Hades, poseidon & zeus

Discussion in 'Greek Mythology' started by Caburus, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    These three brothers worked together to overthrow their father Cronus, and the Titans, in order to reign themselves. They drew lots to apportion the world - Hades got the underworld, Poseidon got the oceans, and Zeus got Olympus and the heavens. The earth was left to be common ground for them all.

    But after they gained their kingdoms, did they ever come together again? How many times did Hades, Poseidon and Zeus meet face to face, what was the situation, and what was the outcome?
  2. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    There are two big weddings which are said to have been attended by all of the gods, at each of which it is said that one particular individual is singled out for some reason. The first is the wedding of Zeus and Hera, which is often interpreted to have lasted three hundred years (although Kallimakhos and Nonnos both seem to believe that Zeus courted Hera for that long before she agreed to marry him, and I think they are the sources in question when the three centuries are referenced for the wedding's purported length). According to Servius, all the creatures of the universe were officially invited to this event but, as he and other writers relate, only one declined the invitation, and this was a mountain nymph named Khelone. As punishment for the presumption, she was transformed into a tortoise (which in Greek is a khelônê). Presumably Poseidon and Haides were also present at the event. The other wedding is that of to the Nereid Thetis to the Myrmidon king Peleus, to which wedding we are told all the immortals were invited, with the distinct exception of Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, who gatecrashed anyway... followed by the famous results of that occurrence. Again I presume that Poseidon and Haides were present and on the guest list. I imagine that Zeus - being the bridegroom's grandfather and, together with Poseidon, the orchestrator of the union - must've been there too. He's also the one who was first called upon to arbitrate the decision about Eris' golden apple.

    Apart from that, the only incidence that seems to indicate clearly the presence of all the three brothers together in one place is a battle at Pylos, a city in Messenia which was attacked by Zeus' son Herakles in revenge against the city's king Neleus, a son of Poseidon. Herakles had some old grudges against his cousin Neleus, to whose defence came Poseidon himself, with Hera and Ares in tow. Haides was revered in cult at Pylos, unlike most other places in the upper world, so he also came to the aid of the Pylians. Upon seeing the support which Neleus had, Herakles' father Zeus and half-sister Athena also appeared and did battle against their fellow deities. It doesn't seem like the mighty Theban needed the gods' help, though, since he not only killed Neleus and just about all of his sons, but also personally wounded all of the deities who opposed him (excepting Poseidon and including Haides) so severely that they each fled the battlefield to seek medical attention back at home base.

    Apollodoros mentions that during the Gigantes' War, Hermes used Haides' helmet of invisibility to fight against and slay the Gigantos Hippolytos. I don't know if it's unreasonable to assume that Haides may have been present during this war but that the reason he never receives direct mention is connected to the ironic meaning of his name: the "Unseen/Invisible One." I say ironic because his helmet was called the Aidos kyne, "cap/helmet of the Unseen [One]." The only mentions of the helmet's use are on this occasion and when Hermes borrowed it a couple of centuries before this, for the hero Perseus to use against the Graiai and the Gorgones. Perhaps what made Haides invisible (unless we consider the fact that he dwelt beneath the earth's surface, in the nether realm's pitch darkness) was that he was always wearing the helmet? Anyway, whatever the case may be, if he actually fought in Gigantomakhia, we know for certain that so did Zeus and Poseidon, so this would be another instance of them coming together. The result, of course, was the defeat of their enemy.
    Myrddin likes this.
  3. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    What irks me is that the goddesses -- Demeter, Hera, and Hestia -- didn't get in on the vote. Misogynistic dinks!

    E. M.
    Nadai likes this.
  4. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    To be fair, the women in the family did have a much bigger rôle in these affairs than may seem immediately apparent from this allotment story. In fact, from a different vantage-point, their positions may have been even more secure than those of the males since they never had to vote for those positions. Sure, everyone had a particular means by which they got their share of the family estate, but for the goddesses it was often just given to them without having to fight for it or play a game of chance for it, and whether that's fair depends on whose standards are in use, I suppose.

    Hera, through marrying the king of the Sky, gained the title Queen of Heaven. In a lot of traditional cultures, especially polygamous ones, the portion of honour and property given to a wife, especially the senior wife, can never be taken away from her, even after divorce. It is sort of her communal right, and apparently a mechanism to safeguard this basic part of the society's structure (wife + mother = the centre of the home, and essentially a pillar of the community). I don't know that any of this was true for the ancient Greeks (as well as it is for the cultures from other parts in the world that I have in mind), but the fact is that the Greeks' goddesses had a lot more freedom in life in general (within the household and outside) than their actual human women. A lot of Hera's character was based on her portion of the estate, and thus she had governance over the Moon and Stars, which fell within her jurisdiction up above. In a sense this gave her more power over the heavenly bodies than Zeus had. While he could command the direction and rising of the Sun at will (which he occasionally did), unlike his wife, he generally didn't control these celestial luminaries.

    Speaking of the centre of the home, Zeus gave to Hestia, who wished to remain an unwed virgin forever, the middle and centre-most part of the human house as a gift, and she thus dwelt in this inner part of every house, i.e., in the hearth (fireplace) in the form of its fire. Zeus' gift may seem random, but I think it's a reference to how harsh life in ancient times was for women who did not get married, not that marriage solved all things, but some great social difficulties could certainly be avoided by it. Thus Hestia became the goddess of the home and of society as a whole. Now society was so important that the notion arose that this goddess - who existed in the form of a great sacred bonfire - should never be quenched or extinguished, even though she had her incarnations in the smaller fires of each home. Hestia was venerated by (arguably) every Greek every time s\he had a meal at home. That makes her, in this regard, the most important deity, receiving more honour than all the rest, and definitely more than Haides, who, in most of the country, was neither even named nor offered any sacrifice!

    Demeter appears to have simply inherited her position as earth-goddess from her mother Rhea and grandmother Gaia, with both of which goddesses she was often equated. In the myth of the allotment of the universe's different portions to the three sons of Kronos and Rhea, the Earth is shared in common by the three, but Demeter exercises more power over the elements thereon than any of these male deities. Poseidon, when he wishes, can cause the Earth to shake. Zeus, if he wants, can lash the Earth with lightning, and he also causes rain to fall upon the same. Haides merely owns the mineral riches hidden within the Earth's depths. Demeter, however, merely on account of her mood, causes extreme weather, and even the four Seasons to occur. Drought and famine or abundance and fertility are at her whim, and the deities go through her if they wish to plague a certain region with food scarcity. The powers of fertility which Poseidon wields in the Sea and in rivers Demeter possesses on terra firma (dry land). And where Haides was hated, feared and shunned by mortals, Demeter and her daughter Persephone (Haides' wife, and yet another form of the earth-goddess in the lineage and tradition of Gaia and Rhea) were loved and worshipped as the so-called Megalai Theai, "Great Goddesses." Their cult at Eleusis in Attika promised a blessed death in an alternate place [away] from the dark house of Haides.


    Also, even as the universe was being divided among the three brothers, Zeus still respected the systems of inheritance which had been put in place by the Titans before his time. According to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, next to Kronos, Kreios was the most important of the Titans, and was named Megamedes, "Great Lord." Though Kronos was king, Kreios was like the land baron, who owned or was entitled to the entire family estate, consisting of Sky, Earth and Sea. This title was inherited by his eldest son Perses, but since both he and Perses were cast into Tartaros at the end of the Titans' War, Zeus awarded the birthright to Perses' daughter Hekate... perhaps because he was in love with her mother, Perses' wife Asteria. The reason that Hekate became such a powerful goddess is because Zeus gave her free reign over all the elements in heaven, on earth and in the sea, and, says Hesiod, Zeus ensured that she was honoured by all of the gods themselves. She further extended her powers by infiltrating Haides' domain beneath the Earth as well, by enlisting as an attendant of Persephone and thus becoming a goddess of the Underworld, as well as of Heaven, Earth and Sea. In this way, her influence filled the entire universe, and she held enough power to create magic by which to eclipse the Sun and the Moon and to disrupt the courses of other heavenly bodies, and she was then able to bestow this power upon her devotees.

    Sure, a lot of the time the male Olympian divinities were just plain not-nice guys, but even in their society - so it would appear - there were some checks and balances against injustice, and in many instances I think they had to show their toughness just to hold on to their positions while the female divinities were quietly powerful.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014

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