Quick Reference


Or Cronos. In Greek mythology, Kronos was the Titan son of Gaia, earth, and Ouranos, sky. He emasculated his sky father and seized control of the world. Marrying his sister Rhea he followed the example of Ouranos in disposing of his sons, because of the warning given by an oracle that he would be displaced by one of them. Kronos swallowed the children as soon as they were born, but on Gaia's advice his wife gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of the infant Zeus, who was taken secretly to Crete in order to grow up in safety there. When Zeus had attained full stature, he obliged Kronos to vomit up his brothers and sisters—Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia and Demeter—as well as release his uncles and aunts whom Kronos had chosen not to unfetter on the deposition of Ouranos. The most important of these were the Cyclopes, single-eyed giants, who in gratitude gave Zeus thunder and lightning, thereafter his emblems and instruments of power. In the ensuing struggle Kronos and the Titans lost: the former was exiled along with a portion of the Golden Age to the Isles of the Blest, at the outermost edge of the earth, while the Titans were thrown into Tartarus, a land situated beneath Hades. The inhabitants of Tartarus—in time others joined the enchained Titans there—were not so much great offenders as offenders of the great.

Rhea, the wife and sister of Kronos, was identified with Cybele, the mother goddess of Phrygia. The ecstatic dances of her devotees, noted for the loud clashing noise involved, were said to have drowned the cries of the Zeus child hidden in the Cretan cave from Kronos. Clearly this is a mythical explanation of the ritual connected with the orgiastic worship of a West Asian earth goddes.

Subjects: Religion.

Reference entries