February 09, 2009

#01-217: Two Titanic Battles

a monstrous-looking old man seems to be taking a bite out of the chest of a screaming toddler
Cronus eats one of his children

Note: One regime displaces another: just as the Titans overthrew their parents, they were overthrown by their children in turn.

Get Ready: Do you feel comfortable with the idea that--in business, politics, and other areas of life--the older generation must step aside and make way for the new? Is this the natural order of things?

In Lessons #01-215 and #01-216, we discussed the Titans, a group of Greek deities sometimes called the "Elder Gods." Yet they were not the eldest: they were the children of father Ouranos ("Sky," same as Uranus) and mother Gaia ("Earth," seen in many words starting with geo-).

Today we'll discuss two "titanic" battles. In the first, the Titans overthrew their father, Ouranos; in the second, they were in turn overthrown by their descendants, led by Zeus.

Do you remember Kronos? He is also called "Cronus" and "Saturn," but is not to be confused with "Chronos" meaning "time." He was the last-born of the Titans, and the Greek myth writer Hesiod calls him "the wily, youngest and most terrible of Gaia's children." Hesiod says Kronos hated his powerful father.

The original cause for this hatred is never given. Some suggest it is just the desire of the young to replace the old. But Ouranos's behavior was horrible indeed. For example, he locked some of his children in the bowels of the earth (his wife, Gaia), causing her great pain.

At last Gaia went to the Titans and said, "Your father was the first to do shameful things. If you love me, you will help me to stop him."

All of the Titans were afraid to act, except Kronos. After convincing four of his brothers to help, he took a sickle (used for cutting wheat--Kronos was also a god of agriculture) and cut off Ouranos's genitals. When Ouranos's blood hit the earth, several races of gods sprang up, including the Furies that we discussed in Lesson #01-214. And some say the love goddess Aphrodite (Venus) was born as his body parts landed in the sea.

And so victorious Kronos became the ruler of heaven and earth, with his wife-sister Rhea as co-ruler.

But all was not well. After the attack, both Ouranos and Gaia told Kronos that he would suffer the same fate: his own children would overthrow him. So Kronos became more terrible than his father, and got into the habit of eating each child as it was born! He also locked up some of his monstrous brothers, as Ouranos had done.

But his wife Rhea fooled him. When her youngest, Zeus, was born (again the youngest son!) Rhea wrapped a stone in a blanket and gave it to Kronos to eat instead of Zeus.

Zeus was raised in secret, and when he grew to manhood, he came back and forced his father to release all of Zeus's brothers and sisters from his belly. Zeus then led them in a war against the Titans. When he won, he became the ruler of the gods, who now lived on Mt Olympos, and are known as "the Olympians." We'll discuss them in detail in Lesson #01-218.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronus

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. agriculture
  2. bowels
  3. descendants
  4. genitals
  5. last-born
  6. shameful
  7. sickle
  8. victorious
  9. wife-sister
  10. wily

  1. children, grandchildren, etc.
  2. wrong; immoral
  3. tool used for cutting wheat and other crops; scythe
  4. sly; clever
  5. intestines (of a person or animal); inward parts (of something not alive)
  6. reproductive parts of a man or woman
  7. youngest
  8. having won
  9. farming
  10. woman to whom one is married and who also has the same parents

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 9, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. e; 3. a; 4. f; 5. g; 6. b; 7. c; 8. h; 9. j; 10. d