Greek Prehistory

Greek Prehistory

From out of the primordial Chaos rose Gaea the earth and Uranos the sky. Uranos ruled the universe, Gaea birthed many children for him, and natural creatures arose from her fertile body to populate the world. Her first children were the titans, great majestic beings taller than mountains, six of them male and six female, and both parents were proud of their first offspring. Her next three children were the one-eyed cyclopes, ugly in form but gifted in smithing. Her next three children were even more monstrous—the hecatoncheires, fifty-headed and hundred-armed. Uranos looked upon the cyclopes and hecatoncheires with disgust and hurled them into Tartarus, the deepest pit under the earth.

Gaea was saddened at Uranos’ behavior, for she loved all of her children, and presented a sickle made of flint to the titans, asking them to make an end to Uranos. Cronus, the youngest but strongest titan, overcame his fear and attacked his father, castrating him and leaving him powerless. Cronus threw his father’s genitals into the sea and became the new lord of the universe. He left the cyclopes and hecatoncheires in Tartarus, and this angered Gaea. She plotted against Cronus just as she had against his father, knowing that one of Cronus’ sons would be stronger than Cronus just as the titan was stronger than his own father. Cronus knew this truth, too, so every time his wife Rhea gave birth, he swallowed the child. Rhea mourned her lost children, and when the sixth was born she hid the boy and instead gave Cronus a stone swaddled in cloth, which he swallowed.

Spirited away by agents of Gaea, the infant Zeus was raised by gentle nymphs and fed on ambrosia and nectar, the food and drink of the gods. When he was fully grown, he conspired with Metis, goddess of prudence and daughter of the titan Oceanus. Metis tricked Cronus into eating a magical herb, which caused him to vomit up his swallowed children, who (being immortal) had survived and matured in their father’s stomach. These children were Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera, each gods or goddesses in their own right. Cronus couldn’t stand against the power of the six gods and was cast into Tartarus. Zeus became the new lord of the universe. The titans revolted, refusing to bow down to the young gods, and there was war in the heavens. Zeus freed the cyclopes, who forged mighty weapons for the gods, and the hecatoncheires, who were as strong as the titans. With these allies, the gods defeated the titans, and Zeus imprisoned his enemies in Tartarus, with the hecatoncheires guarding the gates. Gaea became angry that now her beautiful children were imprisoned in Tartarus, so she brought forth Typhon and Echidna, two terrible monsters to defeat the gods and release the titans.

After a massive battle that destroyed much of the earth, Zeus imprisoned Typhon under a mountain and Echidna fled. Zeus allowed her to survive and care for her hideous offspring, knowing that they would make fine challenges for future mortal heroes. With these last monsters defeated, Gaea ceased her protests, and she and the gods rebuilt the world. The gods had children with each other and with the children of titans, ruled over mankind from their great palace on Mount Olympus, and got into disagreements and schemes with each other and mortals about many and various things.

Greek Prehistory

Mythic Greece johnnynapalm