Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

Start Free Trial

What is a theme that connects the myth of Cronus and Rick Riordan's The Lighting Thief?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A theme that connects the myth of Cronus and Rick Riordan's The Lighting Thief is familial conflict and tension.

According to the myth, Cronus overthrew his father, Uranus, by castrating him with a sickle. He then presided over what is known as the Golden Age. He and his wife, Rhea, birthed the gods Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Although Cronus enjoyed his reign, he was troubled by the prophecy that he would one day be deposed by one of his own sons.

So, Cronus took steps to protect himself: he swallowed all of his children after their birth. For her part, Rhea managed to save Zeus by hiding him in a cave on the island of Crete. When he grew up, Zeus forced an emetic down Cronus's throat, which caused him to vomit out Zeus's siblings.

Zeus and his siblings then waged war upon Cronus. In this war, called the Titanomachy or the War of the Titans, the Olympians (led by Zeus) defeated the Titans (led by Cronus).

The theme of familial conflict and tensions is clear in the myth of Cronus. This major theme can also be seen in The Lightning Thief.

In the story, Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades are locked in a deadly battle of wills. Accordingly, Zeus has lost his thunder bolt, his primary weapon of power. He blames Poseidon (Percy's father) for his loss. Of course, Poseidon denies his guilt. His professions of innocence do not placate Zeus, however, who threatens to unleash war on Mount Olympus.

For his part, Percy (on behalf of his father, Poseidon) travels to the Underworld to confront Hades, who is believed to be behind the loss of Zeus's thunder bolt. However, Percy receives an unpleasant surprise there: not only does Hades not have Zeus's thunder bolt in his possession, he is himself missing his helm of darkness (his primary weapon of power).

Angered at Percy's presence, Hades accuses the boy of doing Poseidon's bidding by stealing both the thunder bolt and his own helm of darkness. In reality, the god of war, Ares, has the thunder bolt and helm of darkness. The text tells us that Percy battles Ares and manages to retrieve both weapons.

Ares then confesses that he is on Cronus's side and his main goal was to instigate a war between Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus (the sons of Cronus).

As the story ends, we learn that Cronus is preparing to wage war on his sons and the Olympians once more. So, the myth of Cronus is tied to The Lightning Thief through the theme of familial conflict and tension.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the central themes in Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief concerns the underestimation of one's values and strength. Just like Percy's abilities were underestimated, especially at the beginning of the book, the threat Cronos, or Kronos, poses and his power is underestimated by the end of the book.At the start of the book, Percy struggles with school because he has been diagnosed with ADHD...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

and dyslexia; plus, he is in general considered to be a juvenile delinquent. However, as the book progresses, we learn that Percy is actually a demigod whose father is Poseidon. As the book further progresses, we learn he has hidden abilities to think of solutions to problems on his feet, and together with Annabeth and Grover, Percy is able to find the master lightning bolt that had been stolen from Zeus and rescue the world from a war between the gods. More importantly, he discovers that it was Kronos who stole the master bolt by using the demigod Luke as an agent; Kronos further used the war god Ares as an agent to start a war between the gods.Even before Percy makes the above discovery, he realizes that others were underestimating the powers of Kronos. According to the myth, Kronos was overthrown by his son Zeus, who used the master bolt to fling him from this throne, cut him up into bits, and fling those bits to the pit of Tartarus (Ch. 21). When Perseus tells Zeus and Poseidon about his belief Kronos used Luke and Ares to steal the master bolt and start a war between the gods, both Zeus and Poseidon reject the idea. When Perseus further argues that Kronos is healing and regaining his powers, Poseidon replies with the following:

From time to time, over the eons, Kronos has stirred. He enters men's nightmares and breathes evil thoughts. He wakens restless monsters from the depths. But to suggest he could rise from the pit is another thing. (Ch. 21)

Yet, Percy learns through his encounter with Luke in the woods that Kronos is becoming capable of far more power than Zeus and Poseidon are willing to admit. Therefore, Zeus and Poseidon are underestimating Kronos's powers, which can lead to disaster in the form of worldwide destruction. Hence, all in all, the novel makes use of the Kronos myth to show the dangers and consequences of underestimating strengths and values.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team