The birth of


The birth of Zeus
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The king of the Titanes, Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned that he was destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his own father. But when Rhea was about the give birth to Zeus, she sought Gaea to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Thus, Rhea gave birth to Zeus in the Diktaean Cave in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed.

Then, Zeus was moved from the Diktaean Cave to the Idaean Cave. During the moving, in accordance with Diodoros, his navel fell near a river, which is the today’s Karteros River, east of Heraklion. According to another weaker version of the myth, Zeus did not only grow, but was also born in the Idaean Andron. Another version says that Zeus was not only born, but also raised in Diktaean Cave.

Seven good-tempered giants called Curetes (Kourites) from Euboea were invited by Rhea to guard the entrance of the cave. Also, every time that baby Zeus was crying, they masked the crying sound by banging loudly their legendary shields with their swords, thus Cronus could not hear Zeus crying. According to another version, Curetes danced a very fast dance and their armors banged loudly. This dance, they say, is the ancestor of today's Pentozalis, a traditional cretan dance.

The nymph Melissa undertook the upbringing of Zeus. The mythical goat Amalthea nursed him with her milk. One day, when Zeus was playing with this goat, he broke off one of her horns and gave it to Amalthea, telling her that all the fruits she could ever want would spring from out of the horn (the famous Horn of Amalthea, or Horn of Plenty).

Soon came the day where Zeus was mature enough to claim the Kingdom of the World and he started a battle against his father and the Titanes, also known as "Titanomachy". First he managed to liberate his five elder brothers and sisters from his father's stomach by giving him a special herb and making him this way throw up. With the help of his siblings, Zeus then overthrew the Titanes in the depths of the Underworld, the Tartarus.

After overthrowing his father Cronus, Zeus was confronted with the Giants and the monster Typhonas, which he both battled successfully. Finally, the Kingdom of the World was in the hands of Zeus and his siblings.

Justly, he drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades to let luck determine who would become the new king of the gods. Zeus won the draw and officially became ruler of the Earth and the Sky and the Lord of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain of Greece. 

The upbringing of Zeus in Crete is illustrated by ancient references to him as Kritagenis Zeus, meaning Cretan-born Zeus.

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