So, in the God of War mythos, beginning with Cronos, a vicious cycle had started started where a father would eventually be defeated/killed by his own son.
Chronology of the cycle:
Cronos defeated his father, Ouranus, and in turn learned of a prophesy from the sisters of fate that he would be eventually overthrown by one of his own children, which lead him to swallowing them whole once they were born. But he was unable to do that to Zeus, his youngest offspring, who eventually freed his siblings from Cronos' stomach, and then overthrew him and the Tians, in their entirety and imprisoned Cronos in the desert of lost souls. So, continuing with the cycle, Zeus again learned of a prophesy from an Oracle that one of his sons, 'a marked warrior' would rise up against him, kill him and also destroy Olympus in its entirety. He mistakenly thought that it was Deimos, Kratos' brother and had him imprisoned in the Domain of Death, which in turn, caused Kratos to mark himself with his brother's tattoos in his memory, becoming a marked warrior himself in the process, and also, this sowed the seeds of hatred inside him against the Olympians, which was further aggravated by Ares making him kill his wife and his daughter.
Now, after the death of Ares and Deimos, Zeus pretty much became convinced that it was Kratos who was supposed to be the prophesized marked warrior, so he killed him himself using the Blade of Olymous, only for Kratos to come back from hell and lead the titans against all of Olympians, leading to the Second Titanomachy, which finally ended with Kratos killing Zeus.
What fathers usually (try to) do so as to not fall prey to the cycle:
Whenever a father learned of this prophesy,
- he either had his children imprisoned (what Zeus did to Deimos) or
- locked them up in a place where they couldn't escape from (Cronos trapping his children in his belly), or
- straight up tried to kill them (like what Zeus did to Ares by guiding Kratos to kill him; not doing it himself and also to Kratos himself, but failed since Kratos came back from his death), in order to end the cycle.
- Kratos, at present, is trying good parenting (something none of his genius male ascendants could even think of), which we can probably say might work for the foreseeable future.
- Cronos also tried to gift some giant ass steeds to the sisters of Fate, thinking that they may rewrite his fate. Obviously, that didn't work, since they were too busy with their yarns, to play with horses. (Looking at you, Clotho) XD
How it usually ends every generationIt either ends with
- patricide, i.e., son killing his own father,
- the son imprisoning his father (what Zeus did to Cronos),
- or simply defeating his father (what Cronos did to Ouranus, in addition to castrating him).
How it played a role in God of War (2018):
Now, God of War (2018), mainly revolves around Kratos trying to hide the fact that he had killed his father (certainly not his worst sin), not from remorse or regret (explained below) of the act itself but because he was afraid that if Atreus/Loki found out about it, the cycle may continue with him and he just wants his son to be a better person than himself. In doing so, he goes so far as to not let Atreus know he's from a family of Gods, leading to his sickness, which goes away once Kratos does let him know his true heritage.
Also, towards the end, after Baldur had been defeated, Freya said that that he was free to kill her if it meant so much to him. Baldur goes ahead and starts choking her, but gets his neck snapped by Kratos before he can kill her, resulting in his death. A few moments later, Kratos tells Atreus something on the lines of, he would let Atreus kill him if it meant his son would get to live and that only a parent can understand this. Now, that would make Kratos' actions somewhat hypocritical since he had just denied another parent the same situation now, wouldn't it?
No. Whilst killing Baldur, Kratos had said that "The cycle ends here. We must be better than this", obviously referring to the cycle that has cursed the family he's from. He killed Baldur in front of Atreus so as to not make him witness the act of a child killing his own parent, believing that seeing something like that would be a surefire way of Atreus triggering the genetic curse that may have passed onto him. Also, immediately after the death of Baldur, once Freya started threatening with revealing information about his past to his son, Kratos hurriedly tells him a version of his own, one that doesn't include all the wrong doings he had committed, only going so far as to admit patricide against a father he already hated with all his heart.
Why Kratos isn't remorseful about killing Zeus? (at least for emotional reasons):
Kratos never saw Zeus as a father figure. The first time he had found out about him being his father was after Zeus had already murdered him and he had come back from his death to avenge 'himself' (I guess) and they were in the midst of a battle with Kratos having the upper hand. As Athena revealed this truth to him and was mistakenly impaled by Kratos while trying to defend Zeus, she also said that Zeus shouldn't be killed since it would lead to the downfall of Olympus itself. Kratos was still unfazed by this. The next time, Kratos met Zeus, he saw him physically abusing Pandora, Haephestus' daughter, someone who reminded Kratos of his own daughter, and then started fighting with him which ended with Zeus' death. Hence, proving that there was no fatherly love attached with Zeus, at all.
I'd argue that this characteristic of the relationship that Kratos had with his father, was shared by most of his ancestors. Zeus, didn't have any affectionate feelings for Cronos and had only heard stories of him eating his siblings and naturally grew to hate him. Cronos, himself the youngest of all his siblings, had only gone after Ouranus because of the great pains he was causing his mother, Gaia, by trapping his other siblings inside her. His feelings towards his father aren't really explored in the series, but from the information we have, we can deduce that Ouranus was a grade-a asshole, himself (pun intended).
Assuming we don't know anything about how Ares' childhood was, he also didn't have any genuine love towards his father and only desired his throne.
Why Kratos doesn't need to fear Atreus continuing the cycle at all:
From the events that have transpired in the franchise until now, we can say that none of the fathers affected by the cycle were able to successfully end the cycle using whatever methods they were using. They always did end up being one upped by their children in the end.
Using common sense, we can for sure say that killing their sons would definitely end the cycle with them. No children, no possibility of being one upped by them, obviously. But what if the mythological curse is of the nature such that it only requires a father to successfully kill his child for the cycle to end? Cronos may have tried to kill his children, but we can't say that for sure, given that he swallowed them whole and probably didn't want them to die since they still were alive in some part of his stomach when Zeus rescued them.
None of the fathers were able to successfully kill their children on their own. Now Zeus, was able to kill Kratos, but video game logic kept Kratos alive and had him climb out of hell. Assuming that Santa Monica won't pull another Macguffin like this, something like this may probably not happen again.
What if our guy Kratos has already achieved that, and that too, in the beginning of this franchise, itself?!
Only Kratos is a father who was able to successfully kill his firstborn child, i.e., his daughter, Calliope. There has been no proof until now that the curse only affects the male members of the family. Kratos shared a good loving relationship with his daughter, which is clear from the Elysium scene in Chains of Olympus where he gave up on his life completely to just be with her again, the From Ashes live action commercial, the flashbacks in Ascension, from the fact that he showed genuine remorse over her death and killing her (and his wife) was the thing made him go crazy and vengeful and created this franchise.
For sure, the dynamics between Kratos and Atreus may change in the future if Atreus does come to know about this fact, but given how little importance was paid to Kratos' first family's death in this game and how from the interviews with the writers and Cory, himself, it is clear that they will be downplaying this fact from now on, to the point that Kratos is also losing his Ghost of Sparta ash white skin covering his body gradually (as confirmed by Cory) something he was initially cursed to carry with himself all his life to remind himself of his sins. Their deaths were referred to in every game of this franchise until the 2018 God of War. Now, it does seem like a great possibility that the tragedy that started this franchise may never be referred to again.
I am not here to judge if this is a good thing or not, but it does act as a good explanation for a mythical curse affecting a family of Gods to be ending rather so simply. It's, after all, better than just simply saying that the curse won't affect Kratos' family now since they're 'better' than his ancestors.
It is clear that Kratos has a healthy relationship with Atreus post the event in the game, so if it's likely that event of his first family's death is never mentioned again, then Atreus may never have any disdain for his father at all. Also, he doesn't seem curios about his ash white skin (which he's also losing now), possibly due to the fact everyone happens to be so pale looking in Scandinavia, already, including Atreus, himself.
The only point in the story where it may be referred to again, might be the point when Kratos finally dies, and he gets to see them again, in whatever form of afterlife it is. Probably something like the epic ending to Ridley Scott's Gladiator, where Russel Crowe's character finally meets his dead family in the afterlife again.
Even if this headcanon is not actually the reason for the curse to end, it does act like the perfect closure for Kratos' first family, given that they may not be referred to again in the upcoming games.
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