In spite of that, he yelled, “My siblings, a toast! We have begun a Golden Age!”
“Kronos.” He managed to keep his smile. Hey, for a scythe, cookies, and a chance to commit murder, Kronos could hide his true feelings. “I will be honored to kill for you, Mother. But we’ll have to do it my way. First, I want you to trick Ouranos into visiting you. Tell him you’re sorry. Tell him it’s all your fault and you’re going to cook him a fancy dinner to apologize. Just get him here tonight and act like you still love him.”
“Ugh!” Gaea gagged. “Are you crazy?”
“Just pretend,” Kronos insisted. “Once he’s in human form and sitting next to you, I’ll jump out and attack him. But I’ll need some help.”
He turned to his siblings, who were all suddenly very interested in their own feet.
“Look, guys,” said Kronos, “if this goes bad, Ouranos is going to take revenge on all of us. We can’t have any mistakes. I’ll need four of you to hold him down and make sure he doesn’t escape back into the sky before I finish killing him.”
The others were silent. They were probably trying to picture their shrimpy little brother Kronos taking on their huge violent dad, and they weren’t liking the odds.
“Oh, come on!” Kronos chided. “I’ll do the actual slicing and dicing. Four of you just need to hold him. When I’m king, I’ll reward those four! I’ll give them each a corner of the earth to rule—north, south, east, and west. One-time offer. Who’s with me?”
The girls were too wise to get involved in murder. They made their excuses and quickly left. The oldest son, Oceanus, chewed his thumb nervously. “I have to get back to the sea, for some, uh, aquatic stuff. Sorry…”
That left only four of Kronos’s brothers—Koios, Iapetus, Krios, and Hyperion.
Kronos smiled at them. He took the scythe from Gaea’s hands and tested its point, drawing a drop of golden blood from his own finger. “So, four volunteers! Nice!”
Iapetus cleared his throat. “Uh, actually—”
Hyperion jabbed Iapetus with his elbow. “We’re in, Kronos!” he promised. “You can count on us!”
“Excellent,” Kronos said, which was the first time an evil genius ever said excellent. He told them the plan.
That night, amazingly, Ouranos showed up.
He wandered into the valley where he usually met Gaea and frowned when he saw the sumptuous dinner laid out on the table. “I got your note. Are you serious about making up?”
“Absolutely!” Gaea was dressed in her best green sleeveless dress. Her curly hair was braided with jewels (which were easy for her to get, being the earth), and she smelled of roses and jasmine. She reclined on a sofa in the soft light of the candles and beckoned her husband to come closer.
Ouranos felt underdressed in his loincloth. He hadn’t brushed his hair or anything. His nighttime skin was dark and covered with stars, but that probably didn’t count as “black tie” for a fancy dinner. He was starting to think he should’ve at least brushed his teeth.
Was he suspicious? I don’t know. Remember, nobody in the history of the cosmos had been lured into an ambush and chopped to pieces before. He was going to be the first. Lucky guy. Also, he got lonely hanging out in the sky so much. His only company was the stars, the air god Aither (who was, in fact, a total airhead), and Nyx and Hemera, mother and daughter, who argued with each other every dawn and dusk.
“So…” Ouranos’s palms felt sweaty. He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face. “You’re not angry anymore?”
“Not at all!” Gaea assured him.
“And…you’re okay with me wrapping our kids in chains and throwing them into the abyss?”
Gaea gritted her teeth and forced a smile. “I am okay with it.”
“Good,” he grunted. “Because those little guys were UGLY.”
Gaea patted the couch. “Come sit with me, my husband.”
Ouranos grinned and lumbered over.
As soon as he settled in, Kronos whispered from the behind the nearest boulder: “Now.”
His four brothers jumped out from their hiding places. Krios had disguised himself as a bush. Koios had dug a hole for himself and covered it with branches. Hyperion had tucked himself under the couch (it was a large couch), and Iapetus was attempting to look like a tree with his arms out for branches. For some reason, it had worked.
The four brothers grabbed Ouranos. Each one took an arm or a leg and they wrestled their dad to the ground, stretching him out spread-eagle.
Kronos emerged from the shadows. His iron scythe gleamed in the starlight. “Hello, Father.”
“What is the meaning of this?” Ouranos bellowed. “Gaea, tell them to release me!”
“HA!” Gaea rose from her couch. “You gave our children no mercy, my husband, so you deserve no mercy. Besides, who wears a loincloth to a fancy dinner? I am disgusted!”
Ouranos struggled in vain. “How dare you! I am the lord of the cosmos!”
“Not anymore.” Kronos raised the scythe.
“Beware! If you do this, uh…what was your name again?”
“If you do this, Kronos,” said Ouranos, “I will curse you! Someday, your own children will destroy you and take your throne, just as you are doing to me!”
Kronos laughed. “Let them try.”
He brought down the scythe.
It hit Ouranos right in the…well, you know what? I can’t even say it. If you’re a guy, imagine the most painful place you could possibly be hit.
Yep. That’s the place.
Kronos chopped, and Ouranos howled in pain. It was like the most disgusting cheap-budget horror movie you can imagine. Blood was everywhere—except the blood of the gods is golden, and it’s called ichor.
Droplets of it splattered over the rocks; and the stuff was so powerful that later on, when no one was looking, creatures arose from the ichor—three hissing winged demons called the Furies, the spirits of punishment. They immediately fled into the darkness of Tartarus. Other drops of sky blood fell on fertile soil, where they eventually turned into wild but gentler creatures called nymphs and satyrs.
Most of the blood just splattered everything. Seriously, those stains were never going to come out of Kronos’s shirt.
“Well done, brothers!” Kronos grinned ear to ear, his scythe dripping gold.
Iapetus got sick on the spot. The others laughed and patted each other on the back.
“Oh, my children!” Gaea said. “I am so proud! Cookies and punch for everyone!”
Before the celebration, Kronos gathered up the remains of his father in the tablecloth. Maybe because he resented his eldest brother, Oceanus. for not helping with the murder, Kronos toted the stuff to the sea and tossed it in. The blood mixed with the salty water, and…well, you’ll see what came from that later.
Now you’re going to ask, Okay, so if the sky was killed, why do I look up and still see the sky?
Answer: I dunno.
My guess is that Kronos killed Ouranos’s physical form, so the sky god could no longer appear on the earth and claim kingship. They basically exiled him into the air. So he’s not dead, exactly; but now he can’t do anything but be the harmless dome over the world.
Anyway, Kronos returned to the valley, and all the Titans had a party.
Gaea named Kronos lord of the universe. She made him a cool one-of-a-kind collector’s edition golden crown and everything. Kronos kept his promise and gave his four helpful brothers control over the four corners of the earth. Iapetus became the Titan of the west. Hyperion got the east. Koios took the north, and Krios got the south.
That night, Kronos lifted his glass of nectar, which was the immortals’ favorite drink. He tried for a confident smile, since kings should always look confident, though truthfully he was already starting to worry about Ouranos’s curse—that someday Kronos’s own children would depose him.
And if you like lots of lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF
A T FIRST, KRONOS WASN’T SO BAD. He had to work his way up to being a complete slime bucket.
He released the Elder Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handed Ones from Tartarus, which made Gaea happy. The monstrous guys turned out to be useful, too. They had spent all their time in the abyss learning how to forge metal and build with stone (I guess that’s pretty much all there was to do), so in gratitude for their freedom, they constructed a massive palace for Kronos on top of Mount Othrys, which back then was the tallest mountain in Greece.
The palace was made from void-black marble. Towering columns and vast halls gleamed in the light of magical torches. Kronos’s throne was carved from a solid block of obsidian, inlaid with gold and diamonds—which sounds impressive, but probably wasn’t very comfortable. That didn’t matter to Kronos. He could sit there all day, surveying the entire world below him, cackling evilly, “Mine! All mine!”
His five Titan brothers and six Titan sisters didn’t argue with him. They had pretty much staked out their favorite territories already—and besides, after seeing Kronos wield that scythe, they didn’t want to get on his bad side.
In addition to being king of the cosmos, Kronos became the Titan of time. He couldn’t pop around the time stream like Doctor Who or anything, but he could occasionally make time slow down or speed up. Whenever you’re in an incredibly boring lecture that seems to take forever, blame Kronos. Or when your weekend is way too short, that’s Kronos’s fault, too.
He was especially interested in the destructive power of time. Being immortal, he couldn’t believe what a few short years could do to a mortal life. Just for kicks, he used to travel around the world, fast-forwarding the lives of trees, plants, and animals so he could watch them wither and die. He never got tired of that.
As for his brothers, the four who helped with the murder of Ouranos were given the four corners of the earth—which is weird, since the Greeks thought the world was a big flat circle like a shield, so it didn’t really have corners, but whatever.
Krios was the Titan of the south. He took the ram for his symbol, since the ram constellation rose in the southern sky. His navy blue armor was dotted with stars. Ram’s horns jutted from his helmet. Krios was the dark, silent type. He would stand down there at the southern edge of world, watching the constellations and thinking deep thoughts—or maybe he was just thinking he should have requested a more exciting job.
Koios, the Titan of the north, lived at the opposite end of the world (obviously). He was sometimes called Polus, because he controlled the northern pole. This was way before Santa Claus moved in. Koios was also the first Titan to have the gift of prophecy. In fact, Koios literally means question. He could ask questions of the sky, and sometimes the sky would whisper answers. Creepy? Yes. I don’t know if he was communing with the spirit of Ouranos or what, but his glimpses of the future were so useful that other Titans started asking him burning questions like: What’s the weather going to be on Saturday? Is Kronos going to kill me today? What should I wear to Rhea’s dance? That kind of thing. Eventually Koios would pass down the gift of prophecy to his children.
Hyperion, Titan of the east, was the flashiest of the four. Since the light of day came from the east every morning, he called himself the Lord of Light. Behind his back, everybody else called him Kronos Lite, because he did whatever Kronos told him, and was basically like Kronos with half the calories and none of the taste. Anyway, he wore blazing golden armor and was known to burst into flames at random moments, which made him fun at parties.
His counterpart, Iapetus, was more laid-back, being the Titan of the west. A good sunset always makes you want to kick back and chill. Despite that, you didn’t want to get this guy mad at you. He was an excellent fighter who knew how to use a spear. Iapetus literally means the Piercer, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t get that name by doing ear-piercings at the mall.
As for the last brother, Oceanus, he took charge of the outer waters that circled the world. That’s how the big expanses of water bordering the earth came to be called oceans. It could have been worse. If Iapetus had taken over the waters, today we’d be talking about the Atlantic Iapet and sailing the iapet blue, and that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Now, before I turn to the six lady Titans, let me get some nasty business out of the way.
See, eventually the guy Titans started thinking, Hey, Dad had Gaea for a wife. Who are we going to have for wives? Then they looked at the lady Titans and thought, Hmm…
I know. You’re screaming, GROSS! The brothers wanted to marry their own sisters?!
Yeah. I find that pretty disgusting myself, but here’s the thing: Titans didn’t see family relationships the same way we do.
First off, like I said before, the rules of behavior were a lot looser back then. Also, there weren’t many choices when it came to marriage partners. You couldn’t simply log into TitansMatch.com and find your perfect soul mate.
Most important, immortals are just different from humans. They live forever, more or less. They have cool powers. They have ichor instead of blood and DNA, so they aren’t concerned about bloodlines not mixing well. Because of that, they don’t see the whole brother-sister thing in the same way. You and the girl you like might have been born of the same mom, but once you grew up and you were both adults, you wouldn’t necessarily think of her as your sister anymore.
That’s my theory. Or maybe the Titans were all just freaks. I’ll let you decide.
Anyway, not all the brothers married all the sisters, but here’s the rundown.
The oldest girl was Theia. If you wanted her attention, all you had to do was wave something shiny in her face. She loved sparkly things and bright scenic views. Every morning she would dance with happiness when daylight returned. She would climb mountains just so she could see for miles around. She would even delve underground and bring out precious gems, using her magic powers to make them gleam and sparkle. Theia is the one who gave gold its luster and made diamonds glitter.
She became the Titan of clear sight. Because she was all about bright and glittery, she ended up marrying Hyperion, the lord of light. As you can imagine, they got along great, though how they got any sleep with Hyperion glowing all night and Theia giggling, “Shiny! Shiny!” I don’t know.
Her sister Themis? Totally different. She was quiet and thoughtful and never tried to draw attention to herself, always wearing a simple white shawl over her hair. She realized from an early age that she had a natural sense of right and wrong. She understood what was fair and what wasn’t. Whenever she was in doubt, she claimed that she could draw wisdom straight from the earth. I don’t think she meant from Gaea, though, because Gaea wasn’t really hung up on right and wrong.
Anyway, Themis had a good reputation among her brothers and sisters. She could mediate even the worst arguments. She became the Titan of natural law and fairness. She didn’t marry any of her six brothers, which just proves how wise she was.
Third sister: Tethys, and I promise this is the last “T” name for the girls, because even I’m getting confused. She loved rivers, springs, and fresh running water of any kind. She was very kind, always offering her siblings something to drink, though the others got tired of hearing that the average Titan needs twenty-four large glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. At any rate, Tethys thought of herself as the nursemaid for the whole world, since all living things need to drink. She ended up marrying Oceanus, which was kind of a no-brainer. “Hey, you like water? I like water too! We should totally go out!”
Phoebe, the fourth sister, lived right in the geographic center of the world, which for the Greeks
meant the Oracle of Delphi—a sacred spring where you could sometimes hear whispers of the future if you knew how to listen. The Greeks called this place the omphalos, literally the belly button of the earth, though they never specified whether it was an innie or an outie.
Phoebe was one of the first people to figure out how to hear the voices of Delphi, but she wasn’t a gloomy, mysterious sort of fortune-teller. Her name meant bright, and she always looked on the positive side of things. Her prophecies tended to be like fortune cookies—only good stuff. Which was fine, I guess, if you only wanted to hear good news, but not so great if you had a serious problem. Like if you were going to die tomorrow, Phoebe might just tell you, “Oh, um, I foresee that you won’t have to worry about your math test next week!”
Phoebe ended up marrying Koios, the northern dude, because he also had the gift of prophecy. Unfortunately, they only saw each other once in a while since they lived very far apart. Bonus fact: much later, Phoebe’s grandson, a guy named Apollo, took over the Oracle. Because he inherited her powers, Apollo was sometimes called Phoebus Apollo.
Titan sister five was Mnemosyne—and, man, with my dyslexia I had to spell check that name about twenty times, and it’s probably still wrong. Pretty sure it’s pronounced NEMO-sign. Anyway, Mnemosyne was born with a photographic memory long before anyone knew what a photograph was. Seriously, she remembered everything—her sisters’ birthdays, her homework, putting out the garbage, feeding the cats. In some ways, that was good. She kept the family records and never ever forgot anything. But in some ways, having her around was a drag, because she would never let you forget anything.
That embarrassing thing you did when you were eight years old? Yep, she remembered. That promise you made three years ago that you would pay her back that loan? She remembered.
What was worse, Mnemosyne expected everybody else to have a good memory too. Just to be helpful, she invented letters and writing so the rest of us poor schmucks who didn’t have perfect recall could keep permanent records of everything. She became the Titan of memory, especially rote memorization. Next time you have to study for a spelling test or memorize the capitals of all fifty states for no apparent reason, thank Mnemosyne. That kind of assignment was totally her idea. None of her fellow Titans wanted to marry her. Go figure.