Greek Creation Myth
|Greek Creation Myth
In the beginning, 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 earth appeared.
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 plotted against Uranus. She made a flint sickle and tried to get her children to attack Uranus. All were too afraid except, the youngest Titan, Kronos.
Gaea and Kronos set up an ambush for Uranus as he lay with Gaea at night. Kronos grabbed his father and castrated him with the stone sickle, throwing the severed genitals into the ocean. The fate of Uranus is not clear. He died, withdrew from the earth, or exiled himself to Italy. As he departed, he promised that Kronos 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 genitals fell came Aphrodite.
Kronos became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires in Tartarus. He married his sister Rhea and under his rule the Titans had many offspring. He ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus both had prophesied that a son would overthrow him. To avoid this Kronos swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at the treatment of the children and plotted against Kronos. 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 conceal her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloths and passed it off as the baby to Kronos, who swallowed it.
This child was Zeus. He grew into a handsome youth on Crete. He consulted Metis on how to defeat Kronos. She prepared a drink for Kronos that would make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Kronos to accept his son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as cupbearer to Kronos. This gave Zeus the opportunity to slip Kronos the specially prepared drink. This worked as planned and he vomited up the other five children, unharmed because they were gods. They were grateful to Zeus and made him their leader.
Kronos 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. He had the Hecatoncheires set an ambush, armed with boulders. Choosing his time, Zeus made a retreat to draw the Titans into the ambush the Hecatoncheires had laid.. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundreds of boulders with such fury that the Titans thought the mountains were falling on them. They broke and ran, leaving Zeus victorious.
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 was angry that her children had been imprisoned and gave birth to a Typhoeus, a monster so fearsome that most of the gods fled from him. However, Zeus confronted Typhoeus and was able to kill it with his lightning bolts. Typhoeus was buried under Mount Etna in Sicily. Later the Giants made a final challenge to the rule of Zeus. They even attempted to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain to try to reach the top. But the gods had now grown in strength and with the help of Hercules, they defeated or killed the Giants.