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Father Zeus

KING OF THE GODS

“It is not possible either to trick or escape the mind of Zeus.”

Hesiod

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According to my divine ancestors, the ancient Greeks, Zeus was the “Father of Gods” who ruled the
Olympians of Mount Olympus. He was the god of sky and thunder.

As He still is today, ZEUS was the king of the gods, the god of sky and weather, law, order and fate. He was depicted as a regal man, mature with sturdy figure and dark beard. His usual attributes were a lightning bolt, royal sceptre and eagle.

Some of the more famous myths featuring the god include:

  • His birth and upbringing in the Diktaion cave, where he was nursed by Amaltheia and guarded by the shield-clashing Kouretes;
  • The Titan War in which he overthrew the Titanes and imprisoned them in Tartaros;
  • His battle with Typhoeus, a hundred headed, monstrous giant who attempted to capture heaven;
  • The War of the Giants who attempted to storm Olympos but were slain by Zeus and the gods;
  • The Great Deluge in which he flooded the earth to destroy mankind and begin the world anew;
  • His conflict with Prometheus over the theft of benefactions for mankind;
  • The punishment of Salmoneus, Tantalos and Ixion, men who offended the god with their impiety;
  • The birth and life of Herakles, his favoured son, who he had transferred to Olympos at death;
  • His extramarital affairs with women such as Leda, seduced in the form of a swan; Europa, as a bull; Danae, as a golden shower; Kallisto, as Artemis; and Antiope as a satyr;
  • The Trojan War which he orchestrated from start to end, including the casting of the golden apple of discord.

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Zeus was the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of their siblings. In most traditions he was married to
Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort was Dione. According to the Iliad, he was the father of
Aphrodite by Dione. He was also known for his erotic escapades which resulted in many godly and heroic
offspring including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus,
Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he was said to have
fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
Even the gods who were not his natural children addressed him as Father Zeus. For the Greeks, he was the King
of the Gods, who ruled the universe. As Pausanias observed, “That Zeus is king in heaven.” In Hesiod’s
Theogony Zeus assigned the various gods their roles. In the Homeric Hymns he was referred to as the chieftain
of the gods. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek
artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or
seated in majesty.

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BIRTH

Cronus, the Titan God, sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, but
swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was
destined to be overcome by his own son as he had overthrown his own father—an oracle that Rhea was to
hear and avert.
When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get
his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing
Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed.

INFANCY

Rhea hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to varying versions of the story:
-He was then raised by Gaia.
-He was raised by a nymph named Adamanthea. Since Cronus ruled over the Earth, the heavens and the
sea, she hid him by dangling him on a rope from a tree so he was suspended between earth, sea and sky
and thus, invisible to his father.
-He was raised by a nymph named Cynosura. In gratitude, Zeus placed her among the stars.
-He was raised by Melissa, who nursed him with goat’s milk
and honey.
-He was raised by a shepherd family under the promise that their sheep would be saved from wolves.

KING OF THE GODS

After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge first the stone (which was set down at Pytho under
the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, the Omphalos) then his siblings in reverse order of swallowing. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus’ stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus, killing their guard, Campe.

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As a token of their appreciation, the Cyclopes gave him thunder and the thunderbolt, or lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. Together, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, along with the Gigantes, Hecatonchires and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans, in the combat called the Titanomachy. The defeated Titans were then cast into a shadowy underworld region known as Tartarus. Atlas, one of the titans that fought against Zeus, was punished by having to hold up the sky.

(Zeus in Titanomachy below)

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After the battle with the Titans, Zeus shared the world with his elder brothers, Poseidon and Hades, by drawing lots: Zeus got the sky and air, Poseidon the waters, and Hades the world of the dead (the underworld). The ancient Earth, Gaia, could not be claimed; she was left to all three, each according to their capabilities, which explains why Poseidon was the “earth-shaker” (the god of earthquakes) and Hades claimed the humans that died.

ZEUS AND HERA

Zeus was brother and consort of Hera. By Hera, Zeus sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.  Some also include Eileithyia and Eris as their daughters. The conquests of Zeus among nymphs and the mythic mortal progenitors of Hellenic dynasties are famous. Olympian mythography even credits him with unions with Leto, Demeter, Dione and Maia. Among mortals were Semele, Io, Europa and Leda and with the young Ganymede. Many myths render Hera as jealous of his amorous conquests and a consistent enemy of Zeus’ mistresses and their children by him. For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from his affairs by talking incessantly,  and when Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to repeat the words of others. According to legend, Metis, the goddess of prudence, was the first love of Zeus. At first she tried in vain to escape his advances, but in the end succumbed to his endeavor, and from their union Athena was conceived. Gaia warned Zeus that Metis would bear a daughter, whose son would overthrow him. On hearing this Zeus swallowed Metis, the reason for this was to continue to carry the child through to the birth himself. Hera was outraged and very jealous of her husband’s affair, also of his ability to give birth without female participation. To spite Zeus she gave birth to Hephaestus parthenogenetically  and it was Hephaestus who, when the time came, split open the head of Zeus, from which Athena emerged fully armed.

Zeus: Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame on us gods, for they say evils come from us, but it is they, rather, who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given. 

And now you know the story of  the King of the Gods, according to the myths and the legends of my divine ancestors the ancient Greeks.

xoxoSusanna

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A POSTCARD Jackie O – a style icon

 

 

JACKIE O!

I know …I know…I promised you on my last post that I will write about queen Olympias of Macedon, the famous mother of my favorite hero: Alexander the Great. I find her fascinating and a major force on influencing the character and the history making achievements of her famous son. There is so much to say here…and I will. In the meantime, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, another famous mother popped up while I was doing some research about an upcoming collection featuring pearls. I couldn’t resist! It’s Jackie O. Although, she made pearls her trademark, and wore them beautifully, her style while she was married to the mega millionaire Aristotle Onasis caught my attention. 

Here are some looks of my favorite style icon Jackie O: Timeless!

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, these picture spoke volumes – volumes of style and glamour. Oh! those were the days….

xoxoS

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Ancient Greek goddess Athena – part II

Age of Gods – Athen

As I mentioned on my previous post, goddess Athena, was the patron divinity of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, arts, crafts, justice and skill.

Athena was also a shrewd companion and patron of heroes. She is the goddess of heroic endeavour.  The metal work of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles as the disciplined, strategic side of war. Although she was the goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without a purpose and prefered to use wisdom to settle predicaments. She only  encouraged  fighting for a reasonable cause, or to resolve conflict.         

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Goddess – Inspired Jewelry

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Next to God Zeus, the king of  ancient Greek Gods,   Athena was the second most important goddess in Ancient Greece. She was Zeus’s favorite daughter and she was the only one that he actually birthed himself – according to the myths. It is said that her mother was Metis,  the Titan goddess of wisdom and the original wife of Zeus.

Here is Athena’s interesting birth story: Zeus came to power by overthrowing his father Chronus. Cronuses’s mother, the great earth goddess Gaia, foretold a prophesy in which one of Cronuses’s children will eventually overthrow him and take control of both gods and men alike. Cronus decided that the solution to this problem was to devour each and every one of his children after they were born. Eventually, his wife, Rhea, couldn’t take it anymore and gave him a stone wrapped in a baby blanket, which he promptly swallowed – thus saving her last son, Zeus, from this terrible fate.

Eventually Zeus fulfilled the prophesy by overthrowing his father. He became king of gods and men and the days of the Titans rule were gone. Gaia had another prophesy once Zeus became an adult – she foretold that his wife, Metis, would give birth to a son who would overthrow Zeus the way he overthrew his father. Knowing this, Zeus devoured Metis while she was pregnant. His plan worked that he never had a son by Metis, but what Zeus didn’t realize was that his daughter by Metis [ the baby was a girl] was more strong-willed than he imagined.

After a bout of terrible headaches Zeus begged the blacksmith God Hephestus to split his head open to relieve the pressure. Out popped the goddess Athena, fully dressed in armor and ready to do battle – according to the myths and legends. Her father was the most powerful and her mother the wisest among the gods, so Athena was the combination o the two – power and wisdom harmoniously blended.

In contradiction with her brother Ares, the god of war, chaotic battle, blood lust, ferocity, courage and violence, Athena was the goddess of strategy, organized fighting, advanced weaponry and skilled manipulation on the battlefield. If Ares was offence, Athena was defence. If Ares represented pure force Athena represented controlled strength. It was her wisdom and strategic planning that often turned the side of the battle to the victor. Athena is usually shown with the Goddess Nike (Victory) at her side.

Images above and below. Giagantomachia (Battle of the Giants) marble relief sculpture frieze from the Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamont. 

Athena battles Alkyoneus  in the War of the Giants. The giant is winged with the serpentine legs. His mother Gaia, top image, rises up from the earth [Chronus had more children after Zeus split him open in his attempt to overthrow him, the rest of the children spilled out from his body] besides him. Athena is attended by the winged  goddess Nike. Hellenistic style200 BC.

Athena is mostly depicted armed holding an Argolic shield [featuring  the head of gorgon Medusa at its center] and a spear.  She is crowned with a crested golden helmet usually pushed back to reveal her elegant beauty. Her helmet is usually ornamented in the most beautiful manner with griffins, heads of rams, horses and sphinxes.  Her garment is usually the Spartan tunic without sleeves, and over it, she is wearing a snake-trimmed Aigis cloak wrapped around her breast and arm -adorned with the monstrous head of gorgon Medusa. Her general expression is of thoughtfulness and earnestness. Her whole figure is majestic, strong and slender and usually she is holding some of her favorite objects such as an olive tree branch [symbol of peace and prosperity] and an owl [symbol of clarity, vision and wisdom].

It is important to note that Athena was known as well for her role as a judge, diplomat and mediator. Her decisions were renown for their fairness and compassion. She was frequently called upon to settle disputes between gods and various mortals. The goddess of wisdom was known for her superb logic and intellect. Her decisions were usually  well-considered, highly ethical, and seldom motivated by self-interest.

More than any other of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses, Athena, remains an icon, a timeless symbol of civilization, useful knowledge, noble reasoning, logic and wisdom. She is such an inspiration to me as an artist and in creating  my new  Spring ’12 jewelry collection: Age of gods – Athena.

Coming soon Age of Gods ATHENA collection – Spring’12 by Susanna Galanis

xoxoS

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From Hercules to Alexander: Argead dynasty & the Legend of Macedonia

 An exhibit about my favorite ancestor Alexander II of Macedon or, Alexander the Great (356-321 BC) as he is generally known,  ended recently in Oxford England. This exhibition was about the ancient Macedonian royal lineage of Alexander the Great (pictured left) and presented evidence that his family and kingdom were firmly rooted in the culture and civilization of Ancient Greece. The tittle of this exhibition was: “From Hercules to Alexander: the legend of Macedonia” and it featured exhibits from the Aigai Museum in Northern Greece. According to Greek archaeologists who worked on the recent digs at the Palace in Aigai, a series of finds prove that “Alexander the Great did not just spring out of nowhere to take over the entire world. He was a scion of the Argead dynasty  that ruled the Macedonian Kingdom for three and a half centuries and who were descendants of Hercules and Zeus.” According to the narrative of the exhibition in Oxford, the genealogical tree of the ancient Macedonian kings claimed to be stemming from Zeus and Hercules and reaching to Alexander’s son, Alexander IV.

The Argead dynasty is an Ancient Greek royal house. They were the ruling dynasty of Macedon Greece from about 810 to 310 BC. Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos (hence the name Argeads and the Argead dynasty), in southern Greece.

Map of Argean migration route from Argos, Peloponnese, to Macedonia northern Greece.

Initially the Argeads (and because I am Macedonian, at this point, I will start referring them my great ancestors), they were just the rulers of their homonymous tribe, but, by the time of King Philip II (382-336 BC), which I wrote at a previous post, the Argeads had expanded their reign further to include under the rule of Macedon all Upper Macedonian states. 

The family’s most celebrated members were Philip the II (pictured left) of Macedon and Alexander the Great, under whose leadership, the kingdom of Macedon gradually gained predominance throughout Greece, defeated the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire, and expanded as far as Egypt and India. The Argeads claimed descent from Temenids of Argos, in Peloponnese, whose legendary ancestor was Temenus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles. In the excavations of the royal Palace at Aegae the “tholos” room (believed to be the throne room) was discovered with an inscription relating to this belief. This is testified by historian Herodotus,  in The Histories, where he mentions that three brothers of the

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lineage of Temenus (named Gauanes, Aeropus and Perdiccas) fled from  Argos to Macedonia, where after several moves, they ended in a part near mount Bermio (close to my birthplace which I find this fascinating) and gradually they formed the Macedonian kingdom. According to historian Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, he is also stating that the Argeads were originally Temenids from Argos, who descended from the highlands to Lower Macedonia, expelled the Pieriens from Pieria, and acquired in Paionia a narrow strip along the river Axios extending to Pella and the sea.

So who were the Argeads before they occupied Argos and the Peloponnese? They were the Dorians — around 1,200 BC they migrated from the North, North-Eastern mountainous region of Greece, Ancient Macedonia and Epirus and returned to the earlier Mycenaea in the Peloponnese “as the return of the sons of Hercules.” This group of  Dorians, with Temenus as their leader (who was the descendant of Hercules, a demi-god whose father was zeus), invaded and destroyed the Myceneans. According to various myths and legends, the founder of the Dorians was  Dorus, son of Hellen — patriarch of the Hellenes. The Dorian invaders were known for the use of  iron weapons where the tribes (Mycenaeans) that lived in the Peloponnese fought with stones — they had no chance winning against the superior weapons of the Dorians. And why did the “sons of Hercules” returned or invaded the Mycenaeans in the Peloponnese? According to legend, Hercules performed a heroic act by restoring King Tyndareus, King of Sparta, to his throne and king Tyndareus gave him a part of his kingdom as a gratitude gift. Hercules asked for the gift to be safeguarded until it was claimed by his descendants, which of course were Temenus and the Dorians, and this explains the “Dorian Invasion” of the Peloponnese and the Mycenaeans.  Eventually, the Argeads  that settled in Argos, moved up North again to Macedonia and created the Macedonian kingdom.

More about Philip II, Alexander the Great, and much more about  Macedonia coming up–as these are my GREAT ancestors and my GREAT birthplace,  and I am fascinated by the discoveries, as I condider myself to be extreemely priviledged and lucky to be associated with such history..

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