The Wars between the Titans and Olympians
The Titanomachy is a series of wars in Greek mythology. These wars took place in Thessaly, and were also called the War of the Titans, the Battle of the Titans, the Battle of the Gods or just the Titan War. These wars were between the Titans, the older gods, and the Olympians, a newer generation of gods. The Titans ruled Mount Othrys, and the Olympians would rule Mount Olympus. The Titans and the Olympians fought to decide who would rule the universe. In the end, the Olympians who were led by Zeus won.
There were several poems about the war between the gods during the Classical Greek Age. Only one poem has survived. It is called the Theogony and is said to be written by Hesiod. The Titans and Olympians are mentioned in many other poems, particularly those of Orpheus.
Before the war started the Titans were in power, and Uranus was in charge of the universe. Uranus made his wife, Gaea angry because he locked up some of her children. These children were the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires. He locked them up in the Tartarus, which was a prison deep below the earth. Gaea was very mad that Uranus had locked up her children, so she made them a giant weapon and told them to castrate their father. Cronus was the only child that would do as his mother told him. So Cronus and his mother made a plan to overthrow Uranus.
The plan worked, and when Uranus was castrated his blood fell to earth and into the sea. From this blood, several sets of children were born. The Gigantes, the Erinyes, and the Meliae were all made from Uranus’ blood that fell to the earth. Aphrodite was born from Uranus’ blood that fell into the sea.
Cronus, with his mother’s help, managed to overthrow his father, Uranus. But Uranus made a prediction that Cronus would be overthrown by his sons. Because Cronus was afraid of losing the kingdom, he made the same mistakes his father did and turned into a terrible, angry king and did lots of horrible things to stay in power. He put his brothers back into prison and ate his children, just to keep them from overthrowing him. But Rhea, his wife, managed to fool Cronus and keep one of his children safe. This child was named Zeus. Rhea hid him away in a cave on the island of Crete so he would be safe. On the island, Zeus was raised by a goat, named Amalthea.
Once Zeus grew up, he went to his father’s mountain and served him as a cupbearer. His father did not know that Zeus was his son. A Titan goddess named Metis helped Zeus fool his father into drinking a mixture of mustard in his wine. This caused Cronus to feel sick, and he threw up all of his children that he had eaten, one by one. Once Cronus had expelled all of Zeus’ brothers and sisters, Zeus talked them into rebelling against Cronus, their father.
This is what started the Titanomachy, or the Titan’s War. Zeus and his brothers and sisters rebelled against his father, Cronus. Zeus set the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires free from their underground prison and convinced them to join the rebellion against Cronus too. Remember, Cronus had been the one who locked up his siblings, so they agreed to join Zeus. The Hecatonchires used rocks as weapons, and the Cyclopes made Zeus’ thunderbolts. Together they also made Poseidon‘s trident and Hades‘ helm of darkness.
The only Titians (the older generation) to fight with Zeus were Themis and Prometheus. This war lasted ten years. Atlas was a major leader on the side of the Titans and Cronus. After the war was over, Zeus imprisoned all of the Titans, except for Themis and Prometheus who fought for him.
These Titans were imprisoned in the earth the same way that Cronus, Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes once were. Hecatonchires guarded the Titans in their prison. Because Atlas was such an important fighter for the opposition, Zeus gave him the special punishment of holding up the world.
After the Titans’ War Zeus and his brothers, Hades and Poseidon decided to divide the universe into three parts. They drew straws to see who would rule over which part. Zeus drew the longest straw, so he was given the title of king of the sky. This also meant that he was the head of mortals and all the gods, too. Poseidon got the middle straw, so he became king of the sea. Hades drew the shortest straw, so he became the ruler of the Underworld.
The Underworld is also known as the realm of the dead. There are some differently told versions of the Titanomachy, one of which says that Zeus eventually let the Titans go free.
Once Zeus had reign over the earth, he decided to ask Prometheus and Themis to create man and animals to populate the earth as a new generation of mortal beings. Themis created animals, and Prometheus was given the job of creating man. Themis took his job very seriously and finished all of the animals before Prometheus had even decided what gifts to give mankind. By the time Prometheus was ready to give mankind the gifts, Themis had already used them all on the animals!
Prometheus was so angry that he stole the godly fire back from Zeus, and gave it to man. Zeus was so angry that he chained Prometheus to a mountain forever. Zeus was still so angry that he wanted to punish mankind. He did this by creating a beautiful woman, named Pandora. Pandora was given a box with a little bit of each of the gods’ powers. Pandora then married, and lived a very happy life, until one day she got very curious. Pandora and her husband decided to open the box.
When they opened this box, all the evils of the world came spilling out. According to Greek mythology, this is where we get pride, envy, greed, pain, suffering and anything bad. Pandora and her husband managed to close the box before every horror escaped.
They only opened it one more time because the box whispered that it had hope inside, and wanted to let it out. They did open the box then, and hope was released for all of mankind.
A list of the key players in the Titanomachy:
- Titans – Older generation of gods.
- Olympians – Younger generation of gods.
- Uranus – Ruler of the universe before the Titans War. Married to Gaea. Father to the Cyclopes, the Hecatonchires and Cronus
- Cronus – Overthrew his father, Uranus. Father to Zeus. Married to Rhea.
- Zeus – Overthrows father Cronus. Starts Titans war. Eventually rules entire universe.
- Prometheus – Titan that fought on the side of Zeus. Brother to Themis. Created man and stole godly fire from Zeus.
- Themis – Titan that fought on the side of Zeus. Brother to Prometheus. Created animals.
- Pandora – Created by Zeus and a punishment for mankind. Opened the box.
A short timeline of events of the Titanomachy:
- Cronus over throws Uranus.
- Cronus becomes a tyrant.
- Cronus eats all of his children, except one, Zeus.
- Zeus grows up hidden in Crete. He eventually fools Cronus into vomiting up all his children.
- Zeus rebells against Cronus, along with all his brothers and sisters. These are the Olympians.
- Prometheus and Themis are the only Titans to fight with Zeus.
- The war lasts for 10 years.
- After the Olympians win the war, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades divide up the world.
- Zeus becomes ruler of the sky and the earth.
- He asks Prometheus and Themis to create man and animals.
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