Classical Myths in English Literature

By Dan S. Norton; Peters Rushton | Go to book overview

E

EARTH GODDESSES. The first divinity of the Greeks was Gaea, or Ge, the goddess of the earth, whom the Romans called Tellus, or Terra Mater. Her son and husband Uranus, the sky, was not worshiped, apparently because he was so vaguely imagined. Gaea's chief characteristic was fecundity. Not only was she the mother by Uranus of the creatures of the earth, but she also mated with her son Pontus and her grandson Poseidon to produce various creatures of the sea.

She always sided with a son against his father, but when son or grandson opposed son or grandson her allegiance wavered. Because Uranus confined most of his children in Tartarus, Gaea persuaded her son Cronus to attack and castrate his father. Cronus then became the supreme ruler and took Rhea for his queen. Knowing that one of his offspring was fated to overthrow him, Cronus swallowed his first five children; but after Zeus was born, when Cronus asked for what he had bred, Rhea gave him a stone.

As soon as Zeus reached maturity, Gaea helped him to compel Cronus to disgorge the other children, and then the Olympians and the Titans fought a great war. At first Gaea assisted her grandchildren against her children, and her excellent advice was chiefly responsible for the defeat of the Titans; but when some of the Titans were confined in Tartarus, she mourned for them and created a monster named Typhon and incited her children the Giants to fight against Zeus. The Olympians needed the help of Heracles to subdue the last of Gaea's children.

Rhea, the wife of Cronus and the daughter of Gaea, as-

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Classical Myths in English Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • How to Use This Book xiii
  • Greek Myth and the Poets 1
  • A 13
  • C 101
  • D 126
  • E 139
  • G 165
  • H 171
  • J 224
  • L 227
  • N 230
  • O 238
  • Q 322
  • S 322
  • T 326
  • U 348
  • X 408
  • Z 411
  • Literary References 425
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