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Metis was a Nereid, or Oceanid, they being exactly the same, except that Nereids were said to be the daughters of the Sea god Nereus, while the Oceanids were the daughters of the sea god Oceanus; but in reality Oceanus, Nereus, Proteus, Poseidon and Neptune were all names of the same god, the ancient Egyptians called him Seth. Her mother was, Tethys, Doris, Psamathe, Amphitrite, Salacia, or Nephthys.
Nevertheless, she was to become the first wife, consort of Zeus. The authors, mistakenly say she was a cousin of Zeus, but in fact she was, his mother, sister, daughter, lover and wife all rolled into one.
We must not forget, that we are not talking about gods, or people, but concepts, unless you embrace this reality you will never understand anything.
The Greek word giving us Metis, signified, cunning, skill, craftiness, wisdom, prudence, sensible or good counsel, advice.
Zeus having overthrown his own father Cronus, suffered from torment, or prophecy, that he too, would lose his thrown and glory to one of his sons. Thus, at first beguiled, and full of lust he had willing taken Metis to his bed, he was immediately reminded of the prophecy, and tricked Metis into turning herself into a fly, and swallowed her.
But he was too late, 'La pierre est eschappee'. My word is past, the deed done, the dice be cast; the thing already granted and gone, it is as good as done.
Metis had now achieved her aim, having been swallowed by Zeus, alive and pregnant with Athena, she had all the access she needed to his power, and immediately started to produce a robe and helmet and weapons for her unborn daughter.
The constant hammering, as Metis carried out her work, gave Zeus a such a headache, that in desperation he ordered Hephaestus, the maker of all weapons to cleave his skull with an Axe and end his pain. Immediately after Hephaestus had done as requested out popped a fully-grown Athena, dressed full armour with her weapons and sporting the image of the Gorgon on her breast plate. And it seems Zeus was completely unaffected by the ordeal, but Metis herself did not reappear.
[depending on the source, several other deities are identified as performing the act of splitting Zeus' head, see Athena.