Greek Myths - The Origins Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Greek Myths - The Origins

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Greek Myths: The Origins | Centaurs | The 12 Olympians | Achilles
Gods of Greek Mythology | Heroes of Greek Mythology | The Trojan War
Heracles | Sirens | Prometheus | Perseus | Pygmalion and Galatea
Jason and the Argonauts | The Children of Nyx | Death and the Underworld

According to Greek legend, the world started with a great darkness, called Chaos. This separated into a mass called Gaea, the Earth, and an expanse called Uranus, the heavens. Their embrace led to the birth of many children, including the Titans, the Hecatonchires1, the Cyclopes, and the Giants.

Rule of Cronos

Uranus, however, was an unfair father and confined some of his sons to Tartarus, the world below Hades. Gaea was outraged at this and begged her children to do something. They all refused, apart from the youngest Titan Cronos, who castrated his father with a scythe, imprisoned all his brothers except the Titans in Tartarus, and thus replaced Uranus as the most powerful God.

Cronos married his sister Rhea, a fellow Titan, and for many thousands of years they ruled the universe. However, an oracle told Cronos that one of his children would become far greater than him so Cronos destroyed every child Rhea gave birth to by swallowing it. Rhea was distraught, and decided to secretly keep one of her children. When she gave birth to Zeus she gave Cronos a stone wrapped in cloth, which he swallowed, thinking it was his son.

Rule of Zeus

Zeus was sent to live hidden with the goat Amaltheia, until he reached maturity and his carer died, at which time he made a potion which he persuaded his lover, the Goddess Metis, to feed to Cronos. This potion made Cronos regurgitate his five swallowed children, who assisted Zeus in rushing to Tartarus to release the brothers of the Titans. When they had accomplished this, Zeus had an army containing Gods, Goddesses, Giants, Cyclopes and Hecatonchires, which faced Cronos and his army of Titans.

After a war lasting ten years, Zeus was victorious. He imprisoned the Titans in Tartarus and then drew lots with his two brothers. Poseidon got the oceans, Hades received the underworld, and Zeus became God of Olympus, in addition to being king of all Gods. The Earth was to be the domain of no one being; it was to be shared by all.

Before they could enjoy their prosperity, however, the Giants who had been fighting on Zeus's side challenged his supremacy. As the Giants could only be killed by a God and a man working together, Zeus asked Heracles to help him dispose of the Giants. After that, Zeus reigned unchallenged - except by his fellow Gods, who unsuccessfully plotted against him many times.

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