Welcome Mythmaniacs!
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by Howard David Johnson
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(Please read Chapter I first, or shake your head in puzzlement...)

Awesome Aegis in his possession, Zeus presented himself to Metis, who sent him on to his mother Rhea so that Zeus could be made a cup-bearer to the unsuspecting Cronus. To make a long story short, with Metis' help, Zeus laced one of Cronus' cups with a drug that made him regurgitate his swallowed children, the five brothers and sisters of Zeus.

Needless to say, being gods, the kids were unharmed, albeit a tad startled; after all, one moment you're trapped inside dad's belly, hoping he lays off the garlic tonight, and the next second Zeus, the brother you never knew you had, is asking you to take part in the revolt of the Eons. Oh my. It's enough to make you throw up.

Zeus was a brilliant strategist. He first task was to free the Cyclopes - they were these gigantic, one-eyed towers of power - and the Hecatonchires - the One Hundred Handed Ones - who were these homely giants endowed with 100 hands and 50 heads. Nobody in Greece could pronounce their darn name, so we called them the E-Cats!

The Cyclopes and E-Cats were chained in Tartarus where Cronus had imprisoned them, and they were so grateful to be freed that they gave Zeus thunder and lightning as a reward for releasing them. To Poseidon they gave his lethal trident, and to Hades they gifted a helmet that rendered its wearer invisible.

(Why didn't they just use the thunder, lightning, trident and helmet to free themselves earlier? Good question. You ask them.)

Thus began the reign of Zeus. Now the Big Guy was armed. Together with his born-again siblings - sure hope they had a nice long bath first! - who eagerly assembled under Zeus' leadership, he found himself at the head of a real army.

The war against father Cronus lasted ten long years, but finally Hades snuck up unseen on dad, wearing his funky helmet of invisibility, his bro Poseidon held Cronus captive with his paralyzing trident, and finally Zeus struck him dead with a fatal bolt of lightning.

Talk about a 1-2-3 knock-out punch! The death of Cronus was followed by an attack from Atlas and the rest of the Titans, but suffice me to say that with the help of the Cyclopes and the handy E-Cats, Zeus' army prevailed and the enemy was sunk.

You should have seen the One-Eyed Wonders and E-Cats in action with Zeus! While the Cyclopes 'kept an eye out' for attack from the rear, the E-Cats sat in ambush armed with huge boulders in each of their 100 mighty hands. When the time was right, Zeus retreated as planned, drawing the Titans into the E-Cats' ambush.

They rained down thousands of gigantic rocks and boulders with such fury that the Titans thought the mountains were falling on them. They broke rank and ran away, not even bothering to slow down and change their underwear, giving Zeus and his motley crew victory.

The Titans who had fought against him were exiled by Zeus to Tartarus. I heard that Tartarus was as morbid as the Underworld, but without plumbing. Nice place to stay out of. One time our teachers lost their collective minds and tried to take us there on a field trip, but only three parents signed the consent form and the field trip was cancelled.

The Titans' leader, mighty Atlas, was singled out for special punishment by being assigned the task of holding the world on his shoulders. Ha, I can still hear Homer shouting at Hesiod late at night down at Thanasi's Olympus:

"Hesiod, your presence here is depriving some village of its idiot! How in Hades is Atlas supposed to hold up the world on his shoulders? Where would he stand, you imbecile? Besides, how big can Atlas be, to actually support the entire earth? What's in that nectar you're drinking? Hebe, cut him off!"

"I knew you'd like that one Homer, my boy. My village was so small, we all had to take turns being the idiot. Atlas is holding up the sky, not the whole world, I'll have you know.

"Besides, my Atlas is full scale - one inch equals one inch, so obviously he's just as large as the earth, Homey..."

Oh how Hesiod liked teasing Homer. They were the best of friends, but their artistic competitiveness urged them both to greater heights. And Hesiod never could resist pulling Homer's leg, especially after he beat him in that famous debating contest. He loved calling uncle Homer 'Homey', knew it drove him absolutely nuts. Never missed a chance to use it.

Ah, but with the defeat of the Titans, the fun was just beginning. Gaia (Mother Earth), now angry that her adorable little Titans had in turn been imprisoned, gave birth to one last offspring, a horrid creature named Typhoeus (Also known as Typhoon and Typhon. We called him Ty for short, he reminded us of a ball player who played on the Olympus Tigers).

How ugly was Ty? Hesiod had the most apt description of Ty:

'Typhon was the largest, most dangerous and most grotesque of all creatures. Nothing but coiled serpents from the thighs down, Typhon possessed the head of an ass and arms that stretched one hundred leagues in each direction, with serpents' heads where hands should be.'

(You just know that drove Homey crazy!)

When the gods saw coming at them Typhoon and his wife Echidna - she was a real beauty herself, you should hear the goddesses shred her, up at Adonis' Mount Olympus hair salon - the Olympians did the only sensible thing.

The sissies changed themselves into various animals and ran to find hiding places by the Pyramids down in Egypt. Lots of hiding spots inside the Pyramids, with many of them yet to be discovered by modern man.

Well! Now is that any way for bona fido...er...bona fide gods to behave? Heavens no! The incomparable Athena, always the bravest of the warriors, was the only one to stand up to Typhoon. She so humiliated Zeus that he eventually regained his courage and a terrible battle raged, which left hardly a living creature on earth.

Absolute carnage. Zeus stunned Typhoon with a thunderbolt, then used Uranus' castrating sickle to wound the beast. As Typhoon tore up huge Mount Aetna to hurl, Zeus used the thunder and lightning given him by the Cyclopes. Unleashing one hundred well-aimed lightning bolts at the mountain, he fell back, pinning Typhoon underneath.

Typhoon was buried under Mount Aetna in Sicily and there he lies to this day, belching lava, fire and smoke through the top of the mountain. His hideously disgusting mate, the lovely Echidna, was spared her life by Zeus and took up residence in a cave, lying in wait of unsuspecting travelers.

I once asked Zeus what's up with that, and he told me that he allowed Echidna and her children to live as challenges to future heroes. Give them something to slay, don't you know. What a thoughtful gesture, Zeus! Letting Echidna and her offspring (The Nemean Lion, Cerberus, Ladon, Chimera, Sphinx and Hydra) live just so Heracles and the gang can attain hero status! Brings tears to my eyes.

Much later a final challenge to Zeus' rule was made by the Giants. These gigantic critters sprang up when the blood from the newly-euniched Uranus fell upon the earth (Gaia, Mother Earth).

The Giants even tried to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain in an effort to reach the top. But the gods had grown strong and with the help of Heracles (Hercules), the Giants were subdued or killed. Zeus had them buried underneath volcanoes and to this day you can often hear them restlessly rumble and roar.

Did I mention that a couple of Titans refused to take part in the fight against Zeus? Besides Oceanus, the Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus - Pro and Epi we called them - wisely chose not to side with their fellow Titans against the Olympians, and for that they were spared imprisonment in Tartarus.

Instead they were given the daunting task of creating man. But being Greeks, they got it all backwards.

Click on Chapter Three to continue the Zeus Myth of the Month..