Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rhea Ῥέα

RHEA was the Titanis mother of the gods, and a goddess of female fertility, motherhood, and generation. Her name means "flow" and "ease." As the wife of Kronos (Time), she represented the eternal flow of time and generations ; as the great Mother (Meter Megale), the "flow" was menstrual blood, birth waters, and milk. She was also a goddess of comfort and ease, a blessing reflected in the common Homeric phrase "the gods who live at their ease (rhea)."

In myth, Rhea was the wife of the Titan Kronos and Queen of heaven. When her husband heard a prophecy that he would be deposed by one of his children, he took to swallowing each of them as soon as they were born. But Rhea bore her youngest, Zeus, in secret and hid him away in a cave in Krete guarded by shield-clashing Kouretes. In his stead she presented Kronos with a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes which he promptly devoured.

Rhea was closely identified with the Anatolian mother-goddess Kybele. They were both depicted as matronly women, usually wearing a turret crown, and attended by lions.


Rhea had several cult titles:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Mhthr Mhter Mêtêr, Mêter Mater Mother
Mhthr Qewn Mêtêr Theôn Mater Theon Mother of the Gods
Mhthr Megalh Mêtêr Megalê Mater Megala Great Mother
Mhthr Pantwn Mêtêr Pantôn Mater Paton Mother of All

From: Theoi
“To Rhea, Fumigation from Aromatics. Illustrious Rhea, to my prayer incline, daughter of various-formed Protogonos divine, who drivest thy sacred car with speed along, drawn by fierce lions, terrible and strong. Mother of Zeus, whose mighty arm can wield the avenging bolt and shake the dreaded shield. Brass-sounding, honoured, Kronos’ blessed queen, drum-beating, fury-loving, of a splendid mien. Thou joyest in mountains and tumultuous fight, and mankind’s horrid howlings thee delight. War’s parent, mighty, of majestic frame, deceitful saviour, liberating dame. Mother of Gods and Men, who from Gaia (Earth) and spacious Ouranos (Heaven) derives her glorious birth. The ethereal gales, the deeply spreading sea, Goddess, aerial-formed, proceed from thee. Come, pleased with wanderings, blessed and divine, with peace attended on our labours shine; bring rich abundance; and, wherever found, drive dire disease to earth’s remotest bound."

- Orphic Hymn 14 to Rhea
Rhea (play /ˈriː.ə/; Ancient Greek: Ῥέα) was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses, though never dwelling permanently among them on Mount Olympus. The Romans identified Rhea with the Goddess Ops.

Cronus, Rhea's Titan brother and husband, castrated their father, Uranus. After this, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires, the Gigantes and the Cyclopes and set the monster Campe to guard them. He and Rhea took the throne as King and Queen of the gods. This time was called the Golden Age.

If Rhea is indeed Greek, most ancient etymologists derive Rhea ('Ρέα) by metathesis from έρα "ground",[1] but a tradition embodied in Plato[2] and in Chrysippus[3] connected the word with "ῥέω" (rheo), "flow", "discharge",[4] which is what LSJ supports.[5] Alternatively, the name Rhea may be connected with words for the pomegranate, ῥόα, later ῥοιά. Mythographer Karl Kerenyi suggested that the consonance might ultimately derive from a deeper, pre-Indo-European language layer: indeed the sign combination RU+JA meaning 'pomegranate' is attested in Linear A.

The name of the bird species rhea is derived from the goddess name Rhea.[6]

The second largest moon of the planet Saturn is named after her.


The original seat of Rhea's worship was in Crete. There, according to myth, she saved the new-born Zeus, her sixth child, from being devoured by Cronus, by substituting a stone for the infant god and entrusting him to the care of her attendants the Curetes. These attendants afterwards became the bodyguard of Zeus and the priests of Rhea, performing ceremonies in her honor.

In historic times, the resemblances between Rhea and the Asiatic Great Mother, Phrygian Cybele, a manifestation of the Great Goddess, were so noticeable that the Greeks accounted for them by regarding the latter as their own Rhea, who had deserted her original home in Crete and fled to the mountain wilds of Asia Minor to escape the persecution of Cronus.[7] A reverse view was expressed by Virgil,[8] and it is probably true that cultural contacts with the mainland brought to Crete the worship of the Asiatic Great Mother, who became the Cretan Rhea.


In art, Rhea is usually depicted seated in a throne flanked by lions or on a chariot drawn by two lions, and is not always distinguishable from Cybele. In Roman mythology, her counterpart Cybele was Magna Mater deorum Idaea and identified with Ops or Opis.

Most often Rhea's symbol is a pair of lions, the ones that pulled her celestial chariot and were seen often, rampant, one on either side of the gateways through the walls to many cities in the ancient world. The one at Mycenae is most characteristic, with the lions placed on either side of a pillar that symbolizes the goddess.

From: Wiki
In Greek mythology, Rhea is the mother of the gods, daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She is married to her brother Cronus and is the mother of Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon and Zeus.

Cronus, jealous of the future power of his children and to secure his dominion, ate his own children but Rhea managed to rescue one son, Zeus. She hid him in the Dictean Cave in Crete and gave Cronus a stone wrapped in the clothes of the infant, which he swallowed. Thus Rhea succeeded in making him believe that he had killed all of his children. When Zeus reached maturity he overpowered and dethroned his father and made Cronus disgorge his siblings.

Rhea is identified with mother goddess Cybele from Asia Minor and is also known as Rhea Cybele and Magna Mater ("great mother"). She was worshipped with orgiastic rites. Rhea is depicted between two lions or on a chariot pulled by lions.

From: Here
Rhea's Appearance: Rhea is a beautiful, motherly woman.

Symbol or Attributes of Rhea: May be shown holding a wrapped stone which she pretended was the baby Zeus. Sometimes she is seated in a throne on in a chariot. Lions may be in attendance with her.

Rhea's Strengths: A fertile mother goddess; crafty; daring.

Rhea's Weaknesses: Put up with Kronos eating her children for far too long.

Rhea's Parents: Gaia and Ouranos. Rhea is considered to be one of the The Titans, the generation of gods preceding the Olympians of which her son Zeus became the leader.

Rhea's Spouse: Cronus (Kronos)

Children of Rhea: Many of the The 12 Olympians are her offspring - Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. She is most renowned as the mother of Zeus.

Some Major Temple Sites of Rhea: She had a temple at Phaistos on the island of Crete and was believed to have come from Crete. The Archaeological Museum in Piraeus has a partial statue and some stones from a temple to the Mother of the Gods, a common title used with Rhea.

Rhea's Basic Story:Rhea was married to Kronos, who feared that his own child would fight with and replace him as King of the Gods, just as he had done with his own father Ouranos. So when Rhea gave birth, he gobbled up the children. They did not die, but remained trapped in his body. Rhea finally grew tired of losing her children in this way and managed to get Kronos to take a wrapped rock instead of her most recent baby, Zeus. Zeus was raised in a cave on Crete and then fought his father, freeing his brothers and sisters.

Frequent Misspellings and Alternate Spellings: Rea, Raya, Rhaea, Rheia.

Interesting Facts about Rhea: Rhea is sometimes confused with Gaia; both are strong mother goddesses believed to rule over heaven and earth.

From: here
Titaness and earth-goddess. Rhea was the daughter of Uranus and Gaea. According to Diodorus Siculus, Rhea's other name was Pandora. Rhea was identified by the Roman as the goddess Ops and Magna Mater.

Rhea married her brother, Cronus and was the mother of Olympians: Hestia, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hera and Zeus.

When it was prophesied that her children would overthrow her brother/husband, Cronus, he took steps to prevent it. As Rhea gave birth to each child, Cronus would take the infant and swallow the child. When her youngest son, Zeus was born, fearing that she would lose all her children, Rhea wrapped swaddling cloth around a stone and gave it to her husband. Cronus unwittingly swallowed the stone. Rhea secretly sends her son to Crete, where Zeus was brought up by mountain nymphs and the Curetes.

She later helped Zeus to force her husband disgorged her other children. Rhea and her mother (Gaea) provided emetic to the Oceanid Metis, Zeus' first wife. Metis had served the emetic Cronus with his drink, so that Cronus had vomited out his five children. See Creation, Theogony of Hesiod.

As Ops, she was the goddess of plenty or fertility. Ops was worshipped along with Consus, a god with an obscure function.

She was sometimes identified as Cybele, a Phrgyian earth/mother goddess. Rhea was also associated with the Cretan goddess, Dictynna, who was previously known as Britomartis.

According to the Orphic myth, after Zeus was born, her name was changed to Demeter. As Demeter, she was raped by her son Zeus, so that she gave birth to Persephone. In turn, Zeus would rape their daughter (Persephone) so that she became the mother of Dionysus, known to the Neoplatonists as Zagreus.

From: here


DAUGHTER of great Protogonus, divine,
Illustrious Rhea, to my pray'r incline,
Who driv'st thy holy car with speed along,
Drawn by fierce lions, terrible and strong.
Mother of Jove, whose mighty arm can wield
Th' avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield.
Drum-beating, frantic, of a splendid mien,
Brass-sounding, honor'd, Saturn's blessed queen.
Thou joy'st in mountains and tumultuous fight,
And mankind's horrid howlings, thee delight.
War's parent, mighty, of majestic frame,
Deceitful saviour, liberating dame.
Mother of Gods and men, from whom the earth
And lofty heav'ns derive their glorious birth;
Th' ætherial gales, the deeply spreading sea
Goddess ærial form'd, proceed from thee.
Come, pleas'd with wand'rings, blessed and divine,
With peace attended on our labours shine;
Bring rich abundance, and wherever found
Drive dire disease, to earth's remotest bound.


137:1 Ver. 1.] Daughter of great Protogonus. In the note to Hercules it appears that Rhea is one of the progeny of the intellectual earth, resident in Phanes; and from the note to Hymn 5, to Protogonus, we learn from Proclus, that Phanes is to be considered in the intelligible as well as in the intellectual orders. Hence Rhea is, with perfect agreement to the Orphic theology, the daughter of Protogonus, considered as subsisting among the intelligible Gods.

137:* Rhea, according to the Orphic and Platonic theology, is one of the zoogonic or vivific principles of the universe; having a maternal rank among the universal paternal orders, i. e. between Saturn and Jupiter. Hence she calls forth the causes latent in Saturn to the procreation of the universe; and definitely unfolds all the genera of the Gods. So that she is filled from Saturn, with an intelligible and prolific power, which she imparts to Jupiter the demiurgus of the universe; filling his essence with a vivific abundance. Since this Goddess then is a medium between the two intellectual parents of the universe, Saturn and Jupiter, the former of which collects intellectual multitude into one, but the other scatters and divides it. Hence says Proclus, in Theol. Plat. p. 266. this Goddess produces in herself the demiurgic causes of the universe; but imparts her diffusive power abundantly to secondary natures. On p. 138 this account Plato assimilates her prolific abundance to the flowing of waters; signifying nothing more by the word flowing, than that fontal power, by which she singularly contains the divine rivers of life. And, p. 267. Proclus informs us, that this Goddess, according to Orpheus, when considered as united to Saturn by the most exalted part of her essence, is called Rhea: but considered as producing Jupiter, and, together with Jove, unfolding the universal and particular orders of the Gods, she is called Ceres.

138:4 Ver. 4.] Drawn by fierce lions, &c. I have here followed the correction of Pierson, who reads ταυροφονων for ταυροφορον: for Rhea is the same with the mother of the Gods, who is celebrated in the Hymn to her, as seated in a car drawn by lions.

138:7 Ver. 7.] Drum-beating. Rhea, in the Orphic theology, is among the mundane divinities, the earth. Hence, according to Varro, she is represented with a drum; because that instrument is a symbol of the earth. August. dc Civitat. lib. vii.

139:12 XIII Ver. 12.] Deceitful saviour. When Jupiter was born (says the fable) his mother Rhea in order to deceive Saturn, gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling bands, in the place of Jove; informing him that was her offspring. Saturn immediately devoured the stone; and Jupiter who was privately educated, at length obtained the government of the world. With great propriety, therefore, is she called by the poet a deceitful saviour. This fable, according to Phurnutus, signifies the creation of the world. For at that time Nature (which among elementary essences is the same with Jupiter) was then nourished in the world, and at length prevailed. The stone devoured by Saturn is the earth, alluding to its firmly occupying the middle place: for says Phurnutus, beings could not abide without such a foundation for their support. From this all things are produced, and derive their proper aliment. Opusc. Mythol. p. 147.

Also see:

Theoi: Rhea (more info than what I quoted)
Cybele - Wikipedia
Temple of Cybele
Cybele and Attis
Maetreum of Cybele
CYBELE : Phrygian Mother of the Gods
Cybele -- Neos Alexandria

No comments:

Post a Comment