The Big Idea: Emily R. King
Many of us grew up with the stories and myths of ancient Greece, but as Emily R. King muses in this Big Idea, there are the stories and myths we’ve been told… and the ones that have been left untold. Her new novel Wings of Fury considers the latter.
EMILY R. KING:
“In the Golden Age, when Cronus was Lord of the Titans, men lived happily and in peace with the gods and each other.”
While researching Wings of Fury, I read a line like this in a book that caused me to pause. Sure, the Golden Age was a happy time for men. But what was it like for women?
In Ancient Greece, women were viewed as possessions. They had very little autonomy, and even less control over their fate. They could not own property. They could not act in plays, or wrestle in stadiums, or attend school. Most of a woman’s life was spent within the walls of her home, in servitude to her family. They could do little without a man’s permission, but that didn’t stop them from telling stories.
At night, the women taught their children about the Titan king, Cronus, who ate his own children so they couldn’t overthrow him like he had done to his father, Uranus. Cronus’s consort, Rhea, grew tired of her husband devouring her babies, so by the time she gave birth to their sixth child, Zeus, she hid him away and fooled Cronus into swallowing a stone instead of their newborn. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to consider that given how monstrous a father Cronus was, that he was also a terrible ruler. After he was tricked into throwing up his children, the six of them united against him in a ten-year war that resulted in the end of “the Golden Age.”
The Titanomachy war was a revolution among the gods. Their big, messy family took sides, either Cronus’s or Zeus’s. The role of the goddesses and Titanesses during that revolt is vague. We know Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus fought with specialized weapons forged just for them. We know those same brothers divided up the world after Cronus was dethroned, each of them reigning over their own realm. Their three sisters—Hera, Demeter, and Hestia—were given no such spoils of war.
A story is missing here.
What we know about these sister goddesses is from the mythology after Zeus becomes King of the Gods. The tales about them indicate that these Titanesses would not have sat idly by while their brothers fought Cronus. Hera, the only goddess that Zeus truly feared, would have been front and center in battle. Demeter, who plagued the world with famine to retrieve her daughter, Persephone, from the underworld, would not have backed down from her father. And Hestia, the goddess of hearth and home, would have stood alongside her siblings to protect their family. These Titanesses must have been pivotal in the fall of Cronus, as they earned the honor of becoming Olympians. They stood beside their brothers, tall and proud with weapons of their own, motives of their own, and fates of their own.
How would the Titanomachy have been told differently from the viewpoint of these goddesses?
That’s the big idea for Wings of Fury.
This duology shows how Zeus was lifted into power, on the backs of women, goddesses, and Titanesses. These female warriors gained no prize or praise, yet they championed Zeus as his equals, and I believe, his superiors in victory and sacrifice.