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Rhea, Mother of the Olympians

The union of Uranus and Gaea produced Cronus, Rhea and the other titans. The union of Cronus and Rhea produced Zeus.

“For he (Cronus) learned from Earth and starry Heaven that he was destined to be overcome by his own son, [465] strong though he was, through the contriving of great Zeus.2 Therefore he kept no
blind outlook, but watched and swallowed down his children: and unceasing grief seized Rhea. But when she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods and men, then she besought her own dear parents, Earth and starry Heaven, to devise some plan with her that the birth of her dear child might be concealed, blind outlook, but watched and swallowed down his children: and unceasing grief seized Rhea. But when she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods and men, then she besought her own dear parents, Earth and starry Heaven, to devise some plan with her that the birth of her dear child might be concealed, and that retribution might overtake great, crafty Cronos for his own father and also for the children whom he had swallowed down. And they readily heard and obeyed their dear daughter, [475] and told her all that was destined to happen touching Cronos the king and his stout-hearted son. So they sent her to Lyctus, to the rich land of Crete, when she was ready to bear great Zeus, the youngest of her children. Him did vast Earth receive from Rhea [480] in wide Crete to nourish and to bring up. To that place came Earth carrying him swiftly through the black night to Lyctus first, and took him in her arms and hid him in a remote cave beneath the secret places of the holy earth on thick-wooded Mount Aegeum; but to the mightily ruling son of Heaven, the earlier king of the gods, [485] she gave a great stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then he took it in his hands and thrust it down into his belly: wretch!” (Hesiod, Theogony)

Rhea – Mother of the gods, identified with Cybele. Rhea is one of the
goddesses described by Hesiod as rich-haired. After Cronus was imprisoned she mated with Olympus to produce Alce and Midas. The Corybantes were her priests. Two symbols of strength, the lion and oak, were sacred to her.

RA2-TI : theoretized to represent Razija, the Minoan Great Goddess, whose connection to the Classical Greek Rhea, mother of gods, is obvious. reference Rhea is connected to Minoan Crete especially because the myths have her give birth to Zeus in a cave on Crete.

The name ‘Rhea’ is perhaps an inversion of the Indo-European root ‘er-2’, ‘earth’. It is believed to be an inversion. If it is then Rhea may be an Indo-European goddess.

The generations of the gods can be interpreted in many ways. Some have suggested that the defeat of one god by another represents the defeat of a society that supports that god by another society that supports the victor god. Zeus, whose name is Indo-European, has been argued to have come in with Indo-European immigrants and their conquest put him on the top. But Jane Ellen Harrison has argued that the story of the generations seems to be more related to the development of religion in general. Religion is, she points out, a phenomena of the group and relates to the morality of the group. In the beginning before society a man gathered around him one or more women who he related to sexually and children resulted. If the children were female he could eventually add them to his group of females. But if they were males they eventually would be his rival. He would either kill them or be killed himself. His younger sons would have a better chance at survival because he would be older and weaker. This is like the story of Ouranos and Gaia and Ouranous was in the habit of killing his sons. Only when Gaia intervened was Cronus able to deal with his father. The development of familial bonding causes the women to participate more and more in the welfare of their sons. So in the case of Rhea she hid Zeus and plotted with him. Finally a system of morality had to develop so the man could describe his family in a way that the sons would leave him alone. This led to a sytem of totems and taboos that identified the women with the totem symbol of the man and the sons knew to stay away. This also involved a ritual of expulsion that got the sons out on their own when they were ready. Ultimately, under Zeus a more complex moraity was set up that kept things orderly. The Greeks were fortunate that many of their taboos were lost but even so later remnants of these taboos can be observed in the Greek religion.

It should be pointed out that If there was a war of the gods it seems more likely that the war involved the overthrough of the Indo-European gods by the minoam ones. This seems likely because more of the Titans have names with Indo-European roots, while few of the Olympians do.

Pictures of the goddess Rhea:

Resources:

  • Roller, Lynn E., “In Search of God the Mother : The Cult of Anatolian Cybele”, University of California Press, July 1999, ISBN: 0520210247.

Rhea, Mother of the Olympians

Questions and Answers

Question: what is the personality of rhea?

Answer: The personality of a goddess is tied up with her realm that she rules, but the realm of Rhea is not plain. Some say she is the goddess of plant life. She is an earth mother like Gaia and Demeter so this fits. She had a wild side as judged by her association with the Corybantes.

Question: Who was the god of the sea?

Answer Poseidon.

Question: What is the symbol of Rhea?

Answer: the left half of this relief would serve as an excellent emblem for Rhea: Click here

Question: What are the physical features, the positive qualities and the negative qualities of the greek goddess Rhea?

Answer: As a goddess she is perfectly beautiful, but it is a beauty of strength. She is a Titan and Titans are associated with large size but she can be whatever size she wants. Hesiod refers to her as “beautiful haired”. Her name seems to be related to the Indo-European name for the earth and she was often worshipped as an earth goddess confused with Cybele. The Corybantes were her priests. Few of the other Titans were worshipped at all. She is best known as the mother of the gods since she gave birth to Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hades, and Hestia. She was instrumental in deceiving Cronus so that her children could be born. That she was struck with grief that Cronus ate her babies is a significant fact about her nature.

Mortals can be described as having positive and negative qualities but not goddesses. Goddesses have realms and it is the nature of their realms that determine their qualities. But the realm of Rhea is not so definite. Her realm seems to be similar to Gaea and Demeter. If so, would it be a negative to say that the earth suffers from storms and earthquakes? Would it be positive to say that the Earth sustains all life. Or do you mean that it is a positive that she is the mother of the gods and she did not paticipate in the Titanomachy. As a negative you could say that her worship has not produced any compelling results from her power and so it has dwindled.