Squirrel Madness: tales of ancient greaseMarch 21, 2011
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The Beginning (or the version they teach kids at school)
The Greeks believed that at the beginning of time there was only one being, named Chaos. From Chaos came the earth, which took the form of a goddess called Gaia (or Gaea), and the sky, which was a god called Uranus.
Among the children of Gaia and Uranus were Rhea, Oceanus, and Cronus (or Cronos). Uranus was a rotten father. He kept his children prisoners in caves. Determined to get back at her husband for his cruelty. Gaia convinced her youngest son, Cronus, that his father needed to be disposed of immediately.
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First, Cronus decided to marry his sister, Rhea. Then he killed his father, King Uranus. As old Uranus lay dying, he muttered to Cronus, “You kill me to become king, and your sons will dethrone you as well.” After his father’s death, Cronus became the ruler of the Titans. The titans were a race of giants who were also known as the elder gods.
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Now, after a message like that, you would think Cronus would never have kids. Instead, Cronus and Rhea had children, but after each baby was born, Cronus would swallow it, whole. Why? He could, he was the king! And he couldn’t take a chance that one of his children would dethrone him!
Rhea and Cronus had three daughters together (Hera, Demeter, and Hestia), and they were swalled up along with their two sons, Hades and Poseidon. Rhea was fed up. She had a feeling their next child would be a son. So she went down the side of Mount Olympus, where they lived, and gave birth to a boy, far from the palace. She named him Zeus. Then she realized she would have to fool Cronus, otherwise Zeus would suffer the same fate as his siblings. So Rhea wrapped a rock in some blankets and presented the bundle to her husband as their newborn son. Cronus swallowed the rock and blankets in one huge gulp!
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Rhea gave Zeus to a kind farming family who agreed to raise him while she returned to live on Mount Olympus. Zeus grew up to be a beautiful, kind boy. After many years, Rhea was sad without Zeus and so she found him and took him back to her palace. Now, wouldn’t you think Cronus would have Zeus killed upon his return? But Cronus was superficial, and when he saw how handsome and smart Zeus was, he allowed him to live. That proved to be a big mistake!
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That same night, Rhea and Zeus prepared a drink that would force Cronus to vomit. And he did. He threw up all five children, and Zeus gained three sisters and two brothers! (If you are a god, you are not technically digested, and so you can come back to life again). Zeus started an argument with Cronus, and an all-out battle began between them.
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Cronus asked the Titans for their help. Zeus brought together his distant cousins, the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handed Ones, and led them in a battle against the Titans.
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Out of nowhere there was a loud scream, and something caused Cronus and the Titans to run. Some believe Zeus murdered Cronus with the same blade that Cronus had used to kill his own father. The truth is that we don’t really know what happened. What we do know is that Zeus was made king, and he and his siblings took over Mount Olympus and the palace from that day on.
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Text squirreled from:
Myth Madness! tales of Ancient Greece by Dorothea DePrisco Wang, Scholastic Inc. Press, 2002 (this edition is only available for distribution through the school market). Which I purchased for $1 from my Needful Things PreLoved Bookshop, when I couldn’t find a Seth book…..