Rhea (pronounced /ˈriː.ə/; ancient Greek Ῥέα) was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods." In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses, though never dwelling permanently among them on Mount Olympus. The Romans identified Rhea with the Goddess Ops.
Cronus, Rhea's Titan brother and husband, castrated their father, Uranus. After this, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires, the Gigantes and the Cyclopes and set the monster Campe to guard them. He and Rhea took the throne as King and Queen of the gods. This time was called the Golden Age.
Cronus sired six children by Rhea: Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera and Zeus in that order, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own child as he had overthrown his own father. When Zeus was about to be born, however, Rhea sought Uranus and Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed.
Then she hid Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete. According to varying versions of the story:
Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge the other children in the reverse order in which they had been swallowed, the oldest becoming the last, and youngest: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, then the rest. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonkheires and the Cyclops, who gave him thunder and lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. Zeus and his siblings, together with the Gigantes, Hecatonkheires, and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Similarly, in later myths, Zeus would swallow Metis to prevent the birth of her child, Athena, but she was born unharmed, out of a wound made in his head by one of the other gods.
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