Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Rise of Zeus

Zeus Obtains the Kyklopes' (the Cyclops) Thunderbolts

And he loosed from their terrible bonds his father's brothers,
the children of Ouranos, who in his madness had kept them in bondage.
And in return for this kindness they showed themselves grateful to him by
giving him both the crash of the thunder and the smoldering bolt and
[505]flash of lightening - these until then huge Gaia had hidden -
which are the weapons Zeus uses to rule all immortals and mortals.

Zeus released his father's brothers from their bonds. These children of Ouranos, who were kept in bondage because he wasn't himself. In return for their freedom, and to show their gratitude for his kindness, they gave him the crash of the thunder and the burning bolt and flash of the lightening (Gaia had these hidden until then). These are the weapons that Zeus uses to rule all immortals and mortals.

Frazer's Comment ::

It is not clear that this passage is concerned only with the Kyklopes, and not with the Hundred-Handers as well, until the thunder and lightening are mentioned. Perhaps this confusion is intentional. The present section and that in which the Hundred-Handers are freed, can be thought of as framing the very important next section that deals with the fate of man and shows that no other power is able to outsmart Zeus.
The thunderbolt, by means of which Zeus will defeat the Titans and Typhoeus, was for the ancient Greeks a frightening proof of his power. In later antiquity the philosophers were eager to explain thunder and lightening and natural phenomena in order to liberate men from the fear of the gods.

Zeus Outwits Prometheus. The Maleficent Sons of Iapetos.

And Iapetos took as his wife a trim-ankled girl, Klymene,
one of the daughters of Okeanos, and went with her into their bed.
And she produced four sons: strong-hearted, enduring Atlas;
[510]Menoitios, who was swollen with arrogance; forethoughtful Prometheus,
cunning and devious-minded; and erring-in-thought Epimetheus,
who from the first was an evil for men who are eaters of bread,
being the first to receive from Zeus, when she had been fashioned,
woman, the maiden. Hybristic Menoitios was cast into Erebos by
[515]far-seeing Zeus, who hurled a smoldering bolt against him,
that he might pay for his blindness of heart and towering arrogance.
And Atlas is forced to sustain the burden of broad heaven,
standing at earth's end before the clear-voiced Hesperides,
using his head and the weariless power of his arms to support it;
[520]this is the fate that Zeus of the Counsels apportioned to him.
And in fast bondage he bound Prometheus, the devious planner,
whipping the painful bindings over a column at midpoint,
and against him sent a long-winged eagle to feed on his liver,
which was immortal; but whatever this long-winged bird ate
[525]during the day grew during the night again to perfection.
This evil plague of a bird was finally slain by Herakles,
the lovely-ankled Alkmene's valiant son, who kept it from
further attacks on Iapetos's son and freed him from pains.
This it was willed by Zeus the Olympian, the ruler on high,
[530]so that the glory of Herakles, the Theban-born hero's renown,
might be greater than even before on the life-giving earth.
So by this honor Zeus showed his regard for his glorious son,
relenting, though angry still, from his earlier wrath at Prometheus's
matching wits with himself, the mighty son of Kronos.

Iapetos married Klymene, a beautiful girl and a daughter of Okeanos. She gave birth to four sons: enduring Atlas, arrogant Menoitios, devious Prometheus, and erring Epimetheus, who was from the first an evil for men. Evil because Epimetheus was the one to receive Woman (Pandora) from Zeus.
Too-proud Menoitios was cast into the darkness by Zeus, who hurled a lightening bolt against him, to make Menoitios pay for his blind heart and his incredible arrogance. 
Atlas was forced to hold up broad Heaven, standing at the end of the Earth, in front of the singing Hesperides, using his head and powerful arms to support it.
In tight chains Zeus bound Prometheus, the devious planner, wrapping the chains around a great column at it's middle, and Zeus set an eagle to feed on Prometheus' liver. Because Prometheus was immortal, so too was his liver, so whatever the eagle ate during the day would grow back during the night, and the bird would return at first light to begin his feast again. 
This plague of a bird was finally slain by Hercules, Alkmene's valiant son, who kept the bird from attacking Iapetos' son and freed him from pains. This, Zeus willed, so that the glory of Hercules, the hero's renown, would be even greater on the Earth than before. By this honor, Zeus showed his high regard for his glorious son, relenting, though still angry, from his wrath at Prometheus for matching of wits with himself, the mighty son of Kronos.

Frazer's Comment ::

This passage brings to an end the genealogy of the Titans. Iapetos's sons are all in some way punished by Zeus. Of special importance to Hesiod because of their connection with the creation of woman are Prometheus, "The Forethinker"; and Epimetheus, "The After-Thinker".
Prometheus is treated as a very unsympathetic character who is deservedly punished for trying to outwit Zeus. He is bound to a column, and an eagle is sent to feed on his liver. The place of his binding is probably in the Caucasus mountains, and so he is situated out in the east, apparantly balancing Atlas who holds up the sky out in the west. Although Zeus permits Herakles to slay the eagle, nothing is said about the release of Prometheus, and, as West points out, Hesiod seems to imagine his bondage as an eternal punishment.

wow, another fairly short one! my fingers can take that. ^___^