The Dictaean Cave: The Birthplace of Zeus
Crete, Greece | historical, family, walking
The Dictaean Cave was the birthplace of Zeus. Since the time of King Minos the cave has been a meeting place for mortals and immortals, an awe-inspiring environment full of primeval geological formations, myths, and traces of the human presence.
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GATEWAY TO THE OTHERWORLD
A bridge between two worlds
The caves of Crete have been used as sacred sites for centuries, especially during the Minoan period. There are thousands of caves on the island and many of them contain impressive geological formations (stalactites and stalagmites). A cave is a constant environmental feature and could be interpreted as a site where humans can communicate with the “Otherworld”. They allow contact with the gods and the spirits, entities that are not normally accessible. They also serve as an appropriate burial site.
THE FATEFUL BIRTH OF ZEUS
The Hittites, in Asia Minor, narrated a story similar to the Greek tradition regarding Cronus. Kumarbi was the servant of Anu, the earliest attested deity who ruled the world for nine years. Kumarbi defeated Anu, cast him down from the sky and joyfully swallowed his genitals. The defeated god warned his old servant that the seed he swallowed would give birth to three fearsome deities. One of them, Tešub, the Weather-God, was destined to succeed him. Kumarbi tried to eat Tešub but he was tricked into swallowing a stone. Eventually the newly-born Weather-God defeated Kumarbi.
KOURETES, THE BOISTEROUS DANCERS
The gods are dancing
The Kouretes were whimsical and master dancers who invented and performed, for the very first time, the ``Pyrrhic dance,`` a dance in armor. Goddess Athena also performed the same dance when she was born. Greeks employed dancing to experience the divine. In Sparta young boys danced in honor of Apollo, while young girls honored Artemis. The Athenians danced the pyrrhichios during the Panathenaic Games. The Kouretes also invented a drum using a stretched animal skin and gave it as a present to Rhea, Zeus’ mother. She offered the drum to the Satyrs, who employed it when dancing in honour of Dionysus.