Metis is one of the many Oceanids.  Her name is related to the Greek word for thought or cunning.  She was the first wife of Zeus.  While pregnant with her daughter Athena, Zeus swallowed Metis whole.  He did this under the advice of Gaia and Uranus, for fear that Metis would have a child more powerful than himself.  This is because Metis was fated to have a clever daughter, Athena, and then a son, who would one day overthrow Zeus.  In this way, Zeus prevented Metis from every giving birth to a son.  Plus, with Metis now in his stomach, Zeus could now receive sound advice from both his mind and his belly.  When Athena was born, Zeus began to experience a terrible headache.  Metis was hammering away, making armor for her new child.  Hephaestus was brought in to help the ailing god.  Being a god of the forge and not medicine, Hephaestus resolved the situation by taking an axe to Zeus' head.  From the opening, Athena sprung out, leaving her mother Metis in his belly.


  1. HesiodTheogeny.

  2. Ovid Metamorphoses.