Titanomachy: the epic war between gods and titans!

June 03, 2021 5 min read

La titanomachie la grande guerre qui oppose les titans aux dieux de l'olympe

The titanomachy

It is an emblematic event in Greek mythology. In addition to being an absolutely epic episode, the titanomachy largely explains the state of the divine pantheon as it was perceived by the ancient Greeks.

But you're probably wondering what titanomachy is, so let's get to the heart of the matter!

In short, what is titanomachy?

From the Greek “Titanomakhia”, it means “the war against the titans”. It is a conflict between the titans led by Cronus and his children the Olympian gods led by Zeus. During this episode, the two camps fight to reign supreme over the universe, a position occupied by Cronos until then.

Kronos king of the titans

The context: from liberator to tyrant, the role of Cronos.

The primordial Chaos generates the first 5 deities among which are Gaia, mother earth. Gaia , from her union with Ouranos, gives birth to the cyclops, the hecatonchires and of course the titans.

Ouranos, primordial god of the heavens, reigns firmly and unchallenged over the world to the point of locking up his children the Cyclops and the Hecatonchires in the cursed prison of Tartarus. The Titans are prisoners in the womb of their mother, mother earth.

So Cronos, the bravest of the titans, decides to revolt against his father by emasculating him. Ouranos is then forced to disappear, leaving the place of master of the universe to his son who dethroned him. Thanks to this heroic act, the titans are freed and can finally live their lives outside of Gaia's womb. But the cyclops and the hecatonchires, who had also been freed, find themselves once again locked in the bowels of Tartarus .

Thus begins the reign of Cronus, who quickly becomes tyrannical in his turn, as was his father. Moreover, Ouranos, before fleeing, had cursed Kronos by prophesying that his own son would also dethrone him. To counter the spell, Cronus undertook to devour his children as soon as they were born. In this way, he unscrupulously swallowed Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon and Hades.

But Rhea, the wife (and sister) of Kronos was overcome with grief at the thought of never being able to raise her children. So when Zeus' turn came to be born, she hid him in a cave and gave Cronus a stone wrapped in a cloth as an infant. The titan saw only fire and devoured the stone without suspecting the deception developed by Rhea aided by Gaia.

Zeus Ring King of the Gods

Zeus vs Cronus

The story of a patricidal revolt.

Zeus grew up in the greatest secrecy, breastfed by a goat and protected by a clan from the island of Crete who constantly feasted around the baby's cradle in order to cover his cries and prevent Cronus from noticing him.

When he reaches adulthood, Zeus decides to reclaim his siblings and put an end to his father's tyranny. With the help of Metis, he concocts a brew with emetic effects and presents himself to Kronos to be employed as a servant.

Once again, the titan doubts nothing since he is convinced that he has devoured all his children and therefore hires Zeus to serve him the wine. But the latter replaces the wine with the vomit-inducing drink, and Cronos instantly regurgitates the stone then his 5 children swallowed years before. Thus the siblings are reunited and Zeus declares war on his father.

The titanomachy war

The titanomachy: a merciless war between two camps.

Kronos calls on all the titans to join him in defeating his children's rebellion. They established their capital at the top of Mount Othrys.

The gods erected their war camp on Mount Olympus, and thus took the name of Olympian gods. But the titans are superior to the Olympians because they possess the primordial power of the first generations of deities. Regarding this problem, Zeus is aware that he will not be able to win the war without the help of valuable allies. He therefore descends into the depths of mother earth where he crosses paths with Campé, the goddess guardian of the gates of Tartarus, in which Cronos has locked up his enemies. Zeus kills Campé and frees the cyclops and the hecatonchires: “the enemies of my enemies are my friends”.

In addition to lending a hand to the gods during the war, the Cyclops thank their liberator by manufacturing 3 formidable weapons with which the Olympians will be able to match the power of the titans:

  • They make lightning for Zeus (it is indeed THE lightning and not THE lightning)
  • The trident for Poseidon
  • The kunee for Hades (a helmet giving him the ability to become invisible.

Now well reinforced, the ranks of the gods of Olympus become even more so with the allegiance of certain titans like Prometheus and Epimetheus. The titan Ocean and his wife (and sister) Tethys refuse to take part in the Titanomachy but send their descendants to join Zeus: Styx (daughter of Ocean and Tethys) and Nike goddess of victory, Bia god of strength, Zelos god of ardor, Kratos god of power (the grandchildren of the couple of titans).

Ready for battle, the gods of Olympus and their allies launch the offensive against the titan camp. It is said that the war lasts around ten divine years, the equivalent of several human centuries. At the end of the titanomachy it is the gods who win thanks to their allies and their weapons.

Earth Titan Atlas Ring

Victory of the Gods and Mount Olympus

After the titanomachy: the victory of the gods marks a new era.

Victorious, the gods lock the titans (apart from those who helped them) in Tartarus. Kronos will even be cut into pieces. Zeus does not wish to repeat the mistakes of the past and therefore decides to structure the governance of the world. Thus, Zeus will preside over the assembly of the gods of Olympus who will all have an important role to play. Zeus, Hades and Poseidon also divide the different planes:

  • Hades will rule the underworld of the underworld
  • Poseidon on the kingdom of seas, oceans and water sources
  • And Zeus on the heavens and the world of men

The Cyclops and Hecatonchires are thanked for their loyalty, then sent back to Tartarus once more, but this time as guardians of the gates and not prisoners.

The results of the titanomachy:

Thus ends the war, with the victory of the camp of the gods of Olympus who now reign over the world. The titans, for their part, are mostly locked up for eternity in Tartarus. Zeus and his brothers share the governance of the universe, Olympus is made up of an assembly of gods,... But will this last long?

Alas, our dear gods of Olympus will experience new periods of unrest which will compromise the established order, starting with the Gigantomachy (the war against the giants), then the fight against Typhon (the most powerful creature in the universe ), then some differences between the gods themselves

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