An Ancient Atheist? October 1, 2008

An Ancient Atheist?

In Greek Mythology, Cronus was a Titan who learned that his own son would one day destroy him, just as Cronus had defeated his own father.

So he ate his children when they were born.

Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia, and Poseidon — All swallowed whole as they were born.

Except Zeus. With the help of mother Rhea, Zeus was born in secrecy. And Zeus eventually destroyed Cronus.

Reader Greg was in Munich recently and he visited Schloss Nymphenburg (The Nymphenburg Palace) where a statue of Cronus is on the premises.

He sent me the picture of the statue:

I think it’s safe to say Cronus was an atheist 🙂

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Awesomesauce

    Mmmmm, god babies.

  • Atheist? Nah. You can’t eat them if they don’t exist. And he wouldn’t have worried about his prophesised destruction if Cronos didn’t believe that he had even existed in the first place.

    Nope, this is a simple case of theovorist. 😉

  • Pro-Choice

    Primitive form of abortion?

  • Seth C.

    Doesn’t the myth ending with the “eaten” gods busting out of his head after Zeus defeats Cronus? I also recall something about Cronus swallowing them whole and not in pieces like the statue seems to depict.

  • I believe they made Cronus vomit out the siblings (who conveniently didn’t digest after years and years). The god-popping-out-of-head thing you’re thinking of is Athena popping out of Zeus’s head.

    I love my crazy Greek ancestors <3

  • Jason H.

    The best depiction of this is the Goya painting “Cronos Devouring his Young”. When I saw this canvas on display at Madrid’s El Prado it truly made me proud to be an atheist.

  • SarahH

    I believe they made Cronus vomit out the siblings (who conveniently didn’t digest after years and years). The god-popping-out-of-head thing you’re thinking of is Athena popping out of Zeus’s head.

    I’m too lazy to look this up, but is Hera the same Hera who’s married to Zeus? I didn’t know they were siblings. I don’t think gods had birth defects to deal with though, considering they weren’t real.

  • I’m too lazy to look this up, but is Hera the same Hera who’s married to Zeus?

    Yep. And Rhea, the mother of all these children that Cronos ate, was Cronos’ sister.

    And Cronos’ father, Ouranos, was the son of Gaia, who was the mother of Cronos. So, Ouranos was Cronos’ father and half-brother.

    There’s a bit less of that in the next few generations — Hades married his niece Persephone — but those first few generations are fairly tangled.

  • Ate-Theis-t? :]

  • Follow this link and tell me who should be blamed: baby eaters or those that make babies look so tasty.

    Link Here

  • Christophe Thill

    Kronos is the embodiment of Time (and Ouranos is the starry sky). Kronos eating his children is just some kind of primitive metaphor (or, more accurately, allegory: representing abstract things through the interaction of mythical people) for time devouring everything in the end.

    Now, the interesting thing is: I don’t think that Kronos himself was a god, but his children definitely were, as they were later known as the Olympians. Can you have divine children when you’re not a god yourself?

  • Do god-babies taste better than your average, run-of-the-mill human babies? Any experience out there on this?

  • Kronos was a Titan, who were kind of proto-gods. Zeus imprisoned most of them in Tartarus after the Twelve Olympians (which sounds like a superhero organization) overthrew them.