Theogony

by

Hesiod

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Kronos Character Analysis

Kronos, one of the antagonists of the poem, is the son of Heaven and Earth. He is a central player in the myths of succession detailed in the Theogony, as he overthrows his own father, Heaven, and then is subsequently overthrown by his son, Zeus. Early in the poem, when Heaven traps Earth and her children inside a cave in order to prevent them from usurping his power, Kronos and Earth conspire to ambush and defeat him. While Earth proposes to all of her children that they overthrow him together, only Kronos is courageous enough to take her up on the offer. With Earth’s help, Kronos ambushes Heaven and castrates him with a sickle made of adamant, both physically and symbolically casting him from power. Kronos subsequently takes his father’s place as king of the gods, but continues his father’s attitude of healthy skepticism toward one’s children: Kronos swallows all of his children by Rhea after they are born, so that none of them might one day contest his power. Only his son Zeus, hidden away by Rhea through trickery, is able to escape this fate. Zeus later overthrows Kronos and, after a prolonged conflict, banishes him to Tartarus along with the rest of his allies.

Kronos Quotes in Theogony

The Theogony quotes below are all either spoken by Kronos or refer to Kronos. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Theogony published in 2009.
Theogony Quotes

From the Muses of Helicon let us begin our singing, that haunt Helicon's great and holy mountain, and dance on their soft feet round the violet-dark spring and the altar of the mighty son of Kronos.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos, The Muses
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

For all those that were born of Earth and Heaven were the most fearsome of children, and their own father loathed them from the beginning. As soon as each of them was born, he hid them all away in a cavern of Earth, and would not let them into the light; and he took pleasure in the wicked work, did Heaven, while the huge Earth was tight-pressed inside, and groaned.

Related Characters: Kronos, Heaven, Earth
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Great Heaven came, bringing on the night, and, desirous of love, he spread himself over Earth, stretched out in every direction. His son reached out from the ambush with his left hand; with his right he took the huge sickle with its long row of sharp teeth and quickly cut off his father's genitals, and flung them behind him to fly where they might.

Related Characters: Kronos, Heaven, Earth
Related Symbols: The Sickle
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

For he learned from Earth and starry Heaven that it was fated for him to be defeated by his own child, powerful though he was, through the designs of great Zeus. So he kept no blind man's watch, but observed and swallowed his children.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos, Heaven, Earth
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

Then she wrapped a large stone in babycloth and delivered it to the son of Heaven, the great lord, king of the Former Gods. Seizing it in his hands, he put it away in his belly, the brute, not realizing that thereafter not a stone but his son remained, secure and invincible, who before long was to defeat him by physical strength and drive him from his high station, himself to be king among the immortals.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos, Rhea
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

The Olympian Lightner called all the immortal gods to long Olympus, and said that whoever of the gods would fight the Titans with him, he would not smite any of them down from his privileges, but each one would keep the honour he had had before among the immortal gods. And he said that whoever was unhonoured by Kronos and unprivileged, he would set him in the path of honour and privileges, as is right and proper.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos
Related Symbols: Thunder and Lightning
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Great Olympus quaked under the immortal feet of the lord as he went forth, and the earth groaned beneath him. A conflagration held the violet-dark sea in its grip, both from the thunder and lightning and from the fire of the monster, from the tornado winds and the flaming bolt. All the land was seething, and sky, and sea; long waves raged to and fro about the headlands from the onrush of the immortals, and an uncontrollable quaking arose. Hades was trembling, lord of the dead below, and so were the Titans down in Tartarus with Kronos in their midst, at the incessant clamour and the fearful fighting.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos, Tartarus
Related Symbols: Thunder and Lightning
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Theogony LitChart as a printable PDF.
Theogony PDF

Kronos Character Timeline in Theogony

The timeline below shows where the character Kronos appears in Theogony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Theogony
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Family and Genealogy Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Earth bears Heaven, and together they have many children, including Kronos, Rhea, and Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges From the start, Heaven is wary of his children... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
The Natural and Divine Worlds Theme Icon
...entreats her children to conspire with her against him and set up an ambush. Only Kronos is courageous enough to take Earth up on her offer, vowing to exact revenge upon... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Family and Genealogy Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Kronos, along with his mother, Earth, sets up an ambush for the next time Heaven comes... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Family and Genealogy Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Rhea and Kronos have many children but, fearing the same fate as his father, Heaven, Kronos swallows them... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
When Zeus matures, he begins to pose a significant threat to his father, Kronos. He even tricks Kronos into spitting back up the children—Zeus’ siblings—that he has swallowed, thereby... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Zeus and the other Olympian gods wage war against Kronos and the other Titans for control of the divine realm. Zeus enlists the aid of... (full context)