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Generalities Concerning Rǽa 

Rǽa(Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα, meaning "easily" or "effortlessly." Etym. ῥέω, "to flow, stream." [See Plátohn Kratýlos 402] Also, ῥᾶ, "easily.")Rǽa is one of the most important deities of all Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, for, in addition to many other awesome qualities, she is a constituent in the progression of deity arising from Earth known as the Three Vasíleiai (Basileiai or Queens; Gr. βασίλειαι, plural of βασίλεια) [See Below.]

According to the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony (Orphic fragment 57)Rǽa is the daughter of Yi (Earth: Ge or Gaia; Gr. Γῆ). The story told in the theogony is somewhat cryptic because it would appear that Yi bore Rǽa and her Titanic siblings purely by herself, without the assistance of any God. Why did she do this? ... because, according to the mythology, Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός) hated their earlier children, the three Kýklohpæs (Cyclopes; Gr. Κύκλωπες) and the three giant Hundred-Handers (Gr. Ἑκατόγχειρες). He cast them into the bowels of the earth and this greatly angered Yi. She then produced the Titans without his knowledge. [1]


The offspring of Rǽa

Rǽa is the wife of her brother Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος) and they ruled the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμοςduring the Silver Age of the Íroæs (Heroes; Gr. Ἥρωες[2]. With Krónos, Rǽa begot Æstía (Hestia; Gr. Ἑστία ), Dimítir (Demeter; Gr. Δημήτηρ), Íra (Hera; Gr. Ήρα), Ploutohn (Pluto or Hades; Gr. Πλούτων ), and Poseidóhn (Poseidon; Gr. Ποσειδῶν). [3]  And when she was called the mother of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) she became Dimítir. [4]  

According to Orphic fragment 150, as Yi bore the Titánæs without the help of Ouranós, Rǽa alone gave birth to the Kourítæs (Curetes; Gr. Κουρῆτες).


Rǽa and the Rise of Zefs

According to the mythology, which must be interpreted by means of keys, there was an oracle
stating that Krónos would sire a child who would usurp his power. Krónos himself had deposed Ouranós, his own father, by castrating him [5].

To avoid losing his powerKrónos began devouring all his children, since he did not know which one would be the one to steal his throne. He would have swallowed Zefs but for a trick of his mother; when Zefs was born, she wrapped a rock in swaddling clothes and presented it to her husband. Krónos promptly swallowed this rock and this caused him to vomit up all the children. 

Rǽa now rushed the infant Zefs to the Cave of Nyx (Gr. Νύξ) and placed him in the care of the divine goat Amátheia (Gr. Ἀμάλθεια) and the Kourítæs (Couretes; Gr. Κουρῆτες). When Zefs grew sufficiently in strength, Nyx advised him to intoxicate Krónos with honey and subdue him in an oaken wood. He informed his mother of this and she held a great banquet for her husband, giving him great drafts of honey.  Krónos became drunk; he wandered into the oaken wood and fell asleep, snoring loudly. Zefs and his comrades bound him and Zefs castrated him, as Krónos had castrated his own father [6]. From this point forward, Zefs and the Olympians have dominion over the Kózmos forever. [7]



Rǽa is the Mother of the Gods and the Mother of the Mysteries

Rǽa is deeply connected to the teachings of Orphismós for she is equated with the Mother of the Gods (Gr. Μήτηρ Θεῶν), the Phrygian Kyvǽli (Cybele; Gr. Κυβέλη), who taught Diónysos the Mystíria (Mysteries; Gr. Μυστήρια) [8]. Diónysos in turn taught the Mysteries to Khárohps (Charops; Gr. Χάρωψ) to whom he gave the kingdom of Thráki (Thrace; Gr. Θρᾴκη). Khárohps taught the Mystíria to his son Íagros (Oeagros; Gr. Οἴαγρος). Íagros taught the Mysteries to his own son, Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). Orphéfs, in turn, disseminated the Mystíria throughout the world for whose kindness we are the beneficiaries. [9]



Rǽa and the Three Vasíleiai

Rǽa is second in the progression of personal deities who embody the mystic Earth. 
These three deities are known as the Three Vasíleiai (Basileiai; Gr. βασίλειαι, plural of βασίλεια), the Three Queens. The Three Vasíleiai are Yaia, Rǽa, and Íra. Rǽa is, therefore, a pre-form of Íra, which can be illustrated in the Orphic hymn to her in which she is called the Mother of Gods and men:

μήτηρ μέν τε θεῶν ἠδὲ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων· (line 9)

...the like being said of her consort, in the hymn to Krónos:

Ἀιθαλής, μακάρων τε θεῶν πάτερ ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν (line 1)

...these attributions usually being applied to Íra and Zefs.

The Three Vasíleiai along with their Divine Consorts are:

Yaia (Gaia or Ge; Gr. Γαῖα) and Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός)
Rǽa (Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα) and Krónos (Cronus; Gr. Κρόνος)
Íra (Hera; Gr. Ήρα) and Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς)



The Orphic Hymn to Rǽa [10]

14. Rǽa [Rhea; Gr. Ῥέα] The Fumigation from Aromatics.

Daughter of great Protogonus, divine,
Illustrious Rhea, to my pray'r incline, 
Who driv'st thy holy car with speed along,
Drawn by fierce lions, terrible and strong.
Mother of Jove, whose mighty arm can wield
Th' avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield.
Drum-beating, frantic, of a splendid mien,
Brass-sounding, honor'd, Saturn's blessed queen.
Thou joy'st in mountains and tumultuous fight,
And mankind's horrid howlings, thee delight.
War's parent, mighty, of majestic frame,
Deceitful saviour, liberating dame.
Mother of Gods and men, from whom the earth
And lofty heav'ns derive their glorious birth;
Th' ætherial gales, the deeply spreading sea
Goddess ærial form'd, proceed from thee.
Come, pleas'd with wand'rings, blessed and divine,
With peace attended on our labours shine;
Bring rich abundance, and wherever found
Drive dire disease, to earth's remotest bound. 

 
14. Ῥέας, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.

Πότνα Ῥέα, θύγατερ πολυμόρφου Πρωτογόνοιο,
τ’ π ταυροφόνων ἱερότροχον ἅρμα τιταίνεις,
τυμπανόδουπε, φιλοιστρομανές, χαλκόκροτε κούρη,
μῆτερ Ζηνὸς ἄνακτος Ὀλυμπίου, αἰγιόχοιο,
πάντιμ', ἀγλαόμορφε, Κρόνου σύλλεκτρε μάκαιρα,
οὔρεσιν ἣ χαίρεις θνητῶν τ' ὀλολύγμασι φρικτοῖς,
παμβασίλεια Ῥέα, πολεμόκλονε, ὀμβριμόθυμε,
ψευδομένη σώτειρα, λυτηριάς, ἀρχιγένεθλε·
μήτηρ μέν τε θεῶν ἠδὲ θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων·
ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν
καὶ πόντος πνοαί τε φιλόδρομε, ἀερόμορφε·
ἐλθέ, μάκαιρα θεά, σωτήριος εὔφρονι βουλι,
εἰρήνην κατάγουσα σὺν εὐόλβοις κτεάτεσσιν,
λύματα καὶ κῆρας πέμπουσ' ἐπὶ τέρματα γαίης.


Thomas Taylor's notes to the Orphic hymn to Rǽa: [9]

* Rhea, according to the Orphic and Platonic theology, is one of the zoogonic or vivific principles of the universe; having a maternal rank among the universal paternal orders, i. e. between Saturn (ed. Krónos) and Jupiter (ed. Zefs). Hence she calls forth the causes latent in Saturn to the procreation of the universe; and definitely unfolds all the genera of the Gods. So that she is filled from Saturn, with an intelligible and prolific power, which she imparts to Jupiter, the Demiurgus (ed. Dimiourgósof the universe; filling his essence with a vivific abundance. Since this Goddess then is a medium between the two intellectual parents of the universe, Saturn and Jupiter, the former of which collects intellectual multitude into one, but the other scatters and divides it. Hence says Proclus, in Theol. Plat. p. 266. this Goddess produces in herself the demiurgic causes of the universe; but imparts her diffusive power abundantly to secondary natures. On p. 138 this account Plato assimilates her prolific abundance to the flowing of waters; signifying nothing more by the word flowing, than that fontal power, by which she singularly contains the divine rivers of life. And, p. 267. Proclus informs us, that this Goddess, according to Orpheus, when considered as united to Saturn by the most exalted part of her essence, is called Rhea: but considered as producing Jupiter, and, together with Jove, unfolding the universal and particular orders of the Gods, she is called Ceres.

Ver. 1.] Daughter of great Protogonus. In the note to Hercules (ed. Iraklís or Heracles) it appears that Rhea is one of the progeny of the intellectual earth, resident in Phanes; and from the note to Hymn 5, to Protogonus, we learn from Proclus, that Phanes is to be considered in the intelligible as well as in the intellectual orders. Hence Rhea is, with perfect agreement to the Orphic theology, the daughter of Protogonus, considered as subsisting among the intelligible Gods.

Ver. 4.] Drawn by fierce lions, &c. I have here followed the correction of Pierson, who reads ταυροφονων for ταυροφορον: for Rhea is the same with the mother of the Gods, who is celebrated in the Hymn to her, as seated in a car drawn by lions.

Ver. 7.] Drum-beating. Rhea, in the Orphic theology, is among the mundane divinities, the earth. Hence, according to Varro, she is represented with a drum; because that instrument is a symbol of the earth. August. dc Civitat. lib. vii.

XIII Ver. 12.] Deceitful saviour. When Jupiter was born (says the fable) his mother Rhea in order to deceive Saturn, gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling bands, in the place of Jove; informing him that was her offspring. Saturn immediately devoured the stone; and Jupiter who was privately educated, at length obtained the government of the world. With great propriety, therefore, is she called by the poet a deceitful saviour. This fable, according to Phurnutus, signifies the creation of the world. For at that time Nature (which among elementary essences is the same with Jupiter) was then nourished in the world, and at length prevailed. The stone devoured by Saturn is the earth, alluding to its firmly occupying the middle place: for says Phurnutus, beings could not abide without such a foundation for their support. From this all things are produced, and derive their proper aliment. Opusc. Mythol. p. 147.


The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.


EPITHETS OF RǼA (under construction)

Sóhteira - (Soteira; Gr. σώτειρα, ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ) Lexicon entry: σώτειρα, fem. of σωτήρ2. freq. as epith. of protecting Goddesses, of Τύχα; of Θέμις; of Εὐνομία; of Athena; of Artemis; of Hecate; of Rhea, of Demeter; of Kore. (L&S p. 1751, left column, edited for simplicity.)
- Lexicon entry: σώτειρα, fem. of σωτήρῆρος, voc. σῶτερ: poet. σᾰωτήρ:— saviourdeliverer(L&S p. 1751, left column, edited for simplicity.)



NOTES:

[1] But according to Isíodos (Hesiod; Gr. Ἡσίοδος), Rǽa and her siblings are progeny of both Yi and of Ouranós (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός). Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 133.

[2] This according to the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony, Orphic Fragment 142. According to Ἡσίοδος Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι (Works and Days) 109, the reign of Rǽa and Krónos was called the Golden Age.

[3] This progeny of Rǽa and Krónos is assumed to be as found in Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 453. The list of progeny from the Orphic evidence is fragmentary.

[4] Orphic frag. 145. (106. 128) Πρόκλος Commentary on the Κρατύλος 403e, (90, 28 Pasqu.):

Ῥείη τὸ πρὶν ἐοῦσα, ἐπεὶ Διὸς ἔπλετο μήτηρ, Δημήτηρ γέγονε.

“Aforetime was she Rhea, but when she came to be called mother of Zefs she became Demetra.” (Translation as found in Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C. Guthrie, 1952; found in the 1993 Princeton Univ. Press edition [Princeton, NJ USA] on p. 139.)


[5] Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 165-185.

[6] This according to the Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony. A different version of the story can be found in Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 459-506, where the stone which Krónos ate did not cause him to disgorge the children, but, rather, he was given an emetic later when Zefs grew in strength.

[7] The acquisition of power by Zefs is told differently in Isíodos where, after the children are vomited up from an emetic, there is no castration, but, rather, Zefs defeats Krónos in a ten year war known as the Titanomakhía (Titanomachy or the Battle of the Titans; Gr. Τιτανομαχία). Ἡσίοδος Θεογονία 617-735.

[8] Ἀπολλόδωρος Βιβλιοθήκη 3.5.1.

[9] Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική 3.65.4-6.

[10] trans. by Thomas Taylor, 1792; we are using a facsimile of the original edition, London, England (printed for the author), where this quotation may be found on pp. 137-139.



The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The 
Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 



PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as 

, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.


The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

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