Skip to content

Tartarus

- by Tartarus


Titans were the first gods in Greek mythology. The first Titan was Gaea, the earth. She gave birth to Uranus, the sky. The youngest of their offspring was Cronus, who married Rhea, his sister. Cronus castrated Uranus and deposed him, becoming king of the gods.
Rhea bore Cronus many children, but he swallowed them as soon as they were born to prevent one of them from overthrowing him. Rhea was determined to save Zeus, her youngest son. She tricked Cronus into swallowing a stone wrapped in baby clothes instead. Then she hid Zeus on the island of Crete.
After Zeus grew up, he tricked his father into vomiting up all the offspring. Zeus then led his brothers and sisters in a war against Cronus and overthrew him. Zeus banished Cronus and the Titans who had supported him to Tartarus, an underground region. This is the where Tartarus first enters Greek Mythology.

Tartarus, pronounced TAHR tuhr uhs, was a deep pit below the surface of the earth in early Greek mythology. It was as far below the surface as heaven was above the earth. High walls and a river of fire called Phlegethon encircled Tartarus. Besides holding the defeating Titans there, Tartarus had other purposes too. Any god who swore a false oath by the River Styx in the Underworld was kept in Tartarus for nine years.
Styx, pronounced stihks, was a gloomy river of the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology. The Styx supposedly began as an actual waterfall in the region of ancient Greece called Arcadia. Its waters, which were said to be poisonous, plunged down a steep gorge to the underworld
In later Greek and Roman belief, Tartarus was a place of punishment for the most wicked sinners and was part of Hades, the kingdom of the dead. In some ways, Tartarus resembled the Christian idea of hell.