Humans are usually born out of their mother’s womb, but gods actually have lots of creativity in that! Let’s have a look at the weirdest ways of giving birth in mythology!
Birth Of Venus, by Sandro Boticcelli
1. ATHENA IS BORN FROM ZEUS’ HEAD!
Athena was the daughter of Zeus and Metis. While she was pregnant, Zeus ate the fetus following Uranos’ and Gea’s advice: should Metis give birth to a girl, a boy would immediately be born and snatch his father’s power. The fetus was then carried in Zeus’ skull during nine months. After that time, the god had a terrible headache and ask the blacksmith god Hephaestus to split his head with an axe in order to relieve him from his pain. Then a young girl came out of his head being completely dressed and armed! There she was, Athena, the goddess of war, wisdom and intelligence!
Birth of Athena from the head of Zeus | Greek vase, Athenian black figure tripod
2. THE CURIOUS BIRTH OF APHRODITE
Aphrodite is known for being the goddess of love, seduction and beauty. One version, and most commonly spread, is that she was born out of the god Urano’s genitals, after having been cut and thrown into the sea by his son Chronos. Those sexual organs mingled with the waves and created a foam from which the goddess was born. Some claim, indeed, that the etymology of the goddess’ name comes from the Greek word for foam, that is, ἀφρός /aphrós, hence, “Aphrodite”. Romans, though, didn’t identify her with their deity Venus until the 2nd Century b. C. In fact, this Roman goddess had traditionally been worshiped as deity dedicated to the protection of orchards.
3. DIONYSUS ALMOST DOESN’T MAKE IT!
Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal that had captivated the god.His wife Hera would always go in ager when she found out about the numerous adulterous affairs of his husband. Likewise her jealousy would be implacable. Let’s see what happens: when Hera found out that Zeus had again cheated on her, she wheedled her way into Semele’s confidence so she could persuade Semele to ask Zeus to reveal himself in his full splendor, because otherwise, she would never find out if she had been truly united to a god or not! Then Zeus swore by the waters of the Styx -it was compulsory, even for gods, to accomplish any oath concerning these waters!- that he would bestow on her any favour she demanded. Poor Semele: Zeus had to accomplish this terrible favour, for Zeus in his full splendor meant burning out Semele from his radiance and thunderbolt. Nevertheless, before the unfortunate mortal died, Zeus snatched the fetus and sewed it in his thigh.Then, look how he was born according to this stunning work of art:
Artwork by George Platt Lynes, Birth of Dionysus, Made of Silver print.
4. HELEN, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MORTAL OF ALL
Helen is usually reported to be the daughter of Zeus and the mortal Leda, even though there are earlier versions that say that she was daughter of Zeus and Nemesis. The story tells us that Zeus got in love with Leda and he converted himself into a swan in order to have sexual relationships with the mortal. Later on, Leda laid an egg from which Pollux and Helena were born. Their mortal siblings, Clytaemnestra and Castor, were sons of Leda and Tyndareus, and according to some other versions, they were also born from another egg.
Birth of Helen
Zeus and Leda, by Peter Paul Rubens
5. PEGASUS, INSEPARABLE PERSEUS’ FRIEND
Another curious story is the one concerning Pegasus, that beautiful winged horse that became Perseus’ best friend. Well, the hero promised the king Polydectes, who was in love with her mother Danae, that he would bring him the head of Medusa who was one of the Gorgons; these monsters had the face of a hideous human female and had serpents for hair. Anyone who dared to look directly at her eyes, would be at once converted into stone. Well, brave Perseus went to behead her with the gods help: Athena gave him a mirrored shield, Hermes provided him with gold winged sandals. From Hephaestus, he got a sword and Hades gave him a helm of invisibility. Thanks to these presents, he could then behead Medusa, who was at that time pregnant from Poseidon. From the blood that was poured onto the ground, Pegasus was born. Since then, these two creatures became inseparable.
A lekythos representing the birth of Pegasus, Attributed to the Diosphos Painter. Date: ca 500 – 450 BC Period: Archaic