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.
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.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
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 Pseudo-Cracked.com 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.