The Birth of Zeus

At the peak of the Minoan culture, and contained within their myths, are detectable elements connected with the later Greek Olympian cycle and Pantheon. The earliest is to do with the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of Zeus, the Great Father of Greek Gods.

Greek Mythology, The Birth of Zeus, Diktaion Cave, Amalthea

By this story, Kronos (son of Ouranos – Sky – and Gaia – Earth) married his sister Rhea: they brought many children into the world. But Kronos, scared by a prophecy that he would lose his throne to a child of his, swallowed all the newborns – in an attempt to avoid Fate.

Rhea, grown tired of seeing her children consumed, removed herself to Crete when her next time of labour was upon her: there she birthed Zeus in a cave in the mountains (some say at Psychro on Dicte, other the Idaion cave on Ida).

The task of protecting and nurturing the infant was taken by the Idaian Dactuloi, the Kouretes and the goat-nymph Amalatheia and three other nymphs... and generally all the creatures of nature. The story goes that the Kouretes performed their war-dance clashing swords on shields to cover the crying of the infant Zeus.

Rhea, meanwhile, presented Kronos with a stone in swaddling clothes, telling him was the child. He swallowed it (literally and metaphorically). Zeus, of course, had his eventual revenge – freeing all his earlier gulped-down siblings.

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