Chiron

Half-man, half-beast, yet learned in every art,
From each compounded, each its proper part:
Chiron, centaur, most noble, just, and wise;
Though Philyra, that bare you, did despise
Your form; for Kronos sired you as a horse,
So nature took its right and proper course;
And Apollon looked down, from where on high
He sat, and he beheld you, helpless, lie;
He took you up, and taught you prophecy,
And music, medicine, and archery.
So, learned in arts of war, your inner beast
Took joy in hunting, and the killer’s feast:
But having knowledge, too, of peace, what joy
In sacred arts and song did you employ.
He, whoever, was wounded to the quick
Found you a skilled purveyor of physic;
And watching movements of the stars that guide
Mankind, the workings on the Earth were spied,
And portents known, you spoke the truth to all,
Though good or evil from the gods should fall.
Achilles was your pupil, whom you taught:
From you he got the wisdom that was sought
By Peleus, who brought to you the lad,
And you received him, and in heart were glad.
For, every man that tames the inner beast
Is, like you, his own effectual priest;
He nurtures all that’s beautiful in life,
Unconquered by the chaos of mad strife.
And, though you dropped the shaft of Heracles,
Which pierced your foot and spread a foul disease
(The hydra’s blood was poison, and it spread
Through all your veins, to bring you to the dead),
But Zeus refused to give you to the deep,
Preferring that a better boon you’d reap,
He placed you with the stars that nightly vie
For place, and reign o’er all, both low and high.
So, those divine you watched on Earth with love,
With them you live and move each night above.

Uranus

Long time before Zeus, Hera, Venus, Mars,
Were born, Uranus, cradle of the stars,
He covered Earth, from him the cosmic seed
Did things both noble and ignoble breed;
In Earth he chained them, forbidding them the sky,
Though Earth displeased revenged this by and by.
The constellations framed he in the night,
The twinkling orbs to bring to darkness light;
Galactic structure, filaments unknown,
The depths of space sustained by him alone.
He brought the Titans forth, who for a while,
Ruled over all the Earth by Kronos’ guile:
But Olympian Zeus rose and overthrew
The crooked Kronos, and those with him too;
So reigned again the celestial on high,
Uranus’ descendants, gods of light and sky.

The Fate of the Fallen

When Zeus conquered Kronos and began to reign,
He meted out the fates of all that did remain;
To Tartarus he sent Kronos to be bound,
Where never more in power shall be found
That crooked one, who could not ever sate
His appetite for power, and his children ate.
His child Typhon too caught a deadly blow,
And was hurled down where Hades reigns below.
And Menoetius, whose fruit was hubris’ bloom,
By Zeus’ thunderbolt met his mighty doom.
His brother Atlas got the captive’s curse;
To serve his conqueror. What could be worse?
Zeus sent Atlas to the ends of the earth,
Where he forced him to hold all heaven’s girth;
Upon his shoulders to bear all the weight
Of great Olympus: such was his tired fate.
The home of the gods, the celestial sphere,
He bore for them without end, year after year,
Until such time as Zeus’ son turned him to stone,
And so forever silenced his weary groan.
Medusa’s Gorgon head did Perseus show,
And so his final fate did on him bestow.

Zeus Slays Typhon

When Zeus the Titans had vanquished in war,
Then Earth upon the underworld did pour
Her love, and from this union bore a beast,
And a blasting curse did on all release.
This fell fiend was fashioned with the force of fire,
Where’er he dwelled was made a smoking pyre.
It had a hundred heads, each one a snake,
And eyes of fire and mouths from which each spake;
Their tongues were black; their voices did astound,
When from out their mouths their noises did resound
Through all the Earth. Sometimes they bellowed loud
Like bulls; other times they roared like lions proud:
Sometimes like gods immortal did they speak:
But just as oft they whined like puppies meek.
The mountains underneath this monster did
Ghastly echo all it said like servants bid.
And had the voices of the serpent sped,
With all his snaky parts through Earth and spread
His pestilential presence through every field,
Then would gods and men have been forced to yield:
In pits of sulfur serpents might have lain,
And all that’s good and beautiful been slain.
But Zeus spied quick the danger and arose
At once the monster Typhon to oppose:
Through all the Earth his thunder echoed fierce,
And through the fiend his lightning bolts did pierce.
When he arose did Earth and Ocean shake:
In dim Tartatus did old Kronos quake.
Each eye on Typhon’s heads sent out a flame,
Such as Hephaistos wields, that god who’s lame;
The flame of Typhon and the bolts of Zeus,
Upon the Earth and Sea great heat did loose.
The ocean waves did rage and shake their shores,
And Earth did burn, the forests, plains, and moors.
Tartarus shook and Hades quaked with fear,
When in the chthonic depths did appear
The might of Zeus. It terrified those who
With Kronos Zeus in battle did subdue.
Zeus hurled his bolts and burned each snaky head,
And earthquakes heaved wherever he did tread.
He seized a whip and lashed him like a slave,
Then threw him down deformed into his grave.
A fire leapt out from Typhon when the blow
Of Zeus his soul sent to the shades below;
The fire of Typhon struck a mountainside,
And down its side did melted iron slide;
Like Vulcan’s forge a smoke blackened the air,
But Zeus was untouched, unharmed by this affair.
Zeus hurled him to Tartarus in a rage,
And only then his great wrath did assuage.
From Typhon also come winds of fearsome rains,
And dreadful gusts that bring to sailors pains:
The gentle winds the gods send as a gift,
But the evil winds blow great ships adrift;
In violent bursts they scatter and they kill,
And glut the sea until it’s had its fill.
Helpless are the men who meet these winds at sea:
As one they fall to dread calamity.
And if by chance the sea these winds forsake,
And instead a path o’er the Earth do take,
They kick up dust and leave men’s fields a waste,
Ruining the crops that with care they placed.
If likewise from the mouths of men a blast
Of evil words should issue, let them be cast
From out the land, like Typhon was by Zeus,
Lest to better men they bring foul abuse;
For Typhon being thrown down was destroyed,
And gods, and men, and Earth were overjoyed;
In heaven too was joy and gladness spread
When at the hands of Zeus Typhon was dead.

The Defeat of the Titans

The Titan Kronos, crooked slave of age,
Aroused through all his cruelty Zeus’ rage.
Kronos ate his children soon as they were born,
And so left his wife dejected and forlorn:
For prophecy had said he’d be overthrown
By one of his seed that in Earth he’d sown.
But Rhea deceived, and fed him a stone:
And Earth reared Zeus in secret till he was grown.
The sons of Heaven had Ouranos bound
And doomed to live in chains beneath the ground,
In subterranean caves devoid of light,
He imprisoned them in a fit of spite:
But Zeus freed them. The slav’ry was undone.
Also fought with Zeus the great Titan Sun:
The best of all the Titans was Helios,
Who shining destroys whatever Darkness cloaks;
And Oceanos too sided with Zeus;
Since crooked Cronos’ bonds great Zeus did loose.
But Prometheus, who was a lying thief,
Allied with Zeus only to bring him grief:
When the war was over he sought to deceive,
So Zeus of his freedom did him relieve.
Prometheus stole all he ever had,
Even the fire that he thought would make men glad:
This from Hephaistos, the lame servant of Zeus,
Did he take for his own mischievous use.
From different mountains did the forces come,
All the gods with Zeus, with Kronos other some.
Th’ Olympians they had anger in their hearts,
From which they drew the strength to hurl their darts.
Love, the poison, the weakening disease,
Not a moment the heart of Zeus did seize.
For ten full years the war raged between the two,
No side found victory o’er the other crew.
At last to Heaven’s sons great Zeus gave a speech,
“Great sons of Heaven naught is beyond your reach.
Long has been the war, the fight for victory;
Now the day has come to bring calamity
On crooked Kronos, the Titan king. The time
Has come for him to pay for his wicked crime.”
Kottos, Gyes, and Briareus, all
Sons whom Heaven had in anger held in thrall,
These Zeus had freed and thus to them he spoke,
And in their spirits great battle rage awoke.
All that stood with Zeus against the Titan horde,
They clashed with Kronos who before was their lord.
Against the Titans they hurled giant rocks,
And it thundered when great Zeus shook his locks.
The sea roared all around and great heaven groaned,
When the Titans by mighty blows were stoned.
Then Zeus came down from heaven in his wrath,
And his thunderbolts before him blazed a path.
His lightning lit the earth, laying Titans waste;
Before him Terror scattered all in haste.
The forests burned and all the seas were boiled,
And the earthborn Titans to a one were spoiled.
Such a dreadful din of noise filled the air:
But Zeus would not relent nor a one would spare.
Quaking shook the Earth; duststorms swirled about:
Earthborn Titans were put to utter rout.
Even to Chaos, the first of all the gods,
Reached the awful heat of Zeus’ lightning rods.
And wicked Kronos was overthrown at last,
By the strength of Zeus and his awful blast.
And Heaven’s sons they hurled three hundred stones,
And the Titans were wounded to their bones.
In everlasting darkness underground
Were they cast and there by great Zeus were bound.
In Tartarus forever are they chained,
Forever cloaked in Night: so Zeus has deigned.
Before the place Poseidon built a gate,
To keep in prison the Titan king of Hate:
This fate did crooked Kronos justly earn;
This all the wise in all ages do discern.
Kottos, Gyes, and Briareus, they
Whom Zeus had freed before the gates do stay;
As guards these sons of Heaven stand for Zeus,
That never again the Titans be set loose.

The Revolt of Kronos

The sons of Heaven were hated from the first,

He hid them each in Earth and they were cursed;

Until their mother, Earth, who loved them so

Urged them to rise and Heaven overthrow.

They were hid in darkness soon as they were born,

They could not see the light, and were left forlorn.

But Earth, she groaned within her and was strained,

Heaven’s wickedness she loathed and disdained.

Of adamant she made a sickle great,

To bring down Heaven she fashioned it with hate.

She loved her sons and bid them to repay,

Their father’s crimes to bring them to light of day.

“Your father is a heedless fool,” she said,

“From him every sort of wickedness was bred.”

She spoke, but fear sprang up in everyone

Till crooked Kronos, Earth’s great Titan son,

Replied to her, emboldened in his heart.

He gave his word and swore vengeance for his part.

“I care not, Mother, for my ineffable

Father, Heaven, whose acts are terrible.

I will set myself and perform the deed,

And then we all from him shall at last be freed.”

Earth was filled with joy and a plan devised,

That Heaven would by Kronos be surprised.

She gave her son the sickle she had made,

And hid him once with this he was arrayed.

Then with the night did Heaven come and lay

Around the Earth and by her side did stay.

He longed for love, but hate was in her heart;

Deceived great Heaven did she for her part.

Her hidden son came forth and made his stand,

The saw-toothed sickle held in his right hand,

And with his left he reached and seized his sire,

The blade sent pain through Heaven like a fire.

He cut the stones from Heaven, who, castrated,

Was overthrown by one whom he’d created.

The stones did Kronos cast behind his back,

And revelled in the fruits of his attack.

And now as king of all did Kronos reign,

While Heaven’s blood in giant drops did rain.

This rain the Earth received, and so was born

All that raged and frenzied in its baleful scorn.

The Furies first and Giants, who with spears

And armour in their greatness filled with fears

All those lesser souls that lived upon the Earth;

These the Giants harrowed in great mirth.