Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

Hesiod, the Greek Creation Myth, Wars Among the Gods

What is the significance of the struggle between the ancient father gods and their wives and children?

Sigmund Freud would see in the father-son struggle—the son being aided by his mother—a metaphor for what he saw as the Oedipus complex, in which any son is naturally jealous of the father, secretly wishing to kill him and becoming the mother’s primary love. Whether or not we accept the Freudian view, we can say that the Uranos-Gaia-Kronos struggle has many mythological antecedents—in Egypt and Sumer, for instance, but also in the Anatolian Hittite culture—in which Earth and Sky, the World Parents, must be separated so that creation may take place between them. There is also the fact that the passage from Uranos to Kronos to Zeus represented for the Greeks a passage from a primitive and brutal reality to the somewhat more ordered universe of Zeus and his fellow Olympians, a gradual process of creation. The role of Gaia and Rhea, both personifications of Earth, in working with favored sons against the arbitrary and selfish tyranny of the original father gods, suggests a natural alliance between the world we live in and the possibility of life itself. Without Mother Earth’s power and intelligence, creation itself would be swallowed.

The conflict between the primitive reality represented by the early deities and the more ordered reality represented by the Olympians is finally resolved in a great war in heaven.


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