The Birth of Zeus and the Other Olympians, the Children of Kronos and Rhea
And Rhea, mating with Kronos, bore him glorious children:
Hestia, Demeter, and Hera, who walks on sandals of gold;
powerful Hades, who dwells in a mansion under the earth and
has a pitiless heart; the roaring Shaker of Earth; and
Zeus of the Counsels, who is the Father of Gods and of Men
and at the sound of whose thundering a trembling seizes the broad earth.
Great Kronos swallowed each of these children as each of them came
out of the holy womb of their mother and fell at her knees,
this his set purpose, that no other lordly descendant of Ouranos
should possess the honor of kingship among the immortals.
For he had learned of the future from Gaia and star-studded Ouranos,
how he was destined to meet with defeat at the hands of his son;
this was to be in spite of his strength, for great Zeus would plan it.
Therefore no blind man's lookout was his, but he being watchful
swallowed his children, and Rhea was seized with a grief unforgettable.
But when she was finally about to give birth to Zeus,
the Father of Gods and of Men, then she begged her mother and father,
that they should tell her how she might secretly bear her dear baby,
and how her father's Erinys might be an avenger against
great Kronos, the clever deviser, in payment for swallowing her children.
They then heeded their daughter's request and did as she asked them,
telling her all that was destined to be, revealing the future,
what was to happen to Kronos the king and her stout-hearted son.
And they sent her to Lyktos, off in fertile-soiled Krete,
when she was going to bear him, her youngest, the last of her children,
Zeus, great Zeus. There in the broad isle of Krete huge Gaia
received him from her in order to nurse him and rear him to manhood.
Bringing him there she came in the covering darkness of swift night
first to Lyktos, and taking him into her hands she put him
into a cave under the holy earth high up
on Mount Aigaion, where is abundant thickly grown forest.
And she swaddled a great stone and put it into the hands of
Ouranos's son, the great lord, king of the earlier gods,
who, having taken it from her, sent it down into his stomach,
hardhearted wretch, nor did he foresee what was going to happen,
that his son, replaced by the stone, unconquered and carefree,
still surviving, would prove himself victor by force of his hands and
drive him out of his honor and rule as king of the gods.
Then the strength and the glorious power of the limbs of this king
rapidly grew and, the circling year having come to completion,
great Kronos, the clever deviser, being the dupe of Gaia's
very superior advice, sent up his children again,
for he was brought to defeat by the trickery and force of his son.
First he was forced to spew up the stone - he had swallowed it last - and
this was established and fixed by Zeus in the wide-wayed earth at
holy Pytho down in the hollow beneath Mount Parnassos,
there to remain as a sign, a marvel for mortal men.
Rhea, sleeping with Kronos, gave birth to glorious children: Hestia, Demeter, and Hera, who has golden sandals. Hades, who is powerful and lives in a mansion under the earth with a pitiless heart, Poseidon, who shakes the earth, and Zeus, the father of gods and men, who makes the earth tremble with his thundering.
Great Kronos swallowed each of his children as they came out of the womb of their mother and fell at her knees. He did this because he had learned from Gaia and Ouranos that his youngest son would overthrow him, and he wanted to prevent it. This was supposed to happen despite Kronos' great strength, for Zeus would plan it.
Kronos knew what was coming, so he swallowed his children, causing Rhea a deep and lasting grief. But, when she was about to give birth to Zeus, Rhea begged her mother and father to tell her how to secretly have her baby, and how her father's Furies might avenge themselves on Kronos, for swallowing her children.
Gaia and Ouranos did as their daughter asked them, and told her all that was destined, revealing the future, and telling what was to happen to Kronos and her son. They sent her to Lyktos, off in Crete, to give birth to Zeus, her last child. There on Crete, Gaia received him from Rhea in order to nurse him and rear him to manhood. Bringing him there, Rhea came at night first to Lyktos, and then, taking him in her arms, she put him in a cave under the holy earth, high up on mount Aigaion, in the thick forest. Then, she swaddled a great stone, and put it in the arms of Ouranos' son, Kronos, who, having taken it from her, sent it down into his stomach, the hardhearted wretch. He didn't know what was to happen, that his son, replaced by the stone, still living, would depose his father and become king of the gods.
Zeus rapidly grew, becoming stronger and glorious, and, the circling year having come to completion, great Kronos, clever deviser but dupe of Gaia's advice, sent up his children again, for he was defeated by the trickery and force of his son.
First, he was forced to spew up the stone - he had swallowed it last - and this was placed by Zeus in the wide earth at holy Pytho, down in the hollow beneath Mount Parnassus, as a sign and marvel for mortals.
Frazer's Comment ::
Kronos and Rhea produce a triad of females and a triad of males. The first female, Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, is a vague figure about whom there is very little mythology. Demeter, the second female, is the goddess of the grain; she is married to Zeus, by whom she produces Persephone (912ff.). The third female, Hera, becomes the last wife of Zeus, by whom she produces Hebe, Ares, and Eileithyia (921ff.).
The first male is Hades, the king of the Underworld; his name is often used to stand for the Underworld itself. The second male, Poseidon, is the god of the sea and the waters under the earth; he is called the Shaker of Earth because he sometimes causes earthquakes. Zeus, who is the greatest of the gods, surpassing all others in wisdom and power, holds the last and most important position. His power is made manifest by his thunderbolts, which he obtains from the Kyklopes [cyclops] in the next section. With the birth of Zeus, Theog. reaches the goal toward which the preceding sections have been pointing. From now on he will dominate the stage as he defeats all his enemies and consolidates his government in the final events of the Succession Myth.
The story of the birth of the gods has several parallels with that of the birth of the Titans. Kronos and Ouranos both try to supress their children and so cause their wives great pain, but finally their youngest sons take vengeance upon them and drive them from power. The two stories are closely connected by the theme of vengeance. We remember that the Erinyes (furies), who are spirits of vengeance, spring up from the blood of Ouranos's castration.
Greek civilization was greatly influenced by earlier Minoan civilization on Krete (Crete), and the Greek Zeus was identified with a Minoan god of vegetation who was thought of as dying and being born again every year. Thus Krete became the birthplace of Zeus. Some Greeks also spoke of a tomb of Zeus on Krete, but most found this impossible to believe, for Zeus was immortal. Plutarch (Moralia 153F) tells how, at the funeral games of Amphidamas, Homer challenged Hesiod with the following words:
Muse, tell me such things as never have happened before and never will happen in future.
To which Hesiod answered:
But when horses with clattering hoofs run their course around Zeus's tomb and shatter their chariots striving for victory.
It was for this answer, Plutarch says, that Hesiod was awarded the prize of the tripod-cauldron. Although this story is probably apocryphal, it is a good illustration of the fact that most Greeks, and certainly Hesiod, believed in the immortality of Zeus. There never had been and never would be a tomb of Zeus on Krete or anywhere else. There never would be a funeral games, such as the race with horse and chariot, held in his honor.
When Zeus has forced Kronos to spew up the stone along with his brothers and sisters, he sets it up at Pytho (an ancient name for Delphi) to be a memorial of his victory. It was a common practice for victors, whether in war or at the Panhellenic games, to set up tokens of their victory at Delphi for all the world to see.
heyheyhey, a short one!