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CHAPTER 1

HOW THE WORLD BEGAN

The Olympian Creation Myth

There were a few creations myths on how the world began in ancient Greece. The most popular is "The Olympic Creation Myth". In this myth, the world began as a shapeless mass. Over this mass ruled a deity called Chaos. He ruled along with wife, the Goddess of Night. or Nyx. Their son, Erebus, or Darkness, soon dethroned the father, Chaos, and married his mother, Nyx. They had children, Ether, or Light, and Hemera, or Day.

Now, there was light to illumine the shapeless world, and Ether and Hemera saw fit to further enliven the world with the aid of their own child, Eros, to create Pontus, the Sea, and Gaia, the Earth.

This Earth was barren; no flowers, rivers, trees, or animals. Eros remedied this by shooting into the earth his life-giving arrows to create foliage, birds, and sealife. Eath (Gaia) wanted to contribute, so she coupled with an unknown form t create 'Uranus', or Heaven. This pair dethroned Chaos and Nyx.

Earth and Heaven had three sets of offspring, all important in Greek Mythology:

1) The Titans: six male (Cronus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Oceanus) six female (Rhea, Ilia, Themis, Thetis, Mnemosyne, and Phoebe)

2) The Cyclopes: Bronte (Thunder), Steropes (Lightning) and Arges (Sheet Lightning); one-eyed monsters

3) The Giants: Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes; all terrible, and hundred-handed giants and monsters

Uranus (Heaven) was afraid that his children, too, would overthrow him, so he imprisioned them below the earth in a dark region called Tartarus, chaining them all.

The mother, Earth, did not like this treatment of her children. Therefore she plotted with her Titan son, Cronus, giving him a scythe. With this weapon, Cronus came upon Uranus unprepared, castrating him, and chaining him fast. Uranus predicted that Cronus, too, would be overthrown by his own sons.

Cronus released his brothers and sisters from Tartarus, and entrusted to them various areas of the world; To Oceanus and Thetis he gave direction of the oceans and rivers; To Hyperion and Phoebe, the sun and the moon. To avoid his father's prophecy that his offspring would overthrow him, Cronus would devour his children immediately after being born.

In this manner, he devoured the children Hestia, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, and Demeter. However, after the sixth child, Zeus, was born, Rhea became determined that this child would not suffer the same fate. She hid Zeus, and wrapped up a rock in a blanket. Thinking that the rock wrapped up in a blanket was his child, Cronus swallowed the bundle. Rhea then sent the child to Crete, to a cave near Mt. Ida, where he was raised by a goat, Amalthea, and the Melian nymphs. To prevent Zeus' crying from being heard by Cronus, the priests of Rhea, called the Curetes, would scream, clash weapons, and loudly chant songs.

After reaching adulthood, Zeus successfully, as tpredicted by Uranus, overthrew Cronus. With the aid of Metis, the daughter of the Titan Oceanus, Zeus gave Cronus a substance which made him regurgitate the swallowed children. Zeus was then united with his brothers (Poseidonand Hades), and his sisters (Hestia, Demeter, and Hera).

Zeus and his brothers and sisters then took on the Titans, and, after a long battle with the help of the Cyclopes and their thundrebolts, defeated them. However, Mother Earth did not appreciate the subjugation of her offspring, the Titans. She then created a vicious monster, called Typhoon, but Zeus vanquished them finally, with the help of thunderbolts supplied by the Cyclopes. Next, Earth sent another monster, Enceladus. Zeus again defeated his foe, and bound Enceladus under Mt. Aetna in Sicily, where he periodically vents his rage by causing eruptions of the volcano, and by shaking the earth to cause earthquakes.

Zeus and his siblings, the first Olimpian Gods, now ruled the earth, from Mt. Oympus in Greece.

THE CREATION OF MAN

Prometheus, son of the Titan Iapetus, had aided Zeus in overthrowing his father, Cronus. To reward him, Zeus assigned the task of creating a being superior to animals, called Man. Prometheus was assisted by his brother, Epimetheus. Epimetheus gave to animals that already existed most of the protective mechanisms, such as feathers, shells, horns, wings, leaving almost nothing to give Man. But Prometheus decided to give Man a very important weapon: fire. Prometheus fashioned man out of clay, in the image of the Gods, and Stealthily set out to get fire from a man, for fire was exlcusive property of Gods. He crept undetected into Olympus, stealing a firebrand from the Gods, bringing it back to Man. Zeus was very angry at Prometheus for this deceitful act. He punished Prometheus by chaining him to a mountain in the Caucasian Mountains, in Asia Minor, and having an eagle feed on his liver all day long, returning the next day to continue feeding, after the liver regenerated overnight, so that his torture was never-ending.

Zeus punished Man by creating a creature that was to plague him until today-Woman. With the aid of the other Olympian Gods, he instilled grace and beauty into this new creature, but also gave qualities of curiosity, lying and deceit.

The first womans fashioned was called Pandora. She was sent to Ephimetheus, who immediately fell in love with her. At their marriage, the Olympian Gods gave the couple a box as a wedding gift, which Epimetheus accepted, even though Prometheus warned him never to accept any gifts from the Gods.

Having the curiosity of a woman, Pandora opened this forbidden box (called "Pandora's box"), releasing the contents of ills that would continually thereafter plague mankind, such as crime, sorrow, vices, and disease. However, Pandora closed the box before 'hope' could escape, so that man retains this to combat all the ills released.

THE AGES OF MAN

The race of mankind then peopled the earth. At this time, all men were good, ther were no laws, and it was generally a time of bliss. This period was called the Golden Age. The next period, The Silver Age , was not quite so prosperous, Men began to work, but people were still happy, which was not the occasion in the next period, The Brass Age. Violoence started, but was not nearly as bad as the The Iron Age, when war was constant, and even homage to the Gods was not performed. At this time, Zeus became very dissatisfied with Man. He had a meeting on Mt. Olympus with the rest of the Gods, and determined to wash mankind off the face of the earth by means of a flood. With the aid of Poseidon, who controlled the seas, rivers, and lakes, Zeus caused incessant rains, eventually flooding all the earth. But he did spare two pious individuals, Duecalion and Pyrrha. Deucalion was the son of Prometheus, and Pyrrha was the daugther of Epimetheus. During the flood, Zeus saved their lives by putting them on top of Mt. Parnaassus in Greece. After the fllod receded, the couple received the oracle thet told them to '...cast your's bones behind you'. At first, they were puzzled by this oracle, since they could not imagine the Gods wanting them to defile their mother's grave. But, then, they did not literally interpret the oracle, and reasoned that the "mother" represented the Earth, and her "bones", the stones of the Earth.

Therefore, they cast stones over their shoulders, and the stones were converted to humans, re-starting the race of Man.