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Illustrated Guide to Mythology

Rhea


Rhea is the goddess of fertility and motherhood, and is often depicted being pulled by two lions in a chariot.

Rhea
Rhea

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Rhea was the wife of Cronos, and the mother of Zeus, Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Demeter. After Cronos overthrew his father Uranus, with his dying words Uranus cursed his son, saying that one day he would be overthrown by his own children. Paranoid that this prophecy would come true, Cronos locked up his Titan uncles and swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea, absolutely devastated not to be with any of her children, resolved that when Zeus was born, she would hide him. She wrapped a rock in a swaddling blanket, which Cronos swallowed; meanwhile, she hid Zeus with a family on earth. When he was old enough, he returned to Olympus where Rhea gave him a potion to give to Cronos to make him ill. He vomited up the rock and then each of his children. Together, the gods united and battled against Cronos and the Titans until ultimately the Olympians emerged victorious.

In some myths, Rhea is said to have saved Dionysus’ heart after the baby was ripped apart by Titans in a scheme by a jealous Hera to be rid of the baby produced by her husband’s affair with Semele. In another tale, Hera’s jealousy sent the Python after Apollo and Artemis’ mother Leto while she was pregnant with them. Once again, Rhea stepped in to save her grandchildren and helped Leto float away on the island Delos, carried by the west wind (other versions of this myth attribute this help to Zeus).

Quick Reference

Parents

Uranus and Gaea


Domain / Power

Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood


Notable Myths

  • Birth of Zeus
  • Overthrow of Cronos
  • Birth of Apollo and Artemis

Symbol / Attributes

Two lions

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