The Titanomachia in Aeschylus

Prometheus to the Okeanides:
When first the heavenly powers were moved to wrath, and mutual dissension was stirred up among them--some bent on casting Cronus from his seat so Zeus, in truth, might reign; others, eager for the contrary end, that Zeus might never win mastery over the gods--it was then that I, although advising them for the best, was unable to persuade the Titans, children of Heaven and Earth; but they, disdaining counsels of craft, in the pride of their strength thought to gain the mastery without a struggle and by force. Often my mother Themis, or Earth (though one form, she had many names), had foretold to me the way in which the future was fated to come to pass. That it was not by brute strength nor through violence, but by guile that those who should gain the upper hand were destined to prevail. And though I argued all this to them, they did not pay any attention to my words. With all that before me, it seemed best that, joining with my mother, I should place myself, a welcome volunteer, on the side of Zeus; and it is by reason of my counsel that the cavernous gloom of Tartarus now hides ancient Cronus and his allies within it. (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 200ff, trans Herbert Weir Smyth)

Notes:

a) Aeschylus describes the Titans as "disdaining counsels of craft" who therefore "did not pay any attention" to the knowledge of Prometheus "that it was not by brute strength nor through violence, but by guile that those who should gain the upper hand were destined to prevail." Compare Plato on the titans: "One party is trying to drag everything down to earth out of heaven and the unseen, literally grasping rocks and trees in their hands, for they lay hold upon every stock and stone and strenuously affirm that real existence belongs only to that which can be handled and offers resistance to the touch. They define reality as the same thing as body, and as soon as one of the opposite party asserts that anything without a body is real, they are utterly contemptuous and will not listen to another word."

July 14, 2004 in Gigantomachia/Titanomachia | Permalink

Comments