THE CREATION

According to Greek mythology, in the beginning, there was only chaos. Erebus and Night emanated from this void and everything was empty, dark and silent. When Love was born, it brought order into this endless chaos. Light and Gaea (Earth) originated from Love while Ether, the heavenly light and Day, the earthly light were born from the union of Erebus and Night. All by herself, Night created the things that create fear and haunt mankind. They were Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams and Nemesis. And Gaea on her own created Uranus, which is the sky.

Uranus embraced Gaea from all sides and became her husband. They then gave birth to three Cyclopes, three Hecatoncheires and twelve Titans. Sadly, Uranus was a cruel father. He imprisoned the Hecatoncheires to the darkest corner of Earth which was Gaea’s womb. Infuriated by this act, Gaea plotted against her husband and decided to punish him for this act with the help of her children. She created a flint sickle and asked her children to attack their father. All of them were too timid and did not want to enrage their father – all except the youngest Titan, Cronus.

With the help of Cronus, Gaea set up an ambush and they were able to castrate Uranus with the sickle and Cronus threw the genitals in the ocean. The myths do not throw any light on Uranus’ fate after the castration but it is said that he promised that Cronus and the Titans will be punished for their deed. Uranus’ blood that was spilled on Earth during the attack gave birth to the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinnyes. Aphrodite was born from the sea foam that was produced when Uranus’ genitals were casted into the sea.

After imprisoning the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires in Tartarus, Cronus ruled for many ages. He married his sister Rhea but he was afraid that his parents’ prophesy may come true. Both Uranus and Gaea had prophesied that Cronus’ eventual doom is written in the hands of one of his sons. In an attempt to overcome this prophecy, Cronus swallowed all his children when they were born. Saddened and exasperated by the fate of her children, Rhes plotted against Cronus and when it was time for her sixth child to be born, she hid herself and gave the child to the nymphs to be raised. She then wrapped a stone in swaddling cloth and gave it to Cronus who swallowed it.

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Raised by the nymphs, this child was named Zeus. He grew up into a handsome and brave youth at the island of Crete. He plotted to kill his father and avenge his siblings and for this he consulted Metis who prepared a drink which would make him vomit the children he had swallowed. Cronus accepted his son Zeus as a cup-bearer when Rhea told him that he was alive and convinced him to bring their son back. Zeus took advantage of this opportunity to serve Cronus the potion prepared by Metis. The five children came out of their father unharmed because they were Gods. They were appreciative of their younger’s brother’s courage and chose him as their leader.

Angered by Zeus’ actions, Cronus – who was yet to be defeated – sought the help of the Titans to rule once again. All the Titans except Prometheus, Epimetheus and Oceanus fought along with Cronus. This battle between the Titans and the Olympians is known as Titanomachy. Atlas led the Titans against Zeus and the young Gods and they seemed to be in a position to overpower the Olympians, but Zeus’ wit helped the Olympians win the battle. He went to Tartarus and rescued the imprisoned Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires. Prometheus – one of the Titans – joined the battle taking Zeus’ side. With stronger allies, Zeus was victorious and he exiled the all the Titans except Atlas to Tartarus. Atlas’ punishment was that he had to hold the universe on his shoulders.

Gaea was not happy to hear about the imprisonment of her children, and so she gave birth to Typhon who is considered to be the deadliest monster in Greek mythology. Zeus was the only God brave enough to face Typhon. He used his lightning bolts and killed the monster that is known to be buried under Mount Etna in Sicily.

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Since Prometheus and Epimetheus had not joined the opposing forces during the Titanomachy, Zeus did not imprison them. Instead, the two Titans were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man in the form of the Gods out of mud and Athena breathed life into the mud figure. Epimetheus gave the creatures various qualities like looks, cunningness, strength, nimbleness, wings and fur. In wanting to give the creatures all the great qualities, he realized that he did not have anything left by the time he came to man, so Prometheus decided to give man fire which was till then limited to the Gods.

Prometheus’ love for mankind was far more than that for the Olympians who had banished most of his family. Zeus took away fire from man but Prometheus brought it back for them by lighting a torch from the sun. Enraged by Prometheus’ affection for mankind, Zeus decided to punish them. To do so he created a beautiful mortal and the Olympians gave her many gifts of wealth. But to punish man, Hermes gave the mortal a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. She was the first woman and her name was Pandora. The Gods gave her one last gift which was a box, but she was forbidden from opening it. Zeus sent her to Epimetheus who had chosen to live among men.

Prometheus had cautioned is brother to not accept any gifts from Zeus, but Pandora’s mesmerizing beauty charmed Epimetheus who let her stay. Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her and one day she finally opened the forbidden box and ended up releasing all evils upon Earth. By the time she closed the lid, the only thing that was left in the box was hope. Having had his revenge on mankind, Zeus also wanted to punish Prometheus and so he had him chained to a rock on Caucasus Mountains with unbreakable chains. There, a giant eagle tore at his liver every day for thirty years. Zeus told Prometheus that he would be released from the torment if he told Zeus who was the mother of the child who would overthrow him or if an immortal died in Prometheus’ stead and a mortal killed the eagle and unchained him. Prometheus was released when Chiron the centaur gave up his life for Prometheus and Heracles killed the eagle to unchain him.

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This is how Gods and men were created according to Greek mythology. The Gods were very much like human when it came to physical structure, looks and emotions. Each of the Gods expressed feelings like anger, jealousy, love, joy just like the humans. They had their own limitations and their own weaknesses. They were not portrayed as ideal figures, their flaws were described as vividly as their strengths. They represented each side of human nature and their perception of justice was from their own point of view. Every God had their own realm, and many of them had children with mortals too. These children often reflected additional powers like Heracles. Zeus was the ruler of the Gods and he was omnipotent and he ruled all the realms.

Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Greek Mythology.