Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TFBT: Combatants of the Titanomachy

“For the Titan gods and as many as sprang from Cronus had long been fighting together in stubborn war with heart-grieving toil, the lordly Titans from high Othyrs, but the gods, givers of good, whom rich-haired Rhea bare in union with Cronus, from Olympus.”    Hesiod, The Theogony 626

Perhaps the “thrice prayed for, most fair, best beloved” goddess Nyx suggested how Zeus might rescue his siblings.  Or perhaps it was the deep suggestions of Mother Earth that beguiled great Cronus the wily to bring up again his offspring.[i]  Or maybe when Zeus was full-grown, he took Metis, daughter of Ocean, to help him, and she gave Cronus a drug to swallow.[ii] Maybe Zeus’ mother Rhea assisted.[iii]  In any case Zeus, the youngest of Cronus’s children endeared himself with the older generation of deities called Titans, meaning The Strainers.  Zeus became their cup-bearer.  The potion that Zeus slipped into King Cronus’ cup made him “disgorge” the contents of his heavy stomach, including the gods Poseidon and Hades along with their sisters Hera, Demeter and Hestia.  They returned to the world fully grown and immediately declared war on Cronus and his brothers the Titans. The children of Cronus took up Mt. Olympus as their abode and the Titans took up Mount Othrys as a strong hold.  

So began the Titanomachy, but who were the combatants? 

Following Hesiod’s description of the Titanomachy in “The Theogony” the elder Titans who’d aided Cronus in his climb to power still stood by him, his brothers; heir-less Coeus (Intelligence) Crius (Ruler), Iapetos (The Piercer) and Hyperion(He who watches from above).  His brother Oceanus remained neutral in the Titanomachy as he did during the revolt against their father Uranus in revenge for his cruelty[iv].  It was Oceanus who fostered Hera and sheltered all the goddesses and Titanesses during the ten year long war that followed. (Hence none of the Titanesses were hurled into Tartarus).[v] 
·         Iapetos might have served as the general for the Titanic army.  Homer refers to him as enthroned next to Cronus in Tartarus[vi] and Valerius Flaccus mentions that the gods battled against Iapetus specifically.[vii] 
·         ML West reports that “the Sun-Titan refrained from assisting the Titans and was rewarded by being stationed in heaven instead of Tartarus. The deity in question was doubtless not Helios but Hyperion.”[viii],  Which would explain Homer’s habit of referring to the Sun-god as both Hyperion and Helios

According to Graves, Cronus’ time had passed and the second generation of Titans took over the leadership in their battle against the Olympians.  The mixed blood Titans took over the leadership of their cause; these were the sons of water nymphs rather than Titanesses. 
·         To Crius and Eurybia, the daughter of Pontus, were born sons of mixed-blood great Astraios (Starry), and Pallas (Warrior), and the son-less Perses (Destroyer) who was preeminent among all men in wisdom.  Astraios is the father by Eos daughter of Hyperion of the stars and four winds that pull Zeus chariot.  Several goatish giants named Pallas are slain by Zeus’ daughter Athena. None of the three are heard of after the Titanomachy and Eos is husbandless.
·         "Now Iapetos took to wife the neat-ankled maid Klymene, daughter of Okeanos, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas; also she bare very glorious Menoitios and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus."[ix]  All the Iapetides (sons of Iapetus) married Oceanides like their father did.  Atlas led the Titans in revolt against Zeus. [x] And as consequence for all eternity held up the sky as punishment.  For Menoitios’ hubris the far-seeing Zeus struck him with a thunderbolt and sent him down to Tartarus because of his mad presumption and exceeding pride, rather than being hurled in Tartarus and bound like the rest of the Titans. [xi] A daemon of a similar name later served as Hades shepherd. As to Prometheus;  "When first the heavenly powers were moved to wrath, and mutual dissension was stirred up among them-- it was then that [Prometheus], although advising them for the best, was unable to persuade the Titanes…they, disdaining counsels of craft.”  Through prophecy Prometheus knew the way in which the future was fated to come to pass. All though he argued with the Titans they did not pay any attention to his words. Consequently he joined the side of Zeus bring his brother Epimetheus with him."[xii]  Apparently he was the Titans’ herald for some time.[xiii] Prometheus would also be the god who procured celestial fire for early man. The sons of Iapetos were also described as possessing some of the worst of human traits: on an intellectual level, Prometheus is overly sly and crafty, Epimetheus a guileless fool, Atlas overly-daring and arrogant Menoitios prone to rash and violent actions. Their natural traits led each to their downfall.[xiv]

Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaessa, his own sister, who bare him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos (Dawn) and rich-tressed Selene (Moon) and tireless Helios (Sun)."  Although no specific reference is made to the pure-blood Titan Helios in the Titanomachy, (there are few specific references in Hesiod’s report in the Theogony) we can assume Helios participated based on the honors and lands gifted to him and his sisters when the spoils of war were divided. His sister Selene and Eos because the goddesses of the moon and dawn respectively.

Zeus managed to convince the River Styx and the pure-blood Titaness brother-less Hecate to join the Olympian cause, but no female deity is recorded participating in the battles.  This males-only protocol is in sharp contrast to the universal involvement of the gods and goddesses in the Gigantomachy.  Styx, the deathless daughter of Oceanus brought her daughters Nike (Victory) and Bia (Force) and sons Cratos (Strength) and Zelos (Rivalry), to stand alongside the gods. Zeus rewarded her by making her streams the agent of the binding oath of the gods. It’s possible that Cratos and Zelos participated in battle.

Earth prophesied victory to Zeus if he should have as allies those who had been hurled down to Tartarus. So he slew their jailoress the snakish Campe, and loosed the bonds of the Hecatoncheires and Cyclopes from confinement in Tartarus.  In gratitude, the hundred-handed giants, Briareos, blameless Cottus speaker for the brothers [xv] and Gyes insatiate for war joined the battle.  Strong Briareos, would most famously aid Thetis in loosing the bonds of Zeus at a later revolt

And the Cyclopes overbearing in spirit, Brontes (Thunder), Steropes (Lightning Bolt) and stubborn-hearted Arges (Vivid Flash), then gave Zeus thunder and lightning and a thunderbolt, and on Hades they bestowed a helmet of invisibility and on Poseidon a trident. Armed with these weapons the gods overcame the Titans, shut them up in Tartarus,

The gods of the sea, great Thaumas and proud Phorcus, and their brother truthful Nereus seemed to retain their honors, but it is noteworthy that Poseidon became “ruler of the deep, briny-swirling seas”.  Maybe they followed the example of the Great River Oceanus and maintained neutrality.  The sole exception to the Pontides neutrality was Thaumas’ daughter Iris who became a messenger for the Olympians, while her sister Arce, became messenger for the Titans. After the victory Zeus tore off her wings before throwing her into Tartarus[xvi]

Jenny Strauss Clay observed[xvii] “Gaia, whose line(age) remains completely separate from that of Chaos – intercourse between these two fundamentally opposite cosmic entities seems impossible”.  The Fates decreed that some specific members of these clans could not meet.[xviii]  So we should not expect involvement from the children of the Night.

So in summary; the combatants for the Titans were probably; the elder Titans; Cronus, Coeus, Crius, Iapetos and the mixed-blood Titans; Astraios, Pallas, Perses, Atlas and Menoitios.  For the Olympians the elder Titan Hyperion and probably his son Helios, Cronus’ sons; Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, the Hecatoncheires; Briareos, Cottus and Gyes, the Cyclopes; Brontes, Steropes and Arges and maybe the sons of Pallas; Cratos and Zelos  In an abstract sense; those with foresight; the far-seeing god overcame leadership, intelligence and craftsmanship.  Fire and lightning overcame a stubborn, prideful soldiery.

…when the blessed gods had finished their toil, and settled by force their struggle for honours with the Titans, they pressed far-seeing Olympian Zeus to reign and to rule over them, by Earth's prompting. So he divided their dignities amongst them. Hesiod, The Theogony 881  ... (they) threw the lots (Poseidon) received the grey sea as (his) abode, Hades drew the murky darkness, Zeus, however, drew the wide sky of brightness and clouds; the earth is common to all, and spacious Olympus." Iliad 15.187


[i] Hesiod Th. 493ff.,
[ii] Apollodorus, Library [1.2.1]
[iii] The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths Told by Jean-Pierre Vernant, Page 18
[iv] Virgil, Aeneid 6.580
[v] Aaron J. Atsma, Oceanus
[vi] (Iliad 8.479)
[vii] Argonautica 1.563)
[viii] ML West 'EUMELOS': A CORINTHIAN EPIC CYCLE?* referencing Virgil Aeneid 6.580
[ix] Hesiod, Theogony 507  
[x] Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 150
[xi] Hesiod, Theogony 507
[xii] Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 200 
[xiii] Eumelus, Fragment 5 (from Hesychius Lexicon 1. 387) "Ithas: The Titanes' herald, Prometheus. Some write Ithax."
[xiv] Aaron J. Atsma  
[xv] Hesiod, Theogony 654
[xvi] Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Bk6 as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190
[xvii] Hesiod’s Cosmos , page 16
[xviii] Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8.791

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