Myths of the Greek and Roman Gods

L4 Hypothesis: Zeus, Typhaon, and Zeus’s Wives

Hesiod’s Theogony, lines 820-961

The Typhonomachy

But, once Zeus had driven the Titans from the Sky,820
vast Gaia gave birth to her youngest son, Typhoeus,
by intercourse with Tartarus through gold-adorned Aphrodite.
His hands were strong, able to accomplish his works,
and the feet of this powerful god never grew weary. From his shoulders
a hundred snake heads grew, flicking825
dark tongues of a terrifying serpent. Fire shot out
from his eyes under the brows on his monstrous heads.
From all the heads, fire blazed wherever he looked.
In all the terrifying heads were voices
sending out unspeakable sounds. At one time,830
they made sounds understood by the gods; at another time,
came the voice of a proud, invincible bull, bellowing its strength;
then the voice of a lion with shameless spirit,
and at another time, like that of puppies, a wonder to hear.
Sometimes he hissed, and the high mountains echoed back the sound.835

On that day a deed beyond all help would have been accomplished,
and he would have ruled over mortals and immortals,
if the father of gods and men had not thought quickly.
He thundered hard and powerful. All around, Earth
resounded horribly, so too broad Sky above,840
the Sea, streams of Ocean, and regions underneath Earth.
Tall Olympus shook under the immortal feet
of the king as he set out, and Earth groaned.
Searing heat from both of them oppressed the violet-coloured Sea,
from thunder and lightning, and from the monster’s fire,845
from scorching winds and flaming thunderbolts.
All the Earth boiled, and Sky and Sea too.
Around and over shores and sea cliffs giant waves raged
beneath the immortals’ onslaught, and an immense earthquake began.
Hades, lord of the dead below, trembled;850
so did the Titans, allies of Kronos, in the lowest parts of Tartarus,
from the endless noise of dreadful battle-strife.

When Zeus unleashed his mighty wrath and seized his weapons —
thunder, lightning, and blazing thunderbolts —
he leaped from Olympus and struck. He engulfed855
all the appalling heads of the terrifying monster in fire.
And once he overpowered him, flogging him with blows,
Typhoeus crashed down, his limbs broken, and vast Gaia groaned.
Flames shot up from the thunderstruck lord,
in the dark, rugged valleys of the mountain860
where he was struck. Most of vast Gaia was on fire
from the unspeakable heat, and she melted like tin
made molten in open cauldrons through the arts
of craftsmen, or as iron, which is strongest of all,
mastered by blazing fire in mountain valleys,865
melts in the shining Earth through Hephaestus’ skill.
Just so, Gaia was melting from the blaze of flaming fire.
Zeus, overwhelmed with rage, hurled him into broad Tartarus.

From Typhoeus comes the wrath of wet-blowing winds,
except for Notos the South, Boreas the North, and Zephyr the West Wind —870
these come from the gods, a great blessing for mortals.
The other winds blow without purpose on the Sea,
a great torment for mortals; they rage with evil blasts.
They start howling when you least expect them, scattering ships,
and the sailors drown. No remedy exists for their evil,875
not for the men who encounter them at Sea.
So too across the infinite blooming Earth,
they destroy the lovely fields of Earth-dwelling women and men,
and fill Gaia with dust and grievous turmoil.

Zeus becomes king

But when the carefree gods had accomplished their labour,
and decided the issue of honours with the Titans, by force,
then they urged far-seeing Olympian Zeus,
by the shrewd advice of Gaia, to be king and ruler
of the immortals. And he skillfully divided honours among them.885

The Wives of Zeus

1. Metis
Zeus, now king of the gods, chose as his first wife Metis,
because, among gods and mortal men and women, she knows most.
But when she was about to give birth to the goddess
owl-eyed Athena, he deceived her mind with a trick.
Using wily words, he placed her down into his belly,890
by the shrewd advice of Gaia and starry Ouranos.
For they advised him, so that no one else of the eternal gods,
other than Zeus, should ever hold the honour of kingship.
From Metis, wise children were destined be born,
first a daughter, owl-eyed Tritogeneian Athena,895
endowed with courage and prudent counsel, equal to her father.
But then, after that, she was fated to bear a son,
a king of gods and men, born with overwhelming strength.
Before that happened, Zeus placed her down into his belly,
so the goddess might advise him on good and evil.900
2. Themis
Second, Zeus brought home bright, just Themis, who bore the Seasons
Good Governance, Justice, and flowering Peace —
who oversee the works of mortal men and women.
And she bore the Fates, whom shrewd Zeus gave an immense honour —
Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Allotter and Atropos the Unbending:905
for mortal women and men, they assign possession of good and evil.
3. Eurynome
Third, Eurynome, the daughter of Ocean, a goddess of enticing beauty,
bore to Zeus the fair-cheeked Graces
glittering Aglaia, joyful Euphrosyne, and lovely festive Thalia.
From their eyes, as they look our way, desire radiates910
and loosens our limbs. Under their eyelids, beauty inhabits their glances.
4. Demeter
Then Zeus went to the bed of bountiful Demeter.
She bore white-armed Persephone, whom Aidoneus
seized from her mother, and shrewd Zeus gave his permission.
5. Mnemosyne (Memory)
Then Zeus fell in love with lovely-haired Mnemosyne.915
She bore the Muses who wear gold ribbons in their hair,
nine daughters whose delight is festivals and the joy of song.
6. Leto
Leto too joined in love with aegis-bearing Zeus,
and bore Apollo and arrow-pouring Artemis,
captivating children surpassing all of Sky’s descendants.920
7. Hera
Last of all, Zeus made Hera his lush and fertile wife.
She gave birth to youthful Hebê, Ares, and Eileithyia,
joining in love with the king of gods and men.
Zeus himself gave birth from his head to owl-eyed Athena,
fearsome rouser of battles, leader of armies, never wearying925
queen who rejoices at the clash of arms, wars, and battles.
But Hera raged in strife with her husband, and joining
in intercourse with no one, gave birth to renowned Hephaestus,
who surpassed all the descendants of Ouranos in skill of his hands.

More and more children
From Amphitrite and the resounding Earth-Shaker,930
huge powerful Triton was born, who in the Sea’s depths
with his beloved mother and lordly father
lives in a golden palace, an awesome god. And to Ares,
the piercer of shields, Aphrodite of Cythera bore Fear and Terror —
awful gods who cause panic in crowded battalions of men,935
in ice-cold war with city-destroying Ares —
and Harmony, whom bold Cadmus made his wife.

Maia, daughter of Atlas, bore famous Hermes, the immortals’ messenger,
to Zeus, after she came into his marriage bed.

Cadmus’ daughter, Semele, joining in love with Zeus.940
bore a shining son, joyful Dionysus —
a mortal mother and an immortal son. Both are gods now.

Alkmene bore might Herakles,
joining in love with cloud-gathering Zeus.

Famous broken-footed Hephaestus made Aglaia,945
youngest of the Graces his blooming wife.

Golden-haired Dionysus took blonde Ariadne,
daughter of Minos as his blooming wife.
Zeus, son of Kronos made her ageless and immortal.

The heroic son of fair-ankled Alcmene,950
mighty Herakles, once he finished his grievous Labours,
made the daughter of great Zeus and Hera who walks in golden sandals
his revered wife, on snow-covered Olympus,
Happy and blessed, who finished his great work and lives
among the immortals, free from pain and old age forever.955

To Helios, the Sun who never grows weary, the famous daughter of Ocean,
Perseis, bore Circe and king Aietes.
Aietes, son of Helios who shines on mortals,
married fair-cheeked Idyia, a daughter of Ocean,
the perfect river. She bore fair-ankled Medea960
mastered in lovely intercourse through gold-adorned Aphrodite.

[The Theogony continues for another 50 or so lines, as Hesiod turns to the children born to goddesses who had sex with mortal men: Demeter, Eos (the Dawn goddess), Thetis, Aphrodite, Circe and so on. In this way, Hesiod ends his poem in a glorious celebration of procreation, as all the gods take their cue from Zeus, joining in love with each other and with mortal men and women to produce more and more gods and heroes.]

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Myths of the Greek and Roman Gods by Edited by Roberto Nickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.