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Metis

Titan goddess of deep thought, of prudence, wisdom and wise counsel

Before the gods of Olympus ruled supreme in ancient Greece from their mountaintop palace, the world…no, the universe, was ruled by their slightly rougher, less glamorous yet still powerful parents, the TITANS, who were given life by Gaea and Ouranos, the first beings of all creation.

Just like the Olympians, each had his or her own talents, personalities and reasons for existing; each had a force of nature or deep emotion attached to them that made them unique. While most of the Titans lacked the supreme intelligence that their children would later have, one Titaness, a female Titan, would embody brilliance, wisdom and knowledge, act as a counselor to the others, and later give birth to a goddess who was even smarter than she was! This brainy elder of the Greek pantheon was known as METIS, the Titaness of Good Advice and Wisdom!

Born from the Titan of the Oceans, Oceanus, and his wife, Tethys, a fellow sea deity, Metis was a goddess of deep thought, able to use the skills of prudence, wisdom and wise counsel to aid her brothers and sisters in not completely screwing things up constantly. Her name originally meant "magical cunning", which put her in a different category, that of a trickster who used her intelligence to play people off on each other.

That thought totally came into play when she decided to side with the young Zeus in the fight to get rid of his father, Cronus. Metis was the one who provided Zeus with the special potion that forced Cronus to barf up his siblings, each of which had spent a lifetime floating around the foul stomach juices of Cronus’ belly.

Zeus never forgot her help, and once the Titanomachy (War Between Gods) was over and the Titans vanquished, Zeus decided to ask for Metis' hand in marriage. Yeah, weird stuff, as she was also his cousin, but as anyone who reads up on Greek mythology knows, that kind of thing happened all the time. Who else where the gods going to marry? They were all related and so the dating pool was pretty slim. In any case, Metis became the first "Mrs. Zeus".

As awesome as things were in the beginning, the relationship went south when Zeus heard a prophecy that said that a child born of Metis and himself would someday overthrow him, just like he had overthrown his own dad. THAT wasn't going to play with Zeus, and so he decided to end his marriage with poor Metis in what seemed to be a pretty typical fashion back in those days: he ate her. Not like "cannibal-Walking Dead" ate her; he somehow convinced her to transform into a fly and then in some way managed to swallow her as she was buzzing around his head. How one convinces anyone of that…well, again; it's mythology! Just go with it!

Zeus figured he was in the clear, but what he didn’t know was that his former honey had already conceived a child with him, and now mother and child were inside Zeus. In one of the weirdest situations in Greek mythology, Zeus sort of "absorbed" Metis into his mind, brilliance and all, and that was the seed of the child that began to grown INSIDE ZEUS’ BRAIN! What was left of Metis began crafting a helmet and robe inside Zeus’ noggin, a little birthday gift for the daughter who was getting bigger and bigger by the hour inside of Zeus' hard melon.

The hammering as she worked got to be so bad that Zeus suffered massive head-spasming migraine headaches, driving the King of the Gods absolutely crazy. Luckily for all involved, ever the good son, Hephaestus, the god of the forge and metalworking, stepped in to relieve dad of his massive skull-splitting headache by doing some skull-splitting of his own; Hephaestus took one of freshly crafted war axes, took a huge swing with it and cleaved it right into Zeus' forehead, splitting it right down the middle. At that very moment, the newborn goddess Athena came soaring out of Zeus’ head, fully grown and clothed in armor and the gifted robe and helmet Metis had made for her.

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, had absorbed all of her mom's brilliance (Metis was now fully gone) and had also gotten the best parts of Zeus in the bargain, becoming the Olympians’ new strategy master and brainiac. Zeus, relieved from his ordeal, self-healed the big gaping wound in his forehead and swore never to eat any of his wives or offspring ever again.

To honor his former wife, Zeus was given the title "Metieta", "the wise counselor", though it can definitely be proven that the big guy was never the thinker that Metis was, and often neglected to think out things prior to doing them. Just ask his final wife, Hera, who would definitely tell you about it in great detail! The Greek word “metis” actually stood for a quality of human nature that combined wisdom and cunning, and the ancients used that word to describe heroes such as the sailor-adventurer-king Odysseus with it, for all of the brains he used to get himself out of trouble time and time again…

[1]

Sources

[1] "Mythopedia"




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