Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Differences Between Rhea and Ops

Being a woman was so little fun in antiquity, that not even being a goddess could compensate. Sure, some could pull it off by playing the virgin warrior or the eternal lover, but for most, there was no way out from the birth cycles.

So, let's talk about...

Rhea, a Titaness, wife of Cronus, mother of six.

Ops, a Titaness, wife of Saturn, mother of six.

End of story.

Cybele in a museum in Berlin. Because they didn't have Rhea

Awfully dull, nondescript entities, both of them got assimilated, early on, with the more exotic Phrygian goddess Cybele – which is amusing, because, at a first glance, they don't seem to have much in common. Cybele is adventurous, mysterious, all powerful, while Rhea and Ops are insipid, to put it kindly. The association was based on them being fertility goddesses, the great mothers of gods, which is even more amusing, since Cybele went through an initial hermaphrodite phase, before becoming the great mother, while Rhea and Ops were so great, they tolerated their respective husbands to eat five of their children each, before taking a stand and doing something to rescue their offspring.

Another Cybele, again in Berlin. Because they didn't have Ops, either

Ops was a more primitive version of a goddess of abundance, and as such, one of the many agrarian deities introduced to Rome by the mythical king Titus Tatius.

Sometimes Ops is also associated with Levana – one of the – again, countless – deities that protected children, in this particular case, her job starting after the child was recognized by the father (assuming he didn't eat the child in the process, of course).