Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

Hesiod, the Greek Creation Myth, Wars Among the Gods

What was Hesiod’s story of the war in heaven?

For a long time, Hesiod tells us, there had been warfare between the Olympians—the children of Kronos and Rhea—and the earlier generations of gods and monsters known as the Titans. The Titans stood on Mount Othrys while the Olympians stood against them on Mount Olympus. Bad blood had long existed between the two sides. Zeus had been angered by the Titan Prometheus, who had stolen fire and given it to humans, and by the powerful and violent Atlas. Zeus had condemned Atlas to hold up the world and had tied Prometheus to a rock where his liver would be eaten by an eagle. Gaia sided with the Olympians, predicting their ultimate victory. The Olympians also recruited the giants known as Hundred-Arms and fed them the food and drink of the gods—nectar and ambrosia—so that they would be especially strong. Now the final stages of the war began. The Hundred-Arms and the Olympians attacked, led by Zeus with his powerful thunderbolts. Against this alliance the Titans had no chance. Soundly defeated and exiled from heaven and earth, their new and eternal home was Tartarus, a gloomy underworld, where they were confined in chains.

Gaia, Mother Earth, now advised the Olympians to proclaim Zeus king.

An 1875 painting by Anselm Feuerbach portraying the great goddess Gaia.


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