|“||I hate you! Ouranos was a horrible father, but at least he didn't swallow us!||”|
Rhea is the Titan goddess of fertility, motherhood, comfort, and ease. She was the sister-wife of the Titan King Kronos and mother of the six Elder Olympian gods (Hestia, Demeter, Hera, and the Big Three). Her Roman form is Ops.
Rhea was the youngest daughter among the Titans, the eldest of the three races born to Gaea (the Mother Earth) and Ouranos (the Father Sky). All races detested by their father, but he detested the younger children, the Elder Cyclopes and the Hekatonkheires so much (mainly for their ugliness) that he imprisoned them in the terrifying abyss of Tartarus. Around this time very early in her life, a scared, young Rhea planted the Grove of Dodona, a stand of sacred oaks that could speak and issue prophecies occasionally.
Enraged for her husband's actions, Gaea told her remaining children to avenge their brothers and overthrow and kill their arrogant, sadistic father. Rhea seemed shocked at the prospect of murdering her own father since she hadn't thought it possible to kill an immortal. Even after the concept was explained to her, she, her sisters and their eldest brother Oceanus, refused to participate.
After successfully murdering Ouranos with help from Hyperion, Iapetus, Krios, and Koios, Kronos proceeded to crown himself King of the universe and usher in an era of peace and prosperity for the Titans, which would later become known as the "Golden Age." As he had promised, Kronos released the Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheire brothers from Tartarus. Believing everything was fine now, their mother decided to rest for many thousands of years.
The Titaness of Motherhood and Queen of Othrys
During the Golden Age, Rhea became the Titaness of Motherhood and always helped her sisters deliver and raise all of their children (Eos, Helios, Selene, Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, Leto, Perses, and others). Rhea came to appreciate animals very much, though she favored lions, who pulled her golden chariot. Her kind and easy-going nature earned her the love of her entire family. She would frequently approach her clairvoyant siblings Phoebe and Koios with questions about the future.
However, Rhea was the most beautiful Titaness of all, which quickly earned her the attention of Kronos himself. Since the Titan King feared their father's curse that he would be overpowered by one of his own children, Kronos had initially vowed to not get married. However, after all eleven of his elder brothers and sisters got married and formed families, they no longer visited him. Despite he enjoy his authority and power, he got lonely and depressed. When his siblings claimed to be too busy, Kronos knew that the actual reason was their secret fear of his power and infamous temper. He seemed to believe that marrying Rhea would improve his personality and induce his siblings to fear him less. In the end, Kronos propsed Rhea on Mount Othrys, to which she accepted.
Kronos and Rhea's wedding was held at Mount Orthys. Rhea had one bridesmaid, her sister Tethys. Kronos had one best man, his brother Hyperion. All the Titans were allowed to come. It was a beautiful day with a clear sky, blossoming flowers, and a waterfall behind them. Rhea's dress was made by the Elder Cyclopes (before they were put back into Tartarus): it was a long white and red dress with a diamond sash. Her long, black hair was curled in a cascade of ringlets. She walked down a carpet of flowers. Her two loyal lions accompanied her at the reception, which was served with nectar and ambrosia.
Birth of the Olympian Gods
The newlyweds enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon together. A few weeks later, Rhea gave birth to their first child: a beautiful girl named Hestia. At first, Kronos seemed willing to be a good father and not to resemble Ouranos. However, the Titan King suddenly realized that Hestia wasn't a Titaness, but rather, a more powerful and beautiful immortal. Fearing that Hestia might one day overpower him, Kronos quickly swallowed her whole, to the horror of Rhea. Rhea thought many plans to free Hestia, but she feared to harm her in the process.
Trying to calm his wife, Kronos would give Rhea many gifts and invite her to magnificent dinners. She would give birth to two even more powerful, beautiful daughters (Demeter and Hera), and two strong, handsome sons (Hades and Poseidon), all of whom were gods, not Titans. As before, Kronos feared that any one of them might one day overpower him and swallowed all of them whole. Rhea pleaded with Kronos to spare their children but with no success, since even Kronos' love for Rhea wasn't enough to overpower his selfish and cruel nature.
A distraught Rhea soon heard the voice of her sleeping mother, who advised her to give birth to her final child on the island of Crete and that he would save his other siblings. Claiming that Koios advised her to do so, Rhea successfully departed for Crete. There, in a cave at the base of Mount Ida, Rhea gave birth to her sixth and final child, who she named Zeus. She gave her newborn son to the nine nymphs that attended his birth and returned to Mount Orthys. Using a huge smooth boulder from Gaea, Rhea deceived Kronos by wrapping the boulder up in swaddling clothes and pretending that it was her final child. As his body was struggling with the young gods inside himself (all of them had been growing undigested in Kronos' stomach, being powerful immortals), Kronos swallowed the rock without even looking. Rhea would secretly visit Zeus on Crete and helped the nymphs to raise him. While he was growing, he suckled the milk of the magical goat Amaltheia.
Zeus Rescues His Siblings
When Zeus grew to adulthood, Rhea advised her son to turn into a Titanic version of himself. She took him to Kronos on Mount Othrys, where she introduced Zeus to him as a young Titan who wished to become his royal cup bearer. Kronos, who was very impressed by Zeus' excellent singing, dancing and joking skills, promptly hired him. Shortly thereafter, Zeus encouraged the Titans to participate in drinking contests. As the Titan King, Kronos would always win since he couldn't let his siblings or nephews overcome him in anything. Kronos eventually began trusting Zeus, which is exactly what the latter was waiting for.
One evening when Kronos was dining together with his brothers and nephews, Zeus prepared a special set of drinks for them all. Zeus prepared nectar mixed with sleeping potion to Kronos' guests, while he prepared an extremely powerful emetic for Kronos himself. Near the end of the Titanic banquet, Zeus encouraged all of the Titans to have another drinking contest and handed out the prepared goblets. As before, Kronos won the contest, but Zeus' emetic was so powerful, that it forced him to instantly disgorge all of the contents of his stomach, in reverse order of swallowing: first the boulder, then Poseidon, followed by Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia.
Zeus quickly introduced himself to his elder siblings and all of them quickly escaped from Mount Othrys before their Titanic uncles and cousins came to their senses. In Zeus' Cave, at the base of Mount Ida, Rhea happily reunited with her children, tearfully embracing all of them individually. Shortly thereafter, all of her children accepted Zeus as their leader mainly because he saved them and reached a unanimous consensus on declaring war against their tyrannical father. Since they still had no weapons, Rhea advised them to release their Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheire uncles (all of whom were excellent blacksmiths), whom were reput to Tartarus by Kronos because of the noise they made and their stench. Her eldest son Hades agreed to lead them there.
After returning from Tartarus with the freed Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires, all six of Rhea's children quickly declared war against their father and the other Titans. Shortly before the Titanomachy began, Rhea personally visited all of her Titanic nieces and nephews, convincing all of them (except for General Atlas who was a loyal follower of Kronos) to remain neutral in the upcoming conflict and help her children. Her eldest brother Oceanus remained neutral as well.
The resulting Titanomachy was utterly terrifying and lasted for 11 long years. The Titans initially had the upper hand in their battles with the gods, since they were well armed and much more experienced warriors. However, the gods quickly became skilled warriors as well, and with the help of their new extremely powerful weapons (Zeus' Master Bolt, Poseidon's Trident, and Hades' Helm of Darkness) and the aid of the Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires, the gods finally prevailed. During the final battle, Zeus and his siblings ascended to Mount Olympus (the tallest mountain in Greece after Mount Orthys), used his Master Bolt to shear off the top of Mount Othrys and hurl Kronos from his Black Throne, defeating the Titan King, invading the ruins of Mount Orthys, and finally overwhelmed the remaining Titans. Zeus proceeded to take his father's sharp Scythe and slice him into a thousand pieces just as the Titan Lord had done to Ouranos. He later punished Atlas by making him hold up the weight of the sky while the other Titans involved in the war were banished down to Tartarus.
After the War
After the First Titanomachy, Rhea still retained a place of utter prominence in the new order, for she was able to make decisions regarding her children, who had become the new official rulers of the world. She planned a great celebration party in which all the gods, pacifist titans, nymphs and satyrs were invited. She later advised Poseidon to explore his new domains of the seas when she sensed the tension between him and Zeus, and sent Hera to her siblings Oceanus and Tethys so she could learn to control her bad temper.
However, the defeat of the Titans caused Gaea to stir in her sleep and enraged that her own children had been banished to Tartarus even though she helped the gods for Rhea's sake. Gaea consulted with the lord of the pit and gave birth to a new set of children, the Giants.
Apparently, Rhea still keeps in touch with all six of her children, and they all have a strong mutual love (even Hades). Chiron mentions her while talking about Zeus and Poseidon quarreling, as one of their usual arguments involved which one of them their mother Rhea loves more. Rhea had managed to keep out of the Second Titanomachy, which her slowly rising husband was intending to implement.
Rhea first appeared to her grandson, Apollo, in a dream, and urged him to "follow the voices" and "find the gates" by all means. However, he only recognised her and understood her message later on while researching information about the Grove of Dodona. According to Chiron, she had not been seen for millennia.
When Apollo finally met Rhea face-to-face, she revealed that she had withdrawn from the world, started a pottery studio, and had once been a strong woman's rights advocate in the U.S.. After warning him in detail about the enemies he would definitely encounter in his quest, she wished him luck and transported him back to Camp Half-Blood.
In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Rhea was described to be the most beautiful Titaness of all, with dark curly hair that swept her shoulders, eyes as green as meadows, and a smile that was brighter than the sun. Her beauty and charm were such that her brother Kronos fell hopelessly in love with her and married her despite knowing of the curse that Ouranos had placed on him.
In The Hidden Oracle, when Apollo first saw Rhea in a dream, she was described as being dressed like a Libyan Queen of old: her gown swirled with red, black, and gold floral designs, and her long dark hair was crowned with a tiara that looked like a curved miniature ladder - two gold rails lined with rungs of silver. Rhea also looked like a benevolent queen, having a mature but stately face, a kind smile, and flashing gold eyes like a feline predator's. Though she had an elder-hippie vibe, she was so attractive that Apollo assumed that they must be related, though he was unaware of her true identity at that time.
When Apollo encountered her for the second time, he finally recognised her, but saw that she looked different than she had in his previous dream: she wore tinted glasses that changed from orange to purple, and there was a silver-and-gold tiara in her braided hair. Her batik dress swirled with images of fern fronds, and her arms and hands were covered in henna tattoos. A macrame belt cinched her waist, and around her neck was a chain on which a brass peace symbol hung.
As revealed in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Rhea is the sweetest and kindest of her all siblings. She is frequently very calm and able to put those who surround her at total ease.
As the Titaness of Motherhood, Rhea naturally adored babies and was shown to love all of her own children dearly, even Hades. Her love for her children was what made her actually lose her temper for the first time, for witnessing Kronos brutally swallow them was too much for even her calm and gentle disposition to tolerate. Ultimately, Rhea's fierce, protective love for her children was what led her to secretly plot against Kronos, which in turn led to his eventual downfall in the hands of their six children.
In The Hidden Oracle, Apollo revealed that Rhea had always been something of a mystery among the gods. Even Zeus, who knew her best, didn't often speak of his mother. During his and Rhea's conversation, Apollo observed that she had a tendency to confuse her own memories and to get carried away from the main point. She later revealed that part of the reason for why she had withdrawn from the world was to evade the imperators, as she didn't want to be entangled in another institutional oppression that reminded her strongly of Kronos' tyranny. Despite going into seclusion to evade bad memories, Rhea still loved her family enough to intervene in their times of need: she gave her grandson Apollo good advice and sincere encouragement.
Rhea passed certain aspects of her looks and personality on to her children:
- Hestia inherited her warm, comforting personality and wise traits. Hestia was described as being most similar to her mother, with the only big difference being that Hestia never ever desired to become a mother herself and chose to remain an eternal virgin.
- Hera inherited her bright "sunny" smile, gorgeous beauty, and protective maternal instincts.
- Demeter inherited her love of animals.
- Hades inherited her long shoulder-length black hair and tendency to hold long grudges (which she held against Kronos).
- Poseidon inherited her brilliant green eyes.
- Zeus inherited her attitude of low tolerance, particularly of injustice.
- Fertility: As the Titaness of Fertility and Motherhood, Rhea is an adept at delivering newborn babies and raising children. She personally delivered all of her nieces and nephews. Besides this, an ability that she had presumably derived from this province is:
- Serenity Inducement: As the Titaness of Comfort and Ease, Rhea has the ability to induce powerful feelings of tranquility in others, which she channeled through her aura. Her presence is sufficient to put everyone around her at total ease, including her powerful siblings and children. Her daughter Hestia inherited this power.
- Mental Healing: She possesses the ability to heal mental shifts and illnesses. When her daughter Hera cursed her grandson Dionysus with madness, Rhea healed him without fail or issue.
- Dream Communication: As shown in The Hidden Oracle, she has the ability to communicate with others through their dreams. Her first encounter with Apollo took place in his dream.
- Persuasion: She has remarkable skills of persuasion, given how she managed to convince her eldest brother and nearly all the female Titans to either side with her children or stay out of their way during the First Titanmoachy.
- Feline Manipulation: Rhea has an affinity for animals, particularly lions, who almost always accompany her. Kronos was wary of her before eating their children for this reason. In The Hidden Oracle, her lions seemed to possess some form of healing saliva, as Apollo's thoughts increasingly cleared as a lion licked his face and hair, though that could be due to their connection to her.
- Prophecy: As revealed in The Hidden Oracle, Rhea planted Dodona, which proves that she possessed the ability to foretell the future as Dodona's power emanated from her.
- Titanic Divine Form: As a Titaness, Rhea has the ability to incinerate any being lesser than a god/Titan only by being present.
- Titantic Energy: Like all Titans, Rhea has the ability to blast things hundreds of yards away from herself with a yell or a wave of the hand.
- Intelligence: Like her sons Zeus and Hades, Rhea is very intelligent and possesses considerable strategic skills. She managed to trick Kronos (a master strategist) twice, although she had help and he was in a weakened state of mind. She gave useful advice to her children before and during the First Titan War. In The Hidden Oracle, Rhea gave good advice to Apollo regarding how to deal with his enemies.
- Tongue of the Old Times fluency: Rhea has perfect understanding and fluency in the ancient language that Gaea spoke to the Titan, the Elder Cyclops, and the Hekatonkheires before the birth of the Olympian gods.
- Rhea, a moon surrounding the planet Saturn that was discovered in 1672, is named after her. It is also the ninth-largest moon in the Solar System.
- Rhea, a species of flightless birds, is named after her.
- Rhea shares numerous similarities with her daughter Hera:
- Their names are anagrams of each other's names.
- They are among the most beautiful deities (Rhea is the most beautiful Elder Titaness, while Hera is the most beautiful Elder Olympian).
- They are both deities of motherhood.
- They are both married to their brothers (Rhea married her brother Kronos, while Hera married her brother Zeus).
- They both had constant arguments with their husbands.
- Rhea was identified with the Phrygian mother-goddess Kybele, whose cult shared several characteristics with that of Dionysus and was later moved to Rome in 204 BC.
- She shares her name with Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus.