Reading about the ancient Greeks has always been like plunging headfirst into a new world of myths and legends. These stories embrace the Greek gods and goddesses with tales of magic and adventures. Let’s go back to the very beginning and look at the origins of the Earth through the eyes of an ancient Greek.
Gaia and Uranus
At the beginning of time, the universe was a swirling dark mess called Chaos. The elements of what would form the earth existed at the time, but they were completely mixed in a massive absence of meaning. From this Chaos emerged Gaia, the goddess of the earth who gave birth to our planet including primordial beings such as Pontus (the god of the sea) and Oreus (god of the mountains). Gaia gave birth to the god of the sky and heavens as well, known as Uranus. Uranus was a supreme god and in gratitude, took Gaia as his wife.
The union between Gaia and Uranus created the creatures with ghastly features. Some of these monsters had a hundred arms while others had multiple heads. Uranus and Gaia also gave birth to a new generation of gods known as the Titans who were strong and supreme.
With the birth of this new generation hatched a seed of envy and regret in Uranus’s mind as he began to fear that one of his children will dethrone him and take his place as the supreme god of all. One day Uranus took action and threw all his children into the deepest parts of the earth known as Tartarus (also known as the underworld).
Rise of Chronus
Gaia could not bear to watch her children being thrown away to the underworld and loathed her husband for his deeds. Due to this, Gaia conspired with her children to overthrow Uranus. Chronus, being the bravest was determined to save his brothers and sisters, stepped forward and planned on getting revenge on their father. Gaia handed Chronus a powerful scythe made from diamonds which he took and flew up to the heavens. Approaching the sleeping Uranus quietly, Chronus attacked. Slashing at Uranus and cutting him up to pieces. Afterwards, Chronus dumped the severed parts into the ocean. It was believed that due to Uranus’s strong fertility powers, several gods and goddesses emerged from the ocean where the severed parts were dumped.
Chronus was hailed as the new supreme god for his ambitious character and bravery. That night of victory however seemed to haunt Chronus. He constantly saw the spirit of his father, sneering down at him, bellowing an evil prophecy that just as Chronus had dethroned his father, one of Chronus’ children will do the same. With this prophecy in his mind, Chronus became the ruler of the world, taking his sister Rhea as his wife along with the other Titans in his court. He did not, however, allow the monstrous beings out since he considered them violent and uncivilised to rule.
The rise of Zeus
By the time Rhea and Chronus had their first child, Chronus was half-mad with the haunting images of his father and the prophecy. In a fit of rage, he swallowed their child, much to Rheas’ horror. Soon after they had a second child and Chronus swallowed the child as well. This continued until Rhea decided to take action and hid their next born son, Zeus and tricked Chronus into swallowing a stone wrapped in the baby’s cloth.
Zeus grew up to be ambitious and brave just like his father and when the time came, conspired to overthrow his father and save his swallowed siblings. When asleep, Zeus drugged Chronus, causing him to vomit out the swallowed siblings. After his siblings were safe, Zeus challenged his father to war. It was an epic battle but Zeus was victorious and with the power of the new supreme being of the world, threw his father and the rest of his Titan court into Tartarus.
The rise of men and evil into the world
One son of the Titans, whose name was Prometheus was spared by Zeus due to his calm and collected nature. Zeus gave Prometheus the task of creating men into the world. Using his skills, Prometheus shaped men out of mud and Athena, daughter of Zeus and the goddess of wisdom, breathed life into the mud-shaped men.
Just like his father, Zeus feared that men will one day be more powerful than the gods and hence did not provide facilities such as fire. Without fire, men were plunged into a world of darkness. Prometheus felt sorry for men and tricked Zeus into giving him fire. With the introduction of an important resource, Prometheus taught men how to use fire for making tools and food.
Zeus was furious when he found out that he was tricked and wanted to teach Prometheus and men a lesson. The ancient Greeks believed that women were the cause of misfortune and evil at the time. This was because of the story of Pandora.
To teach Prometheus and men a lesson, Zeus created the first woman. A beautiful being named Pandora. Unlike her beauty, Pandora was not as smart. Zeus introduced her to men as a gift. They welcomed her with open arms, charmed by her beauty and grace. Before that, however, Zeus gave Pandora a box and told her that she must never open it. This was part of Zeus’s plan since he knew that Pandora would be too curious. Just as he had planned, Pandora opened the box and out poured evil, sickness and misfortune into the world. As men started to weep out to the heavens, Zeus felt sorry for what he had done and asked Pandora to open the box again. In tears, Pandora opened the box and out came Hope to ensure that even during the hardest of times, hope will be there to guide us through.
By Kawmudi Debnath