Theogony

by

Hesiod

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The Sickle Symbol Icon

In the Theogony, the sickle (a type of curved sword) is representative both of violent succession of power, as well as a link to the natural world and the cycles of life, death, and regeneration. Upset with Heaven’s cruel treatment of her and her children, Earth crafts a sickle from unbreakable adamantine in order to use it against him. Kronos, one of Earth’s children, volunteers to conspire with her in this plan. The next time Heaven visits the cave where he’s forced his family to reside, Kronos sets an ambush and uses the sickle to castrate his father. The sickle is thus representative of the violent succession of power from one generation to the next, as Heaven is literally unable to bear any more children and has lost his generative power (made all the more final by the fact that his genitals fall into the sea). That the sickle is made out of adamantine, an unbreakable material, further reinforces its nature as an object of power and violence.

At the same time, however, the sickle also symbolizes the fundamental link between the divine and the natural worlds. It is crafted by Earth, who by her very nature bridges the natural and the divine. In ancient Greece, sickles were also used to harvest crops, and are symbolic of agricultural bounty and the changing of seasons. The sickle’s symbolic significance is twofold, then, as it is both the tool for violent, life-defying action, and a tool of harvest and natural plenty.

The Sickle Quotes in Theogony

The Theogony quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Sickle. 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

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:
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Theogony PDF

The Sickle Symbol Timeline in Theogony

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Sickle appears in Theogony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Theogony
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
The Natural and Divine Worlds Theme Icon
Frustrated with Heaven’s cruel treatment, Earth crafts a sickle (a kind of curved sword) of unbreakable adamantine, and entreats her children to conspire with... (full context)
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Family and Genealogy Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...for the next time Heaven comes to visit. When the time comes, Kronos uses the sickle to castrate Heaven, effectively defeating him and assuming his position as the ruler of the... (full context)