Hesiod's Theogony

Translated by Christopher Kelk

Allegorical representation depicting that under the rule of the goddess of wisdom Minerva, eloquence and heroism flourish

Apotheosis of heroes
Pieter Tanjé (1706–1761) - The Rijksmuseum

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From the Heliconian Muses let me sing:

They dance on soft feet round the deep-blue spring

And shrine of Cronus’ mighty son upon

The great and holy mount of Helicon.

They wash their tender frames in Permessos

Or Horses’ Spring or holy Olmeios

And then display their fair terpsichory

On that high mountain, moving vigorously;

They wander through the night, all veiled about

With heavy mist and lovely songs sing out 10

To Zeus, the aegis-bearer, lavishing hymns,

And her whose golden sandals grace her limbs,

Hera, the queen of Argos, and grey-eyed

Athena, Phoebus and her who casts side-

Long glances, Aphrodite, Artemis, too,

The archeress, and Lord Poseidon who

Both holds and shakes the earth, Themis the blest

And Hebe, too, who wears a golden crest,

And fair Dione, Leto, Iapetos

And crafty Cronos, Eos, Helios 20

The mighty, bright Selene, Oceanos, Ge,

Black Night and each sacred divinity

That lives forever. Hesiod was taught

By them to sing adeptly as he brought

His sheep to pasture underneath the gaze

Of Helicon, and in those early days

Those daughters of Lord Zeus proclaimed to me:

“You who tend sheep, full of iniquity,

Mere wretched bellies, we know how to tell

False things that yet seem true, but we know well 30

How to speak truth at will.” Thus fluidly

Spoke Zeus’s daughters. Then they gave to me

A sturdy laurel shoot, plucked from the ground,

A wondrous thing, and breathed a sacred sound

Into my throat that I may eulogize

The past and future, and to lionize

The blessed gods they bade me, but to praise

Themselves both first and last. Why do I raise,

However, such a topic? Let me start

With the Muses, who enliven the great heart 40

Of Zeus on Mt. Olympus as they sing

Of present, past and future, warbling

With one accord. Unwearied, all around

The house their lips emit the sweetest sound,

And thundering Zeus laughs loud in ecstasy

To listen to the dainty quality

Of sound that spreads abroad. Their voices ring

Round Olympus’ snowy peaks while echoing

Through the immortals’ homes. They glorify,

With their undying voice, the gods on high - 50

Those whom both Earth and Heaven have created

And those who followed them and have donated

Good things to all, and then of Zeus they sing,

The father of all gods and men, telling

How excellent he is, reigning supreme

Among the gods, then taking up the theme

Of man and mighty giants, gladdening

Again the heart of Lord Zeus as they sing.

Then in Pieria Mnemosyne,

Who in Eleuthera maintains sovereignty 60

Among the hills, coupled with Zeus and bore

Forgetfulness of ills forevermore

And rest from sorrow. For nine nights she lay

With wise Zeus in his holy bed, away

From all the gods. After a year went past,

The seasons rolling by, she bore at last

Nine daughters, all of one accord, and they

Were set on singing, free from all dismay,

Near snowy Olympus’ peak, where stand, right there,

Bright dancing-places and fine dwellings where 70

The Graces and Desire dwelt quite free

Of care while singing songs delightfully

Of the gods’ laws and all the goodly ways

Of the immortals. Offering up their praise

They then went to Olympus, revelling

In their mellifluous tones and uttering

Their heavenly song. The black earth echoed round

And underneath their feet a lovely sound

Rose up. They to their father made their way,

With lightning and with thunder holding sway 80

In heaven, once Cronus he’d subjugated

As to the immortals he disseminated

Their rights. Lord Zeus begat this company

Of Muses, Thalia, Melpomene,

Clio, Euterpe and Terpsichory,

And Polyhymnia, Calliope,

Urania, Erato: but the best

Of all of them, deferred to by the rest

Of all the Muses is Calliope

Because the kings blest by divinity 90

She serves. Each god-nursed king whom they adore,

Beholding him at birth, for him they pour

Sweet dew upon his tongue that there may flow

Kind words from hm; thus all the people go

To see him arbitrate successfully

Their undertakings and unswervingly

End weighty arguments: thus are there found

Wise kings who in crisis turn around

The problem in assembly easily,

Employing gentle words persuasively, 100

And he stood out among them. Thus were they

A holy gift to me, for to this day

Through them and archer Phoebus here on earth

Men sing and play the lyre, but the birth

Of kings comes from Lord Zeus. Happy are those

Loved by the Muses, for sweet speaking flows

Out of their mouths. One in a sudden plight

May live in sorrow, trembling with fright

And sick at heart, but singers, ministering

To the Muses, of their ancestors will sing 110

And all the deeds that they’ve performed so well,

And all the gods who in Olympus dwell:

At once they then forget their heaviness –

Such is the precious gift of each goddess.

Hail, Zeus’s progeny, and give to me

A pleasing song and laud the company

Of the immortal gods, and those created

In earthly regions and those generated

In Heaven and Night and in the briny sea.

Tell how the gods and Earth first came to be, 120

The streams, the swelling sea and up on high

The gleaming stars, broad Heaven in the sky,

The gods they spawned, providing generously

Good things, dividing their prosperity

And sharing all their honours, and how they

To many-valed Olympus found their way.

Therefore, Olympian Muses, tell to me,

From the beginning, how each came to be.

First Chaos came, then wide Earth, ever-sound

Foundations of the gods who on snow-bound 130

Olympus dwell, then, swathed in murkiness

Beneath the wide-pathed Earth, came Tartarus,

Then Eros, fairest of the deathless ones,

Who weakens all the gods and men and stuns

Their prudent judgment. Chaos then created

Erebus; black Night was born, and then she mated

With Erebus and spawned Aether and Day;

Then Earth, so that on every side she may

Be covered, first bore Heaven, who was replete

With stars, providing thus a permanent seat 140

For all the gods, as large as Earth; then she

Engendered lengthy mountains which would be

Delightful haunts for all the Nymphs, who dwell

Among their glens; then, with its raging swell,

She bore the barren sea, no union

Of love involved, although she later on

Mingled with Heaven, and Oceanus,

Deep-swirling, was created, and Coeus

And Crius and Hyperion she bore,

And Iapetus and Theia, furthermore, 150

And Rheia, Themis and Mnemosyne,

And her who wore a golden crown, Phoebe,

And lovely Tethys, and the youngest one,

The wily Cronus, such a dreadful son

To lusty Heaven, the vilest of all these

Divinities. She bore the Cyclopes –

Brontes, who gave the thunderbolt to Zeus,

And Steropes, who also for his use

Gave lightning, and Arges, so strong of heart.

The only thing that made them stand apart 160

From all the other gods was one sole eye

That stood upon their foreheads: that is why

We call them Cyclopes. Both skilfulness

And mighty strength did all of them possess.

There were three other children, odious

Though spirited – Cottus, Briareus

And Gyges, all full of effrontery:

Even to be in their vicinity

Was dangerous – of arms they had five score,

Sprung from their shoulders ; fifty heads, what’s more, 170

They had on brawny limbs; none could suppress

Their perseverance or their mightiness.

They were the foulest of the progeny

Of Earth and Heaven and earned the enmity

Of their own father, for, as soon as they

Were given birth, he hid them all away

Deep in the earth’s recesses, far from the light,

And in his evil deeds took great delight.

But vast Earth groaned aloud in her distress

And so devised a piece of cleverness,  180

An evil ruse: a mass of flint she made

And of it shaped a sickle, then relayed

Her scheme to all her brood in consolation,

Although her heart was sore with indignation.

“Children, your father’s sinful, so hear me,”

She said, “that he might pay the penalty.”

They stood in silent fear at what she’d said,

But wily Cronus put aside his dread

And answered, “I will do what must be done,

Mother. I don’t respect The Evil One.” 190

At what he said vast Earth was glad at heart

And in an ambush set her child apart

And told him everything she had in mind.

Great Heaven brought the night and, since he pined

To couple, lay with Earth. Cronus revealed

Himself from where he had been well concealed,

Stretched out one hand and with the other gripped

The great, big, jagged sickle and then ripped

His father’s genitals off immediately

And cast them down, nor did they fruitlessly 200

Descend behind him, because Earth conceived

The Furies and the Giants, who all wore

Bright-gleaming armour, and long spears they bore,

And the Nymphs, called Meliae by everyone;

And when the flinty sickle’s work was done,

Then Cronus cast into the surging sea

His father’s genitals which were to be

Borne long upon the waves, and there was spread

White foam from the timeless flesh: from it was bred 210

A maid: holy Cythera first she neared,

Then came to sea-girt Cyprus. A revered

And lovely goddess she became. Grass grew

Beneath her feet, and men and gods all knew

Her then as Aphrodite, Nursed Around

The Foam Upon The Sea, and richly-crowned

Cytherea, which she’d reached. She’s known as well,

Because she first saw light amid the swell

Of Cyprian shores, The Cyprian. One more name

She’s known by, since from genitals she came, 220

Is Philommedes, Genial-Loving One.

Love and Desire formed a union

With her the moment she was born: all three

Of them then went to join the company

Of all the gods. This honour she attained

From the beginning and this share she gained

Among both men and gods – the whispering

Of maids who are in love, their giggling,

Sweet loving, gentleness and trickery

In love affairs. Great Heaven’s progeny 230

He labelled Titans for they used huge strain

To do a dreadful deed, and so the pain

Of punishment would follow. Night gave breath

To hateful Doom, black Destiny and Death

And Sleep and Dreams, and after that, although

She lay with none, Disgrace and painful Woe,

And, even later, the Hesperides,

Who guard the rich, gold apples and the trees

Beyond the glorious Ocean; subsequently

The Fates who doom all mortals’ destiny, 240

Clotho and Atropos and Lachesis,

Who fix from birth where a man may go amiss

And where be virtuous; the sinfulness

Of men and gods they dog and won’t suppress

Their dreadful rage until they all impose

An agonizing penalty on those

Who go astray; and then did deadly Night

Give birth to Nemesis, who is a blight

To mortals, then Deceit and Amity

And hateful Age and harsh Disharmony. 250

Foul Strife bore toilsome Pain, Forgetfulness

And Famine and tear-stained Unhappiness,

Fights, Battles, Murders, Slaughter, Bickering,

The Telling of Untruths and Arguing,

Crime, Ruin, intimates all, and Oath, a pain

To those who falsely swear. The watery Main

Begat Nereus, who never tells a lie,

The oldest of his progeny, known by

The name of Old Man, since he’s virtuous

And kind and keeps the laws of righteousness 260

And thinks good thoughts. Once more he lay with Earth

And she to mighty Thaumas then gave birth

And haughty Phorcys and the fair-cheeked maid

Ceto and her whose heart had been inlaid

With flint, Eurybia – all wondrously fair,

Ploto, Sao, Amphitrite, Entrante,

Galene, Thetis, Eudora, Glauce, 270

Fair Halie, Cymothoe. Speo,

Pasithea, Theo and Erato,

Eulimene and gracious Melite

And Doto, Proto, pink-armed Eunice,

Nisaea, Pherusa, Dynamene,

Actaea, Doris, fair Hippothoe,

Panopea, pink-armed Hipponoe,

Fair Galatea and Cymodoce

(With Amphitrite and Cymatolege

She calmed with ease the storms and misty sea), 280

Protomedea, Cymo, Eione,

Rich-crowned Alimede and Glauconome,

Laugh-loving, Pontoporea, Leagore,

Laomedea and Polynoe,

Autonoe and perfect Euarne,

Divine Menippe and fair Psamathe,

Neso, Themisto, Eupompe, Pronoe

And Nemertes, who had the qualities

Of her deathless father. All fifty of these 290

Sprang from fine Nereus, who was talented

In splendid specialties. And Thaumas wed

Electra, fathomless Ocean’s progeny

Who bore Iris who moves so rapidly

And the well-tressed Harpies, Aello,

Ocypetes, who on swift pinions go

With raging winds and flocks of birds on high.

Ceto bore Phorcys the fair-cheeked Graiae,

Called thus by everyone who walks on earth

And all the deathless gods, grey from their birth, 300

Well-clad Pemphredo, Enyo, who is dressed

In saffron and the Gorgons in the west

Beyond famed Ocean in the far frontier

Towards Night, where the Hesperides sing out clear

And liquid songs, Sthenno and Euryale

And her who bore a woeful destiny,

Medusa (she was mortal, but Sthenno

And Euryale were not and did not grow

In age) and then the dark-haired god of the sea,

Amid spring flowers and in a pleasant lea, 310

Lay with her. When Perseus cut off her head,

Great Chrysaor and Pegasus were bred

From her dead body, Pegasus called thus

Since he was born near the springs of Oceanus,

Chrysaor since at the moment of his birth

He held a gold sword. Pegasus left the earth,

The mother of all flocks, and flew away

Up to the deathless gods, where he would stay:

He brought to prudent Zeus his weaponry,

Thunder and lightning. To Callirrhoe, 320

Begat by glorious Ocean, Chrysaor

Was joined in love, and Calirrhoe bore

The creature with three heads, Geryones,

But in sea-girt Erythea, Heracles

Slew him among his oxen on that day

He drove his wide-browed oxen on the way

To holy Tiryns, after he had gone

Across the sea and slain Eurytion

The herdsman in an inky-black homestead

And Orthus. She then bore a monster, dread 330

And powerful, in a hollow cave: and it

Looked like no god or man, no, not a whit,

And fierce Echidna, who, with flashing eyes

And prepossessing cheeks, displays the guise

Of a nymph – well, that was half of her at least,

The other half a snake, a massive beast,

Whose skin was speckled: it was frightening.

Beneath the holy earth this dreadful thing

Consumed raw flesh within a cave below

A hollow rock where none would ever go, 340

Mortals or gods, though the gods had decreed

A glorious house for her, and she indeed

Dwells there as guard among the Arimi

And never ages through eternity.

The dread, outrageous, lawless Typhaon,

People have said, was joined in union

With her of the flashing eyes, and she grew round

And bore fierce offspring – first Orthis, the hound

Of Geryon, then a beast one can’t defeat,

The loud-voiced Cerberus who eats raw meat, 350

The Hound of Hell, the fifty-headed one,

Strong and relentless. Still she was not done,

For then she bore the Hydra, foul and cursed,

Of Lerna, which the white-armed Hera nursed,

In anger at great Heracles, the son

Of Zeus and from the house of Amphitryon,

Who slew Echidna with the warlike aid

Of Iolaus and the forager maid

Athene, with his ruthless sword. And she

Had borne Chimaera who relentlessly 360

Breathed fire, mighty, swiftly-moving, dread

And powerful, possessing not one head

But three, in front a lion’s with flashing eyes,

And then a fiery goat’s, the third in the guise

Of a great snake. Noble Bellerophon

And Pegasus slew her. Orthus lay upon

Echidna, and from out her womb there grew

To adulthood the deadly Sphinx who slew

The men of Cadmus whom the goodly wife

Of Zeus brought up and caused to live his life 370

In the Nemean hills, a plague to all

Its people, proving, too, a pestilent gall

To her own tribes, and he had mastery

Over Tretus and Apesas, yet he

Was slain by Heracles. From coitus

With Phorcys Ceto bore the venomous

Serpent, the last child that she brought to birth,

Who in the gloomy cells beneath the earth

Protects the golden apples. Oceanus

Begat on Tethys NIle and Alpheus, 380

Both eddying rivers, and Eridanus,

The Strymon, the Meander, beauteous

Istrian stream, the Phasis, the Rhesus,

The silver eddies of Achelous,

The Haliacmon, the Heptaporus,

The Nessus, Rhodius, the Granicus,

The holy Simois, the Aesepus,

The Peneus, Hermus, the fair Caïcus,

The great Sangarius, Parthenius,

The Ladon, Evenus, the Ardescus, 390

Divine Scamander, and a sacred race

Of daughters who received the godly grace

Of Zeus to nurture young men, with the aid

Of Phoebus and the rivers I’ve displayed,

Across the earth – Electra and Peitho,

Admete, Ianthe, Doris and Prymno,

Divine Urania, Hippo, Clymene,

Rhodea, Clytie, Callirrhoe,

Idyia, Pasithoe and Galaxaura,

Thoe and fair Dione and Plexaura, 400

Melobosis, fair Polydora and Thoe,

Fair Circeis, Zeuxo, Xanthe, Acaste,

Ianeira, Perseis, soft-eyed Pluto,

The fair Petraea, Metis, Menestho,

Eurynome, Europa, Telesto

The saffron-clad, the charming Calypso,

And Asia and Eudora and Tyche,

Ocyrrhoe, Amphiro – finally

The chiefest, Styx. And yet Oceanus

Had other daughters, multitudinous, 410

In fact three thousand of them, every one

Neat-ankled, spread through his dominion,

Serving alike the earth and mighty seas,

And all of them renowned divinities.

They have as many brothers, thundering

As on they flow, begotten by the king

Of seas on Tethys. Though it’s hard to tell

Their names, yet they are known from where they dwell.

Hyperion lay with Theia, and she thus

Bore clear Selene and great Helius 420

And Eos shining on all things on earth

And on the gods who dwell in the wide berth

Of heaven. Eurybia bore great Astraeus

And Pallas, having mingled with Crius;

The bright goddess to Perses, too, gave birth,

Who was the wisest man on all the earth;

Eos bore the strong winds to Astraeus,

And Boreas, too, and brightening Zephyrus

And Notus, born of two divinities.

The star Eosphorus came after these,  430

Birthed by Eugeneia, ‘Early-Born’,

Who came to be the harbinger of Dawn,

And heaven’s gleaming stars far up above.

And Ocean’s daughter Styx was joined in love

To Pelias – thus trim-ankled Victory

And Zeal first saw the light of day; and she

Bore Strength and Force, both glorious children: they

Dwell in the house of Zeus; they’ve no pathway

Or dwelling that’s without a god as guide,

And ever they continue to reside 440

With Zeus the Thunderer; thus Styx had planned

That day when Lightning Zeus sent a command

That all the gods to broad Olympus go

And said that, if they helped him overthrow

The Titans, then he vowed not to bereave

Them of their rights but they would still receive

The rights they’d had before, and, he explained,

To those who under Cronus had maintained

No rights or office he would then entrust

Those very privileges, as is just. 450

So deathless Styx, with all her progeny,

Was first to go, through the sagacity

Of her fear father, and Zeus gave her fame

With splendid gifts, and through him she became

The great oath of the gods, her progeny

Allowed to live with him eternally.

He kept his vow, continuing to reign

Over them all. Then Phoebe once again

With Coeus lay and brought forth the goddess,

Dark-gowned Leto, so full of gentleness 460

To gods always – she was indeed

The gentlest of the gods. From Coeus’ seed

Phoebe brought forth Asterie, aptly named,

Whom Perseus took to his great house and claimed

As his dear wife, and she bore Hecate,

Whom Father Zeus esteemed exceedingly.

He gave her splendid gifts that she might keep

A portion of the earth and barren deep.

Even now, when a man, according to convention,

Offers great sacrifices, his intention 470

To beg good will he calls on Hecate.

He whom the goddess looks on favourably

Easily gains great honour. She bestows

Prosperity upon him. Among those

Born of both Earth and Ocean who possessed

Illustriousness she was likewise blest.

Lord Zeus, the son of Cronus, did not treat

Her grievously and neither did he cheat

Her of what those erstwhile divinities,

The Titans, gave her: all the liberties 480

They had from the beginning in the sea

And on the earth and in the heavens, she

Still holds. And since Hecate does not possess

Siblings, of honour she receives no less,

Since Zeus esteems her, nay, she gains yet more.

To those she chooses she provides great store

Of benefits. As intermediary,

She sits beside respected royalty.

In the assembly those who are preferred

By her she elevates, and when men gird 490

Themselves for deadly battle, there she’ll be

To grant to those she chooses victory

And glory. She is helpful, too, when men

Contend in games, for she is present then

To see the strongest gain the victory

And win with ease the rich prize joyfully,

Ennobling his parents. She aids, too,

The horsemen she espouses and those who

Are forced to ply the grey and stormy sea

And prey to Poseidon and Queen Hecate, 500

Who grants them many fish with ease, although

She’ll take them back if she should will it so.

With Hermes, too, she helps increase men’s stocks –

Their droves of cows and goats and fleecy flocks.

Of few she’ll cause increase; of many, though

 She’ll cause a dearth if she should will it so.

She is adored by the whole company

Of gods. And Zeus determined that she nursed

Young children from the moment that they first 510

Looked on the light of day. But Rhea bore

To Cronus awe-inspiring children, for

They were Demeter, Hestia and gold-shod

Hera and strong Hades, a pitiless god

Beneath the earth, and he who rules the sea

And loudly shakes the very earth and he

Who is the ruler of all gods and men,

Whose thunder stirs the spacious earth. But when

Each left the womb and reached its mother’s knees,

Great Cronus gulped it down that none of these 520

Proud sons should rule on high, for he had found,

Of Earth and starry Heaven, that he was bound

To be subdued by one of them, strong though

He was, through mighty Zeus’s plan, and so

He kept keen watch and ate his progeny.

Rhea was filled with endless grief, and she,

About to birth great Zeus, who would hold sway

As father of all gods and men one day,

She begged her loving parents that they might

Concoct a plan to keep her out of sight 530

While birthing her dear child, that they might see

Revenge for crafty Cronus’ progeny.

They heard their darling one and acquiesced,

And what was bound to happen they impressed

Upon her. So they sent her to rich Crete,

To Lyctus, when her hour was near complete

To bear great Zeus, her youngest progeny.

Vast earth received him from her then, that she

Might rear him in broad Crete. For there indeed

She took him through the murky night with speed. 540

She placed him in her arms and then concealed

Him where earth’s recesses can’t be revealed,

Within a yawning cave where, all around

The mountain called Aegeum, trees abound.

But then she gave the mighty heavenly king

A massive boulder wrapped in swaddling.

The scoundrel took the thing and swallowed it,

Because he clearly did not have the wit

To know his son had been replaced and lay

Behind him, safe and sound, and soon one day 550

Would strongly crush him, making him bereft

Of all his honours, he himself then left

To rule Olympus. After that his power

And glorious limbs expanded by the hour;

The wily Cronus, as the years rolled on,

Deceived by Earth’s wise words, let loose his son,

Whose arts and strength had conquered him. Then he

Disgorged the boulder he had formerly

Gulped down. In holy Pytho, far below

Parnassus’ glens, Zeus set it down to show 560

The marvel to all men, and he set free

His father’s brothers whose captivity

Cronus had caused in his great foolishness,

And they were grateful for his kindliness,

So lightning and loud thunder they revealed

To him in recompense, which were concealed

Before by vast Earth, and he trusts in these

And rules all men and all divinities.

Iapetus wed neat-ankled Clymene,

The child of Ocean, and their progeny 570

Were mighty Atlas, fine Menoetius

And clever, treacherous Prometheus,

And mad Epimetheus, to mortality

A torment from the very first, for he

Married the maid whom Zeus had formed. But Zeus

At villainous Menoetius let loose

His lurid bolt because his vanity

And strength had gone beyond the boundary

Of moderation: down to Erebus

He went headlong. Atlas was tireless 580

In holding up wide Heaven, forced to stand

Upon the borders of this earthly land

Before the clear-voiced daughters of the West,

A task assigned at wise Zeus’s behest.

Zeus bound clever Prometheus cruelly

With bonds he could not break apart, then he

Drove them into a pillar, setting there

A long-winged eagle which began to tear

His liver, which would regrow every day

So that the bird could once more take away 590

What had been there before. Heracles, the son

Of trim-ankled Clymene, was the one

Who slew that bird and from his sore distress

Released Prometheus – thus his wretchedness

Was over, and it was with Zeus’s will,

Who planned that hero would be greater still

Upon the rich earth than he was before.

Lord Zeus then took these things to heart therefore;

He ceased the anger he had felt when he

Had once been matched in ingenuity 600

By Prometheus, for when several gods and men

Had wrangled at Mecone, even then

Prometheus calved a giant ox and set

A share before each one, trying to get

The better of Lord Zeus – before the rest

He set the juicy parts, fattened and dressed

With the ox’s paunch, then very cunningly

For Zeus he took the white bones up, then he

Marked them with shining fat. “O how unfair,”

Spoke out the lord of gods and men, “to share 610

That way, most glorious lord and progeny

Of Iapetus.” Zeus, whose sagacity

Is endless, thus rebuked him. With a smile

Prometheus, not forgetting his shrewd wile,

Said cleverly, “Take any part that you

Would have, great lord of all.” But Zeus well knew

The trick and planned against humanity

Mischief: he took the white fat angrily,

Seeing the bones beneath it, and therefore

On fragrant shrines men burn bones evermore 620

For all the gods. “O son of Iapetus,”

Said Zeus, who drives the clouds, still furious,

“The cleverest of all humanity,

You’ve not forgotten your chicanery.”

Thenceforth he brooded on that trick, and so

He would not give to mortal men below

Voracious fire. Prometheus, though, secreted

It in a fennel-stalk and thereby cheated

Lord Zeus, who burned in furious rage when he

Saw radiant fire amongst humanity. 630

At once with evil he made mortals pay

For this: a modest maid was formed of clay

By the famous Limping God at his behest.

Bright-eyed Athene made sure she was dressed

In silver garments, and down from her head

A cleverly embroidered veil she spread,

Remarkable to see; she also laid

Upon her head a golden circlet made

By the Limping God himself, a courtesy

To Zeus, and all about these trappings she 640

Placed lovely wreaths of flowers freshly grown.

On it such curious craftsmanship was shown;

For it had many creatures that were raised

On land and in the sea – they brightly blazed

As if they lived. This piece of devilry,

The price to be paid by all humanity

For blessing, he brought out and set her where

The gods and men were standing. At the glare

Of all that finery that Zeus’s child,

Grey-eyed Athene, gave to her she smiled. 650

Awe took them all at the sheer trickery,

To every man a liability.

She is the source of all the female nation,

To men a trouble and a great vexation,

Who never aids them in extremities,

Only in wealth. Just as a swarm of bees

Will feed their drones who always go astray –

They lay the honeycombs day after day

Until the sun has gone down in the West,

While in their hives the drones all take their rest 660

And reap the work of others as they lay

It all inside their bellies – in this way

High-thundering Zeus gave to all mortal men

This evil thing, but he gave, yet again,

A second evil for the good they’d had:

He who won’t wed since women make him sad,

When he grows old with nobody who could

Minister to him, though a livelihood

Is lacking while he lives, yet when he’s gone

His kin go to his house from hither and yon 670

To carve out his belongings. And yet he

Who opts for marriage, choosing carefully

A fitting wife, will find right from the first

Good wrangling with bad, for he who’s cursed

With wicked children lives with constant pain

Within his heart nor ever will regain

Relief. The will of Zeus one can’t mislead

Or overstep, for even the kindly deed

Of Prometheus meant that he could not break free

Of his deep wrath, but of necessity 680

Strong fetters held him tightly, even though

He knew so many wiles. But long ago

Uranus was profoundly furious

With Gyes, Cottus and Briareus,

His sons, and shackled them most cruelly,

Jealous of their strong masculinity

And comeliness and great enormousness;

And then he made them dwell in dire distress

Beneath the earth at its periphery.

But they were brought back by the progeny 690

Of Cronus and the richly-tressed goddess

Rhea, because Earth, in a full address

To them, advised it, for she said that thus

They’d win great praise and be victorious.

There had been stubborn, painful war among

The blessed gods: indeed the strife was long

Between Othrys’ noble divinities

And those who grant mortals advantages,

The Olympians; ten years would it abide

With no conclusion clinched by either side: 700

The balance of the war dubiously swayed.

But when Lord Zeus before the gods arrayed

Ambrosia and nectar, they consumed

That godly food and all at once resumed

Their manly pride. Zeus said, “Bright progeny

Of Earth and Heaven, hear what my heart bids me

To say. The Titans have been wrangling

With us so long in hope this war will bring

Them victory. Show to unyielding might

And face the Titans in this bitter fight. 710

Remember our kind counselling when we

Returned you from your dreadful misery

And cruel bondage back into the light.”

Good Cottus said, “Divine one, you are right.

We know well what you say, we know as well

That you returned us from a living hell

Where we were bound in grim obscurity;

Thus we enjoyed what we’d not hoped to see.

Now fixedly we’ll strive to aid you, Lord,

And be your allies in this dread discord 720

Against the Titans. Hearing what he said,

The gods applauded, for his words had fed

The spirit they had always felt for war

But now was even greater than before.

Then each god and goddess stirred up that day

Repellent war, the Titan gods and they

Of Cronus born, and those who, strong and dread,

From Erebus’s gloom by Zeus were led

Up to the light, and each of those possessed

A hundred hands and fifty heads, all blessed 730

With robust limbs. The Titans then they faced

And in their mighty hands huge rocks they’d placed,

While, opposite, the Titans eagerly

Strengthened their ranks, and simultaneously

Both sides revealed their strength, and all around

The boundless sea roared with a fearful sound

And all the earth crashed loudly; in the sky

Wide Heaven, shaking, groaned and groaned; on high

Olympus rolled and tottered from its base

At their attack; the quaking reached the face 740

Of gloomy Tartarus; the awesome sound

Of feet as on they charged echoed around

As their hard missiles clanged, and then they hurled

Their deadly shafts, and up to heaven whirled

The shouts of both the armies as the fight

They now engaged. Now Zeus held back his might

No longer, but at once he was aflame

With fury; from Olympus then he came,

Showing his strength and hurling lightning

Continually; his bolts went rocketing 750

Nonstop from his strong hand and, whirling, flashed

An awesome flame. The nurturing earth then crashed

And burned, the mighty forest crackling

Fortissimo, the whole earth smouldering,

As did the Ocean and the barren sea,

And round the Titan band, Earth’s progeny,

Hot vapour lapped, and up to the bright air

An untold flame arose; the flashing glare

Of Zeus’s bolt and lightning, although they

Were strong and mighty, took their sight away. 760

Astounding heat seized Chaos, and to hear

And see it, Earth and Heaven were surely near

To clashing, for that would have been the sound

Of Heaven hurling down into the ground

As they demolished Earth. Thus the gods clashed,

Raging in dreadful battle. The winds lashed

A rumbling, dust-filled earthquake, bringing, too,

Thunder and lightning-bolts, the hullabaloo

Great Zeus commanded, and the battle-shout

And clangour to their ranks. Then all about 770

Raged harsh discord, and many a violent deed

Was done. The battle ended, but indeed

Until that time they fought continually

In cruel war, and Cronus’ progeny

Appeared in the forefront, Briareus,

Cottus and Gyes, ever ravenous

For war; three hundred rocks they frequently

Launched at the Titans, with this weaponry

Eclipsing them and hurling them below

The wide earth, and in bitter chains their foe 780

They bound, despite their eager zealousness,

The distance from the earth being no less

Than Heaven is above the earth; and thus

A brazen anvil would reach Tartarus

In nine full days and nights. A barricade

Of bronze runs all around it, and the shade

Of night about it spreads in a triple row

Just like a necklace; and above it grow

The roots of earth and of the barren sea.

The Titans there in dim obscurity 790

Are hidden by cloud-driving Zeus’ decree

In a dank setting at the boundary

Of the wide earth. They may not leave this snare

Because bronze portals had been fitted there

By Lord Poseidon, and upon each side

A wall runs round it. There those three reside,

Great-souled Obriareus, Cottus and Gyes,

The faithful guardians and orderlies

Of aegis-bearing Zeus, and there exist

The springs and boundaries, filled full of mist 800

And gloom, of Earth and Hell and the barren sea

And starry heaven, arranged sequentially,

Loathsome and dank, by each divinity

Detested: it’s a massive cavity,

For once inside its gates, one must descend

Until a full year has achieved its end

Before reaching its floor, but even so

Squall after squall may toss him to and fro.

Even the deathless gods are full of awe

At this great wonder; and within this maw 810

Lives murky, cloud-wrapped Night, while in front stands

Atlas who on his head, with tireless hands,

Holds up wide Heaven, motionless; and here,

Passing the bronze gate, Night and Day draw near

Each other in greeting, one of them about

To enter the house, the other going out;

One roams the earth, the other stays within

And waits until her journey should begin.

One holds, for all to see, a radiant light,

The other one, the cloud-wrapped evil Night, 820

Holds Sleep, Death’s brother and her progeny,

And there they dwell in dim obscurity,

Dread gods, never looked at by the beaming Sun,

Whether descending when the day is done

Or climbing back to Heaven. Day peacefully

Roams through the earth and the broad backs of the sea,

Benevolent to mortals; Night, however,

Displays a heart of iron, as ruthless ever

As bronze; the mortals whom he seizes he

Holds fast: indeed he’s earned the enmity 830

Of all the deathless gods. In front, there stand

The echoing halls of the god of the lower land,

Strong Hades, and Persephone. A guard

In canine form, stands, terrible and hard,

Before the house; and he employs deceit:

On those who enter he fawns at their feet,

Tail tucked, ears back, but blocks them if they try

To leave: indeed he keeps a watchful eye

And eats them if they do. The dread goddess,

Who’s earned from all the gods much bitterness, 840

The river Styx, lives there, the progeny

Of Ocean, his first daughter. Separately

She dwells, great rocks above her; all around

Her glorious dwelling white columns abound,

Leading to Heaven. It is very rare

Swift-footed Iris brings a message there

Across the sea. When strife and feuds arise

Among the gods, or when one of them lies

Zeus sends for her to bring from far away,

In a golden jug, the great oaths gods must say, 850

Represented by the water, famed and cold,

That ever from a beetling rock has rolled.

From under earth a branch of Ocean flows:

Through Night out of the holy stream it goes.

A tenth part Iris owns. With nine streams he

Winds all around the earth and spacious sea

Into the main; but the share of the goddess

Drops from the rock, a source of bitterness

To gods: if one with this pours a libation

And is forsworn, he suffers tribulation: 860     

He must lie breathless till an entire year

Has run its course, at no time coming near

Ambrosia or nectar, uttering

No words, upon a bed, and suffering

A heavy trance. When the long year is past,

Another trial, more arduous than the last,

Is thrust upon him. He is separated

From all the other gods for nine years, fated

To miss the feasts and councils that they hold.

But on the tenth he’s welcomed to the fold 870

Once more. The oath for all eternity

Was by the gods thus authorized to be

In Styx’s primal water, where it streams

In a rugged place. There are the dark extremes

Of Earth, the barren sea, dim Tartarus

And starry Heaven, dank and hideous,

Which even the gods abhor; and gates that glow

And a firm, bronze sill, with boundless roots below,

Its metal native; far away from all

The gods the Titans dwell, beyond the pall 880

Of Chaos. But the glorious allies

Of thunderous Zeus dwell where the Ocean lies,

Even Cottus and Gyes. But Briareus,

Because he is upright, the clamorous

Earth-Shaker made his son-in-law, for he

Gave him in marriage to his progeny

Cymopolea. When Zeus, in the war,

Drove the Titans out of Heaven, huge Earth bore

Her youngest child Typhoeus with the aid

Of golden Aphrodite, who had bade 890

Her lie with Tartarus. In everything

He did the lad was strong, untiring

When running, and upon his shoulders spread

A hundred-headed dragon, full of dread,

Its dark tongues flickering, and from below

His eyes a flashing flame was seen to glow;

And from each head shot fire as he glared

And from each head unspeakable voices blared:

Sometimes a god could understand the sound

They made, but sometimes, echoing around, 900

A bull, unruly, proud and furious,

Would sound, sometimes a lion, merciless

At heart, sometimes – most wonderful to hear –

The sound of whelps was heard, sometimes the ear

Would catch a hissing sound, which then would change

To echoing along the mountain range.

Something beyond all help would have that day

Occurred and over men and gods hold sway

Had Zeus not quickly seen it: mightily

And hard he thundered so that terribly 910

The earth resounded, as did Tartarus,

Wide Heaven and the streams of Oceanus,

And at his feet the mighty Heaven reeled

As he arose. The earth groaned, thunder pealed

And lightning flashed, and to the dark-blue sea,

From them and from the fiery prodigy,

The scorching winds and blazing thunderbolt,

Came heat, the whole earth seething in revolt

With both the sky and sea, while round the strand

Long waves rage at the onslaught of the band 920

Of gods. An endless shaking, too, arose,

And Hades, who has sovereignty over those

Who are deceased, shook, and the Titan horde

Beneath that Hell, residing with the lord

Cronus, shook too at the disharmony

And dreadful clamour. When his weaponry,

Thunder and lightning, Zeus had seized, his might

Well-shored, from high Olympus he took flight,

Lashed out at him and burned that prodigy,

Igniting all those wondrous heads. When he 930

Had conquered him, belabouring him so

That he became a maimed wreck, down below

He hurled him. From the earth a loud groan came,

And from the thunder-stricken lord a flame

Shot forth in the dim, mountain-hollows when

He was attacked. Much of the earth was then

Scorched by a terrible vapour, liquefied

As tin by youths is brought to heat inside

Well-channelled crucibles, or iron, too,

The hardest of all things, which men subdue 940

With fire in mountain-glens and with the glow

Causes the sacred earth to melt: just so

The earth now fused, and to wide Tartarus

In bitter anger Zeus cast Typhoeus,

From whom unruly, wet winds issued forth,

Except the Zephyr, and the South and North,

For they are sent by the gods and are to all

A boon; the others, though, fitfully fall

Upon the sea, and there some overthrow

Sailors and ships as fearfully they blow 950

In every season, making powerless

The sailors. Others haunt the limitless

And blooming earth, where recklessly they spoil

The splendid crops that mortals sweat and toil

To cultivate, and cruel agitation

Are everywhere. At the cessation

Of the gods’ Titan wars, when they emerged

Successful with their dignity, they urged

All-seeing Zeus to wield his sovereignty

Over them, at Earth’s suggestion, and so he 960

Divided among the gods their dignities.

Now Zeus, the king of all divinities,

First wed Metis, the wisest among men

And all the immortal gods, but later, when

Her time arrived to bring forth the goddess

Grey-eyed Athene, he with artfulness

And cunning words in his own belly hid

The child, as he by Earth and Heaven was bid

So that no other god should ever hold sway,

For destiny revealed that she someday 970

Would bear wise brood – first, her of the bright eyes,

Tritogeneia, just as strong and wise

As Father Zeus, but later she would bring

Into the world an overbearing king

Of gods and men. Before his birth, though, he

Put her into his belly so that she

Might counsel him. And then he wed the bright

Themis, who bore The Hours, Order, Right

And blooming Peace, who mind men’s works. Then she

Bore all the Fates, whom Zeus especially 980

Honoured – Atropos, Lachesis and Clotho –

Who judge which way a mortal man may go,

To good or bad. Then fair Eurynome,

The child of Ocean, bore to Lord Zeus three

Graces, fair-cheeked, Aglaea, Euphrosyne

And fair Thaleia, whose glance lovingly

Melted the limbs of all. Indeed the eyes

Of all of them were fit to hypnotize

Those whom they looked upon; and furthermore

He wed nourishing Demeter, who then bore 990

A daughter, the fair-armed Persephone

Whom Hades snatched away, though prudently

Zeus brought her back; fair-tressed Mnemosyne

He lay with next, producing progeny –

The nine gold-armèd Muses glorying

In singing songs as well as banqueting.

Then Zeus was joined in love to the goddess

Leto, and from their love the archeress

Artemis and Apollo sprang, who’d be

The loveliest tots in the whole company 1000

Of gods. Last, Zeus the youthful Hera wed:

The king of gods and men took her to bed,

Who Eileithyia, Hebe and Ares bore.

But Zeus himself yet brought forth, furthermore,

Bright-eyed Tritogeneia from his head,

The queen who stirred up conflict and who led

Her troops in dreadful strife, unwearying,

In tumults and in battles revelling.

But Hera with her spouse became irate,

And therefore, spurning union with her mate, 1010

She brought into the world a glorious son,

Hephaestus, who transcended everyone

In Heaven in handiwork. But Zeus then lay

With Ocean’s and Tethys’ fair child, away

From Hera […] He duped Metis, although she

Was splendidly intelligent. Then he

Seized her and swallowed her right then and there,

For he was fearful that she just might bear

A stronger thing than his own bolt. And then

She bore Athene. The father of gods and men 1020

Gave birth to her from his own head beside

The river Trito; Metis would abide,

Still hidden in his entrails: this goddess,

Athene’s mother, filled with righteousness,

Was wisest of all gods and men. She’d made

Athene’s dreaded weapon: thus, arrayed

In arms of war, Zeus gave her birth. Then he

Begat Triton, the owner of the sea,

With Amphitrite. Triton would reside

With his dear mother and Lord Zeus inside 1030

Their golden house, a fearful god and mighty.

And then Lord Zeus begat with Aphrodite

Panic, the god who pierces shields, and Fear,

Who drives close ranks of warriors to career

In numbing war in chaos with the aid

Of Ares, who sacks cities; and the maid

Harmonia, spirited Cadmus’ wife. What’s more,

Atlas’s daughter Maia to Zeus bore

Famed Hermes, herald of the gods, for she

Entered the holy bed. Now Semele, 1040

Cadmus’s daughter, lay with Zeus the king

And Dionysus bore, that revelling

And splendid god, a mortal woman’s son.

Now both are gods. Then Zeus in union

Lay with Alcmena, who then brought to birth

Great Heracles, whose feats were known on earth.

Famed, lame Hephaestus then Aglaia wed,

The youngest Grace. Dionysus to his bed

In marriage took Ariadne. For his sake

The son of Cronus then resolved to make 1050

Her ageless. Heracles, the valiant son

Of trim-ankled Alcmena, once he’d done

His grievous toils, took Hebe to his bed

As his attractive wife, who had been bred

By Zeus and gold-shod Hera on the height

Of snowy Olympus. How full of delight

He was now that his toil was done and he

Now dwelt untroubled in the company

Of all the gods to live for evermore.

Perseis, the progeny of Ocean, bore 1060

To the unwearying Helios Circe

And King Aëetes, who consequently

Wed fair Idyia, child of the perfect stream,

Ocean, for all the gods who rule supreme

Willed it. Trim-legged Medea their union

Produced. And now farewell, you dwellers on

Olympus, islands, continents, the sea

Between them all. Now sing the company

Of sweet-voiced Muses who by mortal men

Were loved and bore them godlike children. Then 1070

Shining Demeter lay with Iasion

In a thrice-ploughed field in the rich land upon

The isle of Crete and bore kindly Ploutos,

A god who travels everywhere across

Both land and sea and brings prosperity

To all those who enjoy his company.

Harmonia bore Io and Semele,

Fair-cheeked Agave and Autonoe,

Who later wed long-haired Aristaeus,

And in rich-crownèd Thebes Polydorus: 1080

All these Cadmus begat. Callirrhoe

Was daughter of Oceanus, and she

Was joined in love to stalwart Chrysaor

And then the strongest of all men she bore,

Geryon, whom mighty Heracles had to slay

On Erythea when he took away

His oxen. Emathion and Memnon,

The Ethiopian king, who wore upon

His head a brazen crest, to Tithonus,

Queen Eos brought to birth. To Cephalus 1090

She brought to birth the vigorous Phaethon,

A godlike lad, indeed a splendid son:

When he was in the flower of youth, while yet

Retaining childish notions, he was met

By Aphrodite, who loved laughs of joy:

She caught him in her arms and made the boy

The keeper of her shrine by night to be

A holy spirit. Jason, progeny

Of Aeson, when his many toils had ceased,

Which Pelias, that overbearing beast, 1100

Had put upon him, took from Aeëtes,

The ruler nurtured by divinities,

His daughter. To Iolkos he had gone

And placed that girl with flashing eyes upon

His speedy ship and to her he was wed.

Once yoked to Jason, who his people led,

She bore Medeus, whom Cheiron, Philyra’s son,

Brought up upon the mountains. Thus was done

Great Zeus’s will. Fair goddess Psamathe,

One daughter of the Old Man of the Sea, 1110

Nereus, was yoked in love to Aeacus

And thereby brought into the world Phocus.

Another, the goddess Thetis, she who wore

Silver shoes, was loved by Peleus and bore

The mighty Heracles, killer of men.

A third, the fair-crowned Cytherea, then

Bore to Anchises Aeneas amid

The summits of Mt. Ida where are hid

So many wooded glens. The progeny

Of Helios, Hyperion’s son, Circe, 1120

Her sister, loved steadfast Odysseus

And thus were born the infant Agrius

And strong Latinus, so exemplary,

Also Telegonus. This company

Ruled over the famed Tyrseni in the bay

Within the holy islands far away.

The bright Calypso bore Nausithous

To Odysseus, whom she loved, and Nausinus.

These goddesses loved mortal men and they

Bore to them godlike children. Now a lay,

Sweet-singing Muses, chant melodiously

And rhapsodize this female company.

The end of Hesiod's Theogony