2. The birth of Zeus

Once upon a time, Cronus with an adamantine sickle made by Ge, had castrated Uranus, who thereafter called his sons as the Titans, for they strained to do a fearful deed, and both Ge and Uranus foretold that Cronus would be dethroned by his own son.
Cronus wedded Rhea and remembered what his parents had foretold. Hence, as soon as Rhea gave birth to a child, the crafty Cronus swallowed up the child, in order to keep his kingship secure. Cronus swallowed up his five children—Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Pluto, and Poseidon. Unceasing grief seized Rhea, but when she was heavy with Zeus, she approached her parents Ge and Uranus, to devise some way for saving her child from Cronus. Ge and Uranus agreed to help Rhea. When the time of birth approached, Ge and Uranus sent Rhea to Lyctus, the rich land in Crete, where Rhea gave birth to Zeus.

In the thick blackness of the night, Ge quickly carried off the newborn babe Zeus and hid him, in a secluded cave on the dense-wooded Mount Aegeum. Then she wrapped a rock in the swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus, who swallowed it down, thinking that he was swallowing the newborn babe.

Poets differ in their respective versions. Some poets say Rhea gave birth to Zeus in a cave of Mount Dicte. Thereafter, she handed the newborn babe Zeus over to the daughters of Melisseus, the nymphs Adrastia and Ida, for nursing. The nymphs fed Zeus the milk of Amalthea, while the Curetes kept guard by banging their spears on their shields, to drown the gurgling sounds of the babe Zeus, so that Cronus may not hear them. Rhea wrapped a stone in the babe’s clothes and gave it to Cronus, who swallowed it.

Other poets say Zeus was born at Mount Ida, or at Ithome in Messenia, or at Aegion in Achaia, or at Thebes in Boeotia, or at Olenos in Aetolia. However, commonly it is known that Zeus was born and grew up in Crete.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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