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So in mythology, most gods and goddesses are immortal. But you can't really live once you have your head cut off.

So, specifically Greek mythology, what would happen if your head got cut off, and you were an Olympian or lesser god??

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    Kronos was chopped into pieces and scattered across Tartarus, but it's specifically noted that said trip through the celestial Cuisinart did not kill him. (Some stories later have it that Kronos was released from Tartarus and set to rule over the Isle of the Blessed.) If being julienned isn't enough to kill an immortal, mere decapitation probably isn't either. Not to mention all the divine cannibalism that went on. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 14 '16 at 23:53
  • Cuisinart? You mean Chef Ramsey in Hell's Kitchen! – Anthony Pham Feb 15 '16 at 1:49
  • @C.M.Weimer Done. I only posted it as a comment because I couldn't locate any sources for Zeus's slice-and-dice. The story is repeated in many places and on many wikis, but I can't put my finger on the original. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 15 '16 at 19:19
  • @C.M.Weimer The stories I've seen don't say that Zeus decapitated Kronos. They say that Zeus chopped him up into pieces and scattered the pieces. (How the pieces were then knit back into one being isn't mentioned.) The problem is that I've seen many references to this sequence, but not "Hesiod says in Theogony..." – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 16 '16 at 1:56
  • Why is this primarily opinion based? – bleh Mar 15 '16 at 18:37
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From Here,

Zeus didn't have his head chopped off, but one could argue that the damage from having an adult armored female inside his head, which was removed by cracking open his skull should be equally lethal or incapacitating. Yet all he felt was a headache.

From Sacred Texts,

Born from his sacred head, in battle-array ready dight, Golden, all glistering. Fear took hold of them all at the sight-- Them, the Immortals; but she, before Zeus of the Ægis-shield, Burst and flashed and leaped in birth from the deathless head, Shaking a sharp-edged spear.

  • Reasonable answer, but in the future, use more credible sources next time. See meta.mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/105/… – bleh Mar 15 '16 at 16:47
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    I hope this addition is good enough. Thank you for the advice. – 169134 Mar 16 '16 at 11:16
  • I personally think this is the best answer. The operation performed on Zeus' head wasn't exactly surgery and must've been ghastly. It also is the closest example we have of a full-fledged deity in Greek mythology losing his/her head. – Adinkra Jun 19 '16 at 18:04
  • This type of brain surgery (trepanning) was written about by Hippocrates and is believed to date to the Neolithic period. Thus, the idea of brain surgery to relieve the pressure on Zeus' skull per Athena was not radical nor considered fatal. – DukeZhou Mar 31 '17 at 20:22
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Kronos was chopped into pieces and scattered across Tartarus, but it's specifically noted that said trip through the celestial Cuisinart did not kill him. (Some stories later have it that Kronos was released from Tartarus and set to rule over the Isle of the Blessed.) If being julienned isn't enough to kill an immortal, mere decapitation probably isn't either. Not to mention all the divine cannibalism that went on.

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    @bleh "Well, titans are a lot more powerful than Olympians" [citation-needed] – yannis Feb 15 '16 at 21:45
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    Love the handle "Lauren Ipsum," by the way :-) There simply is no instance in the original mythology of Kronos ever having chopped up (much less even suffered an injury during the 9-year-long Titans' War) by anyone; nor does any such thing ever happen to any other Titan. (The closest example of this is the Titaness Aura ripping apart and devouring one of the twin boys whom she bears to the god Dionysus but the baby's paternity technically makes him a non-Titan.) – Adinkra Jun 19 '16 at 18:16
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    As for the divine cannibalism, there is a fair bit of that on the parts of both Kronos and Zeus [the latter of whom swallows his own wife Metis], but you'll notice that those who are devoured by these two characters are engorged whole, seemingly intact and are never consumed, perhaps because it's impossible to destroy them. The story of Zeus swallowing "Wisdom" is supposed to be an explanation for how he becomes so wise, and the idea moreover is that Metis is the one who, while stuck inside Zeus, clothes Athena with the armour and furnishes her with the weaponry with which she is born. – Adinkra Jun 19 '16 at 18:23
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    Wonderful. Let's not forget that Pelops, a mortal, was re-assembled after being chopped up and served for dinner by Tantalus, and that Dionysus was also torn apart by Titans and reborn. – DukeZhou Mar 30 '17 at 20:18
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    @Adinkra There is an underground theme there, by swallowing his wife Metis, Zeus ends "the curse". Greek myth worked by having the next generation taking down the former. Zeus clearly put an end to that by absorbing his female counterpart and thus forbidding his very own offspring to take him down. Gaia pushed Chronus to overthrown his father, and Rhea somehow did the same with Zeus. Not the cannibalism there present should be neglected at all. – Gibet Apr 3 '17 at 10:05
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It would cause them pain, but the gods are immortal. It would likely work just like it did with Prometheus, it would just grow back. Granted, Prometheus just lost his liver every day, not his head. Also, Zeus had his skull split open to get rid of the headache that was Athena, and that worked out fine.

  • haha. great answer! – DukeZhou Mar 30 '17 at 21:49
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You really want to look at Ravana from Hindu mythology. Chopping off his head was not effective as a means of killing him (and in fact, Ravana is quite content to chop off his own heads;)

In terms of death per dismemberment, to further support Lauren Ipsum's answer, Zeus' son, Dionysus, was torn apart by titans and bounced back. ("He's a fighter" in the parlance of modern, medical dramas.) Thus, if the father of Zeus and the son of Zeus both survived dismemberment, it would be a reasonable assumption Zeus would also survive it.

Osiris was also famously dismembered and returned to life, demonstrating the ancient origin of this idea.

Norse Gods can be killed. Greek gods not so much.

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    you make a very good point about the Norse gods: They were pretty specifically cited as not being immortal or unkillable. Ragnarok is entirely about the death of the gods. Baldur was killed by mistletoe. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Mar 31 '17 at 0:10
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    Egypt is a strange example just because life/death cycle is the premise of a huge number of mythes. Ra dies and comes back to life everyday. Apopis is killed and comes back to life. life/death/resurrection is the backbone of Egyptians believes, it appears almost everywhere. – Gibet Mar 31 '17 at 7:25

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