A Son Comes Home
Gaia looked around at the home that Rhea and Cronus had created for themselves, keeping her distance from her former husband.
“What is taking them so long?” Cronus asked in his deep gruff voice.
“She is getting ready to give birth to her first child. Let him be with his wife,” Gaia would be lying to herself if she said wasn’t a little annoyed either. The longer Cronus waited on Rhea, the longer she would be stuck in the presence of Uranus.
Uranus stared at Gaia, his eyes filled with both love and hate, “How is Pontus? Is he treating you well?”
“He is fine; yes, he is treating me well.” she said stoically, “He’s watching the grandchildren.”
“Hmph, the ones with the snakes on their heads?” Uranus asked with a smirk on his face. All the grandchildren she had with Pontus were monsters in some shape and form. Uranus swore it was a curse for what was done to him.
“Don’t you do that,” she said to him, trying to contain her anger.
“Do what?” Uranus asked.
“Stand there and act like you’re better than me! They are innocent children — the way they are born means nothing.” Tears were welling up in her eyes.
“Well, maybe if you had not done what you did to me,” (he grabbed his nonexistent genitals) “You wouldn’t have demons in your family.”
“How dare you! You cast no judgment on the one who mutilated you, yet you still blame me.”
In his anger, Uranus threw a statue across the room, causing a minor earthquake to come to the mountain, “The idea of mutilation would not have crossed his mind if you didn’t give it to him! Witch!” He held Gaia by the throat, but she laughed in his face. Bruising his ego just a little more.
“Enough!” Cronus’ voice boomed throughout the great room and the mountain, “Can we not get together just once without you fighting. Rhea is sleeping. You’ll not come here and disrespect my home.”
Gaia pushed passed Uranus and kissed her son on the forehead, “My deepest apologies. But I promise you it was not my intention to bring any distress on you.” She shot Uranus a terrifying look.
“Yes, sorry.” Uranus murmured.
“Why are you here in the first place?” he took a seat on the staircase below his throne, as to not show superiority to his parents.
Uranus stood next to his former wife. If it meant protecting his son, he would have to put his pride aside, just this once.
“Your mother and I had dreams the other night. The same dream.”
Cronus scoffed at his father’s remark.
“Don’t brush your father off like that,” Gaia commanded. “In the dream, you were overthrown by one of your children.”
Uranus interrupted, “Payback for what you did to me, no doubt”.
Cronus held his face in his hands and sighed, “And what child is supposedly going to cause my downfall?”
His parents stayed silent.
“We are not sure,” Gaia said, “But it will happen, these things always come true.”
“For the old and superstitious, perhaps.” He looked out into the bare wilderness.
“Rhea will bare me many children and we will rule this land and all creatures peacefully.” He assured his parents, placing his hands on their shoulders. “Thank you for the warning, but I assure you that there is nothing to worry about.” Cronus walked down the stairs and kissed his mother and his father, “I will let you know when Rhea gives birth.”
As Rhea slept peacefully, Cronus stared at his newborn daughter, Demeter, as she cooed and laughed in her crib. She was so beautiful and innocent, but he couldn’t shake what his parents had said to him. With Rhea still sleeping, he picked Demeter up and held the tiny thing in his arms. He kissed her and she smiled up at her father. In one quick instant, he devoured the child whole. When Rhea woke the next morning, he told her that the baby did not make it through the night, and she believed him.
After the “death” of their second child, Rhea grew suspicious. The night she gave birth to her third, Hera, she pretended to be asleep. In horror, she watched Cronus swallowed the defenseless baby. In her rage, she sprang from the bed and ran towards Cronus, grabbing his beloved sickle. Cronus hit her face with force of a thousand men.
“How could you do this?” She asked, wiping the blood from her mouth, “You’ve gone mad.”
Cronus stared at his wife, his eyes bloodshot, “There will be no king, besides me.”
She refused to lie with Cronus, finally understanding the animosity Gaia had towards Uranus and she realized that Cronus was no better. Inconsolable, she went to her parents for help.
“Are you with child now, my dear?” Gaia asked, touching Rhea’s belly to feel some form of life.
“Yes, a boy, I know it,” she grabbed Gaia’s hand and looked into her eyes, “I will not let him have this one.”
Uranus gave Rhea cloth made from the night sky and Gaia gave her a stone. “Take these,” Gaia said, “When the baby is born, I’ll wrap him in this cloth, it with conceal him from Cronus.” Gaia wrapped the stone in another piece of cloth and handed it to Rhea, “This stone is what you are going to give to your husband after you have given birth. I will take the child somewhere he cannot be found. He will be safe, I promise you that.”
A few nights later, the baby was ready to be born. Rhea told Cronus that she felt that this birth would be a difficult one and that she needed to be with Gaia.
“Bring him to me the minute he is born,” he said.
When the boy emerged from his mother’s womb, Rhea was filled with emotion and held the baby in her arms.
“Zeus,” she whispered in the baby’s ear.
“What did you say?” Gaia asked.
“His name…is Zeus,” She looked at her son, knowing that it would be years before she would be able to see him again, “You take care of him. Nothing, and I mean nothing harms him — understand?”
Gaia sat next to her daughter and gently removed Zeus from her embrace, wrapping him in the night cloth, “No harm with ever come to him.” She lay the now invisible Zeus on the bed and handed Rhea the swaddled stone. Rhea kissed her son one last time and made her way back to Mount Orthys.
When she returned, Cronus was waiting for her on his throne.
“What is it?” he asked.
“A boy,” she rocked the stone up and down in her arms.
“Give it to me,” his voice was flat and uncaring.
She handed him the stone, and without a care, he swallowed it whole. Cronus’ reign went undisturbed while Rhea longed for her son. Gaia would often visit and tell her the whereabouts of her son.
“He grows restless on the island. I think it is time for him to return and claim his rightful place,” Gaia told Rhea.
Rhea’s face shined with excitement. She would finally be able to see the man her little baby had become. “I pray,” she sighed, “that he is nothing like his father and grandfather before him.”
Gaia raised her glass of mead in agreeance.
Cronus invited his brothers and sisters for a feast. Guests laughed and danced to the music that the Muses played, their bellies full of pomegranates and figs. Satyr legs roasted on a spit. All was well on Mount Orthys. Murmurs of a handsome Titan traveled throughout the hall. He was hard not to notice. Tall and broad shouldered, wavy dark blonde hair with piercing blue eyes. Women in the room pined for his attention, but he had one target in mind. When Rhea heard the utterances of the stranger, she frantically raced to find him.
Her heart began to palpitate when her son came into her eyesight.
“Ay, forgive me my dear lady, but I have urgent matters to attend to,” his eyes scoured the room for any sign of Cronus. He had no idea what his father would look like, he just kept telling himself he would know him when he saw him.
“My dear boy,” she whispered, “I can lead you to the man you seek.”
Zeus broke his gaze from the rest of the crowd and examined the woman’s face. It was like staring into a mirror. From her nose, eyes, and hair, everything on her was the same as they were on him. His breathing began to quicken as he realized standing in front of him. He couldn’t believe it. As a child, he always thought about what he would do, what he would say when he saw his mother, but all of that escaped his memory at this moment. Their real reunion would have to wait, though. There was some greater to tend to. Rhea grabbed Zeus by the forearm and led him to the weapons room. The walls were covered with swords, spears, bows and arrows, javelins and slings. Straight in front of him was his father’s beloved weapon, the sickle. Rhea balanced herself on the gold-plated chair and took the sickle from its casing. Rhea gently placed the blade in Zeus’ hands.
“Go for the stomach,” she said.
Zeus nodded and held up the sickle in the light. His father’s greatest weapon would be his greatest downfall. He hid the blade in the waist of his chiton, kissed his mother on the cheek and walked back to the great hall. Whether it was destiny or sheer dumb luck, his father was sitting leisurely on his throne. One nymph, naked draped over his lap and another, feeding him fresh grapes. Zeus took a deep breath and walked to the foot of the throne. Cronus looked the boy up and down and waved the two nymphs to leave. The naked nymph walked passed Zeus, gripping the muscles on his arms.
“Now I know everyone here tonight, but I have never seen you. Who are your parents?” Cronus inquired.
“I never met them. I was raised by an old woman and a goat,” he eyes moved down towards Cronus bulging stomach. Ever so often, there would be movement; someone was trying to push through. If he cut at the wrong time, he could kill one of his brothers or sisters. This was not a situation in which he could be rash.
Cronus noticed the attention, “I never used to look like this. I looked just like you. Fit, able to get any girl in the room. Well, I still can, but I can’t say it’s my body that attracts them to me. What is your name?”
“That’s a good name, a strong name,” Cronus noticed a glistening coming for Zeus’ waistband. He got up from his throne, walked over to Zeus and wrapped his arm around his shoulders, “Whatever you plan on doing, I suggest you leave it alone. You’re outnumbered and will be dead before you make the first swing.”
Zeus’s stomach was now still.
“You might be right, but you should always remember something,” Zeus whispered in his ear, “No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to fight it or prevent it, a prophecy will always come true.” In one fell swoop, Zeus pulled the sickle from his band and slashed Cronus’ stomach. The wounded titan lay stunned on the floor as Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia emerged bloody and full-grown from his stomach. The door of the hall came crashing down as the Cyclopes and the hundred-handed giants that Cronus once held as prisoners in Tartarus stormed the room. The crowd went into a frenzy as some titans jumped from the mountain to save themselves, while others attempted to fight the monsters unsuccessfully. The Cyclopes bestowed upon Zeus the gift of lighting, thunder, and the thunderbolt; Poseidon, his trident; Hades, the hat of darkness. Zeus embraced his long-lost siblings and stared at the crowd of titans, who were armed with shields and spears, ready for battle. He grabbed his father by his curly black ringlets and held the sickle to his neck.
“Today marks the end of an era and a great one at that — I’ve heard all the stories. I suggest you put the bow and arrow down. This is a battle you will not win,” Hyperion, who was hidden behind the curtains of the hall lowered his weapon, shocked that Zeus was able to see him at all. “Demeter? Would you be so kind?”
“Of course,” she said. Hyperion found himself immobile, as Demeter in all her beautiful glory came towards him. She threw the bow and arrow into the fireplace, grabbed Hyperion’s face and kissed him. As the kiss grew more intense, Hyperion began to struggle, groaning in pain. The Titans watched in horror as their brother’s body glowed a bright orange. The longer they stared, they began to realize that he was turning a charcoal black. Demeter released Hyperion from her grip and he collapsed on the floor, with smoke coming out of his mouth.
“My father tried to defy a prophecy, but it didn’t register in this tiny brain of his,” Zeus said, jamming his finger on Cronus’ head on every word, “that a prophecy is written. In a perfect world, you would all surrender. But we can all agree that’s not going to happen. I will make one promise though,” He paused and looked around the room one last time, “Those of you who choose to stand and fight with us, will have nothing but glory bestowed upon them.”
The room fell silent as the Titans looked around at who would be the first to submit to the new regime.