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1. Sky was the first who ruled over the whole world.1 And having wedded Earth, he begat first the Hundred-handed, as they are named: Briareus, Gyes, Cottus, who were unsurpassed in size and might, each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads.2 [2] After these, Earth bore him the Cyclopes, to wit, Arges, Steropes, Brontes,3 of whom each had one eye on his forehead. But them Sky bound and cast into Tartarus, a gloomy place in Hades as far distant from earth as earth is distant from the sky.4 [3] And again he begat children by Earth, to wit, the Titans as they are named: Ocean, Coeus, Hyperion, Crius, Iapetus, and, youngest of all, Cronus; also daughters, the Titanides as they are called: Tethys, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Dione, Thia.5 [4]

But Earth, grieved at the destruction of her children, who had been cast into Tartarus, persuaded the Titans to attack their father and gave Cronus an adamantine sickle. And they, all but Ocean, attacked him, and Cronus cut off his father's genitals and threw them into the sea; and from the drops of the flowing blood were born Furies, to wit, Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera.6 And, having dethroned their father, they brought up their brethren who had been hurled down to Tartarus, and committed the sovereignty to Cronus. [5]

But he again bound and shut them up in Tartarus, and wedded his sister Rhea; and since both Earth and Sky foretold him that he would be dethroned by his own son, he used to swallow his offspring at birth. His firstborn Hestia he swallowed, then Demeter and Hera, and after them Pluto and Poseidon.7 [6] Enraged at this, Rhea repaired to Crete, when she was big with Zeus, and brought him forth in a cave of Dicte.8 She gave him to the Curetes and to the nymphs Adrastia and Ida, daughters of Melisseus, to nurse. [7] So these nymphs fed the child on the milk of Amalthea;9 and the Curetes in arms guarded the babe in the cave, clashing their spears on their shields in order that Cronus might not hear the child's voice.10 But Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus to swallow, as if it were the newborn child.11


1 According to Hesiod (Hes. Th. 126ff.), Sky (Uranus) was a son of Earth (Gaia), but afterwards lay with his own mother and had by her Cronus, the giants, the Cyclopes, and so forth. As to the marriage of Sky and Earth, see the fragment of Eur. Chrys., quoted by Sextus Empiricus, Bekker p. 751 (Nauck TGF(2), p. 633, Leipsig, 1889); Lucretius i.250ff., ii.991ff.; Verg. G. 2.325ff. The myth of such a marriage is widespread among the lower races. See E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture (London, 1873), i.321ff., ii.370ff. For example, the Ewe people of Togo-land, in West Africa, think that the Earth is the wife of the Sky, and that their marriage takes place in the rainy season, when the rain causes the seeds to sprout and bear fruit. These fruits they regard as the children of Mother Earth, who in their opinion is the mother also of men and of gods, see J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stämme (Berlin, 1906), pp. 464, 548. In the regions of the Senegal and the Niger it is believed that the Sky-god and the Earth-goddess are the parents of the principal spirits who dispense life and death, weal and woe, among mankind. See Maurice Delafosse, Haut-Sénégal-Niger (Paris, 1912), iii.173ff. Similarly the Manggerai, a people of West Flores, in the Indian Archipelago, personify Sky and Earth as husband and wife; the consummation of their marriage is manifested in the rain, which fertilizes Mother Earth, so that she gives birth to her children, the produce of the fields and the fruits of the trees. The sky is called langīt; it is the male power: the earth is called alang; it is the female power. Together they form a divine couple, called Moerī Kraèng. See H. B. Stapel, “Het Manggeraische Volk (West Flores),” Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-Landen Volkenkunde, lvi. (Batavia and the Hague, 1914), p. 163.

2 Compare Hes. Th. 147ff. Instead of Gyes, some MSS. of Hesiod read Gyges, and this form of the name is supported by the Scholiast on Plat. Laws 7, 795c. Compare Ovid, Fasti iv.593; Hor. Carm. 2.17.14, iii.4.69, with the commentators.

3 Compare Hes. Th. 139ff.

4 Compare Hes. Th. 617ff. and for the description of Tartarus, Hes. Th. 717ff. According to Hesiod, a brazen anvil would take nine days and nights to fall from heaven to earth, and nine days and nights to fall from earth to Tartarus.

5 Compare Hes. Th. 132ff. who agrees in describing Cronus as the youngest of the brood. As Zeus, who succeeded his father Cronus on the heavenly throne, was likewise the youngest of his family (Hes. Th. 453ff.), we may conjecture that among the ancient Greeks or their ancestors inheritance was at one time regulated by the custom of ultimogeniture or the succession of the youngest, as to which see Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, i.429ff. In the secluded highlands of Arcadia, where ancient customs and traditions lingered long, King Lycaon is said to have been succeeded by his youngest son. See Apollod. 3.8.1.

6 Compare Hes. Th. 156-190. Here Apollodorus follows Hesiod, according to whom the Furies sprang, not from the genitals of Sky which were thrown into the sea, but from the drops of his blood which fell on Earth and impregnated her. The sickle with which Cronus did the deed is said to have been flung by him into the sea at Cape Drepanum in AchaiaPaus. 7.23.4). The barbarous story of the mutilation of the divine father by his divine son shocked the moral sense of later ages. See Plat. Rep. 2, 377e-378a; Plat. Euthyph. 5e-6a; Cicero, De natura deorum ii.24.63ff. Andrew Lang interpreted the story with some probability as one of a worldwide class of myths intended to explain the separation of Earth and Sky. See Andrew Lang, Custom and Myth (London, 1884), pp. 45ff., and as to myths of the forcible separation of Sky and Earth, see E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, i.322ff.

7 Compare Hes. Th. 453-467ff.

8 According to Hesiod, Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and the infant god was hidden in a cave of Mount Aegeum (Hes. Th. 468-480). Diod. 5.70 mentions the legend that Zeus was born at Dicte in Crete, and that the god afterwards founded a city on the site. But according to Diodorus, or his authorities, the child was brought up in a cave on Mount Ida. The ancients were not agreed as to whether the infant god had been reared on Mount Ida or Mount Dicte. Apollodorus declares for Dicte, and he is supported by Verg. G. 4.153, Serv. Verg. A. 3.104, and the Vatican Mythographers (Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 34, 79, First Vatican Mythographer 104; Second Vatican Mythographer 16). On the other hand the claim of Mount Ida is favoured by Callimachus, Hymn i.51; Ovid Fasti 4.207; and Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iv.784. The wavering of tradition on this point is indicated by Apollodorus, who, while he calls the mountain Dicte, names one of the god's nurses Ida.

9 As to the nurture of Zeus by the nymphs, see Callimachus, Hymn 1.46ff.; Diod. 5.70.2ff.; Ovid, Fasti v.111ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 139; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13; Serv. Verg. A. 3.104; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iv.784; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 34, 79 (First Vatican Mythographer 104; Second Vatican Mythographer 16). According to Callimachus, Amalthea was a goat. Aratus also reported, if he did not believe, the story that the supreme god had been suckled by a goat (Strab. 8.7.5), and this would seem to have been the common opinion (Diod. 5.70.3; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13; Second Vatican Mythographer 16). According to one account, his nurse Amalthea hung him in his cradle on a tree “in order that he might be found neither in heaven nor on earth nor in the sea” (Hyginus, Fab. 139). Melisseus, the father of his nurses Adrastia and Ida, is said to have been a Cretan king (Hyginus, Ast. ii.13); but his name is probably due to an attempt to rationalize the story that the infant Zeus was fed by bees. See Virgil, Geo. 1.149ff. with the note of Serv. Verg. G. 1.153; First Vatican Mythographer 104; Second Vatican Mythographer 16.

10 As to the Curetes in their capacity of guardians of the infant Zeus, see Callimachus, Hymn i.52ff.; Strab. 10.3.11; Diod. 5.70, 2-4; Lucretius ii.633-639; Verg. G. 3.150ff.; Ovid, Fasti iv.207ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 139; Serv. Verg. A. 3.104; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iv.784; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 34, 79 (First Vatican Mythographer 104; Second Vatican Mythographer 16). The story of the way in which they protected the divine infant from his inhuman parent by clashing their weapons may reflect a real custom, by the observance of which human parents endeavoured to guard their infants against the assaults of demons. See Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, iii.472ff.

11 As to the trick by which Rhea saved Zeus from the maw of his father Cronus, see Hes. Th. 485ff.; Paus. 8.36.3; 9.2.7; 9.41.6; 10.24.6; Ovid, Fasti iv.199-206; Hyginus, Fab. 139; Serv. Verg. A. 3.104; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iv.784; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 34, 79 (First Vatican Mythographer 104; Second Vatican Mythographer 16). The very stone which Cronus swallowed and afterwards spewed out was shown at Delphi down to the second century of our era; oil was daily poured on it, and on festival days unspun wool was laid on it (Paus. 10.24.6). We read that, on the birth of Zeus's elder brother Poseidon, his mother Rhea saved the baby in like manner by giving his father Cronus a foal to swallow, which the deity seems to have found more digestible than the stone, for he is not said to have spat it out again (Paus. 8.8.2). Phalaris, the notorious tyrant of Agrigentum, dedicated in the sanctuary of Lindian Athena in Rhodes a bowl which was enriched with a relief representing Cronus in the act of receiving his children at the hand of Rhea and swallowing them. An inscription on the bowl set forth that it was a present from the famous artist Daedalus to the Sicilian king Cocalus. These things we learn from a long inscription which was found in recent years at Lindus: it contains an inventory of the treasures preserved in the temple of Athena, together with historical notes upon them. See Chr. Blinkenberg, La Chronique du temple Lindien (Copenhagen, 1912), p. 332 (Académie Royale des Sciences et des Lettres de Danemark, Extrait du Bulletin de l'annèe 1912, No. 5-6).

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    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.8.1
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 126
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 139
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 156
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 453
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 468
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 485
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 717
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 132
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 147
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 617
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.24.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.23.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.36.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.8.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.2.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.41.6
    • Plato, Republic, 2.377e
    • Plato, Euthyphro, 5e
    • Strabo, Geography, 10.3.11
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.7.5
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 3.104
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.325
    • Vergil, Georgics, 3.150
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.153
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 1.150
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 1.991
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 2.24
    • Servius, Commentary on the Georgics of Vergil, 1.153
    • Ovid, Fasti, 4
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