Zeus and the Origins of the Gods

In the coming year we’ll give you an introduction
to the Greek pantheon, one God each month. When making a rundown of the ancient Greek
Gods there is little doubt about who to start with. Unlike our story Greek mythology does not
start with Zeus, not even with the Gods. Very different from the God of the monotheistic
religions popular today the Greek deities are not timeless, they aren’t even first
on the scene. So before we introduce the Olympians let’s
meet their parents and grandparents: Welcome to Ciceroni At the beginning there was only chaos. Much
like science’s singularity chaos contained everything that would form the universe. From
the cloud of chaos were born Gaia: the goddess earth, Tartarus: the underworld abyss, Erebos:
darkness and Nyx: the night. Sometimes Eros who is better known under his Roman name Cupid
is also one of these ancient god. Gaia, all by herself conceived a child called
Uranus. Every night Uranus, God of the sky laid over Gaia goddess of the earth and as
such they made children. You may have noticed that means a mother and a son making babies
together but that’s actually surprisingly normal in Greek mythology. Where do you thing
Sigmund Freud got his ideas? The children were all monstrous either having
too few eyes or too many arms and Uranus was not happy with his offspring. The Titans,
like Atlas and Prometheus he locked away in the underworld abyss Tartarus. Gaia being a somewhat better parent than Uranus
felt for her children and made a plan to stop him from procreation. She asked the Titans
to rise up against their father but only the youngest Titan Cronos was willing to challenge
his father and take his place. When Uranus again came to lay with Gaia that night Cronos
attacked his father and castrated him. The blood that seeped from the wound fell
to earth and birthed among others the Giants and the Furies. Some seed also spilled and landed in the sea
where it created a foam on the waves. From this foam just of the coast of Cyprus the
most beautiful goddess of them all: Aphrodite was born. We’ll get to her in another video. Together with his crown jewels Uranus also
lost his crown as Cronos took over as lord of the Universe. The age of the Titans had begun. Cronos had not learned much from his father’s
bad parenting though and treated his children even worse. Having received the prophecy that
he would be overthrown by his son just like he had overthrown his own father he came up
with a plan. Not having anti-conception and a life of abstinence not being a very attractive
idea, Cronos decided to devour his children as soon as they were born. Rhea Cronos’ wife and sister (yeah, some
more Freud right there) was understandably unhappy about this system. And after having
lost 5 children this way she came up with a plan. When the sixth child, Zeus, was born
Rhea hid him from his father and instead fed Cronos a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The stone is called the Omphalos meaning navel and it would later mark the centre or navel
of the world at the holy sight of Delphi. Zeus was kept hidden and raised by a goat
until he was strong enough to challenge Cronos. When he was ready Zeus fulfilled the prophecy,
overthrew his father and rescued his siblings from Cronos’ stomach. Although you may not have noticed this tale
might be familiar to you. You may very well know it as a brothers Grimm tale of a mother goat
and her children in which all the children but the youngest are devoured. When the time
is right the youngest child comes out of hiding and brings down the monster. The siblings
that were eaten spring forth one by one alive and well. And in the end the monster is cast
in the abyss, stomach filled with stones. The story even contains an easter egg of sorts.
Remember where the youngest goat hides? With Cronos’ fall the Titanomachy commenced
in which the Olympians under leadership of Zeus fought a war against the Titans. This
war marks the end of the age of the Titans and the start of the age of the Olympians. To help him fight his war the cyclopses who
also disliked the Titans forged for Zeus his trademark weapon; his mighty thunderbolt.
Next to his bearded figure it is this thunderbolt from which you can most easily recognise him. When the war was concluded the Olympians imprisoned
the Titans and ruled the universe. As it was Zeus who had freed his siblings and led the
war he became the leader of the gods and the god of the Sky most elevated of them all. Many of the Greek Gods fell in love and
made children with deities and mortals alike but Zeus was in a league of his own. As a result he has many children some of them
themselves Olympians such as Athena and Apollo, some others were minor deities like the Muses.
Again others were mortals like Herakles, Perseus and Helen of Troy. If you are in Europe there is a good chance
you are carrying one of Zeus’ lovers around with you. Hold a euro-note to the light and
you will see the portrait of a girl who Zeus, this time in the shape of a bull, abducted
from Asia and took to Greece. The girl’s name was Europa and it is after her that our
continent is named. Next month another of Zeus’ lovers, who
happens to also be
his sister.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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