Zeus Grown Up in a Cave


The Titans are a race of godlike giants who were the personifications of the forces of nature. They are the twelve children (six sons and six daughters) of Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (the god of the sky). Each son married (or had children of) one of his sisters. Two of them were Cronus and his wife Rhea.

But Cronus was warned, that one of his children would depose him. He knew the consequences, as he had overthrown his father Uranus. So he tried to secure his dominion by eating his own children. He took them immediately after birth and swallowed them whole, retaining them inside his body. He ate Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Poseidon this way.

Cronus' wife Rhea did not want to loose all her children, and with the help of her mother Gaia, she managed to rescue one son, Zeus. She hid him in a cave on Crete and gave Cronus a stone, wrapped in the clothes of the infant, which he swallowed. Thus Rhea succeeded in making him believe that he had killed all of his children.

Some versions of the legend tell, Zeus was born in the last chamber of this cave, and he somtimes has the epithet "the one born on Crete".

The Nymphs Adrasteia and Ida raised Zeus, feeding him wild honey and milk from the divine goat Amaltheia. Adrasteia is an epithet of Rhea Cybele in her attribute of the Mother who punishes human injustice, which is a transgression of the natural right order of things. She is also called Nemesis. Other legends tell, Amaltheia suckled and raised Zeus. Some legend say, Amaltheia was a nymph, who nourished Zeus with honey and the milk of a goat.

When Zeus cried, the Kourites (five Cretans) covered his cries by hitting their swords against their shields.

When Zeus reached maturity he overpowered and dethroned his father Cronus and made him disgorge his siblings. Again there are several versions of the legend. Some tell that he compelled his father with the help of Gaia to regurgitate them. In other version his first wife Metis helped him by giving Cronus an emetic potion, which made him vomit up the children.

Zeus led a revolt against his father and the dynasty of the titans, called Titanomachy. He defeated them in a ten year war and placed them in Tartarus, where they are guarded for eternity by the Hecatonchires.


This tale is part of the Greek mythology and was told many times. A important version was written by Hesiod in his Theogony.

The cave where Zeus was risen, is described as being a cave on Crete, on Mount Dicte. Two caves in Crete consider as well to be this palce, the Dictean Cave near Psichro and the Idaian Cave at Mount Psiloritis.

Very interesting are several deatils of this story. All three generations of emperors, Uranus, Cronos and Zeus died being killed by their own child. All three were warned by an oracle that this would happen and all three tried to avoid this fate by eating the chirdren (or the mother in the case of Zeus). And by doing so they brought their children in rage which lead to their destruction. The self fulfilling oracle is a rather common motive in Greek mythology.


See also


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