Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 7

In allusion to the dethronement of Ouranos by Kronos, and of
Kronos or Saturnus by Zeus or Jupiter, Prometheus says in
AEschylus's tragedy,—

  "You may deem
  Its towers impregnable; but have I not
  already seen two monarchs hurled from them."

Thee is another cosmogony, or account of the creation, according to which Earth, Erebus, and Love were the first of beings. Love (Eros)_ issued from the egg of Night, which floated on Chaos. By his arrows and torch he pierced and vivified all things, producing life and joy.

Saturn and Rhea were not the only Titans. There were others, whose names were Oceanus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Ophion, males; and Themis, Mnemosyne, Eurynome, females. They are spoken of as the elder gods, whose dominion was afterwards transferred to others. Saturn yielded to Jupiter, Oceanus to Neptune, Hyperion to Apollo. Hyperion was the father of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn. He is therefore the original sun-god, and is painted with the splendor and beauty which were afterwards bestowed on Apollo.

"Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself." Shakespeare

Ophion and Eurynome ruled over Olympus till they were dethroned by Saturn and Rhea. Milton alludes to them in Paradise Lost. He says the heathen seem to have had some knowledge of the temptation and fall of man,—

  "And fabled how the serpent, whom they called
  Ophion, with Eurynome (the wide-
  Encroaching Eve perhaps), had first the rule
  Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven."

The representations given of Saturn are not very consistent, for on the one hand his reign is said to have been the golden age of innocence and purity, and on the other he is described as a monster who devoured his own children [This inconsistency arises from considering the Saturn of the Romans the same with the Grecian deity [Chronos] (Time), which, as it brings an end to all things which have had a beginning, may be said to devour its own offspring.] Jupiter, however, escaped this fate, and when grown up espoused Metis (Prudence), who administered a draught to Saturn which caused him to disgorge his children. Jupiter, with his brothers and sisters, now rebelled against their father Saturn, and his brothers the Titans; vanquished them, and imprisoned some of them in Tartarus, inflicting other penalties on others. Atlas was condemned to bear up the heavens on his shoulders.

On the dethronement of Saturn, Jupiter with his brothers Neptune (Poseidon) and Pluto (Dis) divided his dominions. Jupiter's portion was the heavens, Neptune's the ocean, and Pluto's the realms of the dead. Earth and Olympus were common property. Jupiter was king of gods and men. The thunder was his weapon, and he bore a shield called AEgis, made for him by Vulcan. The eagle was his favorite bird, and bore his thunderbolts.

Juno (Hera)[pronounce He-re, in two syllables] was the wife of Jupiter, and queen of the gods. Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, was her attendant and messenger. The peacock was her favorite bird.

Vulcan (Hephaistos), the celestial artist, was the son of Jupiter and Juno. He was born lame, and his mother was so displeased at the sight of him that she flung him out of heaven. Other accounts say that Jupiter kicked him out for taking part with his mother, in a quarrel which occurred between them. Vulcan's lameness, according to this account, was the consequence of his fall. He was a whole day falling, and at last alighted in the island of Lemnos, which was thenceforth sacred to him. Milton alludes to this story in Paradise lost, Book I.