my song with the Helikonian Muses;
they have made Helikon, the great god-haunted
mountain, their domain;
their soft feet move in the dance that rings
the violet-dark spring and the altar of mighty Zeus.
5 They bathe their lithe bodies in the water of Permessos
or of Hippokrene or of god-haunted Olmeios.
On Helikon’s peak they join hands in lovely dances
and their pounding feet awaken desire.
From there they set out and, veiled in mist,
10 glide through the night and raise enchanting voices
to exalt aegis-bearing Zeus and queenly Hera,
the Lady of Argo who walks in golden sandals;
gray-eyed Athena, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus,
and Phoibos Apollon and arrow-shooting Artemis.
15 They exalt Poseidon, holder and shaker of the earth,
stately Themis and Aphrodite of the fluttering eyelids,
and gold-wreathed Hebe and fair Dione.
And then they turn their song to Eos, Helios,
and bright Selene,
to Leto, Iapetos, and sinuous-minded Kronos,
20 to Gaia, great Okeanos, and black Night,
and to the holy race of the other deathless gods.
It was they who taught Hesiod beautiful song
as he tended his sheep at the foothills
of god-haunted Helikon.
Here are the words the daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,
25 the Muses of Olympos, first spoke to me.
"Listen, you country bumpkins, you swag-bellied yahoos,
we know how to tell many lies that pass for truth,
and we know, when we wish, to tell the truth itself."
So spoke Zeus’s daughters, masters of word-craft,
30 and from a laurel in full bloom they plucked a branch,
and gave it to me as a staff, and then breathed into me
divine song, that I might spread the fame of past and future,
and commanded me to hymn the race of the deathless gods,
but always begin and end my song with them.
35 Yet, trees and rocks are not my theme. Let me sing on!
Ah, my heart, begin with the Muses who hymn father Zeus
and in the realm of Olympos gladden his great heart;
with sweet voices they speak of things that are
and things that were and will be, and with
40 the song flows from their mouths.
The halls of father Zeus
the thunderer shine with glee and ring, filled with voices
lily-soft and heavenly, and the peaks of snowy Olympos
and the dwellings of the gods resound.
With their divine voices
they first sing the glory of the sublime race of the gods
45 from the beginning, the children born to Gaia
and vast Ouranos
and of their offspring, the gods who give blessings.
Then they sing of Zeus, father of gods and men—
they begin and end their song with him
and tell of how he surpasses the other gods
in rank and might.
50 And then again the Olympian Muses
and daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus
hymn the races of men and of the brawny Giants,
and thrill the heart of Zeus in the realm of Olympos.
Mnemosyne, mistress of the Eleutherian hills,
lay with father Zeus and in Pieria gave birth to the Muses
55 who soothe men’s troubles and make them
forget their sorrows.
Zeus the counselor, far from the other immortals, leaped
into her sacred bed and lay with her for nine nights.
And when, as the seasons turned, the months waned,
many many days passed and a year was completed,
60 she gave birth to nine daughters of harmonious mind,
carefree maidens whose hearts yearn for song;
this was close beneath the highest peak of snowy Olympos,
the very place of their splendid dances and gracious homes.
The Graces and Desire dwell near them and take part
65 in their feasts. Lovely are their voices when they sing
and extol for the whole world the laws
and wise customs of all the immortals.
Then they went to Olympos, delighting in their
and their heavenly song; the black earth all about
70 with hymns, and a harmonious tempo arose
as they pounded their feet
and advanced toward their father, the king of the sky
who holds the thunderbolt that roars and flames.
He subdued his father, Kronos, by might and for the gods
made a fair settlement and gave each his domain.
75 All this was sung by the Olympian Muses,
great Zeus’s nine daughters whose names are
Kleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene,
Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania
and Kalliope, preeminent by far,
80 the singers’ pride in the company of august kings.
And if the daughters of great Zeus honor a king
cherished by Zeus and look upon him when he is born,
they pour on his tongue sweet dew
and make the words that flow from his mouth honey-sweet,
85 and all the people look up to him as with straight justice
he gives his verdict and with unerring firmness
and wisdom brings some great strife to a swift end.
This is why kings are prudent, and when in the assembly
injustice is done, wrongs are righted
90 by the kings with ease and gentle persuasion.
When such a king comes to the assembly he stands out;
yes, he is revered like a god and treated
with cheerful respect.
Such is the holy gift the Muses give men.
The singers and lyre players of this earth
95 are descended from the Muses and far-shooting Apollon,
but kings are from the line of Zeus. Blessed is the man
whom the Muses love; sweet song flows from his mouth.
A man may have some fresh grief over which to mourn,
and sorrow may have left him no more tears, but if a singer,
100 a servant of the Muses, sings the glories of ancient men
and hymns the blessed gods who dwell on Olympos,
the heavy-hearted man soon shakes off his dark mood,
soothes his grief, for this gift of the gods diverts his mind.
Hail, daughters of Zeus! Grant me the gift of lovely song!
105 Sing the glories of the holy gods to whom
death never comes,
the gods born of Gaia and starry Ouranos,
and of those whom dark Night bore, or briny Pontos fostered.
Speak first of how the gods and the earth came into being
and of how the rivers, the boundless sea with its raging swell,
110 the glittering stars, and the wide sky above were created.
Tell of the gods born of them, the givers of blessings,
how they divided wealth, and each was given his realm,
and how they first gained possession
of many-folded Olympos.
Tell me, O Muses who dwell on Olympos, and observe
115 for each thing as it first came into being.
Chaos was born first and after her came Gaia
the broad-breasted, the firm seat of all
the immortals who hold the peaks of snowy Olympos,
and the misty Tartaros in the depths of broad-pathed earth
120 and Eros, the fairest of the deathless gods;
he unstrings the limbs and subdues both mind
and sensible thought in the breasts of all gods and all men.
Chaos gave birth to Erebos and black Night;
then Erebos mated with Night and made her pregnant
125 and she in turn gave birth to Ether and Day.
Gaia now first gave birth to starry Ouranos,
her match in size, to encompass all of her,
and be the firm seat of all the blessed gods.
She gave birth to the tall mountains, enchanting haunts
130 of the divine nymphs who dwell in the woodlands;
and then she bore Pontos, the barren sea with its raging swell.
All these she bore without mating in sweet love. But then
she did couple with Ouranos to bear deep-eddying Okeanos,
Koios and Kreios, Hyperion and Iapetos,
135 Theia and Rheia, Themis and Mnemosyne,
as well as gold-wreathed Phoibe and lovely Tethys.
Kronos, the sinuous-minded, was her last-born,
a most fearful child who hated his mighty father.
Then she bore the Kyklopes, haughty in their might,
140 Brontes, Steropes, and Arges of the strong spirit,
who made and gave to Zeus the crushing thunder.
In all other respects they were like gods,
but they had one eye in the middle of their foreheads;
their name was Kyklopes because of this single
145 round eye that leered from their foreheads,
and inventive skill and strength and power
were in their deeds.
Gaia and Ouranos had three other sons, so great
and mighty that their names are best left unspoken,
Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges, brazen sons all three.
150 From each one’s shoulders a hundred
sprang forth, and from each one’s shoulders
atop the sturdy trunk
there grew no fewer than fifty heads;
and there was matchless strength in their hulking frames.
All these awesome children born of Ouranos and Gaia
155 hated their own father from the day they were born,
for as soon as each one came from the womb,
Ouranos, with joy in his wicked work, hid it
in Gaia’s womb and did not let it return to the light.
Huge Gaia groaned within herself
160 and in her distress she devised a crafty
and evil scheme.
With great haste she produced gray iron
and made a huge sickle and showed it to her children;
then, her heart filled with grief, she rallied them
with these words:
"Yours is a reckless father; obey me, if you will,
165 that we may all punish your father’s outrageous deed,
for he was first to plot shameful actions."
So she spoke, and fear gripped them all; not one of them
uttered a sound. Then great, sinuous-minded Kronos
without delay spoke to his prudent mother:
170 "Mother, this deed I promise you will be done,
since I loathe my dread-named father.
it was he who first plotted shameful actions."
So he spoke, and the heart of giant Earth was cheered.
She made him sit in ambush and placed in his hands
175 a sharp-toothed sickle and confided
in him her entire scheme.
Ouranos came dragging with him the night, longing
for Gaia’s love,
and he embraced her and lay stretched out upon her.
Then his son reached out from his
and seized him
with his left hand, while with his right he grasped
180 the huge, long, and sharp-toothed sickle
and swiftly hacked off
his father’s genitals and tossed them behind him—
and they were not flung from his hand in vain.
Gaia took in all the bloody drops that spattered off,
and as the seasons of the year turned round
185 she bore the potent Furies and the Giants,
dazzling in their armor, holding long spears
in their hands,
and then she bore the Ash Tree Nymphs
of the boundless earth.
As soon as Kronos had lopped off the genitals
with the sickle
he tossed them from the land into the stormy sea.
190 And as they were carried by the sea a long time,
all around them
white foam rose from the god’s flesh, and in this foam
was nurtured. First she came close to god-baunted Kythera
and from there she went on to reach sea-girt Cyprus.
There this majestic and fair goddess came out, and soft grass
195 grew all around her soft feet. Both gods and men
call her Aphrodite, foam-born goddess, and fair-wreathed
Aphrodite because she grew out of aphros, foam that is,
and Kythereia because she touched land at Kythera.
She is called Kyprogenes, because she was born
200 in sea-girt Cyprus, and Philommedes,
fond of a man’s genitals,
because to them she owed her birth. Fair Himeros
became her companions when she was born
and when she joined the gods.
And here is the power she has had from the start
and her share in the lives of men and deathless gods:
205 from her come young girls’ whispers
and smiles and deception
and honey-sweet love and its joyful pleasures.
But the great father Ouranos railed at his own children
and gave them the nickname Titans, Overreachers,
because he said they had, with reckless power,
210 to do a monstrous thing that would be avenged
Night gave birth to hideous Moros and black Ker
and then to Death and Sleep and to the brood of Dreams.
After them dark Night, having lain with no one,
gave birth to Momos and painful Oizys
215 and to the Hesperides, who live
beyond renowned Okeanos
and keep the golden apples and the fruit-bearing trees.
She also bore the ruthless Keres and the Moirai,
Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who when men are born
give them their share of things good and bad.
220 They watch for the transgressions of men and gods,
and the dreadful anger of these goddesses never abates
until wrongdoers are punished with harshness.
Baneful Night bore Nemesis, too, a woe for mortals,
and after her Deception and the Passion of lovers
225 and destructive Old Age and capricious Strife.
Then loathsome Strife bore Ponos, the bringer of pains,
Oblivion and Famine and the tearful Sorrows,
the Clashes and the Battles and the Manslaughters,
the Quarrels and the Lies and Argument
230 Lawlessness and Ruin whose ways are all alike,
and Oath, who, more than any other, brings pains
who of their own accord swear false oaths.
Pontos sired truthful Nereus, his oldest son,
who tells no lies; they call him the old man
235 because he is honest and gentle and never forgetful
of right, but ever mindful of just and genial thought.
Then Pontos lay with Gaia and sired great Thaumas,
Phorkys the overbearing, and fair-cheeked Keto,
and Eurybie, who in her breast has a heart of iron.
240 To Nereus and Doris of the lovely hair,
the daughter of Okeanos, the stream surrounding the earth,
a host of godly daughters was born in the barren sea:
Proto, Eukrante, Amphitrite, and Sao,
Eudora, Thetis, Galene, and Glauke,
245 Kymothoe, Speio, Thoe, and lovely Halia,
Pasithea, Erato, and Eunike of the rosy arms,
graceful Melite, Eulimene, and Agaue,
Doto, Proto, Pherousa, and Dynamene,
Nesaia, Aktaia, and Protemedeia,
250 Doris, Panope, and beautiful Galateia,
Hippothoe the lovely and Hipponoe of the rosy arms,
Kymodoke, who, with Kymatolege and Amphitrite
the fair-ankled, easily calms the waves
in the misty sea and the gusts of stormy winds,
255 Kymo, Eione, and fair-wreathed Halimede,
laughter-loving Glaukonome and Pontoporeia,
Leiagora, Euagora, and Laomedeia,
Poulynoe, Autonoe, and Lysianassa,
Euarne of the lovely body and unblemished face,
260 Psamathe of the graceful build,
and splendid Menippe,
Nesso, Eupompe, Themisto, and Pronoe,
and Nemertes, whose mind is like that of her
These were the daughters born to blameless Nereus,
fifty of them, all wise in deeds of perfection.
265 Thaumas took as his wife Elektra,
daughter of Okeanos,
whose stream is deep, and she bore swift Iris
and the lovely-haired Harpies, Aello and Okypete,
who, with fast wings, trail flying birds and windy breezes
as they soar and swoop from high up in the air.
270 To Phorkys Keto bore the fair-cheeked Graiai,
gray from birth, who are given this name
both by the immortal gods and by men
who tread the earth,
well-robed Pemphredo and saffron-cloaked Enyo;
then the Gorgons, who dwell beyond glorious Okeanos
275 at earth’s end, toward night, by the
Sthenno, Euryale, and ill-fated Medousa,
who was mortal; the other two were ageless and immortal.
Dark-maned Poseidon lay with one of these, Medousa,
on a soft meadow strewn with spring flowers.
280 When Perseus cut off Medousa’s head,
and the horse Pegasos sprang forth.
The Medousa holding Pegasos and Chrysaor
(Terracotta from Magna Graecia, early 5th century b. C.)
His name came from the springs of Ocean
by which he was born,
but Chrysaor’s from the golden sword he carried in his hand.
Pegasos left the earth, mother of flocks, and flew away
285 and reached the immortals; he lives in the palace
of Zeus the counselor, to whom he brings
thunder and lightning.
Chrysaor then lay with Kallirhoe, daughter
of glorious Okeanos,
and sired the three-headed Geryones
whom the might of Herakles slew
290 beside his shambling oxen at sea-girt Erytheia
on the very day he crossed Ocean’s stream
and drove the broad-browed cattle to holy Tiryns.
Then he also slew Orthos and the oxherd Eurytion
out at that misty place, beyond glorious Ocean.
295 Then Keto bore another invincible monster,
in no way like mortal men or the deathless gods;
yes, in a hollow cave she bore Echidna, divine
and iron-hearted, half fair-cheeked and bright-eyed nymph
and half huge and monstrous snake inside the holy earth,
300 a snake that strikes swiftly and feeds on living flesh.
Her lair is a cave under a hollow rock,
far from immortal gods and mortal men;
the gods decreed for her a glorious dwelling there.
Arima, beneath the earth, is the stronghold
of the grisly Echidna,
305 the nymph who is immortal and ageless for ever.
They say that this bright-eyed maiden lay in love
with Typhaon, that lawless and dreadful ravisher,
and impregnated by him she bore a harsh-tempered brood.
First she gave birth to Orthos, the dog of Geryones,
310 and then she bore a stubborn
and unspeakable creature,
Kerberos, the fifty-headed dog of Hades, that mighty
and shameless eater of raw flesh, whose bark
resounds like bronze.
Her third child was the loathsome Hydra of Lerna,
and she was nurtured by white-armed Hera
315 whose wrath at mighty Herakles was implacable.
But Herakles, born to Amphitryon as son of Zeus,
together with Iolaos slew her with the merciless
for Athena, leader of the war host, willed it so.
She [Echidna] bore Chimaira, mighty, dreadful, huge
320 and fleet-footed, who breathed forth
a ceaseless stream of fire.
She had three heads, one of a glowering lion,
another of a goat, and yet another of a savage dragon;
her front was a lion, her back a dragon,
and her middle a goat,
and she breathed forth an awesome stream of gleaming fire.
325 Pegasos and noble Bellerophon slew her.
Orthos covered her, and she bore the destructive Sphinx,
a scourge for the Kadmeans, and then the Lion of Nemea,
who was reared by Hera, the glorious wife of Zeus,
and settled on the hills of Nemea as a scourge to mankind.
330 There was his abode and from there
he preyed on the tribes of men
and lorded it over Apesas and Nemean Tretos,
but the strength of mighty Herakles subdued him.
Keto then lay in love with Phorkys and bore her youngest,
a ghastly snake that guards the all-golden apples,
335 lurking in his lair in the gloom of earth’s vast limits.
This is the brood born of Phorkys and Keto.
Tethys bore to Okeanos the whirling rivers,
Neilos and Alpheios and deep-eddying Eridanos,
Strymon and Maiandros and fair-flowing Istros,
340 Phasis and Rhesos and Acheloios of the silver swirls,
Nessos, Rhodios, Heptaporos, and Haliakmon,
Grenikos, Aisepos, and divine Simoeis,
Peneios, Hermos, and fair-flowing Kaikos,
great Sangarios, Ladon, and Parthenios,
345 Euenos, Ardeskos, and divine Skamandros.
She gave birth to a throng of holy daughters,
who with the Rivers
and lord Apollon nurture men throughout the earth,
for this is the task that Zeus has given them.
They are Peitho, Admete, Ianthe, and Elektra,
350 Doris, Prymno, and godlike Ourania,
Hippo, Klymene, Rhodeia, and Kallirhoe,
Zeuxo, Klytia, Idyia, and Peisithoe,
Plexaura, Galaxaura, and lovely Dione,
Melobosis, Thoe, and beautiful Polydora,
355 shapely Kerkeis and cow-eyed Plouto,
Perseis, Ianeira, Akaste, and Xanthe,
lovely Petraia, Menestho, and Europe,
Metis, Eurynome, and saffron-robed Telesto,
Chryseis, Asia, and enchanting Kalypso,
360 Eudora, Tyche, Amphiro, and Okyrhoe,
and Styx, who holds the highest rank.
These are the eldest daughters born to Tethys
and Okeanos. But there are many others.
Okeanos has three thousand slender-ankled daughters—
365 splendid children of goddesses—who roam in bevies
and haunt the earth and the depths of the waters alike.
And there are as many tumbling and rushing rivers,
all sons of Okeanos and queenly Tethys.
It is hard for a mortal to recite the names of all,
370 but those who live by them know each
of their names.
Theia yielded to Hyperion’s love and gave birth
to great Helios and bright Selene and Eos,
who brings light to all the mortals of this earth
and to the immortal gods who rule the wide sky.
375 Eurybia, the radiant goddess, lay in love
and gave birth to great Astraios and to Pallas
and then to Perses, who surpassed all in wisdom.
Eos shared love’s bed with Astraios
and bore him the mighty-spirited winds,
380 bright Zephyros and gusty Boreas and Notos.
After them Eos the early-born brought forth the dawnstar,
Eosphoros, and the glittering stars that crown the heavens.
Styx, the daughter of Okeanos, lay in love with Pallas
and in his mansion gave birth to Zelos and
385 and then she bore two illustrious children,
Kratos and Bia.
These two have no home apart from Zeus, nor seat
nor path, except the one to which he leads them,
but their place is with Zeus of the roaring thunder.
For this was the will of Styx, the deathless
daughter of Ocean,
390 on the day the Olympian hurler of lightning
called all the immortals to lofty Olympos
and said that he would not wrest away the rights
of those who would fight with him against the Titans
and that each god would retain his previous honors.
395 He said that those deprived of rights and honors
by Kronos could now lay just claim to them.
On her own father’s advice the immortal Styx
and her children were first to come to Olympos.
And Zeus granted her honor and countless gifts
400 and decreed that the gods
should swear great oaths by her
and that her children should dwell with him for ever.
He fulfilled with exactness the promises made to all;
and yet, he is sovereign lord and his power is unchallenged.
Phoibe went to the much longed-for bed of Koios,
405 and she, a goddess loved by a god, conceived
and gave birth to dark-robed Leto, ever sweet,
gentle to men and to gods who never die,
sweet from the beginning, gentlest of all the Olympians.
She also bore Asteria, whose name brings good luck;
410 Perses brought her to his great house,
to be his dear wife.
There she conceived and bore Hekate, whom Zeus
honored above all others; he gave her dazzling gifts,
a share of the earth and a share of the barren sea.
She was given a place of honor in the starry sky,
415 and among the deathless gods her rank is high.
For even now, when a mortal propitiates the gods
and, following custom, sacrifices well-chosen victims,
he invokes Hekate, and if she receives his prayers
with favor, then honor goes to him with great ease,
420 and he is given blessings, because she has power
and a share in all the rights once granted
to the offspring born to Ouranos and Gaia.
The son of Kronos did not use force on her
and took away
none of the rights she held under the Titans,
those older gods.
425 The distribution made in the beginning
is still the same.
Nor does the goddess have less honor for being
an only child;
in fact, she has much more because Zeus honors her,
and her domain extends over land and sky and sea,
and she can greatly aid a man—if this is her wish.
430 In trials her seat is at the side of illustrious kings,
and in assemblies the man she favors gains distinction.
And when men arm themselves for man-destroying battle,
the goddess always stands beside those she prefers
and gladly grants them victory and glory.
435 Again, she is a noble goddess when men compete
for athletic prizes, because she stands by them and helps,
and whoever, by force and strength, wins a fair prize,
carries it away with ease and joy and brings his parents
To horsemen, too, when she wishes, she is a noble helper
440 and to those working out on the stormy and gray sea
who pray to Hekate and to the rumbling Earthshaker.
With ease this glorious goddess grants a great catch of fish
and with ease, if that is her wish, she makes it vanish.
And when she wishes from the heart she can be noble
445 and, with Hermes, help livestock breed in the stalls,
and swell or thin out herds of cattle and wide-ranging
flocks of goats and thick-wooled sheep.
And even though she was her mother’s only child
she has her share of honors among all the gods.
450 The son of Kronos made her the fostering goddess
for all youths
who after her birth saw the light of wakeful Dawn.
A nurturer of youths from the beginning,
she holds these honors.
Rheia succumbed to Kronos’s love and bore him
Hestia and Demeter and Hera, who walks in golden sandals,
455 imperious Hades, whose heart knows no mercy
in his subterranean dwelling, and the rumbling Earthshaker,
and Zeus the counselor and father of gods and men,
Zeus under whose thunder the wide earth quivers.
But majestic Kronos kept on swallowing each child
460 as it moved from the holy womb toward the knees;
his purpose was to prevent any other child
of the Sky Dwellers
from holding the kingly office among immortals.
He had learned from Gaia and starry Ouranos
that he, despite his power, was fated
465 to be subdued by his own son,
a victim of his own schemes.
Therefore, he kept no blind watch, but ever wary
he gulped down his own children to Rhea’s endless grief.
But as she was about to bear Zeus, father of gods
and men, she begged her own parents,
470 Gaia, that is, and starry Ouranos,
to contrive such a plan that the birth of her dear child
would go unnoticed and her father’s Erinys
would take revenge
for the children swallowed by majestic,
And they listened to their dear daughter
and granted her wish
475 and let her know what fate had in store
for King Kronos and his bold-spirited son.
And so they sent her to Lyktos, in the rich land of Crete,
just as she was about to bear the last of her children,
great Zeus, whom huge Gaia would take into her care
480 on broad Crete, to nourish and foster
with tender love.
She carried him swiftly in the darkness of night,
and Lyktos was
the first place she reached; she took him in her arms
and hid him inside the god-haunted earth in a cave
lodged deep within a sheer cliff of densely wooded
485 But to the great Lord Kronos, king of the older gods,
she handed a huge stone wrapped in swaddling clothes.
He took it in his hands and stuffed it into his belly—
the great fool! It never crossed his mind that the stone
was given in place of his son thus saved to become
490 carefree and invincible, destined to crush him
by might of hand,
drive him out of his rule, and become king
of the immortals.
The lord’s strength and splendid limbs grew swiftly
and, as the year followed its revolving course,
sinuous-minded Kronos was deceived by Gaia’s
495 cunning suggestions to disgorge his own offspring—
overpowered also by the craft and brawn of his own son.
The stone last swallowed was first to come out,
and Zeus set it up on the broad-pathed earth,
at sacred Pytho, under the rocky folds of Parnassos,
500 forever to be a marvel and a portent for mortal men.
He freed from their wretched bonds his father’s brothers,
[Brontes and Steropes and Arges of the bold spirit,]
whom Ouranos, their father, had thrown into chains;
they did not forget the favors he had done them,
and they gave him the thunder and the smoky thunderbolt
505 and lightning, all of which had lain hidden
in the earth.
Trusting in these, he ruled over mortals and immortals.
Iapetos took as his wife the fair-ankled Klymene,
daughter of Okeanos, and shared her bed,
and she bore him Atlas, a son of invincible spirit,
510 and Menoitios of the towering pride,
whose mind was labyrinthine and swift,
and foolish Epimetheus,
who from the start brought harm to men who toil
he was first to accept the virgin woman fashioned
by far-seeing Zeus,
who with flaming thunderbolt struck Menoitios
515 and cast him into murky Erebos
for his folly and reckless flaunting of manliness.
By harsh necessity, Atlas supports the broad sky
on his head and unwearying arms,
at the earth’s limits, near the clear-voiced Hesperides,
520 for this is the doom decreed for him
by Zeus the counselor.
With shackles and inescapable fetters Zeus riveted
on a pillar—Prometheus of the labyrinthine mind;
and he sent a long-winged eagle to swoop on him
and devour the god’s liver; but what
the long-winged bird ate
525 in the course of each day grew back and was
restored to its full size.
But Herakles, the mighty son of fair-ankled Alkmene,
slew the eagle, drove the evil scourge away
from the son of Iapetos and freed him
from his sorry plight,
and did all this obeying the will of Olympian Zeus,
530 who rules on high, to make the glory of Herakles,
child of Thebes,
greater than before over the earth that nurtures many.
Zeus so respected these things and honored his
that he quelled the wrath he had nursed against Prometheus,
who had opposed the counsels of Kronos’s mighty son.
535 When the gods and mortal men were settling
at Mekone, Prometheus cheerfully took a great ox,
carved it up, and set it before Zeus to trick his mind.
He placed meat, entrails, and fat within a hide
and covered them with the ox’s tripe,
540 but with guile he arranged the white bones of the ox,
covered them with glistening fat, and laid them down
as an offering.
Then indeed the father of gods and men said to him:
"Son of Iapetos, you outshine all other kings,
but, friend, you have divided with self-serving zeal."
545 These were the sarcastic words of Zeus,
whose counsels never perish,
but Prometheus was a skillful crook and he smiled faintly,
all the while mindful of his cunning scheme,
and said: "Sublime Zeus, highest among
the everlasting gods,
choose of the two portions whichever your heart desires."
550 He spoke with guileful intent, and Zeus,
whose counsels never perish,
knew the guile and took note of it; so he pondered
evils in his mind
for mortal men, evils he meant to bring on them.
With both hands he took up the white fat,
and spiteful anger rushed through his mind and heart
555 when he saw the white bones of the ox
laid out in deceit.
From that time on the tribes of mortal men on earth
have burned the white bones for the gods on smoky altars.
Then Zeus the cloud-gatherer angrily said:
"Son of Iapetos, no one matches your resourceful wits,
560 but, friend, your mind is clinging stubbornly
So Zeus, whose counsels never perish, spoke in anger
and thereafter never forgot that he had been beguiled
and never gave to ash trees the power of unwearying fire
for the good of men who live on this earth,
565 but the noble son of Iapetos deceived him again
and within a hollowed fennel stalk stole the far-flashing
unwearying fire. This stung the depths of Zeus’s mind,
Zeus who roars on high, and filled his heart with anger,
when he saw among mortal men the far-seen flash of fire;
570 so straightway because of the stolen fire
he contrived an evil for men.
The famous lame smith took clay and,
through Zeus’s counsels,
gave it the shape of a modest maiden.
Athena, the gray-eyed goddess, clothed her
and decked her out
with a fetching garment and then with her hands
575 she hung over her head a fine draping veil,
a marvel to behold;
Pallas Athena crowned her head with lovely wreaths
of fresh flowers that had just bloomed
in the green meadows.
The famous lame smith placed on her head
a crown of gold
fashioned by the skill of his own hands
580 to please the heart of Zeus the father.
It was a wondrous thing with many intricate designs
of all the dreaded beasts nurtured by land and sea.
Such grace he breathed into the many marvels therein
that they seemed endowed with life and voice.
585 Once he had finished—not something good
but a mixture of good
and bad—he took the maiden before gods and men,
and she delighted in the finery given her
by gray-eyed Athena,
daughter of a mighty father. Immortal gods
and mortal men
were amazed when they saw this tempting snare
590 from which men cannot escape. From her comes
the fair sex;
yes, wicked womenfolk are her descendants.
They live among mortal men as a nagging burden
and are no good sharers of abject want,
but only of wealth.
Men are like swarms of bees clinging to cave roofs
595 to feed drones that contribute only
to malicious deeds;
the bees themselves all day long until sundown
are busy carrying and storing the white wax,
but the drones stay inside in their roofed hives
and cram their bellies full of what others harvest.
600 So too Zeus who roars on high made women
to be an evil for mortal men, helpmates
in deeds of harshness.
And he bestowed another gift, evil in place of good:
whoever does not wish to marry, fleeing
the malice of women,
reaches harsh old age with no one to care for him;
605 then even if he is well-provided,
he dies at the end only to have his livelihood shared
by distant kin. And even the man who does marry
and has a wife of sound and prudent mind
spends his life ever trying to balance
610 the bad and the good in her. But he who marries
into a foul brood
lives plagued by unabating trouble in his heart
and in his mind, and there is no cure for his plight.
So there is no way to deceive or hide from the mind
for not even noble Prometheus, son of Iapetos,
615 escaped the heavy wrath of Zeus, but,
despite his many skills,
succumbed to force and was bound in mighty chains.
First father Ouranos nursed anger in his heart
against Briareos, Kottos, and Gyges,
and bound them in chains
and then settled them under the earth of the wide paths,
620 awed at their size, their shape, and their
There they stayed and suffered great pains,
sitting at the utmost limits of the boundless earth,
their hearts stung by endless grief and mourning.
But the son of Kronos and the other immortal gods
625 born of the love of Kronos and lovely-haired Rheia
brought them into the light again, following
for she kept on reminding them that in alliance
with those three they would win victory and
The divine Titan and the gods Kronos sired
630 struggled for a long time against one another
and did fierce battle, heartsore with strife,
the noble Titans from the peak of lofty Othrys,
and the gods born of Kronos and lovely-haired Rheia
- the very gods who give blessings—from Olympos.
635 With heavy hearts they did battle against
and fought incessantly for ten full years;
their strife was harsh and there was no end
and no resolution
for either side, and the outcome was indecisive.
But when Zeus gave the three gods what strengthens
640 the very nectar and ambrosia of the gods,
and they drank nectar and ate exquisite ambrosia,
then the spirit rose bold in the hearts of all,
and Zeus, the father of gods and men, spoke and said:
"Listen to me, noble sons of Ouranos and Gaia,
645 for I wish to speak out what spirit and heart
So far the divine Titans and the gods Kronos sired
have fought against one another every day
and far too long for victory and power.
Now in this bitter battle give the Titans proof
650 of the unyielding strength in your invincible arms.
Remember our noble friendship and the pains
until, through plans we conceived, you came
up to the light again
out of cruel chains and murky darkness."
So he spoke, and blameless Kottos gave this answer:
655 "Lord Zeus, you speak of things
that are not unknown,
for we know full well that your mind is sharp
and that you have provisioned the gods
against dread disaster.
O Lord and son of Kronos, it is through plans
conceived by you that we, sore from unexpected pains,
660 came back up again out of cruel chains
and murky darkness.
For this, with unbending mind and shrewd resolve,
we shall battle the Titans with might and main,
to defend your power in the savage clash."
So he spoke, and the gods, givers of blessings,
665 heard and acclaimed his words. Then
more than ever before
they yearned for war and they fought a fierce battle
on that day, all of them, both male and female:
the divine Titans and the gods Kronos sired,
and those whom Zeus brought up into the light
670 the dread and mighty ones, whose strength
From each one’s shoulders a hundred arms sprang forth
and from each one’s shoulders and sturdy trunk
there grew no fewer than fifty heads.
They pitted themselves against the Titans
in relentless battle
675 with huge boulders in their stout hands.
The Titans, for their part, strengthened their ranks
and both sides eagerly gave proof of mettle
and might of hand.
The deep and boundless sea resounded all around,
the earth boomed and the wide sky above shook
680 and groaned while lofty Olympos
heaved from its foundation
in the whirl of missles flung by the immortals.
A heavy din
and the ear-splitting sound of feet in merciless pursuit
and of hefty missiles reached gloomy Tartaros.
They hurled whining missiles at one another
685 and the rousing shouts when both sides clashed
with deafening clamor reached the starry heavens.
Zeus could no longer hold back his fighting spirit,
which straightway surged to fill his heart
and showed all his strength, as from the sky
and from Olympos
690 he advanced with steady pace amid flashes
and from his stout hand let fly thunderbolts
that crashed and spewed forth a stream of sacred flames.
The life-giving earth burned and resounded all over
and the vast forest groaned, consumed by fire.
695 The whole earth and Ocean’s streams seethed,
and so did the barren sea; then the heated vapor engulfed
the earth-born Titans and towering flames licked
the bright sky.
For all the Titans’ might, the blazing flash
of thunderbolt and lightning blinded their eyes.
700 Wondrous conflagration spread through Chaos,
and to eyes and ears
it seemed as though what they saw and heard
was the collision of the Earth and the wide Sky above.
For so vast a crash could only arise
if earth collapsed under collapsing sky;
705 such was the uproar of the battling gods.
The winds churned quaking land, dust, and thunder,
lightning, too, and glowing thunderbolts,
great Zeus’s weapons,
and they swept the noise and clamor into the midst
of the warring hosts. Unbearable din hovered above
710 the horrid fray. Both sides gave proof of strength,
and then the scales of the conflict tipped; before,
each side charged
against the other and fought a grisly and stubborn battle.
But now Kottos and Briareos and war-hungry Gyges
in the front lines stirred up bitter battle
715 and from their stout hands hurled
three hundred boulders
in thick-falling volleys that threw a mantle of darkness
over the Titans. And though the Titans’ spirit was bold,
they were vanquished and then hurled beneath the earth
of the wide paths and bound with racking chains
720 as deep down below the earth as the sky is high
so they were cast deep down into gloomy Tartaros.
A bronze anvil falling from the sky would travel
nine days and nights to reach the earth on the tenth day,
and a bronze anvil falling from the earth would need
725 nine days and nights to reach Tartaros
on the tenth day.
Tartaros is fenced with bronze and round its gullet
drifts night in triple array, while above it grow
the roots of the earth and of the barren sea.
There, by the decree of Zeus the cloud-gatherer,
730 the divine Titans have been hidden
in the misty gloom
in a rank realm at the utmost limits of giant earth.
There is no escape for them; Poseidon built gates
and a wall runs all around on every side.
There dwell Gyges, Briareos, and high-mettled Kottos,
735 ever the trusted guards of aegis-bearing Zeus.
There, in proper order, lie the sources and the limits
of the black earth and of mist-wrapt Tartaros,
of the barren sea, too, and of the starry sky—
grim and dank and loathed even by the gods—
740 this chasm is so great that, once past the gates,
one does not reach the bottom in a full year’s course,
but is tossed about by stormy gales;
even the gods shudder at this eerie place.
There also stands the gloomy house of Night;
745 ghastly clouds shroud it in darkness.
Before it Atlas stands erect and on his head
and unwearying arms firmly supports the broad sky,
where Night and Day cross a bronze threshold
and then come close and greet each other.
750 When the one descends the other shrinks away,
and the house is never host to both of them,
but always one of the two is out and away from it
and roams over the earth, while the other inside it
awaits the appointed time for its own journey.
755 The one brings to mortals the light that sees all,
while the other, the harmful Night, veiled in dusky fog,
carries in her arms Sleep, Death’s own brother.
There, too, dwell the children of black Night,
Sleep and Death, the awesome gods who are never seen
760 by the rays of the blazing sun when it rises
on the sky, or moves on its downward path.
Of these, the one wanders over land and
ever at peace and ever gentle to mortals,
but the other, a ghoul even the gods detest,
765 has a heart of iron and feelings hard as bronze,
and no man gripped by him can free himself again.
There too stand the echoing halls of Hades,
whose sway is great, and of awesome Persephone.
A hideous and ruthless hound guards the place
770 skilled in an evil trick: wagging his tail
and wriggling his ears, he fawns on those who enter,
but he does not let them out again;
instead, he lies in wait and devours those he catches
outside the gates of sovereign Hades
and of awesome Persephone.
775 There dwells a goddess loathed by the gods,
dreadful Styx, eldest daughter of Ocean, whose stream
flows back on itself; she dwells apart from the gods
in a stately palace roofed by lofty rocks and ringed
by silver pillars that tower into the sky.
780 Seldom does fleet-footed Iris,
the daughter of Thaumas,
roam on the broad-backed sea to bring her a message
when strife and quarrel arise among the immortals
and when one of the Olympian dwellers lies.
Then Zeus sends Iris far away to fetch in a golden jar
785 the legendary cold water by which the gods
swear great oaths,
water that tumbles down from a steep and soaring rock.
This water flows through the black night
from a sacred river, far below the earth of the wide paths.
It is a branch of Ocean allotted one tenth of the water;
790 the other nine parts wind round the earth
and the broad-backed sea
and, silver-swirled, cascade into the briny deep,
but this one branch—this bane for the gods—runs off
If any one of the gods who hold the peaks of snowy
pours a libation of this water and then swears
a false oath,
795 he lies breathless for no less than a full year’s
and he cannot come close to ambrosia and nectar
for nourishment, but no longer able to speak or breathe
lies in bed, wrapped in the shroud of evil coma.
And when the illness is over at the long year’s end,
800 another, even harsher, trial is in store for him.
For nine years he is an outcast to the eternal gods
and does not mingle with them at council or feast
for nine full years, but on the tenth he joins again
the meetings of the gods whose homes are on Olympos.
805 Such is the oath the gods made of the primeval
water of Styx that gushes through a rugged place.
There, in proper order, lie the sources and the limits
of black earth and of mist-wrapped Tartaros,
of the barren sea, too, and of the starry sky,
810 and they are grim and dank and loathed
even by the gods.
There stand the gates of marble and the threshold
unshakable and self-grown from the roots that reach
deep into the ground. In front of these gates,
away from all the gods
dwell the Titans, on the other side of murky Chaos.
815 But the renowned allies of Zeus, whose thunder
through the sky, have their houses at Ocean’s foundations.
These are Kottos and Gyges, and noble Briareos;
to him the deep-rumbling Shaker of the Earth
his own daughter, and thus made Briareos his
820 When Zeus drove the Titans out of the sky
giant Gaia bore her youngest child, Typhoeus;
goaded by Aphrodite, she lay in love with Tartaros.
The arms of Typhoeus were made for deeds of might,
his legs never wearied, and on his shoulders were
825 a hundred snake heads such as fierce dragons have,
and from them licking black tongues darted forth.
And the eyes on all the monstrous heads flashed
from under the brows and cast glances of burning fire;
from all the ghastly heads voices were heard,
830 weird voices of all kinds. Sometimes they
that the gods understood, and then again
they bellowed like bulls, proud and fierce
beyond restraint, or they roared like brazen-hearted lions
or—wondrous to hear—their voices sounded like
a whelp’s bark,
835 or a strident hiss that echoed through the lofty
An irreversible deed would have been done that day
and Typhoeus would have become lord over gods
had not the father of gods and men kept sharp-eyed
He hurled a mighty bolt and its ear-splitting crash
840 reverberated grimly through the earth
and the wide sky above,
through the sea, the streams of Ocean,
and through the underworld.
And when the lord moved, massive Olympos shook
and the earth groaned under his indestructible feet,
and the heat of the duel engulfed the violet-dark sea,
845 heat from Zeus’s lightning and thunder,
and from the fire that raged as thunderbolts
struck the monster.
The whole earth, the sea, and the sky seethed;
a dread quake arose in the wake of the immortals’
and heaving waves rolled up against the shores;
850 then Hades, lord of the wasted shades below,
and the Titans under Tartaros and around Kronos
shuddered at the unending din and grisly clash.
But now Zeus’ strength surged and he grasped
thunder and lightning and glowing thunderbolt,
855 and, lunging from Olympos, he set fire
to all of the hellish monster’s gruesome heads.
Then, when Zeus’s blows had whipped him
Typhoeus collapsed, crippled, on the groaning
and the flame from the thunder-smitten lord
860 leaped along the dark and rocky woodlands
of the mountain, and the infernal blast of the flames
set much of the giant earth on fire until it melted
like tin that has been heated by craftsmen
over a well-pierced crucible, or like that strongest
865 iron, which in mountain woodlands
the scorching fire tames
and the craft of Hephaistos melts inside the divine earth.
So melted the earth from the flash of the burning fire,
and Zeus in terrible anger cast Typhoeus into broad
From Typhoeus come the violent and damp winds,
870 but not Notos, Boreas, and bright Zephyros,
who are descended from the gods, a great boon
But other fitful blasts blow over the sea to bring harm.
They swoop down on the face of the misty sea,
a raging and wicked gale, a great scourge to mortals;
875 they blow in all directions, and they scatter ships
and wipe out the sailors, and men who run into
in the open sea have no way to fend off havoc.
They fill the flowering and boundless earth
with harmful and whirling clouds of dust
880 and sweep away the lovely works
of earth-born men.
But when the gods achieved their toilsome feat
and by brute force stripped the Titans of their claim
then, through Gaia’s advice, they unflaggingly urged
Olympian Zeus, whose thunder is heard far and wide,
885 over the gods, and he divided titles and power
Zeus, king of the gods, took as his first wife Metis,
a mate wiser than all gods and mortal men.
But when she was about to bear gray-eyed Athena,
then through the schemes of Gaia and starry Ouranos
890 he deceived the mind of Metis with guile
and coaxing words, and lodged her in his belly.
Such was their advice, so that of the immortals
none other than Zeus would hold kingly sway.
It was fated that Metis would bear keen-minded
895 first a gray-eyed daughter, Tritogeneia,
who in strength and wisdom would be
her father’s match,
and then a male child, high-mettled
and destined to rule over gods and men.
But Zeus lodged her in his belly
before she did all this,
900 that she might advise him in matters
good and bad.
His second wife was radiant Themis; she bore
Lawfulness and Justice and blooming Peace,
who watch over the works of mortal men,
and also the Fates, to whom wise Zeus allotted
905 These are Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos,
and they give mortals their share of good and evil.
Then Eurynome, Ocean’s fair daughter,
bore to Zeus the three Graces, all fair-cheeked,
Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and shapely Thalia;
910 their alluring eyes glance from under their brows,
and from their eyelids drips desire that unstrings
After Zeus slept with Demeter who nurtures many,
she bore white-armed Persephone, whom Aidoneus
snatched away from her mother with the consent
of wise Zeus.
915 Then he fell in love with Mnemosyne
who gave birth to the gold-filleted Muses,
lovers, all nine, of feasts and of enchanting song.
Leto lay in love with aegis-bearing Zeus
and gave birth to Apollon and arrow-shooting Artemis,
920 children comelier than all the other sky-dwellers.
Last of all, Zeus made Hera his buxom bride,
and she lay in love with the king of gods and men
and bore Hebe and Ares and Eileithyia.
Then from his head he himself bore gray-eyed Athena,
925 weariless leader of armies, dreaded and
who stirs men to battle and is thrilled by the clash
Hera wrangled with her husband and because of anger,
untouched by him, she bore glorious Hephaistos
who surpasses all the other gods in craftsmanship.
930 From the union of rumbling Poseidon
came the great Triton, whose might is far-flung,
an awesome god dwelling in a golden house that lies
at the sea’s bottom, near his cherished mother
and lordly father.
Now to shield-shattering Ares Kythereia bore
the dreaded twins
935 Fear and Panic who with Ares, sacker of cities,
force men to flee in disorder from the thick array
Harmonia, too, the wife of bold Kadmos, was her
Maia, daughter of Atlas, shared the sacred bed of Zeus
and gave birth to Hermes, renowned herald of the gods.
940 Semele, daughter of Kadmos, yielded to
and she, a mere mortal, is now the divine mother
of the dazzling and deathless god in whom many exult.
Alkmene gave birth to invincible Herakles
after she had lain in love with Zeus the cloud gatherer.
945 And Hephaistos, the lame smith of wide renown,
took as his buxom bride Aglaia, the youngest
of the Graces.
Golden-haired Dionysos took blond Ariadne,
daughter of Minos, to be his buxom bride,
and then Zeus made her ageless and immortal.
950 Herakles, mighty son of fair-ankled Alkmene,
accomplished his grim labors and took Hebe,
daughter of great Zeus and gold-sandaled Hera,
to be his noble spouse on snowy Olympos.
Blessed is he! His exploits all finished,
955 he is now among the gods, griefless
and ageless forever.
Perseis, Ocean’s famous daughter, bore to Helios,
who never wearies, both Kirke and King Aietes.
Then Aietes, son of Helios who shines his light
through divine decree, married Idyia
of the blooming cheeks,
960 daughter of Okeanos, the river whose stream
rings the earth;
under the spell of golden Aphrodite she yielded
to her husband’s desire and bore fair-ankled Medeia.
Hail, O gods dwelling on Olympos,
and hail islands and continents parted by the briny sea!
965 Now Olympian Muses, sweet-voiced
daughters of Zeus
the aegis-bearer, make the theme of your song
the immortal goddesses who shared the beds of mortals
and bore them children with divine looks.
Radiant Demeter, a goddess, and Iasion, a hero,
970 coupled with passion on a field plowed three times,
in the rich soil of Crete; their child, noble Ploutos,
wanders everywhere on land and broad-backed sea
and grants the bliss that comes from great wealth
when he comes into the hands of those he meets.
975 Harmonia, daughter of golden Aphrodite,
bore to Kadmos Ino and Semele and fair-cheeked
Autonoe, too, who became the bride of lush-haired
and then, Polydoros—all in turret-crowned Thebes.
Kallirhoe, Ocean’s daughter, spell-bound by golden
980 coupled in love with stout-hearted Chrysaor
and bore a son surpassing all men in strength,
Geryones, whom brawny Herakles slew
in sea-stroked Erytheia, to win the ambling oxen.
To Tithonos Eos bore bronze-geared Memnon,
985 king of the Ethiopians, and also lord Emathion.
The blossom of her love for Kephalos
was a splendid son,
high-honored Phaethon, a man of godlike beauty;
when he was still in the tender blossom
of luxuriant youth,
a child lost in innocent thought, smile-loving
990 swooped down on him
and carried him away to her temple
to be keeper of its holiest part, a luminous demigod.
Then Jason, through the decrees of the undying gods,
took as his bride the daughter of Aietes,
the Zeus-cherished king,
after he had accomplished many grim labors
on orders from Pelias,
995 the great and brazen king, whose deeds were
These done, Jason suffered no few hardships
and then on a swift ship sailed to Iolkos,
whence he brought
a bright-eyed maiden who became his buxom wife.
1000 And Jason, shepherd of the people, made her submit
to his passion, and she bore Medeios, a son
fostered on the mountains
by Philyra’s son, Cheiron, and great Zeus’s design
Then come the daughters of Nereus, old man of the sea:
the exalted goddess Psamathe, incited by golden Aphrodite,
1005 lay with Aiakos in love and gave birth to Phokos;
and then Thetis, the silver-sandaled goddess,
became the wife
of Peleus and bore lion-hearted Achilleus,
breaker of men.
Fair-wreathed Kythereia gave birth to Aineias,
after she and the hero Anchises tenderly coupled
1010 on the wind-swept peaks of many-folded Ida.
And Kirke, daughter of Helios Hyperionides,
took as her lover Odysseus, whose resolve never flagged,
and bore him Agrios and the blameless and stout Latinos,
and also Telegonos, under the spell of golden Aphrodite.
1015 The first two ruled over all the glorious
very far away in the inner enclave of the sacred islands.
Kalypso, the radiant goddess, came to know the charm
of Odysseus’s love, and bore him Nausithoös
These are the immortal goddesses who shared the beds
1020 of mortal men and gave them godlike children.
But now, sweet-singing Olympian Muses,
daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus, sing of mortal women.