Rhea - Encyclopedia

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RHEA, a goddess of the Greeks known in mythology as the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, the sister and consort of Kronos, and the mother of Zeus. In Homer she is the mother of the gods, though not a universal mother like Cybele, the Phrygian Great Mother, with whom she was later identified. The original seat of her worship was in Crete. There, according to legend, she saved the new-born Zeus, her sixth child, from being devoured by Kronos by substituting a stone for him and entrusting the infant god to the care of her attendants the Curetes. These attendants afterwards became the bodyguard of Zeus and the priests of Rhea, and performed ceremonies in her honour. In historic times the resemblances between Rhea and the Asiatic Great Mother, Phrygian Cybele, were so noticeable that the Greeks accounted for them by regarding the latter as only their own Rhea, who had deserted her original home in Crete and fled to the mountain wilds of Asia Minor to escape the persecution of Kronos (Strabo 469, 12). The reverse view was also held (Virgil, Aen. iii. 1 11), and it is probably true that a stock of Asiatic origin formed part of the primitive population of Crete and brought with them the worship of the Asiatic Great Mother, who became the Cretan Rhea. (See GREAT MOTHER OF THE GODS.) (G. SN.)

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