Origins of Greek gods #
Precis of Hesiod’s Theogeny – The origins of the gods Muses who dwell in the house of Olympus, and tell me which of them first came to be. In truth at first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, (115 – 120)
First Coup d’état #
The Earth mother is impregnated by the sky father (Uranus) who each night comes down to envelop her.
Ouraneus suppresses all his children in Gaia – the earth – underworld.
(Earth Mother) “My children, gotten of a sinful father, (Erebus – night) if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.”
(Cronos) agrees to cut off his father’s testicles, throws them into the sea and out of the foam springs Aphrodite. The blood splattered on the Earth bore the strong Erinyes (The Furies) and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands to revenge the death of all blood relatives.
St Paul, educated by the Greeks, acknowledges the parallels in: Romans 8:
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope. 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Eros, and comely Desire followed Aphrodite at her birth. Rhea was subject in love to Cronos and bore splendid children, Hestia,1 Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth, and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, and wise Zeus, father of gods and men, by whose thunder the wide earth is shaken.
These great Cronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother’s knees with this intent, that no other of the proud sons of Heaven should hold the kingly office amongst the deathless gods. Unceasing grief seized Rhea. But when she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods and men, she devised a plan to conceal his birth. She went to Lyctus, a cave in Crete, where she gave birth to Zeus. When Cronus asked for him, she gave a great stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then he took it in his hands and thrust it down into his belly. When Zeus was fully developed, he overthrew Cronus. They gave Cronus an emetic and he brought up all the offspring he had swallowed.
Zeus the aegis-holder, and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals, and the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athena, and Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon the earth holder who shakes the earth, and revered Themis, and quick-glancing Aphrodite, and great Helius, and bright Selene, Earth, too, and great Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other deathless ones that are for ever.
And one day they taught Hesiod glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis: “Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.” ………. The goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. The Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder (shield). In Pieria did Mnemosyne, - Memory, who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bore nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song, (Muses) and whose spirit is free from care, a little way from the top-most peak of snowy Olympus. ……..
Golden Age #
In the very beginning, a Golden Generation of shining-faced humans was made by the immortals who abide in Olympian homes. They were in the time of Kronos, when he was king over the sky.
They lived like gods, having a thūmos (heart/conscience) without anxieties, without labor and woe. Nor did wretched old age weigh upon them. Their feet and hands did not change, and they had good times at feasts, exempt from all evils.
And when they died, it was as if they were overcome by sleep. All manner of good things belonged to them. And the grain-giving [root] earth, without prompting, bore produce aplenty. And they, placidly and in serenity lived off their fields, amidst much material wealth.
They were rich in flocks, philoi to the blessed gods. And they [= the Golden Generation of humankind] are superhumans.
They exist because of the Will of Zeus. They are the good, the earthbound, the guardians of mortal humans. They guard acts of justice [dikē] and they guard against wretched acts of evil.
Enveloped in mist, they roam everywhere throughout the earth. They are givers of prosperity. And they had this as a privilege, a kingly one. Hesiod’s Theogeny (110 – 125)
On Women and Men #
Zeus made women to be an evil to mortal men, with a nature to do evil. And he gave them a second evil to be the price for the good they had: whoever avoids marriage and the sorrows that women cause, and will not wed, reaches deadly old age without anyone to tend his years, and though he at least has no lack of livelihood while he lives, yet, when he is dead, his kinsfolk divide his possessions amongst them. And as for the man who chooses the lot of marriage and takes a good wife suited to his mind, evil continually contends with good; for whoever happens to have mischievous children, lives always with unceasing grief in his spirit and heart within him; and this evil cannot be healed. So, it is not possible to deceive or go beyond the will of Zeus.
Hesiod’s description of high summer as the season when women are most attractive and men in turn weakest (Works and Days) 586
“Women! This coin, which men find counterfeit! Why, why, Lord Zeus, did you put them in the world, in the light of sun? If you were so determined to breed the race of men, the source of it should not have been women. . . .”
Second Coup d’état The Olympian Lightning god (Zeus) called all the deathless gods to great Olympus, and said that whosoever of the gods would fight with him against the Titans, he would not cast him out from his rights, but each should have the office which he had before amongst the deathless gods.
And he declared that he who was without office or right under Cronos, should be raised to both office and rights as is just.
All that were born of Cronos together with those dread, mighty ones of overwhelming strength whom Zeus brought up to the light from Erebus beneath the earth. A hundred arms sprang from the shoulders of all alike, and each had fifty heads growing from his shoulders upon stout limbs. These, then, stood against the Titans in grim strife, holding huge rocks in their strong hands. And on the other part the Titans eagerly strengthened their ranks, and both sides at one time showed the work of their hands and their might. The boundless sea rang terribly around, and the earth crashed loudly: wide Heaven was shaken and groaned, and high Olympus reeled from its foundation under the charge of the undying gods, and a heavy quaking reached dim Tartarus and the deep sound of their feet in the fearful onset and of their hard missiles. So, then, they launched their grievous shafts upon one another, and the cry of both armies as they shouted reached to starry heaven; and they met together with a great battle-cry.
Then Zeus no longer held back his might; but straight his heart was filled with fury and he showed forth all his strength. From Heaven and from Olympus he came immediately, hurling his lightning: the bolts flew thick and fast from his strong hand together with thunder and lightning, whirling an awesome flame.
All the people look towards Zeus while he settles causes with true judgements: and he, speaking surely, would soon make wise end even of a great quarrel; for therefore are there princes wise in heart, because when the people are being misguided in their assembly, they set right the matter again with ease, persuading them with gentle words.
Also, she (Earth) bore the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates, Clotho, who spins the thread of man’s life; Lachesis assigns to each man his destiny; and Atropos is the “Fury with the abhorred shears.” who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty?
Also, deadly Night bore Nemesis Indignation to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife.
Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh.
Typhaon the terrible, outrageous and lawless, was joined in love to her, Orthus the hound of Geryones,
Cerberus who eats raw flesh, the brazen-voiced hound of Hades, fifty-headed, relentless and strong. Generally shown as 3 headed.
The evil-minded Hydra of Lerna, who grows a new head each time one is cut off.
Chimaera who breathed raging fire, a creature fearful, great, swift footed and strong, who had three heads, one of a grim-eyed lion, another of a goat, and another of a snake, a fierce dragon; in her forepart she was a lion; in her hinder part, a dragon; and in her middle, a goat, breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire.
The deadly Sphinx which destroyed the Cadmeans, and the Nemean lion,
Iapetus (a Titan) took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed. And she bore him a stout-hearted son, Atlas, glorious Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus who from the first was a mischief to men who eat bread. Atlas upholds the wide heaven with unwearying head and arms.
Ready-witted Prometheus he bound with inextricable bonds, cruel chains, and drove a shaft through his middle, and set on him a long-winged eagle, which used to eat his immortal liver; but by night the liver grew as much again everyway as the long-winged bird devoured in the whole day.
EPIMETHEUS was the Titan god of afterthought and excuses. He and his brother Prometheus were given the task of populating the earth with animals and men. However, Epimetheus quickly exhausted the supply of gifts allotted for the task in the equipment of animals, leaving Prometheus’ masterpiece, mankind, completely helpless. As a result, the Titan brother was forced to steal fire from heaven to arm them. Zeus was angered by this theft and ordered the creation of Pandora, the first woman, as a means to deliver evil into the house of man. Despite the warnings of his brother, Epimetheus happily received her as his bride, but as soon as she arrived, she lifted the lid of a jar entrusted her by the gods, releasing a plague of harmful daimones (spirits) to trouble mankind. Only Hope (Elpis) remained behind to succour the unfortunate race.
Now Zeus, king of the gods, made Metis his wife first, and she was wisest among gods and mortal men. But when she was about to bring forth the goddess bright-eyed Athena, Zeus craftily deceived her with cunning words and put her in his own belly, as Earth and starry Heaven advised.
Next he married bright Themis who bore the Horae Hours, and Eunomia (Order), Dikë Justice, and blooming Eirene（Peace, who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moerae Fates to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honor.
And the silver-shod goddess Thetis was subject to Peleus and brought forth lion-hearted Achilles, the destroyer of men. And Cytherea with the beautiful crown was joined in sweet love with the hero Anchises and bore Aeneas on the peaks of Ida with its many wooded glens. And Circe the daughter of Helius, Hyperion’s son, loved steadfast Odysseus.
 the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis: “Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.” Come you, let us begin with the Muses who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spreads abroad, Then next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus, —the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder. Them in Pieria did Mnemosyne （Memory）, who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came around as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bore nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song, and whose spirit is free from care, a little way from the top-most peak of snowy Olympus. Here are their bright dancing places and beautiful homes, and beside them the Graces and Himerus Desire live in delight. And they, uttering through their lips a lovely voice, sing the laws of all and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely voice. Then went they to Olympus, delighting in their sweet voice, with heavenly song, and the dark earth resounded about them as they chanted and a lovely sound rose up beneath their feet as they went to their father. And he was reigning in heaven, himself holding the lightning and glowing thunderbolt, when he had overcome by might his father Cronos; and he distributed fairly to the immortals their portions and declared their privileges.  These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus,
Cleio of history Euterpe of lyric poetry Thaleia, of comedy and idyllic poetry. Melpomene of Chorus and Tragedy Terpsichore of lyric poetry and dancing Erato of desire or lovely - Eros Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, sacred hymn, dance Urania of astronomy - mother of Linus the musician Calliope, the chiefest of them all - Muse of the Epics. Lines 47 - 78