The God of Strength
Kratos is an interesting figure in Greek mythology. It is largely agreed that he is a god of strength and power, but there are conflicting stories about almost everything else about him. There are two competing versions of his parentage, each of which changes his relation to the other gods.
The Son of Titans
In many myths, Kratos is referred to as the son of the Titans Pallas and Styx. This would make Kratos a relative of the Olympian gods, but not one of their direct number. He is often referred to as the brother of several other figures that represent strength and battle – Nike, the goddess of victory, Bia, the goddess of force and violence, and Zelus, the god of zeal.
In this form, Kratos is seen as a companion of Zeus and the guardian of his throne. Following this line, he is seen as the personification of strength itself, and the god of sovereign rule. He is usually one of Zeus’ primary enforcers and is an extension of his will.
The Son of Zeus
In a few other myths, Kratos is seen as one of Zeus‘ many children. Rather than being one of Zeus’ peers, he is a demigod, the son of Zeus and an unnamed mortal woman. This form of his history is relatively uncommon, but it does crop up enough to be important.
Kratos and Prometheus
Regardless of Kratos’ origin, the (demi)god doesn’t show up in many of the Greek myths. Because he is not one of the gods with a major domain, he is usually seen as a servant of another god and called upon in conjunction with one of his siblings. In fact, Kratos’ best known appearance in myth also involves his sister Bia.
After Prometheus steals fire from the gods, he is sentenced to be bound to a rock and tortured for all of eternity. Bia and Kratos use chains that are forged by the smith god Hephaestus to chain the captive Titan, acting as agents of Zeus’ vengeance. While this is his only role in the story, it is perhaps his most important appearance in Greek myth.
Kratos does not appear often in the same way that other gods appeared. Instead, his name is usually called upon by other characters to help them in times of need. Kratos is generally called upon with Bia and Nike in battle, but he was also sometimes called upon with Dike, a god of justice.
Kratos’ role as a god of strength and power wasn’t just limited the battlefield, but he is usually identified with violence. He is one of many Greek gods who seem to exist as more of an idea than as a character in the myths, and it’s not that uncommon to see his name without ever seeing his character appear.
Symbols and Items Associated with Kratos
In Greek mythology, symbols are a big deal. They add a layer of understanding about the gods, their powers and how these were perceived in ancient times. Kratos, being the personification of strength and power, is often depicted in a way that highlights his incredible might. Unlike many other Greek gods though, Kratos doesn’t have a specific symbol or item uniquely associated with him. Instead, his entire being represents strength and the enforcement of Zeus’s will. He is perceived as the personification of strength itself. While that is not a tangible symbol, it is something that it uniquely identifiable with Kratos.
In ancient art, Kratos is sometimes shown alongside his siblings, especially in scenes depicting the punishment of Prometheus. These further highlight his role as Zeus’s powerful enforcer. He’s there to show that Zeus’s commands are to be followed, no matter what.
Facts about Kratos Summarized
- Family Ties: Kratos is the son of Pallas and Styx. He has three siblings – Nike (Victory), Bia (Force), and Zelos (Rivalry). This powerful family was firmly allied with Zeus, the king of the gods.
- Loyal Servant of Zeus: Kratos is known for his unwavering loyalty to Zeus. He and his siblings were among the first to side with Zeus in the Titanomachy, the great war between the Titans and the Olympians.
- Role in Prometheus’ Story: One of Kratos’s most famous appearances in mythology is in the story of Prometheus. Along with his sister Bia, Kratos is tasked by Zeus to bind Prometheus to a rock as punishment for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humans.
- A Figure of Power: Kratos is often portrayed as brutal and relentless, the embodiment of raw power. His presence in myths is a reminder of the unyielding strength of the Olympian gods.
- No Specific Symbols: Unlike many other Greek gods, Kratos doesn’t have specific symbols or items like a thunderbolt or trident. His very essence is his symbol – the personification of strength and power.
- Influence in Art and Literature: While not as widely represented as other gods, Kratos has made appearances in various works of ancient Greek art and literature. Usually he appears in works centred around his role in the story of Prometheus.
- Modern Culture References: Interestingly, Kratos’s name and characteristics have influenced modern culture, including the naming of a character in the popular video game series “God of War.” This modern Kratos, while different in many ways, shares the name’s meaning of strength and power.
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