AMALTHEA

 

In Greek mythology, Amalthea meaning 'tender goddess' was a goat who raised and fed Zeus whilst he was hiding during his childhood in a cave on Crete. She suckled the child and with the help of nymph Melissa and the legendary Curetes brought up the child who was to be the greatest of all the twelve gods of Olympus. When her horn was accidentally broken off by Zeus while they played together. The god Zeus, in remorse, gave her back her horn only now the horn overflowing with fruits and grain, and had supernatural powers which would give the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. 

 

Alternately, Amalthea may have been a nymph asked to nurse baby Zeus while he was being hidden from his father Kronus. Since she hid on 'Mount Aigaion', which means Mountain of the Goat, suppositions follow that she was either a goat nymph or a nymph who tended goats. Therefore, either her horn was broken or her goat's horn was broken while playing with Zeus. Further evidence for this is that Amalthea is another name for the constellation Capricornus, the goat. When Zeus grew up and sought to overthrow his father Kronus, this was not a bloodless affair. He had to face the Titans, who ruled the universe under Kronus. Legend has it that the 'Titanomachy', (the War of the Titans), ended in the dethronement of Kronus and the victory of Zeus and his siblings, the gods of Olympus. In that fight Zeus needed a suitable shield (or armour), which would be invulnerable and terrifying to look upon. Hephaestus made this shield from Amalthea's skin, or that of her goat, killed and skinned by the grown Zeus, which became the protective armour that could not be pierced by arrows. 

 

After the great war for absolute authority, Zeus gave his armour, or aegis (meaning 'goat-skin'), to his daughter Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

 
 
 
 

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