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[6]

Zeus had intercourse with Metis, who turned into many shapes in order to avoid his embraces. When she was with child, Zeus, taking time by the forelock, swallowed her, because Earth said that, after giving birth to the maiden who was then in her womb, Metis would bear a son who should be the lord of heaven. From fear of that Zeus swallowed her.1 And when the time came for the birth to take place, Prometheus or, as others say, Hephaestus, smote the head of Zeus with an axe, and Athena, fully armed, leaped up from the top of his head at the river Triton.2


1 See Hes. Th. 886-900, Hes. Th. 929g-929p; Scholiast on Plat. Tim. 23d. Hesiod says that Zeus acted on the advice or warning of Earth and Sky. The Scholiast on Hesiod, quoted by Goettling and Paley in their commentaries, says that Metis had the power of turning herself into any shape she pleased.

2 Compare the Scholiast on Hom. Il. 1.195, who cites the first book of Apollodorus as his authority. According to the usual account, followed by the vase-painters, it was Hephaestus who cleft the head of Zeus with an axe and so delivered Athena. See Pind. O. 7.35(65); Scholiast on Plat. Tim. 23d. According to Euripides (Eur. Ion 454ff.), the delivery was effected by Prometheus; but according to others it was Palamaon or Hermes who split the head of the supreme god and so allowed Athena to leap forth. See the Scholiast on Pind. O. 7.35(65).

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