Uranus [ou'ra-nus and you-ray'nus] or
He was produced by Gaia, without a partner. Gaia then mated with
him to produce the twelve Titans, the three Cyclopes, and the three
Hecatonchires. He was so embarrassed by the appearance of the Cyclopes
and the Hecatonchires that he hid them inside Gaia, who forged a
sickle and conspired with Cronus, one of the Titans, to punish Uranus.
Cronus reached up with the sickle and castrated his father; from
the blood that fell to the earth when Cronus tossed the genitals
behind himself, the Erinyes (Furies) and the Giants were born. Aphrodite
emerged from the foam that was whipped up when the genitals landed
in the ocean. Cronus then became ruler of the world in place of
his impotent father (Hesiod, Theogony 168-200; Apollodorus
1.1.1-4). Family Tree 2Family
Venus [vee'nus] (Aphrodite), "desire."
She was a minor Italian fertility goddess who took on new significance
and honor when she became identified with Aphrodite. Originally
a protector of gardens who brought luck and favor, she became a
goddess of love and beauty under the influence of Greek mythology.
Vesta [ves'ta] (Hestia), "hearth."
Goddess of the hearth, her temple in the Roman Forum housed an altar
with a fire that symbolized the hearth or the center of the life
of the Roman Republic; this fire was never allowed to go out. Her
priestesses, the Vestal Virgins, were chosen before they were ten
years old and they served until the age of forty, after which they
could continue as semiretired priestesses, if they desired. They
took a vow of chastity, and those few who violated their vow were
buried alive. They had the power to pardon criminals sentenced to
die, and in courts of law they were not required to take an oath
of honesty. A Vestal Virgin who died in office was granted the privilege
of burial in the city of Rome.
Zeus [zous] (Jupiter), "sky."
Son of Cronus and Rhea, he became the king of gods and humans, the
ruler of the universe. Cronus swallowed each of his children as
they were born because of a prophecy that one of his offspring would
overthrow him, but when Zeus was born, Rhea gave Cronus a stone
wrapped in baby blankets instead of the infant. Zeus was raised
on Crete in secret. Cronus was tricked into vomiting up the children
he had swallowed, and Zeus then rallied his brothers and sisters
to defeat Cronus in the battle known as the Titanomachy (Hesiod,
Theogony 453-506; Apollodorus 1.1.3-2.1; Pausanias 8.8.2;
Diodorus Siculus 5.70.1-71.1). He drew lots with his brothers, Hades
and Poseidon, to divide up the universe: his lot made him the ruler
of the sky (Apollodorus 1.2.1). He dwelt on Mount Olympus, used
lightning and thunderbolts as his weapons, and had epithets such
as Thunderer, Rainer, Cloud Gatherer, and Sender of Fair Winds.
The eagle and the oak tree are his symbols, and he wears the aegis,
a goatskin with miraculous protective powers. His most famous centers
of worship are Olympia and Dodona. Though married to Hera, his sister,
Zeus had many affairs with goddesses and mortals alike, including
Metis, Themis, Eurynome, Demeter, Mnemosyne, Leto, Semele, DanaŽ,
Alcmene, Leda, and Io. Family
Tree 2Family Tree 22.