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Kronos

Κρονος

Cronos

Father of the Olympians

Kronos

The Titans
The Confrontation With Ouranos
The Golden Age
The Swallowed Children
The Conception of Cheiron
The Rebirth of the Olympians
The War of the Titans
Factoids
Text References

The Son of Gaia and Ouranos

Kronos is one of the Titans which was one of the earliest generations of Immortals to inhabit the earth. Kronos's mother was Gaia, the Earth … she was the second Immortal to come into existence … her first creation was Ouranos, the Heavens. Gaia and Ouranos joined to produce two very important groups of offspring.

The first group of Immortals to be conceived by Gaia and Ouranos were the three brothers Briareos, Kottos (Cottus) and Gyes … they were monstrous … each one had fifty heads and fifty arms sprouting from his massive shoulders.

When Ouranos saw the potential threat which Briareos, Kottos and Gyes posed to his authority, he refused to allow them to be born by keeping them inside Gaia's womb. This was an action for which Ouranos would be severely punished and Kronos was destined to be the instrument of that punishment.

The second group of Immortals created by the union of Gaia and Ouranos was the Titans. Kronos is one of the Titans.

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The Titans

The birth of the Titans seemed less threatening to Ouranos but he quickly realized that they were not going to be easily controlled. There were twelve Titans … six males and six females. Ouranos named them Titans because they quickly demonstrated their complete lack of restraint … the name Titans literally means Stretchers or Strainers … they stretched and strained the limits of propriety and indulged themselves to the point of self destruction. With Kronos as their nominal leader, the Titans not only brought about their own demise, they were also responsible for the demotion and mutilation of their father, Ouranos.

The Titans are:

The Titans were the first generation of Immortals to have a human appearance and even though we associate the derivative term Titanic with something very large, the Immortals who preceded the Titans were truly enormous … the Earth, the Heavens, the Mountains and the Seas.

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The Confrontation With Ouranos

Kronos was the youngest of the Titans and his name is often preceded by a variety of non-complementary adjectives … wily, crafty, devious, devising … nonetheless, when his mother Gaia pleaded with her children for help, Kronos was the only one to come to her assistance.

Ouranos was not content to be in any way subservient to Gaia … his domineering tactics were at first an annoyance but Gaia finally realized that he would not relent until he became her master. Gaia called her Titan sons together and told them of her dilemma … she asked for one of them to step forward and confront Ouranos … Kronos was the only one to volunteer to help his mother. In anticipation of the necessary violence to be used against Ouranos, Gaia created the element flint and formed a sickle to be used as a weapon.

Gaia gave Kronos the flint sickle with its jagged edge and hid him in a secret place so that he could surprise Ouranos. Just as Gaia predicted, Ouranos came to her as night fell … Kronos leapt from his hiding spot, took the sickle in his left hand and struck his father … Ouranos was caught unawares and did not have an opportunity to protect himself from the cruel flint … his male members were cut off and the drops of blood were absorbed by Gaia. As the seasons passed, Ouranos's blood gave life to Erinys [the Punisher of the unfaithful], the Giants and the Meliae [Nymphs of the Ash Tree]. The remaining flesh fell into the sea and from the foam and water a maiden was created … this maiden became the goddess of Love, Aphrodite.

The site of the of the ambush is not known with certainty but there are two locations we might consider. There is a cape on the northern Peloponnesian Peninsula called Cape Drepanum, i.e. Cape Sickle … the traveler/historian Pausanias thought this was the setting for the assault on Ouranos but that assumption ignores the creation of Aphrodite. The goddess of Love is called Kypros and was created, like a good number of the Greek Immortals, in "the east" … we should therefore look towards the island of Cyprus, i.e. Kypros, as her birthplace. There is a place on the western coast of Cyprus named Drepanum [Sickle] and this is more than likely the place where Ouranos was castrated and bled into the sea creating Aphrodite.

Drepanum
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The Golden Age

The first generation of mortal men to live on the earth was created by the Immortals when Kronos was reigning in heaven … they were called the Golden Generation and the time in which they lived was known as the Golden Age.

The Golden Generation lived like gods … they had no sorrows and were free from all grief and toil … all plants and animals were theirs for the taking and they lived and feasted beyond the reach of all evils.

The Golden Generation was truly loved by the Immortals and after a life of ease and peace, they died as though they were overcome with sleep. The earth eventually covered them but they remained as pure spirits dwelling on the earth. They are kindly spirits who assume the role of guardians of mortal men … they roam everywhere over the earth clothed in mist as givers of wealth and keeping watch over judgments and cruel deeds.

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Briareos, Kottos and Gyes

Kronos became the most powerful and feared Immortal on earth. He chose Mount Olympos (Olympus) as his home and evicted the previous residents, Eurynome, a daughter of Okeanos [Ocean], and her consort Ophion. To further assist his mother, Kronos freed the awesome brothers Briareos, Kottos and Gyes from her womb but he quickly came to regret that decision. Once he saw the three remarkable "boys" Kronos realized that they were strong enough to usurp his authority and force him from Mount Olympos. Before the three brothers could grow into their full stature and virility, Kronos buried them under the earth and planned to keep them there until the end of time.

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The Swallowed Children

Kronos and his sister/wife Rheia began to have children. Gaia and Ouranos warned Kronos that one of his children would eventually overthrow him and become the foremost Immortal. To prevent that possibility, Kronos decided that he would swallow any children that Rheia bore.

As soon as they were born, Kronos swallowed Rheia's first five children … although Rheia was opposed to Kronos's self-indulgent behavior, there was nothing she could do to stop him … or so she thought. When Rheia consulted Gaia and Ouranos, they informed her that she could deceive Kronos and save the life of her next child. They told her that when she gave birth again, to conceal the infant and present a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to Kronos. Rheia did as she had been advised … she gave Kronos a stone instead of the baby and he hurriedly swallowed it down without realizing that he had been fooled.

Rheia named the infant Zeus … she secretly took the baby to the island of Crete and put him in the care of the Kouretes (Curetes). The Kouretes were a militaristic group and not the type you would expect to be given the duties of caring for an infant … the Kouretes gave the infant Zeus to the Nymphs of Mount Ida to be nurtured … they [the Kouretes] served a much more practical and protective role in Zeus's upbringing.

When Zeus cried or made other childlike noises, the Kouretes would drown out the commotion by dancing, chanting and clashing their weapons on their shields … their objective was to keep Kronos from hearing Zeus … they succeeded very well … Kronos did not suspect that an immortal child was being reared on Crete and he certainly didn't suspect that he had a child growing to manhood who would eventually confront him and challenge his authority.

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The Conception of Cheiron

While Zeus was still hidden on Crete, Kronos indulged in at least one affair that produced a child. The creation of the most famous and noble Centaur Cheiron (Chiron) was the result of an unlikely and accidental encounter between Kronos and a daughter of Okeanos [Ocean].

Philyra was one of the three thousand daughters of Okeanos [Ocean] and Tethys … she lived on an island in the Euxine [ Black Sea]. When Kronos saw Philyra he was filled with desire and made amorous advances towards the young goddess. Kronos did not want Rheia to know of his affair with Philyra and there was little chance of her finding out unless cruel fate somehow exposed his deeds … indeed, fate was cruel to Kronos but not to his offspring.

When Rheia came upon Kronos and Philyra in the act of making love, Kronos took the guise of a horse to hide his infidelity. Whether the adlib disguise fooled Rheia is debatable but the result of the union between Horse-Kronos and Philyra became absolutely clear when their child was born with the body of a Centaur.

Cheiron

Philyra gave birth to a creature that was half horse and half god … he had the characteristics of a Centaur, i.e. he had the body of a horse and the torso and head of a human … he was named Cheiron. Although he had the appearance of a brutish Centaur, Cheiron was in fact one of the most intelligent and humane beings ever born … his righteousness became legendary … with the exception of the Olympians, Cheiron was the most extraordinary child Kronos fathered.

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The Rebirth of the Olympians

The five children that Kronos swallowed were named Demeter, Hades, Histia (Hestia), Hera and Poseidon … after being swallowed, they grew and matured in a "normal" fashion but were unable to extricate themselves from their father's infinite interior. As Zeus grew older there was little doubt that he would eventually confront Kronos and dethrone him … the only question was when and how the prophecy of Gaia and Ouranos would be fulfilled.

When the proper time came, Zeus went after Kronos … he ambushed his father and caught him unawares … Zeus kicked Kronos in the stomach with such violence that the elder god vomited up the stone and the five children … the stone came out first and Histia last … Histia was the first to be swallowed and the last to disgorged … she is therefore the oldest and the youngest of the swallowed children.

Zeus took the stone that Kronos swallowed and placed it at the foot of Mount Parnassos (Parnassus) near the city of Delphi … he proclaimed that the stone would be a portent and marvel for the mortals of the earth for all time. The stone was called the Omphalos [Navel] and its location became known as the Navel of the Earth. The Omphalos was the symbol for the divine authority of the Temple of Apollon at Delphi.

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The War of the Titans

With his children now free, Kronos knew that the prophecy that Gaia and Ouranos had given him was being fulfilled … even so, he refused to accept the possibility that he would be dethroned. With his Titan brothers and sisters at his side Kronos initiated a war against his own children … the conflict came to be known as the War of the Titans.

Zeus gathered the Immortals who seemed inclined to become his allies against the Titans and promised that any Immortal who did not have an office or rights under Kronos would be elevated if they helped him defeat the Titans. Zeus also freed Briareos, Kottos and Gyes from their subterranean prison … they readily agreed to fight the Titans … they were especially anxious to fight with Kronos and have their revenge for the many years he had kept them confined.

The War of the Titans shook the earth to its foundations … the gods and goddesses battled for ten brutal years … finally, Zeus unleashed all his fury against the Titans and their allies … at the same time, Briareos, Kottos and Gyes ripped up mountains to bury the Titans under an avalanche of boulders … with that final barrage, the war was over.

Kronos and Rheia were forcibly removed from Mount Olympos … Zeus and eleven other Immortals took control of the sacred mountain … the Immortals who comprised the Olympians varied over the millennia but the number remained constant at twelve.

Zeus banished Kronos and the other Titans to an underground pit beneath Tartaros (Tartarus) where they remained until after the Age of Heroes was over. Zeus had pity on Kronos and removed him to the Islands of the Blessed where he became the ruler of the departed Heroes.

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Kronos and Rheia

Rheia substitutes a stone for the infant Zeus to fool Kronos

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Factoids

The Wanderer - The ancient Greeks called the planets Wanderers … they were so named because they were unlike the "fixed" stars and moved or wandered through the heavens. It seems likely that the first humans of the earth were not aware of the Wanderers and therefore did not name them but after Zeus became the Father of Gods and Men, the Wanderers were named … the planet we call Saturn was named Kronos and was so called for thousands of years before the Romans renamed it.

Hera - The goddess Hera was very proud of the fact that she was the first daughter of devious, devising Kronos.

Hill of Kronos - Next to the temple of Zeus at Olympia is a famous landmark called the Hill of Kronos. The poet Pindar referred to the Hill of Kronos with the adjectives like well-wooded and sunny … the implication being that it was a very pleasant place.

Temple - The traveler/historian Pausanias saw a temple of Kronos and Rheia in Athens that was in existence at the time of the deluge of Deukalion (Deucalion), i.e. 11000 BCE.

Olympia - The first temple built at Olympia was in honor of Kronos. Zeus and Kronos wrestled at Olympia and after defeating his father, Zeus held games to commemorate his victory … apparently only the Immortals were allowed to compete in the first Olympic Games … Apollon was the winner of the first games.

Poseidon - The Arkadians (Arcadians) believed that Poseidon was not swallowed by Kronos and escaped that fate with the help of Rheia. The Arkadians told the traveler/historian Pausanias that when Poseidon was born, Rheia concealed him amongst a flock of lambs … she told Kronos that she had given birth to a horse and gave him a foal to swallow instead of the child.

Osiris and Isis - The ancient Egyptians believed that Zeus and Hera were the children of Kronos and Rheia but they also believed that Osiris and Isis were two of the five children of Zeus and Hera.

Blood Sacrifice - The differences between the Carthaginians of Northern Africa and the Greeks are quite dramatic in some cases … the worship of Kronos is a perfect example. The Carthaginian general Hannibal died circa 183 BCE … after his death, the Carthaginian army was beset with a superstitious belief that death-spirits were threatening them … they immediately put a halt to their practice of desecrating religious monuments and to appease Kronos they offered a blood sacrifice by ritualistically killing a young boy … also, a multitude of cattle were drowned in the sea as a tribute to Poseidon.

Kronos is often confused with the Roman god, Saturnus.

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