I'm a big fan of the myths that break the rule. I love Atalanta, I have a crush on Baucis and Philemon and I greatly enjoy reading the myth of Hera's revenge on Zeus, and the Hekatonkheire Briareos, who came to Zeus's rescue. The myth is one of the firsts I heard, but I've learned it's a very obscure myths to some. So, today, I want to share this myth with you, because it may show a completely other side of the Theoi we know and love, and the Hekatonkheires (Ἑκατόγχειρες), whom no one seems to know and love.

"First there was only Chaos. Then, Chaos gave birth to Gaea, Tartarus, Eros, Erebus and Nyx. Gaea gave birth to Ouranos, and gave birth to twelve Titans, three Cyclopses and three Hekatonkheires--the hundred-handed Ones--all fathered by her son. The Olympians, eventually, challenged the Titans and won. All Olympians went through an unsettled period, where Their domains were divided and They indulged themselves on mortals and immortals alike. Especially Zeus.

Zeus had taken Hera as his wife in the beginning of His reign, after a spree of lovers and offspring. Hera had refused His advances, but he had turned himself into a cuckoo, presenting Himself to Hera as hurt and drenched. Hera took pity on the bird and took it as a pet, pressing it to Her breast. Zeus turned back to His own form instantly and took Hera by force, shaming Hera into marrying Him.

Hera accepted Her fate, but was not light on the many lovers her husband had. Especially the children Zeus fathered, raised Her anger; they became daily reminders of Zeus' disloyalty to Her, and turned Her into a laughing stock to Her brothers and sisters. She had accepted all she could, and devises a plan for revenge.

The first thing She does, is enlist the help of nearly all other major Theoi. She convinces Them that They are no less than Her husband, and that His many children may one day pose a threat to them all. Many of the Theoi do not need much convincing. Zeus has become arrogant after His victory over the Titans. His bouts of unjust anger have upset the Theoi, and to many of Them, Zeus would make no better leader than They would. The Theoi, convinced, agree to assist Hera. All but Hestia.

One night thereafter, Hera slips a sleeping agent into Her husband's drink. When Zeus falls into a deep sleep, Hera and the other enlisted Theoi take Him and lay Him on His bed where They bind Him tightly with ropes. It's a coup; while Zeus reigned over Them, together They have the strength to end that reign and turn the card in Their favor.

When Zeus awakes, he soon realizes what had happened and becomes furious with His wife, as well as the brothers and sisters He has freed from the belly of Their father. Yet, try as He might, His bonds will not break, as they were fashioned with Immortal hands.

Zeus, deathly afraid for his reign and very existence, calls out for help. While the other Theoi argue amongst Themselves about who should lead in Zeus' stead, Zeus lays in his silent bedrooms and waits, plotting revenge to keep the worry from his mind. In the dead of night, it is the Hekatonkheire Briareos who comes to Zeus's aid. It was, after all, Zeus who freed him and his two brothers from Tartaros, where his father Ouranos had put them.

The Hekatonkheires were born monstrous; a hundred hands sprouted from their shoulders and each had fifty heads. They were giants, all possessing incredible strength. Their father feared them, and they were locked away. During the Titan War, it were the Hekatonkheires and their other monstrous siblings who had eventually turned the tides in the favor of Zeus's army, and Zeus had rewarded them well. As such, they remained loyal.

The primordial Goddess Thesis saw what had happened to Zeus and descended to Tartaros for aid. With his brothers guarding the gates to Tartaros, it was Briareos who came to Zeus' aid in the moment of His greatest fear. Diligently, his hundred hands undid the knots to Zeus' bindings while Zeus Himself held still, and waited. When His bonds fell away, He thanked Briareos humbly, and took His revenge.

Hera, He chained to the sky with golden chains, anvils tied to Her ankles until Zeus took mercy on Her and vowed to release Her if She promised to remain loyal to Him. Poseidon and Apollon were robbed of their Divine status for a year and forced to hard labor; They were sentenced to build the walls around the greatest of cities: Troy. How the others were punished is unclear, but the experience was a turning point for the Gods of Olympus. Zeus realized His behavior had gotten Him into this mess in the first place, and He strove to do better. He became a strong and consistent leader. He minimized His infidelity. He became the beacon of glorious power the other Theoi gladly bowed down to. The coup was forgiven, and Zeus and Hera's marriage improved. The nation settled, ruled justly by Zeus."

It is this myth, which made me want to devote myself wholly to the Hellenic pantheon. The hyper-inflated humanity displayed by the Theoi sets the basics for the Hellenic ethics. The struggle to be better, do better, to forgive and put trust in great leaders, to know your place and rise to glory within it; these are all lessons to be learned from this myth. These are also the basics of Hellenic ethics.

This is one of the very few myths in which Zeus is vulnerable, and we see that it was a very shocking experience to Him, probably more so than this retelling lets on. Zeus was on a power high, and this coup shattered His entire world view. It humbled Him. There is a card in the Olympus Tarot I use, which illustrates this myth. It's meaning when drawn is 'gratitude'.

The BBC series 'Clash of the Gods' has actually included a more aggressive version of this myth in their program. I've included it below.

What do you think of this myth? Did you know it? Does it change your views on Zeus? On the other Theoi? The Hekatonkheires? What would have happened to the pantheon without this coup? Let me know in the comments, if you will.