Remember the holidays? Remember groaning over your slightly-dysfunctional, sappy-nutty family? Well, your family is going to seem like the Waltons after you get done with this Behind the Book feature.
This time we’re exploring the story of Rhea and Kronos, which includes playing favorites, parent-child rivalries, cannibalism, and a bit of ancient abdominal surgery (or possibly forced bulimia). After that, we’ll see how this all relates to my historical fantasy series, The Osteria Chronicles.
Before We Begin…
Kronos is a tricky name (seriously, why is no one named Bob in Greek mythology?). Sometimes it’s spelled “Kronos” other times it’s “Chronos” or “Cronos”. Then you’ve got your “Kronus/Cronus” wackiness.
I’ve opted for K-R-O-N-O-S because….
- It’s one character shorter than Chronos or Chronus (hey, I type a lot of characters. I try to save my fingers as much wear and tear as possible).
- He’s the father of time and “time” in Greek is pronounced “kroh-nohs”, not “kroh-nuhs” (yes, I”m a nerd).
- And I just think K looks more “Greek” than CH (I’m also visually picky)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get crackin’ on some legends.
A Very Bad Father
To start, Rhea and Kronos are titans, and although they were amongst the first generation of titans, they weren’t the first titans. Yep, Kronos had a dad and that dad was leader of the titans.
Since titans are immortal, you’re going to be hanging around a long time (say, eternity) if you’re waiting for dad to die for it to be your turn to rule. Patience wasn’t Kronos’s sturgeon suit, so he overthrew dead old dad and took charge of the titans.
As part of the ick factor that rules Greek mythology, Rhea was Kronos’s sister…and his wife (same deal with Zeus and Hera, these immortals were all for keeping it in the family).
After kicking dad off the throne and settling down to married life, Kronos and Rhea had some kids: Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.
Unfortunately, someone started a rumor that Kronos was going to experience the same fate as his father. Namely, that one of his kids was going to overthrow him and take over.
Clearly the obvious solution in this situation is to eat your kids. I mean, it’s a natural response, right? And hey, I believe “immortal flesh” is part of the keto diet.
But wait, Rhea has a trick up her sleeve. After watching Hades, Poseidon, and Hera go down Kronos’s gullet, she decides she needs to do something to save her favorite child, Zeus. So, the clever lady wraps a stone in a baby blanket and Kronos tosses it back with an ouzo chaser. Yum.
Ignoring rude comments about her cooking tasting no better than rocks, Rhea rushes Zeus off somewhere safe.
He grows up, comes back, then (depending on which source you want to believe) either hacks Kronos open so his (now-grown) siblings spill out, or he gives Kronos an emetic and Kronos yaks up the kids.
Personally, I like the gut-splitting version. One, I’m morbid. Two, this is going to leave Kronos down for the count for a while. If Kronos is just given an emetic, why wouldn’t he just gobble up everyone again? Logic.
Anyway, after this, Zeus becomes leader of the gods and locks Kronos in the pits of Tartarus (more on that soon).
In the Osteria Chronicles
When crafting these characters, I imagined the pair as a bitter couple who can’t or won’t get divorced and who are always at odds with one another. This was definitely a fun dynamic to write.
Even the stone has a part to play, as Kronos has it perched front and center in the foyer of his home as a reminder of exactly what kind of woman he’s married, and to never let her make a fool of him again.
Rhea clearly played favorites with Zeus in the myths. I used this favoritism to influence her part in the war the titans are waging against the gods and mortals. She may know exactly how to destroy Zeus, but she’s determined not to give up her secret…regardless of the cost.
In the series, Rhea and Kronos don’t really appear until a brief part to play in The Bonds of Osteria (Book Four). They have a bigger role in The Battle of Ares (Book Five), but the two really get to shine in The Return of Odysseus (Book Six)… both books are now available for pre-order (links below).
Have a great week, everyone!!! And even though they’re calorie-free, don’t go around eating rocks….your children (they’re full of calories!!)