Ancient Greek Gods       

One way to better understand the minds of people from ancient Greece, is to better understand their religion. While you may already have a good idea in this field, we can go over very quickly, picking up valuable clues to points we would like to make.

Hesiod in his poem the 'Theogony'[1] tells us the linerage of the gods.

In the beginning       

Chaos rules, there is nothingness. There is no explanation on how or even why things start to happen.

First generation of Gods; the Giants.

Chaos then arose Gaia [2](the earth, Terra in Latin) and she in turn brought forth Ouranos (sky, Uranus in Latin) to cover her. They mate and often, producing a multitude of children, including many monsters

Included in their many children are three terrible, hundred-handed monsters with fifty heads, they are known collectivley as the 'hundred handers'. As well as giving birth to a group of gods collectivley known as the 'Titans', including the youngest amongst them Kronos (time, Cronos in Latin).

Ouranos being prophociesed that he will be dethroned by one of this children comes up with the idea to stuff them back inside their mother, or in other words he buried them deep in earth, in a place called Tartarus, a place far below Hades (Hell).

Their mother Gaia having her children stuffed back inside her uses the minerals she has deep in her to create a sickle and asks one of her children to stand forth and resist their father, only the Titan Kronos agrees.

When Ouranos next visits Gaia, Kronos uses the sickle and castrats his father. Thereby servering earth from sky, and allows the other Titans to escape. The other children the hundred handers remain in the bowels of the earth still.

Kronos throws the castrated genitals into the sea and from them is born the goddess, Aphroditie (love, Venus in Latin). Who is therefore the 'oldest' of the Olympian Gods.


Second generation of Gods; The Titans in the golden age    

Kronos having unseated his father, ushers in the next generation of gods, he marries his sister Rea, and they have many children too. Kronos, just like his father, is also told that he is doomed to be overthrown by one of his children. Not wanting to follow his fathers folly, everytime Rea has a child instead of stuffing the child back into their mother, Kronos stuffs the child into his mouth, and swollows each one whole.

Rea conspires with her mother, Gaia, to save the youngest of her children, the newly born Zeus (life), by giving Kronos a rock rapt in a babies blanket, and Kronos, not being any the wise, swollows the rock whole, believing it to be his youngest son.

Zeus is raised far from the prying eyes of his father on Crete, when he comes of age. He confronts his father and somehow gets him to vomit forth all of Zeus' brothers and sisters.

Even from here we can start to detect a pattern, first Ouranos and then Kronos are shows to be brutal and forcefull, getting their way through physical domination. Females on the other hand are cunning, decitful, clever. Often getting their way through cooperation with others. In particular, mothers have influence over their children, allowing them to gang up together to overthrow the father.

Clash of the Titans 

Battle of the Gods

The new generation of gods lead by Zeus, fought the Titans on and on for years, victory is uncertain. Until Zeus does something unprecedented. Taking a page from the females in his family he consipres with others, he makes a deal, he uses diplomacy. The deal he does is with the hundred handers, still buried deep in Tartarus, he agrees to get them out of imprisonment in the earth, if only they will help in the battle with the Titans.


The hundred handers agree and with their help they do indeed beat the Titans. The defeated Titans were then cast into that shadowy underworld region known as Tartarus and the hundred handers award Zeus the gift of lightning, the ultimate power, for their new found freedom.


Gaia resented the way Zeus had treated the Titans, because they were her children. Soon after taking the throne as king of the gods, Zeus had to fight some of Gaia's other children, the monsters Typhon and Echidna. He vanquished Typhon and trapped him under a mountain, but left Echidna and her children alive. And with this Zeus establishes himself not only just as a leader of the Olympian Gods, but as a individual champion, just like a olympic champion.

Third generation of Gods; the Olympians   

But still there was danger, the shadowy presence of inevidibility still cast down over Zeus' reign, he knew all too well what was the downfall of his predecessors. The wife of the current sitting god had always conspired to plot with her children to overthrow, not only the sitting god, but all gods, and usher in a new generation of gods.


Artwork: Athena leaps from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed—with a shout, "and pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war. And Ouranos trembled to hear, and Mother Gaia..." ( Pindar , Seventh Olympian Ode ).

Zeus' first consort Matis (the greek word for cleverness or cunning. Can we see were this is going?), becomes pregnant, but then Zeus does his predecesors one better, he swollows down his pregnant wife, baby and all!

Later on Zeus, gives birth to his child Athena (wisdom). We are told that Athena is born 'fully formed, from Zeus' head'. The obvious connection between the birth directly from the head of Zeus, to the godess of wisdom, is clear.

These are dramatic developments.

Firstly: Zeus has incorporated into himself the very things that had allowed women to get the better of men, by ingesting cunning personified. He now has gained the advantage of what women had over men. Cunning, diplomacy etc.

Secondly: Zeus a male has distincted himself from all other males, he now has shown he has the ability of a woman to give birth. Indeed the word ‘Zeus' means ‘life', the feminine equivalent of Zeus is Zoe, both mean life.

After the first two generations of gods, who were in continual turmoil and constant lack of stability, here now in the third generation of gods a leader with no appartant weakness, who can be dethroned by none.

Zeus had firmly set himself up as tyrant of the Olympian gods, there are none now who dare to challenge him. He has proven himself an Olympic champion, all are in awe of his presence. With thunderbolts at his command and his history of victories he governs by fear and respect.

These too are the characteristics that we find the human tyrants governing ancient Greece . Respect, cunning, diplomacy, fear and power. This is what the hoplites of ancient Greece had grown up with.

With the above knowledge as a guide, we get to understand more the minds and thought processes of the ancient Greeks. For instance, the Athenian statesmen Pericles was called by his own citizens as 'Pericles the Olympian', and many today rightly perceive it to have meant that he was like an Olympic athlete, a champion. But by grasping the above we get to understand it even further what they were referring to; respect, cunning, diplomacy, fear and power, terms we do not associate with athletes.

Fourth generation of God   

It has been argued that even though Hesiod's story ends with the Olympian Gods, a fourth generation takes place. In short, instead of an offspring of Zeus' finally overthrowing his father. The end of the third generation is done when Zeus 'decides' to 'merge' (destroy?) with all the Olympic Gods, to become one God, The God.


[1] 'Theo' means god and 'gony' means seed. In general terms it means 'birth of the gods'.

[2] 'Γῆ' is how Gaia is spelt in modern Greek. It is also where the root of the English 'Geo' comes from. Thus, it's connection to earth, as in 'Geography' and 'Geology' and many others. The name 'George', who's definition is 'earth-worker' or 'farmer', has it's beginning 'Geo', linked to the Greek Goddess of Earth, Gaia.


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