Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Moments in Greek Mythology- The Titanomachy Part 3 ( Now I have a Lightning Bolt Ho-Ho-Ho)

What better way to celebrate the holidays than to finish the epic power struggle between a tyrannical cannibal Titan and his upstart offspring? No? Well by the end of this post I'll prove to you that there is a strong connection between Mad Titan and Christmas. First a quick recap of the events leading to this war.

After castrating his own father and taking over the world with his brothers and sisters, Cronus decided to marry his sister Rhea as all good royalty is supposed to do. Well once he heard that she was going to have a kid, realized that he had to worry about the prophecy his father gargled out from his death throes. That prophecy being that as usual history would repeat itself and that Cronus would be taken out by his own offspring. Unwilling to accept fate (a recurring theme in Greek Mythology), Cronus decided the best course of action to stop this would be to devour his children as soon as they were born.

This worked for five kids, but Rhea got fed up for sacrificing her children to her husband and their mother, Gaea, was pretty angry that Cronus had not fulfilled his end of the bargain in releasing his brothers from the hellish domains of Tartarus. So she gave Rhea a rock dressed in swaddling cloth and probably wearing Groucho Marx glasses and when the time came, she gave Cronus the rock baby and hid her child to grow up in a cave in Crete with a nymph, a troop of loud soldiers, and a magical goat.

When the child named Zeus grew up he came to his father's palace on Mt. Othrys in an old man disguise (though since Cronus never thought his son escaped his stomach, why would he need a disguise) and was able to drug his father with a powerful Ipecac that caused him to vomit all the 5 children (and a fake rock child)  that had lived and grew up in their father's gut. Cronus, immediately seeing that his father's propecy was coming true, summoned his Titan allies and attacked his children. Unable to fight back, Zeus led his brothers and sisters out of the palace to reorganize and prepare for war.

Hmmm father is right about one thing at least, mountain tops are the best place to plop down a palace

Now that we are all caught up lets setup the players on this game of Divine Risk. On one side you had the establishment led by the Mad Titan himself Thanos I mean Cronus who commanded armies of Gigantes (Giants) and most of the 1st and 2nd generation of Titans. Then on the other side you had the new kids on the block who had their cool new base on Mount Olympus which was to the north of Mount Othrys and overlooked the plain of Thessaly where most of the war would be fought.

On the side of these Olympians (which you got to wonder why the Titans weren't called Othryians) you had their brave young commander Zeus who commanded his 5 siblings: Hera, Demeter, Hestia, Poseidon, and Hades, along with the titans Prometheus (whose whole deal is that he's foresighted), Epimetheus (who likes following whatever his brother says because he's shortsighted), and the sons of the Oceanid Clymene. Speaking of the Ocean, Oceanus decided to become Switzerland during all of this and stayed neutral for the whole war.

The battle raged on the plains of Thessaly for 10 long years (a recurring theme in Greek Mythology wars), but neither side was able to gain the edge. It was at this moment that Zeus realized that he should fulfill the promise that his father gave to his grandmother. But to do that, Zeus would have to go to the pits of hell itself.

Modern recreation of what Zeus sent to Cronus' doorstep

In the realm of Tartarus there was a giant prison that housed the odd sons of Gaea and Ouranos. You had the original Cyclops, three gigantic brothers with only one eye and the bizarre Hekatonkheires, another trio of three gigantic brothers except this time they had 100 hands and 50 heads. Cronus was not dumb though in leaving this prison unguarded, the jailkeeper that prevented Zeus from freeing them was a dragon-woman that was known as the "nymph of Tartarus".

She was Campe, the most loyal servant Cronus and merely calling her a half woman half dragon is doing a great disservice to the people who came up with the design of this monster (which probably ended up in both a pulp Conan the Barbarian rip off dime novel and a cheap D&D knockoff tabletop game). Yes her torso and head was that of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a classic reptilian dragon, but she also had the tail of a scorpion, snakes around her ankles, black wings on her back, fingernails that were like sickles, and oh 50 HEADS OF VARIOUS ANIMALS BUBBLING AROUND HER WAIST!!! She was basically a Chimera on steroids and this doesn't even account for the fact that she either duel wielded scimitars or carried a scythe. This abomination would be a tough opponent for Zeus to kill if he wanted to free his uncles to help him in his cause.

Now I wish there was some epic story about how Zeus was able to kill the warden of this prison by either intelligent or creative means, but nope apparently Zeus was just strong enough to kill Campe and release his uncles. With that disappointment comes with some great payoff though since now we get to the turning point of this war. For you see despite having one eye, it turns out the cyclops were really good craftsmen and for freeing them, they gave Zeus his mighty thunderbolts which made an already OP god even more overpowered (with no mods to nerf him even!!!). They also gave Hades his helm of invisibility and the bident which was the less popular version of a multi-pronged weapon because the cyclops brothers gave Poseidon his famous Earthquake causing Trident. (Another reoccurring theme about Greek Mythology is how miserable Hades becomes) Now with these weapons and allies, the Olympians stormed the plains of Thessaly for one last battle with their father's forces to defeat the tyrant.

Goddamn lightning spamming son of a bitch!!!

The final battle involved much throwing of lightning bolts and earthquakes and much chaos so it was a good thing that human civilization didn't exist yet (humanity wasn't invented at this point). But it was even these natural phenomena that humans would have to worry about. Because when you are gigantic and have 100 hands, it becomes really easy to rip off mountains from their base and just chuck it at your enemies who left you to rot in a flaming prison for what probably felt like eons. And boy did those hundred handers get tired from all their mountain throwing, which ultimately was the other deciding factor in the Olympian victory.

Finally after 10 years of hard fighting, the Olympians had fulfilled the prophecy of their grandfather, Cronus was dispose from his throne and was no longer in charge of the cosmos. No the world belong to the 6 Olympians. In the aftermath some of the titans found themselves in the same cells that the hundred-handers and cyclops found themselves in when they were shoved back into their mother by their sky father all those years ago. And like before Gaea wasn't pleased and had already begun scheming to take down her grandsons and granddaughters from power. Proving once again how much history repeats itself in a vicious cycle of violence and revolution in Greek Mythology (And sadly real life too).

But what became of Cronus? Well some sources say he died like his father (even also castrated by his son to add to the irony and parallels), others say he was stuffed down into Tartarus, but going back to the beginning of how all this relates to Christmas? Well here's how the Romans thought it went down.

Legal gambling allowed everywhere, why couldn't Christmas take that?!!!

So when the Romans did what they did best in cultural assimilation, they combined the Greek titan Cronus with their local god Saturn who was the father of the Roman version of Zeus, Jupiter. He was seen as an agricultural god and when he ruled over the earth it was a Golden Age of bounty and peace. So revered was Saturn that he was the first god of the capitol and his temple in Rome housed the State Treasury. Anyway, his feast day was on the 17 of December, but what's important is that it was extended through Dec 23 which is fairly close to December 25 which is Christmas. Now lets get to the festivities.

On the first day of Saturnalia, there was the typical big sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Forum of Rome, all the rituals were performed and everything was basically shutdown like holidays in modern times. The Senate was dismissed, schools were closed, couldn't hold a trial, couldn't declare war. This was a holiday of trying to recreate the Golden Age Saturn oversaw where man was all equal and there was no war and food a plenty.

After the public sacrifice, a lot of the more famous aspects of the holiday were private. The most famous of these being the role reversal between masters and their slaves. Now of course this depended on what kind of master you had, but Roman slavery was not nearly as bad as Antebellum Southern slavery of the 19th century (except if you were a mine slave then you were soooo screwed and only a year at best of living). The reason why slaves were treated pretty nicely compared to the standards set by other slave keeping societies is because the Roman elite were pretty terrified about slaves revolting and killing them in their sleep (Remember that Spartacus guy with the cool TV show and classic Kubrick movie? Yeah that he led an army of slaves and gladiators that tore a lot of shit up).

On the holiday, there are many accounts of the slaves being served food by their masters (or eating first or just eating with your masters). The slaves still had to make the food though. Another thing that was allowed was free speech meaning that your slaves could talk about how much you were an asshole you were without getting punished (punishment towards slaves was also not allowed on the holiday), which is why the Roman poet Horace called it "December Liberty".

Now you are probably wondering "Zach what does this have to do with Christmas though?" Well here is the biggest influence that Saturnalia probably had on the Christmas holiday (unfortunately not legalized dice gambling which was also prohibited and disliked in Rome). Actually there are two things because I forgot about the tacky clothes that the Romans would wear instead of the toga (which no one liked to wear). The other thing that is a main influence to Christmas though is the gift giving which occurred on December 19th.

People would receive sigillaria which was pottery and wax figures meant to signify the importance of the day, along with stuff like candles. Though it was not all boring stuff like that, gag gifts were actually a thing and Emperor Augustus, yes the adopted son of Julius goddamn Caesar was fond of what today might be fake vomit. Kids received toys for Saturnalia because even back in ancient times kids had toys to play with.  

Another Roman Poet, Martial, actually described what was also given as gifts for the holidays: writing tablets, dice, knucklebones, moneyboxes, combs, toothpicks, a hat, a hunting knife, an axe, various lamps, balls, perfumes, pipes, a pig, a sausage, a parrot, tables, cups, spoons, items of clothing, statues, masks, books, and pets. He also brought up that exotic animals and slaves were gifted to people, but noted that lower token gifts often showed a higher value of friendship. Another thing to note about gift giving was the importance that Patrons showed to their poorer/less fortunate clients was giving them some money so that they could buy gifts.

There were even proto-gift cards during this time, with gifts often having writing (often poems) on them. One of my personal favorites is the book of bad poems that my favorite Roman poet, Catallus, (seriously look up Catallus 16 its really funny how petty Romans could be to people that slighted/betrayed them) received which had the "the worst poet of all time" written on it as a joke from a friend.

But if you need anymore proof that Saturnalia had an influence on Christmas you should know that rampant overeating and drunkenness became the rule, and a sober person the exception. And if that doesn't perfectly describe a Christmas party then I don't know what party I was at two nights ago. Happy holidays.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Moments In Greek Mythology-The Titanomachy Part 2 (Cannibal Parents, Stone Babies, and Goat Horns filled with food!)

So with the hierarchy of the first and second generation of Titans explained, lets look at how Cronus went with dealing with that prophecy his father told him after usurping the throne of control of the universe. Ouranos told his youngest son that he too would usurped by a coup d'etat from his youngest offspring. Cronus, despite ruling over a literal Golden Age, was greatly troubled about this since one of the defining features of Greek Mythology is: Fate is inevitable and fighting it will only lead to you speeding up your demise. (Much like trying to avoid taxes if you are not a rich person)

When he got the news from his wife that he was going to be a father, he already began thinking of ways of how to prevent his brood from usurping him from the throne. Now he could have gone with the normal way Greeks dealt with unwanted kids: leave the baby out in the wilderness to get eaten by wolves or die from exposure, but Cronus wasn't feeling that way. No Cronus must have been feeling mighty peckish when he came up with the solution to this destined downfall crap. (And as always the best ideas usually come after a good meal, not before it)

Would you be shocked that the painter who painted this on his bedroom wall in his Spanish Villa was going insane from sickness and depression

So yeah Cronus' grand plan at stopping his children from overthrowing him was to wait for Rhea to give birth and then immediately pick up the baby and eat it. Pretty simple and straight forward and doesn't give the child a chance to be raised by the wolves or farmers (Priam learned the hard way with the latter). What Cronus didn't seem to account for was his wife's approval for taking their children and immediately snatching it away from her hands to be devoured in his ravenous maw.

What Cronus also didn't account for was his mother being pissed that he didn't hold his end of the bargain in releasing his cyclops and hundred-handed brothers from Tartarus when he took the keys of the kingdom from Sky Dad. This would soon prove to be his undoing when after he ate the 5th kid, Rhea went "enough is enough!" (you'd think the straw would break earlier but whatever). When she found out she was going to have a sixth kid (Man and people think Catholics have a lot of kids), she went to her dear old mom who was biding her time for someone to knock off Cronus.

Hmmmm this one feels a little bit heavy and cold and spherical and looks like a rock, are you sure it's mine?

Rhea gave birth to her child on the island of Crete, before the days when people lived there to give birth to an unholy bovine abomination. Hiding the baby there, she came back with a foolproof plan to fool the Titan who was cunning enough to overthrow his father... she gave him a big rock covered in swaddling clothes. (I guess when you become paranoid enough to start eating your kids, you kind of lose your observation skills) He swallowed the fake baby and thus the seeds to his downfall were sown, for in cave in Crete, a young god would rise to overthrow his evil father and save his brothers and sisters that were still alive in their father's gut (Yeah I forgot to mention that apparently like Attack on Titan, Greek Mythology Titans also don't have a digestive system, lucky for kids though that's where the similarities end).

Oh god I can just tell that poor woman gets 2 hour sleep from the look of that baby

So who was this wonder kid that would defeat his evil father? His name was Zeus which according to my completely reliable sources (Wikipedia) means to shine. A more proper word to describe this baby would be loud since it took the efforts of nine Korybantes, a company of soldiers that venerated Rhea, to sing and dance and bang their shields to drown out the cries of baby Zeus.

Who was the poor foster-mother to deal with the demands of an immature Zeus (which is pretty scary seeing how "mature" he is when he gets older)? Why a goat, yes you heard me right, the person chosen for the job of raising the chosen one was a goat goddess. Her name was Amalthea and she provided nourishment with her's goat's milk. Now to be fair there was also a nymph by the name of Adamanthea helping out, but some versions of the story tell of how she was able to make Zeus invisible.

Thanks to the literal nature of things, Cronus ruled over the earth, the heavens and the sea, thus meaning that he was able to see all things that were in the Earth, the Heavens, and the Sea. So Adamanthea hid Zeus by dangling him on a rope from a tree, suspended between earth, sea and sky, ergo meaning he existed beyond Cronus' domain and therefore meaning he couldn't see his son no matter how much he cried. (But wait isn't he in the sky anyway because he's suspe... Shut up!!!)

And since last week was Thanksgiving, here is a timely fun fact! While the baby was growing up he was having fun with his goat nursemaid (not in that way!) and accidentally broke off one of her horns. Well this broken horn soon showed to have magical properties because out of the end of it food poured out and proved to be a source of infinite nourishment. This is where we get the cornucopia from which means "Horn of Plenty", so yeah even in modern times we still find ancient symbols and rituals in our holidays.

Now fast forward a decade or two (or less, maybe god's have different maturity rates) and Zeus is a young man ready to fulfill his destiny. He left that Cretan cave (of which there are many claimed to be the cave where Zeus was born because even in ancient times, tourist traps made good money), but he needed help, he needed to free his siblings from the stomach of his mad titan of a father. But how?

I'm sure this was not the only boulder that some shlub found at a high flow river and claimed to be the Zeus rock. 

Zeus found help with other Titans, showing that perhaps eating your children does not make you like a leader you want to follow, the Titaness Metis gave Zeus what was basically an ancient version of Ipecac (unfortunately Mike Patton was not involved). With the throwup juice in hand he went up to the palace of Cronus on Mt. Othrys (got to have those parallels!!) disguised as an old man/beggar. Because the Greeks took hospitality to guests VERY SERIOUSLY, Cronus welcomed the guest and offered him some food.

And like a teenage prankster from a movie in the 60s, Zeus sneaked in the Ipecac on whatever Cronus was eating (I don't know what he was eating... a gyro let's go with that). He eats it and like a *insert bad gas station chain here* egg salad sandwich, it immediately turns his stomach into a science fair volcano and causes him to projectile vomit his five kids and the fake rock baby. And because of the magic of being immortal all five of Cronus's kids were fully formed, perfectly fit, and somehow had clothes to wear (guess Rhea used Cronus as a laundromat in between letting him eat their kids).

Cronus was of course pretty pissed as Zeus revealed himself as his sixth son and the one who was going to overthrow him. But Cronus like any good video game villain, laughed at his son and summoned his Titan brethren who were on his side and immediately kicked these young gods off the mountain. The war of the Titans had begun and Zeus was going to need reinforcements.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moments In Greek Mythology-The Titanomachy Part 1 (Introducing the Titanic foes of Olympus The... uh Titans)

Two weeks ago, we looked at the origins of the Greek Mythology universe and various primordial beings that planted the seeds of a horribly messed up and incestuous family tree. We also saw the beginnings of the Golden Age which of course was ushered by the castration of a sky god and ruled by the youngest of 12 siblings collectively known as the Titans.

No, these Titans don't suck horribly

Like I was say there was a first generation of 12 Titans and each had their own role. On the guy side we had Cronus who was the king of the Titans AND NOT RULER OF TIME (Again that is Cronos). Next was Iapetus who does not actually represent the oceans, Iapetus being the name of one the many ancient oceans in Earth's history and was a predessor to the Atlantic Ocean, he actually represented the either craftsmanship or mortality. Now the actual ruler of the oceans was aptly named Oceanus (kind of lame to have your role based off your name).

Next was the ever watchful Hyperion who reigned over wisdomness and light according to Hesiod. Then there was Coeus, who is thought to be the god of rational intelligence, but at least that was something compared to the last of these Titanic brothers. Crius is kind of the odd duck because we don't really know what he does and isn't really given a clear role from the writings of Hesiod. He may have been the god of constellations based on something to do with the symbol of the Ram that predates the zodiac symbol of Aries, but yeah not much is known about what the hell poor Crius did.

Wait a minute, you mean to tell me Justice isn't blind?

Now on the women side of things we had more wonderful brother sister incest since all the titans married each other's sibling because hey there's six of us each, we got to be symmetrical I guess! These Titanesses (I guess that's how you say female titans) included Mnemosyne who ruled over memory and did not partake in marrying a brother. Tethys who married Oceanus (Tethys was also the name of another ancient sea by the way, existed during the Mesozoic Era) and they gave birth to 3,000!!! ocean nymphs known with the really creative name of the Oceanids. There was Theia who was the Titaness of shiny and glory (must have been worshiped by cats given her former role) and married Hyperion because they were both rulers of bright stuff. Phoebe was married to Coeus and the titaness of prophecy (and when you look at her grandchildren this won't be that surprising).

Themis was the next Titaness and she is actually still well known to this day. Sure since the 1600s she's been put in a blindfold and before then the Romans co-opted her and gave her a scale and sword, but Themis has always been the goddess of divine law. (Though in Greek Mythology land, divine law usually just meant you were going to get a lightning bolt thrown at you)

And last of all the Titanesses was the queen of the Titans and wife to Cronus; Rhea. She doesn't really have a role per say, but she will be extremely important for the events that will lead to the rise of the Olympians. Now that the Titans were all married and overlooking from Mount Othrys (Greeks sure loved their parallels) an Age where mankind was able to live long and old and in peace and not worry about growing food (kind of weird since you expect the Big Bad Titans to rule over mankind like Sauron or God-Hitler); they started to have children of their own.

Damn Titans, I don't want to live for a long time and eat without farming, I want to live in a world where life is short and cruel! DOWN WITH CRONUS AND THIS OPPRESSIVE REGIME!!!

The Second Generation of Titans had lesser roles compared to their parents, but still important in the grand scheme of things. Hyperion's kids, Helios, Selene, and Eos represented the Sun, Moon, and Dawn respectively. Iapetus had four strong boys where only one of them had an ounce of intelligence; there was Atlas (the map guy), Epimetheus (the fool), Menoetius (doomed might which is pretty metal), and then good old Prometheus (the smart one whose name literally means foresight). Coeus' children were a mysterious trio of Lelantos (a god of the unseen and air), Leto ("The Hidden One"), and Asteria (goddess of nocturnal oracles because the Greeks had to be thorough and separate the oracle gods by day and night). Other than the 3,000 Oceanids, Oceanus also had a daughter named Metis who was the Titaness of wisdom (guess who her daughter is?) and Styx who would have the honor of not only being named for a river of the damned, but also the name of a band that will forever be played in Pittsburgh because we haven't left the 80s musically!!! For Crius' children there was destrutive Perses, god of the dusk Astraeus (and father of the winds), and the titan god of warcraft Pallas (insert WOW joke here).

Finally this just leaves us with the divine monarchy's children between the lovers Rhea and Cronus. However, there was a tiny problem of the little prophecy/curse Ouranos said as his son castrated his balls into the ocean. Basically it was, "Oh laugh it up big boy, because the same thing is going to happen to you and there is nothing you can do about it! ahhahaha oh god I need some ice" Now paranoid for his kingdom and well being, Cronus was willing to do anything to prevent his children from overthrowing him. He also made the mistake of not keeping a promise to his dear old mother about the whole "Overthrow your asshole father and release your deformed looking brothers from hell" bargin.

 The fruits of these actions and what depths he will be willing to go in the next part of this two (or three if I want to divide things up further I don't know) parter look at the Titanomachy.

Now for the ratings

0/10 for ill treatment of women/rape (everything is consensual and hunky dory, this must be a Golden Age)
0/10 stuff that would become a fetish on the internet (Again this must be a golden age!!!)
8/10 accessibility (this is basically setting up the generations of Titan fodder for god guys to kill/have extramarital affairs with)
-5/10 creative names (Seriously Oceanids was the best you Greeks could come up with?!)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moments In Greek Mythology- The Theogony (Primordial gods, Titans, and Hundred Handers of my!)

For this first edition I would like to take things back to the very beginning, partly because its always good to start from the beginning and  also to introduce the man that is credited with telling these stories.

Honestly not surprised that he looks like he just rolled out of bed after a massive bender

The bust you see above is that of Hesiod who like many ancient Greeks is the "Father" of something that we still cherish today even though someone older probably came up with what they created. For Hesiod he is considered the father of the Gnomic verse, which sure isn't like Father of Geometry or Father of Biology, but its more than I ever did so can't knock him on it. He was a contemporary of Homer and scholars think he was active somewhere between 750 and 650 BCE and is considered a very major source for Greek Mythology.

His contribution to Greek Mythology is The Theogony (The Birth of The Gods) which details the origins of the universe and the cosmic beings that lived, had kids, and then got betrayed by said kids. Of course it should be noted that Hesiod didn't come up with these myths, all these myths come from generations of verbal tradition and in fact there were many variations for the same stories except they might change the town name to add "prestige" to their town and get that sweet pilgrimage money. So without further ado, let's look at the first part of the Theogony.


It may sound cliche, but like most universe origins in mythology we see similar ideas form convergently (that or like my 5th grade English papers, plagiarism by smarter people). The Greeks believed  that the universe began with Chaos, the first of the deathless gods and one that Hesiod didn't have a description for (Hesiod was doing Lovecraftian Elder gods before it was cool). After Chaos came Gaea, who was the Earth and inside of her was the cave like structure known as Tartarus which will make for a lot of fodder in the future. Last of these deathless gods was the most important, for it was Eros who was the god of sexual reproduction which meant that Gods didn't have to reproduce asexually anymore, though I think many women will regret his ability to allow the gods to have sex and offspring. However before these gods could get their groove on Chaos still had two more gods to bud off like some indescribable amoeba.

From the void of Chaos came Erebus and Nyx, both dark deities of "the place of darkness between Gaea and Tartarus" and the night respectively. It is now the table is set for the beginning of one of the most convoluted and incestuous family trees not seen till the Habsburg Dynasty (unlike poor Charles II though, the gods didn't turn into the mutants from The Hills Have Eyes)

Beginning this brave new world of sexual reproduction was Nyx and Erebus who decided "Eh I don't really want to have sex with those older gods and hey we've known each other since we were created from the dark abyss of Chaos so might as well." Through their coupling they sired Aether (not the mercurial infinity stone from Thor 2) and Hemera; the former represented the outer atmosphere while the latter became Day.

I wonder how awkward things get when one of them is sleeping and the other is awake, what with being stuck in that position and all.

Gaea was a little slower to accept lovers and her first couple of offspring came from the old asexual method. These two were Ourea who became all the mountains of the Earth (some might have called his birth an Orogeny heheheh... what? Don't you have a bachelors in Geology too?) and Pontus who became the seas. But inevitably Gaea saw how fun Nyx and Erebus were having and decided to get a piece of the action. So she went over to Erebus and asked if he wanted to hook up and I guess Erebus went "Well I already fucked my sister, its kind of all downhill now." Whatever the reason Gaea soon afterwards gave birth to Ouranos (or Uranus for you Latin/astronomy folk) who became the lord of the sky. Or did she give birth?

As I said in the beginning there is usual with mythology a lot of different interpretations of the same story and here we have a prime example. Ouranos genealogy with most Greeks was that he was one of the primordial gods that came from the murky depths of Chaos, Hesiod thought he came from the coupling of Erebus and Gaea, the poets Alcman and Callimachus thought he came from Gaea and Aether (which honestly makes sense since Aether was the atmosphere and Ouranos is the sky), according to Orphism, a religion based off the songs of Orpheus, Ouranos came from Nyx, and finally the famous Roman orator/politician Cicero postulated that he came from Aether and Hemera. Whatever the origin it should give you an idea of how loose the Greeks were compared to say the Judeo-Christian religions.

No I don't know why the woman on the right looks like she is groping herself, maybe she's into mutilation porn I don't know

Regardless, Gaea and Ouranos become a couple and at least according Hesiod this is the first case of parent-offspring incest so we are already down that slippery slope that Erebus and Nyx started. They had a pretty big family too, first came 12 perfectly beautiful beings that would be known as the Titans, then came the three giants with one eye that would be the original Cyclopes or is it Cyclopi? And then finally came the three Hecatonchires, the Hundred-handers who oddly enough had 100 hands AND what is often forgotten, 50 heads.

Now Ouranos liked the first 12 kids because hey they looked perfect, they each could fill a certain niche role on Heaven and Earth, and they did not look like the 6 next kids who made Ouranos want run away screaming into Chaos. As soon as the Cyclopes (that's the right plural form apparently) and Hundred Handers were born, he took them and stuffed them down deep into Gaea (Basically fisting them down through the womb and oh my god Greek Mythology is messed up!) until they ended up in Tartarus whereupon they were imprisoned so he could not see them. So yeah Ouranos was basically an asshole dad who wanted to have his deformed children adopted because he couldn't bear the thought that he created them with his seed.

Gaea was understandably pissed off what her lover had done to both herself and their children, so she summoned the Titans and asked them to avenge their siblings. Every single one of them refused until the youngest Cronus (not Cronos as many people often get confused by) said he would do it. To punish her son-husband, Gaea gave Cronus a Harpe, which was basically a sickle, that was made out of Adamant which would many years in the future also be used to coat Wolverine's skeleton.

With his Harpe, Cronus was told where to hide by Gaea as she set up the ambush. When Ouranos went over to see Gaea (I guess in their human forms, its kind of hard to understand since sometimes they are literally the sky and Earth, but then again I'm probably thinking too hard about it) and that's when Cronus rushed in and swung at Ouranos. Now you are probably thinking that Cronus decapitated his father or he sliced open his guts, no Gaea wanted to make Ouranos pay for what he did so she asked Cronus to castrate his father. As Ouranos was screaming at several higher octaves, the blood that spilled from his wound fell on the Earth and created Gigantes (giants), Erinyes (Furies), and Meliae (Ash Tree Nymphs, oddly specific tree nymphs, but okay). To add insult to injury, Cronus took his father's balls and hurled them into the sea, where they impregnated Thalassa (a daughter of Hemera and Aether) and out of the frothing milky white foam came the goddess Aphrodite who is technically the oldest of the Olympians, but still the most beautiful.

After this humiliation Ouranos simply vanished it seemed, he never showed himself to Gaea again, but the skies did not fall so everything was a-okay on Earth. For now the world would begin what would be known as the Golden Age and its rulers would be the mighty Titans. However, before he left Ouranos warned the son who maimed him with a prophecy. He told him that he too would be overthrown by his son, this prophecy would haunt Cronus for as long as he ruled along with another major mistake in his rule. But that is for another entry and that is the end of this story. (Unless of course you want me to list all the other offspring that these primoridal gods have; to which I say, just go look it up on Wikipedia like I do for most of this stuff)

Now for ratings I think I'll go with this

8/l0   Accessibility (Cosmology myths are usually straight forward  and easy to understand, though understanding the family tree can get confused)
4/10  Rape/horrible treatment to goddesses and women (Refreshingly little rape, though there is spousal abuse)
6/10  Potential source for a fetish (Stuffing children back into the mother is probably a fetish)
1/10  Repetition (Can't be any retreading since its the origin of everything!!!)

So next time I hope to get to the Titanomachy which should be oodles of fun. Please comment and critique.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Introduction To Moments in Greek Mythology (V2/Mark II, etc.)

So yeah its been a long time since I wrote blogs on anything hasn't it. Years ago (man typing that makes me feel really old) I did a series called Moments in Greek Mythology that was basically me writing articles on the various stories that occurred in the wonderfully messed up world made up by various city states that made up what is now Greece. Most of the stories were fairly well known, but I made sure to look at some of the more obscure or lesser known myths. 

Things were going good, but at some point I hit a wall and college work just burnt me out of doing a post for every week. Then I decided I wanted to start over again and get a new Google account so that kind of meant deleting the old moments in Greek Mythology blogspot. 

So long story short, I'm getting back in the game and going to start reviewing/blogging about Greek Mythology. Now I would like to think that in the years since I last blogged about the Gigantomachy that I had matured somewhat. (I've given up my love of Manowar and Meat Loaf for Mike Patton for instance!) I kind of want to keep the style I had going on where I basically recap the myth, add some jokes, hopefully inform you the grateful viewer, and then maybe add a score system that is mostly a joke about how the story meets up to the standards of a typical Greek Mythology. Mainly though I want to see in my research how accessible these stories can be to someone who has never read Classical Mythology. Still I hope people can enjoy these ramblings of a jobless, recent college graduate with a BS in Geology.

The first post will be about the beginnings of Greek Mythology with the origin of the universe and fun stories about primordial gods and the beginning of the terrible cycle of violence that persists within the cosmology of Greek Mythology. Hope you enjoy.