The Succession Crisis
28 October 2020
The succession crisis started with Gaia and Ouranos, Ouranous feared that his children would succeed him and overthrow him. This was the start of the succession crisis. This continued with Kronos and his fear of his children doing the same thing he did to his father, so as a result, after each of his children were born, he swallowed them. Zeus was able to escape the same fate as his siblings and once he was fully grown, he came back, rescued his siblings, and put an end to his father’s reign.
Zeus ran into the same problem Kronos and Ouranos did before him. He found out that his wife Metis would give birth to a baby that would overthrow him in the future. Instead of doing what his father did, swallowing the children after they were born, Zeus just swallowed pregnant Metis. As a result of swallowing Metis while she was pregnant, Zeus gave birth to Athena, a parthenos, maiden, goddess. Thus putting an end to the succession crisis.
By Zeus giving birth to Athena, he also asserted male power in the world. By giving birth as a male god, Zeus was showing that he does not need a woman to have a baby. He also took on characteristics of Metis. Zeus became cunning and deceitful. This further pushed the message that dangerous, lying and tricky women are mothers. Safe, trustworthy women are virgins. This message likely influenced other myths revolving around blaming women for problems in the world.
In the myth of Pandora, for example, she was the first woman created by the gods as a punishment to the humans for Prometheus stealing back fire from Olympus. She was given a jar/box that the gods told her not to ever open. Pandora couldn’t resist opening the jar/box and ended up releasing many evils into the world. This also marked the start of the succession crisis among humans. Before Pandora, everything came easy to the humans, they did not have to work for anything and they didn’t have to worry about their children succeeding them. After Pandora opened the jar she released the human condition. Now humans have to work for what they want and worry about what the gods have solved, the succession crisis.
These myths about women being the root of all the problems in the world likely led to the societal norms in ancient Greece of men being in a higher status than women. Men held all political power. Men were the ones who could own property. Women were expected to stay a virgin. Some of these “norms” are still around today. Even today, only around twenty-five percent of the United States government is made up of women. Women and girls are shamed for having sex, while men and boys are expected to have sex as soon as possible.