Theogony and Works and Days Characters

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Zeus is the youngest son of Cronos and Rhea. Earth tricks Cronos into believing a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes is Zeus and Cronos swallows the stone. When Zeus grows older, he rescues his brothers and sisters from Cronos' belly. Zeus sends Pandora to earth to release plagues and evils upon mankind as punishment for accepting the fire. He binds Prometheus to a rock and has an eagle eat his liver every day because Prometheus gives fire to mankind against Zeus' will. This torment ceases only when Heracles rescues Prometheus which Zeus permits to bring honor to his son. Zeus sends Menoetius to Erebus because of his extreme pride. He also releases Obriareus, Cottus and Gyes to help fight against the Titans, who the Olympian gods defeat in battle, and Zeus sends the Titans to a prison at the ends of the earth. Zeus defeats Typhoeus, the son of Earth and Tartarus, and the other gods ask him to rule them and be their king. Zeus is the all-powerful king of the gods who controls lightning and thunder.

Zeus is known for his sexual escapades. He impregnates his first wife, Metis, with Athene but places Athene in his own belly to avoid her receiving her mother's wisdom and coordinating a palace coup to overthrow Zeus. He bares Athene on the banks of the Trito river. He has many other wives and children as well. He has Horae, Eunomia, Dike, Eirene, Moerae, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos by Themis; Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thaleia (the three graces) by Eurynome; Persephone by Demeter; Cleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania and Calliope (the nine muses) by Mnemosyne; Apollo and Artemis by Leto; and Hebe, Area and Eileithyia by Hera. He gives birth to Tritogeneia from his own head. He also has Hermes by Maia, Atlas' daughter, and Dionysus by Semele, Cadmus' daughter. He has Heracles by a mortal woman, Alcmena. It is said that Heracles is Zeus' favorite son and Athene is his favorite daughter. Hera is very jealous of her husband's many infidelities and often plagues his children by other woman and goddesses with dangers.


Heracles is the son of Zeus and Alcmena; he is said to be Zeus' favorite son. He is born in the fourth generation and is a demi-god. He kills the three-headed Geryones, the child of Chrysaor and Callirhoe. He vanquishes Orthus, Eurytion, Hydrea, the Neamean lion and many other monsters that plague mankind. Heracles also frees Prometheus from his daily torture of having his liver eaten. After his toils, Heracles becomes immortal and marries his half-sister Hebe, becoming Hera's son-in-law.

Hera is very jealous of Zeus' liasons with other women, especially mortal women. Zeus impregnates Alcmene by impersonating her husband, Amphitryon, returned early from war. Amphitryon arrives later that night and also impregnates Alcmene resulting in twins, who are named Iphicles and Alcides. On the night the twins are to be born, Hera persuades Zeus to swear that the child born that night to the House of Perseus would be high king. Hera forces the goddess of childbirth, Ilithyia, to prevent Alcides' birth while causing Eurystheus to be born prematurely. Hera's attempt to permanently delay Alcides' birth is prevented by Galanthis, Alcmene's servant. When Alcides is a few months old, Hera sends two serpents to kill him, but Alcides kills the snakes with his strength and is found playing with them. "Alcides" is renamed Heracles in an attempt to pacify Hera since the name means "glorious through Hera." Heracles becomes the greatest of the Greek heroes by the use of his immense strength, courage and intelligence. Heracles is identified as a hero and a god, and libations were often offered to him as both at the same festival. The ancient Greeks celebrated his death in late July or early August in the festival of the Herakleia.


Hesiod as the author and by naming himself, is the narrator of both "Theogony" and "Works and Days." He claims that he has been inspired by the muses to sing the glory of the gods. The muses convey the history of the gods to Hesiod. In "Works and Days," the narrator addresses his brother, chiding him for stealing his inheritance and urging him to be honest and work in order to become rich and successful. Hesiod believes that he has been given a divine tongue by the muses.


The Muses are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne: Cleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania and Calliope. Calliope is the most respected because she feeds dew to princes who find favor with the gods. The Muses, along with Apollo, give singers as a gift to mankind in order to make men forget their sorrows when they hear the songs about men of old and the gods. The Muses inspire Hesiod with a divine voice and tell him the history of the gods. The Muses live on Mount Olympus.


Cronos is the son of Heaven and Earth, and Zeus' father. He avenges his brothers that Heaven hates and hides in a secret place in Earth by cutting off his father's members. Cronos marries Rhea, but when he learns from Heaven and Earth and he will be overcome by his own son, Cronos swallows each of his children as they exit Rhea's womb. His children with Rhea are Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Earth-Shaker and Zeus. Rhea convinces Earth to assist her in tricking Cronos when Zeus is born. Earth hides Zeus and presents Cronos with a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes. Cronos is fooled and swallows the rock. Earth raises Zeus, and once he is grown and strong, Zeus vanquishes Cronos. Cronos then vomits up his children, beginning with the rock that he believed was Zeus.


Aphrodite grows from the foam that appears when Cronos casts Heaven's members into the sea. Eros and Desire follow her from her birth. She forces love upon gods and men, such as when she wills Circe to have Telegonus. She also aids in the conception of Typhoeus, the son of Earth and Tartarus. Aphrodite seizes Phaeton and makes him the keeper of her shrine.


Titans are the sons of Heaven alone. He calls them the Titans in reproach for an unnamed, fearful deed. The Titans are at war with the Olympian gods for ten years until Obriareus, Cottus and Gyes are released from the prison by Earth's advice, and help in the fight against the Titans. The Titans are defeated and bound at the ends of the earth. The Olympian gods hide them under a misty gloom and Posiedon fixes bronze gates around their prison.


Hera is the daughter of Cronos and Rhea. She is Zeus' sister and becomes his wife. She has three children by Zeus: Hebe, Ares and Eileithyia. She bears Hephaestus alone. Hera raises many monsters, including Hydrea and the Nemean lion. She hates Heracles, particularly when he kills her monsters. Heracles is her step-son and becomes her son-in-law when he marries Hebe after completing his trials and becoming a god.


Styx is the river daughter of Ocean. Her children by Pallas are Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia. When Zeus fights the Titans he offers privileges to any of the gods who will fight with him. Styx offers to help first, and as a reward her children dwell in Zeus' house. To swear by the river Styx is the greatest of oaths among the Greek gods. If a god lies and is forsworn by these waters, they spend a year prostrate and breathless without access to ambrosia and nectar. This is followed by nine years of exile from Olympus.


Hecate is the daughter of Asteria and Perses. Zeus honors her above all other gods, and she is very great among the gods. Hecate has privilege in earth, heaven and the sea, and is the nurse of the young. She grants honor to whomever she wants.


Prometheus is the son of Iapetus and Clymene. Prometheus angers Zeus by preparing a meal and presenting the gods w/ innards and bones covered with fat instead of equal shares. When Zeus refuses to give fire to mankind, Prometheus steals it and gives it to men. Zeus is furious and makes an evil thing as a price for the fire: a woman whose guile is not to be withstood by men, Pandora. She opens a box that releases plagues and evils upon the world. She also creates the deadly tribe and race of women with the nature to do evil to all men.

The second evil Zeus sends is that men who do not marry will reach old age without anyone to tend to them while married men will live in a mixture of good and evil. For giving men fire, Zeus binds Prometheus and sends an eagle to feed on his liver every day. Each night the liver regenerates and the torture recommences. This cycle finally ends when Heracles saves Prometheus with Zeus' blessing, which is given only to bring honor to his son.


Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis. Because of Metis' wisdom, Zeus places Athena in his own belly to avoid Athena attaining her mother's wisdom and overthrowing him. Zeus gives birth to Athena on the bank of the river Trito. Athena excels all other gods and men in the arts of war. She helps to prepare Pandora as a punishment for mankind.


Perses is the person to whom "Works and Days" is addressed. Perses is Hesiod's brother who steals his inheritance. From the advice that Hesiod gives him, it would appear that Perses is idle and lazy.


Hephaestus forms a maiden, Pandora, at Zeus' bidding to punish men for accepting fire from Prometheus.


Pandora is the woman that Zeus bids Hephaestus to form to punish mankind for taking fire. Athene, Aphrodite and Hermes also assist in preparing her. She opens a box that releases plagues on the world. Pandora is described in "Theogony" and "Works and Days," but only named in "Works and Days."


Justice is Zeus' daughter who watches men to make sure that everyone acts justly by everyone else.

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