Rhea, you’re just getting his appetite worked up! What are you thinking?!
At least he’s got that little trident and coral crown to protect himself with, I guess.
There are many reasons to eat babies, let’s just get that out there right now. Let me paint you a picture. It is half past noon and you feel that old familiar rumble in your gut. You know you’ve got food in the fridge, but that takes preparation, a level of commitment you’re not willing or able to match. Sure, the freezer is stocked with quick microwavable meals but even that feels like just a little bit too much as you recline comfortably on your sofa. It is at this moment that you notice the baby nearby. It is just lying there cooing to itself, maybe punching its tiny fists in the air as it wiggles around in its crib. It’s right there, right in arm’s reach. Nobody could blame you, right? The fridge is just so far away…
While hunger may be one reason to devour newborns, the mighty titan, Cronus, was not acting on so noble an impulse as the fridge being just a little too far away. Cronus is one of those rare cases in literature where an individual consumes a child out of self defense. It is not a common thing in life, to be threatened by infants, but in this case it is hard to say that Cronus was incorrect about the threat his children presented.
Born to Gaia and Ouranos, the primal beings born from Chaos that brought order to all things, Cronus
grew up envying the power of his father. When Ouranos angered Gaia by hiding some of her offspring beneath the earth, she sought the help of her Titanic children to put an end to the primal sky god. Of all the Titans, only Cronus was willing to take the sickle she offered. He took the stone tool in hand and castrated his father, killing him, and from his blood and fluids, the Giants, the Furies, and the Nymph-folk were created; creatures that Cronus promptly imprisoned underground. Cronus then took the throne with his sister Rhea as his wife and queen and together they produced five children: Hades, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, and Poseidon. Before the birth of their children, however, Cronus had learned from his mother, Gaia, that one of his own would kill him just as he had done to his father. As each of his children was born, Cronus swallowed them up, preventing them from fulfilling the prophecy.
Or so he thought.
Rhea, apparently realizing that her husband was not really father of the year material after consuming five of her children, finally decided to do something about all of this. After the birth of her sixth son, Zeus, she handed a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to Cronus which he promptly swallowed, thinking it the newborn boy. Rhea, having saved the child, kept him hidden as he grew. When Zeus was fully grown, he used an emetic that caused Cronus to vomit, disgorging the stone and then Zeus’s three sisters and two brothers. Zeus then slayed his father and released the Giants, Furies, and Nymphs from their imprisonment beneath the earth. Zeus took the throne after his father’s demise and ruled the heavens from Mount Olympus.
And as we all know, that was the point when Ancient Greek religion got a whole lot more sexy.