanation, but is it sufficient?
|Hestia||Hera||Ares (parents: Zeus and Hera)|
|Athena (born from the head of Zeus although real mother was Metis)||Apollo (parents: Leto and Zeus)||Aphrodite|
|Hermes (parents: Zeus and Maia - Atlas' daughter)||Artemis (parents: Leto and Zeus)||Hephaestus (parent: Hera)|
|Demeter||Dionysus (parents: Zeus and Semele)|
|12, Hestia or Dionysus, Demeter, and Hades are sometimes eliminated)|
Sources:• [URL = www.lib.msu.edu/pubs/subject/su36.htm] Sources in Classical Mythology Bibliography
• [URL = http://www.ucd.ie/~classics/97/Luce97.html] J. V. Luce's "Homeric Poetry & Its Significance for the Modern World"
Tough Quiz on the Genealogy of the First Gods | Other Quizzes
Related Resources• Genealogy of the First Gods
• The Titans
• What Is Myth?
• Myths vs. Legends
• Gods in the Heroic Age - Bible vs Biblos
• Creation Stories
• Uranus' Revenge
• Five Ages of Man
• Philemon and Baucis
• Trojan War
• Bulfinch Mythology
• Myths and Legends
• Golden Fleece and the Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
• Genealogy of the First Gods
*In this article, at the first instance of a god's name, I am including alternate forms, generally, the Latin/Roman version. In the case of Uranus, however, the parenthetical form is not the Latin version of the god's name, but the English. For variations in spelling, see How Do You Spell...? **The other Titans, Ocean, Tethys, Hyperion, Thea, and Crius, produced, not humanoid offspring, but natural bodies, like rivers and wind.