The Curetes were minor Greek gods from the island of Crete. Represented as young warriors, they were associated with nature, initiation rituals, and culture.
The Curetes were perhaps best known for their role in the myth of Zeus’ infancy. Zeus’ father Cronus had already eaten his first five children, fearing they would usurp him. Determined to save her next child, Zeus’ mother Rhea stole away while she was pregnant and delivered Zeus in secret. The Curetes then protected the infant god by dancing around him, clashing their bronze arms together to mask Zeus’ cries (or to frighten Cronus away).
The Curetes were honored in initiation rituals that reenacted the gods’ wild dance. Frequently identified or confused with other rustic deities, such as the Cabiri or the Corybantes, the Curetes also played a role in the cult of Rhea, Cybele, and Dionysus.