Greek mythology: Gaia’s revenge

Gaia the Earth Mother

Gaia – Public Domain

In Greek mythology Gaia  appeared out of Chaos and was the primal Mother Goddess who gave birth to the Earth and the universe.  According to some sources she was seen as the personification of the Earth and the mother of all.

Ouranos the god of the skies

Ouranos was the personification of the sky or the heavens in Greek mythology and is also known by his Latinized name of Uranus. He was also known as Father Sky.  Sources differ but  Hesiod in his work Theogony says that Gaia was his mother while other sources say his father was Aether.

Gaia gave birth to Ouranos who became the sky crowned with stars and of equal splendor to her and made so as to fully cover her. She then created the mountains and the sea. After the universe had been formed the next task was to populate it.

The birth of the Titans

Ouranos was not only her son but her husband too. Gaia united with Ouranos to give birth to the twelve Titans, six male and six female and the first race upon the earth. Their sons names were Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus and Cronus, and their daughters names were Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe and Tethys.

The birth of the Cyclops

Ouranos and Gaia then produced the Cyclops, who were named Brontes, Steropes and Arges. These were giants with one eye in their foreheads and who possessed incredible strength.

The birth of Briareus, Cottus and Gyes

Their next offspring were three monsters who each had one hundred powerful arms and fifty heads. They were known as the Hecatonchires, or the Centimanes, and their names were Briareus, Cottus and Gyes.

Ouranos regarded his children with horror and revulsion and was also thought to be fearful of their strength, and possibly usurping him. As soon as they were born he imprisoned them in  the earth, which was inside Gaia who was the Earth goddess.

Gaia’s revenge

Victory, Janus, Chronos, and Gaea – by Giulio Romano – Public Domain

Gaia was distraught at this, and feeling great sorrow for her children and great pain for herself planned vengeance against Ouranos. From her bosom she manifested a sharp sickle and asked her children to join in with a plan she had made to set them free and wreak vengeance. The plan was to castrate Ouranos when he visited her at night. Only Cronus agreed to help her and she gave him the sickle.

When evening fell Ouranos returned to rejoin Gaia. While Ouranos was asleep, Cronus and Gaia mutilated him, cutting off his genitals and throwing them in the sea. From the blood that seeped from the terrible wound onto the earth sprang the Furies, the Giants and the ash-tree nymphs. From what was thrown into the sea the goddess of love and desire, known as Aphrodite, was born.

Cronus becomes king of the gods

With Ouranos now impotent and the sky separated from the earth, Cronus liberated his fellow Titans, but not the Cyclops and Hecatonchires, and became king of the gods. Later he too was to be deposed by his son Zeus, who became the chief god of the Greek Pantheon.

References and attributions

Copyright 25/03/2015 zteve t evans

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Greek mythology: The Moirai

In Classical Greek mythology the description of the Moirai differs from age to age and also with location. They vary in number from one to four. This discussion is based on the account of the Greek poet, Hesiod who was believed to have lived in the eighth century BC.

It was the task of the Moirai to shadow human beings from birth to death throughout their mortal, physical life on earth. They take the form of three old women spinning out the threads of each person’s life on earth.

Fates_tapestry

Their names were: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos and when death approaches, it is their task is to ensure that and the natural order is preserved and a person’s fate is meted out accordingly. They are believed to sing in harmony with the Sirens when death approaches and were also known as the Fates.

Clotho represents the thread of life that begins at the birth of a mortal and is the spinner of that thread and sings of those things that are.

Lachesis was the dealer of lots. Through her people were given their chances in life and it was up to them to make the best of it. It was she who measured the thread of life. She sings of the things that were.

Atropos is the smallest and most fearsome of the three and represented the irrevocable fate that awaits a person and in the end there can be no appeal. It was she who cut the thread of life at a mortal’s death. She sings of the things that will be.

The lives of all living things were presided over by the Moirai. They apportioned everyone their share of good and evil at birth. The manner in which they conducted their lives could change the allotted portions of good and evil.

Not even the gods could change fate and if Zeus alone had such power he was reluctant to use it to disturb the natural order of the world.

The only time the Moirai were foiled in their task was by the physician, Asclepius, the son of Apollo, who revived a man, bringing him back from death. The Moirai then persuaded Zeus to kill Asclepius with a thunderbolt.

Just as the Moirai were the delegates of Zeus to ensure the natural order was carried out the Keres task was to carry out the decrees of the Moirai, and were sometimes confused with them. It was the Keres who appeared at the final hour of a mortal’s life to ensure death.

It was believed that during battles they could be seen hovering over the doomed mortal ready to ensure his fate was complete. They killed the wounded and drank their blood and were also known as the dogs of Hades.

In Greek, the word moira means a part, or portion, and it was the Moirai who decided a mortal’s portion in life at their birth and followed their life to ensure destiny was fulfilled. The Moirai also had the gift of prophecy and were honoured among the gods sitting in their assemblies and giving advice on the destinies of mortals.

Their myth is perhaps best seen as a way to describe the fate of mortal human beings and to try and make some sense out of the human cycle of life and the ultimate destiny of death.

Copyright July 7, 2009 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright July 7, 2009 zteve t evans