|Member of the Oceanids|
|Parents||Oceanus and Tethys|
Metis (//; Ancient Greek: Μῆτις, romanized: Mêtis, lit. 'wisdom', 'skill', or 'craft'), in ancient Greek religion and mythology, was one of the Oceanids. She is notable for being the first wife and advisor of Zeus, the King of the Gods. She helped him to free his siblings from their father Cronus' stomach by giving him an emetic and, when she was swallowed by Zeus after it was foretold that she would bear a son mightier than his father, helped their daughter Athena to escape from his forehead.
By the era of Greek philosophy in the 5th century BC, Metis had become the first deity of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted "magical cunning" and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus as with the "royal metis" of Zeus. The Stoic commentators allegorised Metis as the embodiment of "prudence", "wisdom" or "wise counsel", in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance.
The Greek word metis meant a quality that combined wisdom and cunning. This quality was considered to be highly admirable, the hero Odysseus being the embodiment of it, for example using such a strategy against Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. In the Classical era, metis was regarded by Athenians as one of the notable characteristics of the Athenian character.
Metis was an Oceanid nymph, one of the 3000 daughters of the Titans Oceanus and his sister-wife Tethys, and a sister of the Potamoi (river-gods), who also numbered 3000. Metis gave her cousin Zeus a potion to cause his father Cronus, the supreme ruler of the cosmos, to vomit out his siblings their father had swallowed out of fear of being overthrown. After the Titanomachy, the 10-years war among the immortals, she was pursued by Zeus and they got married. Zeus himself is titled Metieta (Ancient Greek: Μητίετα, lit. 'the wise counsellor'), in the Homeric poems.
Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable aid. He lay with her, but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that she would bear a daughter who would be wiser than her mother, and then a son more powerful than his father, who would eventually overthrow Zeus and become king of the cosmos in his place. In order to forestall these consequences, Zeus tricked Metis into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. However, she was already pregnant with their first and only child, Athena. Metis crafted armor, a spear, and a shield for her daughter, whom she raised in Zeus' mind. Athena eventually used her spear and shield, banging them together to give her father a headache. Soon, he couldn't take his headache anymore and had the smith god Hephaestus, one of his sister-wife Hera's sons, cut his head open to let out whatever was in there on the river Trito's banks. Athena emerged from Zeus's mind full grown, wearing the armor her mother made her. She was made the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and crafts.
But Zeus lay with the fair-cheeked daughter of Ocean and Tethys apart from Hera [..] deceiving Metis although she was full wise. But he seized her with his hands and put her in his belly, for fear that she might bring forth something stronger than his thunderbolt: therefore did Zeus, who sits on high and dwells in the aether, swallow her down suddenly. But she straightway conceived Pallas Athena: and the father of men and gods gave her birth by way of his head on the banks of the river Trito. And she remained hidden beneath the inward parts of Zeus, even Metis, Athena's mother, worker of righteousness, who was wiser than gods and mortal men.
According to a scholiast on the Theogony, Metis had the ability of changing her shape at will. Zeus tricked her and swallowed his pregnant wife when she transformed into a πικρὰν[a] (pikràn). As Keightley notes, πικρὰ ("bitter") makes little or no sense in that context, and it has been variously corrected to μυῖαν[a] (muîan, meaning "fly") or μικρὰν[a] (mikràn, meaning "small thing") instead.
Hesiod's account is followed by Acusilaus and the Orphic tradition, which enthroned Metis side by side with Eros as primal cosmogenic forces. Plato makes Poros, or "creative ingenuity", a son of Metis.
- Metis Island in Antarctica is named after Metis.
- 9 Metis, one of the larger main-belt asteroids, is named after this goddess.
- Metis, a moon of Jupiter, is named after the goddess.
- In accusative.
- Hesiod, Theogony 357; Smith, s.v. Metis.
- Norman O. Brown, "The Birth of Athena" Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 83 (1952), pp. 130–143.
- A.B. Cook, Zeus (1914) 1940, noted in Brown 1952:133 note.
- "METIS – TITAN OF WISDOM".
- Bane, Theresa (2013). Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 232. ISBN 9780786471119.
- Hesiod, Theogony 471; Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.2.1; Grimal, s.v. Metis.
- M. Detienne and J.-P. Vernant, Les Ruses de l'intelligence: la Mètis des Grecs (Paris, 1974). ISBN 2-08-081036-7.
- Brown 1952:133
- Hesiod, Theogony, 886–900; Hard, p. 77; Caldwell, p. 16; Tripp, s.v. Metis.
- Lang, Andrew (1901). Myth, Ritual and Religion. Vol. 2. Longmans, Green. pp. 194, 262–263. OCLC 13809803. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
- Hesiod, Theogony 929
- Scholia on Hesiod's Theogony 886
- Keightley, p. 153, note b.
- Apollodorus, 1.3.6.
- Gantz, p. 51; Scholia on Homer, Iliad 8.39.
- Plato, Symposium 203b; Morford, p. 133–134.
- King, Helen. Reproduction Myths. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- Leeming, s.v. Metis.
- Apollodorus, The Library with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
- Caldwell, Richard, Hesiod's Theogony, Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company (June 1, 1987). ISBN 978-0-941051-00-2.
- Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: ISBN 978-0-8018-5360-9 (Vol. 1), ISBN 978-0-8018-5362-3 (Vol. 2).
- Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996. ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1.
- Hard, Robin, The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology: Based on H.J. Rose's "Handbook of Greek Mythology", Psychology Press, 2004, ISBN 9780415186360. Google Books.
- Hesiod, Theogony from The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
- Keightley, Thomas, The Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy, second edition considerably enlarged and improved, London, Whittaker and Co., 1838.
- Leeming, David, "Metis". In The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Oxford University Press, York University, 2004.
- Morford, Mark P. O., Robert J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology, Eighth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-530805-1.
- Plato, (1989) The Symposium. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
- Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Tripp, Edward, Crowell's Handbook of Classical Mythology, Thomas Y. Crowell Co; First edition (June 1970). ISBN 069022608X.