Orcus

Orcus was a deity of the Underworld (also called Orcus) in Roman mythology, an amalgamation of the earlier Aita (Etruscan) and Hades (Ancient Greek), neither of whom where inherently evil. Associated by the Romans with many fearsome aspects of the afterlife, he was completely separate from Pluto (ruler of the Underworld), and his role was mainly to punish oathbreakers and wrongdoers. He was believed to capture and drag men by force into his domain, and imprison them for eternity. Orcus was sometimes depicted as a hairy, bearded giant with an ugly face and a perpetually-open mouth, thought to relate to the origin of oaths. However, this stems from a wall painting in an Etruscan tomb being misidentified as a cyclops. As such, the modern Italian “orco” and French “ogre” are fairytale monsters whose name and description derive from Orcus. Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works might note that this was also the etymological root of Orcs.

Uranus

Uranus (meaning “Heaven”) was an important entity in the Ancient Greek pantheon, considered to be the Sky Father. Depending on the era and religious cult, there are a number of legends that explain his origins, the oldest and most prominent of which is that he was the son and consort of Gaia (Mother Earth). Together, they produced the first generation of Titans (the ancestors of the Olympians) as well as the one-eyed Cyclopes and the hundred-handed Hekatonkheires. According to the creation myth, Uranus was a foul being who hated his children, and imprisoned them deep within Gaia in the vaults of Tartarus (the Greek equivalent of Hell). To end her suffering, Gaia shaped a great sickle with which to castrate her husband, though only Kronos – youngest of the Titans – was brave enough to use it. Kronos defeated his father and claimed rule over the universe, but was foretold to be overthrown by his own son (Zeus), and thus became just as wicked. In his weakened state, Uranus could no longer visit Gaia, but remained an ever-present feature of the world.

Zeus

Zeus is considered to be the “Father” of all gods and heroes, and chief of the Ancient Greek pantheon. From his throne in the divine palace – situated above the clouds of Mount Olympus – he watches over the universe, administering justice where it is required. The youngest son of the Titanes Cronus and Rhea, he was hidden on Earth by his mother so as to survive his father’s attempts of preventing his own prophecized downfall. When he had grown, Zeus rescued his siblings and led the rebellion against the Titanes, eventually overthrowing Cronus and being proclaimed ruler. Despite his authority, he is not omnipotent: he cannot change the fate of men and gods – only delay it – but has been responsible for the last few lifecycles to cleanse the Earth of its corrupt humans. He is also known for his multitude of consorts – including mortal ones – which have seen him father many Olympians and demi-gods, his favorite being Heracles. Zeus often rewards heroes, but brutally punishes wrongdoers; he once hung Hera upside down from the sky for her jealousy after she tried to drown Heracles in a tempest.

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