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Titanomachy: Wikis


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In Greek mythology, the Titanomachy, or War of the Titans (Greek: Τιτανομαχία), was the ten-year[1] series of battles fought between the two races of deities long before the existence of mankind: the Titans, fighting from Mount Othrys, or Mount Etna and the Olympians, who would come to reign on Mount Olympus. This Titanomachia is also known as the Battle of the Titans, Battle of Gods, or just the Titan War.

Greeks of the Classical age knew of several poems about the war between the gods and many of the Titans. The dominant one, and the only one that has survived, was the Theogony attributed to Hesiod. A lost epic, Titanomachia, attributed to the blind Thracian bard Thamyris, himself a legendary figure, was mentioned in passing in an essay On Music that was once attributed to Plutarch. The Titans also played a prominent role in the poems attributed to Orpheus. Although only scraps of the Orphic narratives survive, they show interesting differences from the Hesiodic tradition.

These Greek myths of the Titanomachy fall into a class of similar myths throughout Europe and the Near East, where one generation or group of gods by and large opposes the dominant one. Sometimes the Elder Gods are supplanted. Sometimes the rebels lose, and are either cast out of power entirely or incorporated into the pantheon. Other examples might include the wars of the Æsir with the Vanir and Jotuns in Scandinavian mythology, the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish, the Hittite "Kingship in Heaven" Kumarbi narrative, and the obscure generational conflict in Ugaritic fragments.


Prior events

The stage for this important battle was set after the youngest Titan, Cronus, overthrew his own father, Uranus (Ουρανός - the Heaven itself and ruler of the cosmos), with the help of his mother, Gaia (Γαία - the earth).

Uranus drew the enmity of Gaia when he imprisoned her children the Hecatonchires and Cyclopes in Tartarus. Gaia created a great sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to persuade them to castrate Uranus. Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and placed him in ambush.

When Uranus met with Gaia, Cronus attacked Uranus with the sickle and cut off his genitals, and cast them into the sea. From the blood that spilled out from Uranus and fell upon the earth, the Gigantes, Erinyes, and Meliae were produced, and from the spume from his cut genitalia, Aphrodite rose from the sea. Cronus took his father's throne after dispatching Uranus. He then secured his power by re-imprisoning his siblings the Hecatonchires and Cyclopes, and his (newly-created) siblings the Gigantes, in Tartarus.

Gaia, angry at Cronus for keeping his brothers in the same pit Uranus locked them in, made a prophecy that Cronus' own children would rebel against his rule just as he had done to his own father. For fear of his unborn children rising against him, Cronus now turned into the terrible king his father Uranus had been, swallowing each of his children whole as they were born from his sister-wife Rhea. Rhea, however, managed to hide her child Zeus, by tricking Cronus into swallowing a rock wrapped in a blanket instead.

Rhea brought Zeus to a cave in Crete, where he was raised to adulthood. Later, Metis gave Zeus a mixture of mustard and wine for Cronus which would cause him to vomit up his swallowed children. Zeus then led his released brothers and sisters in rebellion against the Titans.

The lost Titanomachy

A lost Titanomachy that dealt with the struggle that Zeus and his siblings, the Olympian Gods, had in overthrowing their father Cronos and his divine generation, the Titans was traditionally ascribed to Eumelus of Corinth, a semi-legendary bard of the Bacchiad ruling family in archaic Corinth,[2] who was treasured as the traditional composer of the Prosodion, the processional anthem of Messenian independence that was performed on Delos.

Even in Antiquity many authors cited Titanomachia without an author's name. M.L. West[3] in analyzing the evidence concludes that the name of Eumelos was attached to the poem as the only name available. From the very patchy evidence, it seems that "Eumelos"' account of the Titanomachy differed from the surviving account of Hesiod's Theogony at salient points. The eighth century BCE date for the poem is not possible; M.L. West ascribes a late seventh-century date as the earliest.[3]

The Titanomachy was divided into at least two books. The battle of Olympians and Titans was preceded by some sort of theogony, or genealogy of the primal gods, in which, the Byzantine writer Lydus remarked,[4] the author of Titanomachy placed the birth of Zeus, not in Crete, but in Lydia, which should signify on Mount Sipylus.


  1. ^'s Ancient/Classical History section; Hesiod, Theogony 617-643: "So they, with bitter wrath, were fighting continually with one another at that time for ten full years, and the hard strife had no close or end for either side..."
  2. ^ The Bacchiadae were exiled by the tyrant Cypselus about 657 BCE.
  3. ^ a b M.L. West, "'Eumelos': A Corinthian Epic Cycle?" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 122 (2002), pp. 109–133
  4. ^ De mensibus 4.71.

See also


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