Infancy of Zeus, by Jacob Jordaens


In Greek mythology, Amalthea or Amaltheia (Greek: Ἀμάλθεια) is the most-frequently mentioned foster-mother of Zeus. Her name in Greek ("tender goddess") is clearly an epithet, signifying the presence of an earlier nurturing goddess, whom the Hellenes, whose myths we know, knew to be located in Krete, where Minoans may have called her a version of "Dikte". Amalthea is sometimes represented as the goat who suckled the infant-god in a cave in Kretan Mount Aigaion ("Goat Mountain"), sometimes as a goat-tending nymph.

Other names, like Adrasteia, Ide, the nymph of Mount Ida or Adamanthea, which appear in mythology handbooks, are simply duplicates of Amalthea.

In the tradition represented by Hesiod's Theology, Kronos swallowed all of his children immediately after birth. The mother goddess Rhea, Zeus' mother, deceived her brother consort Kronus by giving him a stone wrapped to look like a baby instead of Zeus. Since she instead gave the infant Zeus to Adamanthea to nurse in a cave on a mountain in Krete, it is clear that Adamanthea is a doublet of Amalthea. In many literary references, the Greek tradition relates that in order that Kronos should not hear the wailing of the infant, Amalthea gathered about the cave the Kuretes or the Kotybantes to dance, shout, and clash their spears against their shields.

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