Metis (mythology)
In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Metis (Μῆτις, "wisdom," "skill," or "craft") was of the Titan
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

 generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid
In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud...

, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

 and Tethys
Tethys (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Tethys , daughter of Uranus and Gaia was an archaic Titaness and aquatic sea goddess, invoked in classical Greek poetry but not venerated in cult. Tethys was both sister and wife of Oceanus...

, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, indeed his equal (Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

, Theogony 896) and the mother of Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, Zeus' first daughter, the goddess of war and wisdom who was conceived after Metis helped Zeus in his war of the heavens against his father Kronos. By the era of Greek philosophy
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

 in the fifth century BCE, Metis had become the goddess of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted "magical cunning" and was as easily equated with the trickster
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested by Hansen that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this...

 powers of Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

 as with the "royal metis" of Zeus. The Stoic
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 commentators allegorized
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 Metis as the embodiment of "prudence
Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It is classically considered to be a virtue, and in particular one of the four Cardinal virtues .The word comes from Old French prudence , from Latin...

", "wisdom" or "wise counsel", in which form he was inherited by the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

The Greek word metis meant a quality that combined wisdom and cunning. This quality was considered to be highly admirable and was regarded by Athenians as one of the notable characteristics of the Athenian character. Metis was the one who gave Zeus a potion to cause Kronos to vomit out Zeus' siblings.

Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable aid (Brown 1952:133):
Zeus lay with Metis but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear extremely powerful children: the first, Athena and the second, a son more powerful than Zeus himself, who would eventually overthrow Zeus.

In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. In time she began making a helmet and robe for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain, and either Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 either clove Zeus's head with an axe, or hit it with a hammer at the river Triton, giving rise to Athena's epithet Tritogeneia. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown, armed, and armored, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience. In Western cultures, Athena has been most commonly depicted as the lifelong virginal diety as well as a warrior with the image of her sister Medusa inscribed on her shield. As Athena's story developed throughout these Western cultures over time she became known as a woman of the ages. Athena was the patron of military forces, protector of cities and goddess of lower-class craftsmen. Through her actions, Athena also became known as the architype of the patriarchal daughter. Zeus used her to give authority to his subjects which included the denigration of her own kind. The similarities between Zeus swallowing Metis and Cronus swallowing his children have been noted by several scholars. This also caused some controversry in regards to reproduction myths and the lack of a need for women as a means of reproduction. While medical texts of fourth and fifth centuries debated whether the male figure simply planted a seed within the female figure or whether the woman contributed to the seed formation of an embryo as well, Greek myths provide far more imaginative views on reproduction with intentions of denying the female figure and involving a "first man" figure.

The second consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 taken by Zeus, according to the Theogony was Themis
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "of good counsel", and is the embodiment of divine order, law, and custom. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the verb τίθημι, títhēmi, "to put"...

, "right order".

Hesiod's account is followed by Acusilaus
Acusilaus of Argos, son of Cabas or Scabras, was a Greek logographer and mythographer who lived in the latter half of the 6th century BC but whose work survives only in fragments and summaries of individual points....

 and the Orphic tradition, which enthroned Metis side by side with Eros
Eros , in Greek mythology, was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid . Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite....

 as primal cosmogenic forces. Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 makes Poros
Porus (mythology)
There are two related mythological figures named Porus in Greek classical literature. In Plato's Symposium, Porus, or Poros, was the personification of plenty. He was seduced by Penia while drunk on more than his fill of nectar at Aphrodite's birthday. Penia gave birth to Eros from their...

, or "creative ingenuity", the child of Metis.

Metis in astronomy

  • The asteroid
    Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

    , 9 Metis
    9 Metis
    9 Metis is one of the larger main-belt asteroids. It is composed of silicates and metallic nickel-iron, and may be the core remnant of a large asteroid that was destroyed by an ancient collision...

    , named in 1848.
  • The minor moon
    Natural satellite
    A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called its primary. The two terms are used synonymously for non-artificial satellites of planets, of dwarf planets, and of minor planets....

     of Jupiter
    Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

    , Metis
    Metis (moon)
    Metis , also known as ', is the innermost moon of Jupiter. It was discovered in 1979 in images taken by Voyager 1, and was named in 1983 after the first wife of Zeus, Metis...

     named in 1979.

Metis in Popular Culture

  • In the 2011 body swap
    Body swap
    A body swap is a storytelling device seen in a variety of fiction, most often in television shows and movies, in which two people exchange minds and end up in each other's bodies. Alternatively, their minds may stay where they are as their bodies adjust...

     comedy The Change-Up the statute in the fountain that grants the wish which causes the personality switch between the two male leads is a depiction of Metis.

External links

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