The Fall Of The Titans Print by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem

The Fall of the Titans, Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem

In Greek mythology, the Titanomachy (Τιτανομαχία), or War of the Titans, was the eleven-year series of battles fought between the two races of deities long before the existence of mankind: the Titans, fighting from Mount Othrys, and the Olympians, who would come to reign on Mount Olympus. It is also known as the Battle of the Titans, Battle of Gods, or just the Titan War.

Greeks of the Classical age knew of several poems about the war between the gods and many of the Titans. The dominant one, and the only one that has survived, was the Theogony attributed to Hesiod. A lost epic, Titanomachy, attributed to the blind Thracian bard Thamyris, himself a legendary figure, was mentioned in passing in an essay On Music that was once attributed to Plutarch. The Titans also played a prominent role in the poems attributed to Orpheus. Although only scraps of the Orphic narratives survive, they show interesting differences with the Hesiodic tradition.

These Greek myths of the Titanomachy fall into a class of similar myths throughout Europe and the Near East, where one generation or group of gods by and large opposes the dominant one. Sometimes the Elder Gods are supplanted. Sometimes the rebels lose, and are either cast out of power entirely or incorporated into the pantheon.

Episode De La Guerre Des Titans Print by Theodore Gericault

Episode De La Guerre Des Titans, Theodore Gericault

Greek Mythology

Overthrow of the Titans. Peter Paul Rubens

Prior events

This stage for this important battle was set after the youngest Titan, Cronus, overthrew his own father, Uranus (god of the Heaven and ruler of the universe), with the help of his mother, Gaia (the earth). Cronus then castrated his father, took his throne, and released his fellow Titan siblings, who had been locked away in Tartarus under Uranus' tyrannical and selfish reign.

However, as Uranus was usurped, he made a prophecy that Cronus' own children would rebel against his rule just as he and his siblings had done to him. For fear of his unborn children rising against him, Cronus now turned into the terrible king his father Uranus had been, swallowing each of his children whole as they were born from his wife (and sister) Rhea. However Rhea, managed to hide her fifth and sixth children, Poseidon and Zeus, having Cronus swallowing a foal instead of Poseidon, and a rock instead of Zeus. Rhea brought Zeus to a cave on an abandoned island, where Zeus was raised by various other magical beings. When Zeus became a teenager, he went to one of Cronus' parties disguised as a fellow Titan, and gave Cronus some special potion, which caused Cronus to vomit up his swallowed siblings. Zeus then led his brothers and sisters in rebellion against the Titans.


Now the Olympians, led by Zeus, declared war against the previous generation of deities, the Titans. The Titans who fought were led by Cronus and included: Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Atlas, and Menoetius. The Olympians were led by Zeus and included: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. Additionally, the Hecatonchires (Hundred-handed), the Gigantes (Giants) and Cyclopes, who had been imprisoned by Cronus, assisted the Olympians. It is said the Hecatonchires helped the Olympians by hurling huge stones at the Titans—one hundred at a time. The Cyclopes helped by crafting Zeus' famous weapon, the lightning bolt.

Having at last won victory after a full decade of war, the Olympian gods divided the spoils between themselves, granting dominion of the heavens and sky to Zeus, the sea to Poseidon, and the underworld to Hades. The Olympians then shut the defeated Titans within Tartarus, the deepest depths of the underworld. However, since during the war Oceanus and the Titanides (female Titans), Thia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Hecate, Metis and Tethys, had remained neutral, they were not punished by Zeus. Some other Titans who were not imprisoned in Tartarus include: Atlas, Cronus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, and Prometheus. Zeus gave Atlas a different punishment. Old Uranus, the sky, nearly collapsed onto the earth after the war because so much fighting had occurred below. As a result, Zeus condemned Atlas to hold up the heavens and sky for eternity. Epimetheus, Menoetius, and Prometheus switched sides and aided Zeus in the war therefore they were not punished. Cronus manage to flee after the war, thereby avoiding imprisonment in Tartarus. The Hecatonchires remained to guard over the prisoners of Tartarus.

The Titans were led by Cronus and included: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Thia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Atlas, Menoetius


Hesiod Theogony

116-153 The first stage of creation
- Conception of the Titans, Cyclopes, and Hecatonchires

507-534 The troublesome sons of the Titans Iapetos and Clymene and their punishment
629-720 The Titanomachy:

Eumelus of Corinth's fragmentary epic Titanomachia

Greek Mythology

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