Hey everyone, welcome to Mythology Explained. In today’s video we’re going to discuss five of the strangest births in Greek mythology. This video specifically focuses on the births, not on conception. For example, Perseus doesn’t appear as an entry on this list, because, while Zeus impregnated his mother while in the form of a golden shower, the actual birth was quite conventional.
Let’s get into it.
Starting off our list is Athena.
Zeus’ first wife was Metis, who was one of the Oceanids, a group of 3,000 water nymphs born to first-generation Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She was said to be the wisest of the gods, her name meaning either ‘wisdom’ or ‘cunning’, and as was so often the case in Greek mythology, she endeavoured to reject the romantic interests and lustful advances of those who pursued her.
She resisted Zeus by taking many forms, but alas, her defence of successive transformations would be to no avail. She became pregnant, and here is where her troubles truly began; for though she did not know it, her freedom was about to be irrevocably taken.
From Gaia and Uranus, Zeus learned that the children Metis would bear him would be incredibly powerful: first a daughter, wise and courageous like her father, then a son, mighty and bold, one who would claim the throne for himself, thus perpetuating the cycle of son supplanting father yet another generation.
Zeus, as his own father Cronus did before him, decided to forestall any future eventuality of his usurpation by swallowing his children; however, where Cronus swallowed his children after they were born, Zeus swallowed Metis while she was pregnant.
Sometime later, after a period of gestation, an excruciating pain blossomed in Zeus’ head, pounding unbearably. Desperate for help, he went to Hephaestus, who obliged the king of the gods by striking his head with a great cleaving blow from an axe, splitting his skull; and from this wound sprung Athena, the bloom of womanhood already upon her, clad in armour and wielding a spear.
Watch the video for the rest!
READ MORE: Gaia: The Mother of Creation.