1286 BCE — Zeus seduces Alcmene

Alcmene was the grand-daughter of Perseus, one of the earliest Greek heroes, and himself a son of Zeus. Perhaps this is why Zeus, in seducing his great grand-daughter, chose to do do by assuming the form of her husband, although it’s likely that Alcmene’s famed fidelity had something to do with that.

Be that as it may, Zeus (in the form of Amphitryon, Alcmene’s husband) lay with her for three nights (in contrast to his usual “wham-bam-thank-me-ma’am” style), and the product of their union was the mighty Herakles (or Hercules, to use the better known Latin spelling), greatest and most-famed of all the heroes of Greece.

Referenced in:

When You Sleep — Cake

circa 3500 BCE — Aphrodite born from the blood of castrated Uranus

Legend has it that Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born in a most unusual way: when Cronus led his fellow Titans in a rebellion against their father, Uranus, the final victory was achieved when the son castrated his father, and cast his genitals into the ocean (accounts vary as to whether this was offshore from Paphos in Cyprus or the island of Cythera). Aphrodite sprung fully formed and already an adult from the foaming waves of the wine dark sea.

Aphrodite was known to the Romans as Venus, and it was under this name that she became popular with later Europeans, notably as the subject of the painting “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, and numerous surviving sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo.

Referenced in:

Tales Of Brave Ulysses — Cream

circa 1667 BCE — Zeus seduces Io

One of the less lucky of Zeus’s conquests, Io was a nymph, daughter of the river god Inachus and the tree nymph Melia. One of the reasons for Io’s unluckiness was that she was a priestess of Hera – wife of Zeus and known to take a dim view of her husband’s philandering. When the two were surprised in the act of love by Hera’s approach, Zeus transformed Io into a cow (although she was later transformed back).

Her son by Zeus was Ephapus, a king of Egypt whose daughter in turn was Libya, who later slept with her grand-uncle Posiedon (brother of Zeus), and whose grand-daughter Europa, great-grand-daughter Semele and great-great-great-grand-daughter Danae would also, in their turns, be loved by Zeus and produce children by him.

Referenced in:

When You Sleep — Cake