The Sky, Thunderstorms, Lightning, Air, Winds, Clouds, Weather, Law, Justice and Honour. Patron of Humans.
Symbols of Power
Jupiter, Jove, Scepter
Zeus (Greek: Ζευς) is the King of the Olympians and God of the Sky, Weather, Thunderstorms, Lightning bolts, Winds and Clouds. He is also the God of Law, Order, Justice, Human Fate and the Human Race
Zeus is called the "Father of the Gods" and "King of all".
His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical "cloud-gatherer" also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter.
His Roman name is Jupiter.
Zeus was the sixth child of Kronos & Rhea. His other full siblings had been eaten by Kronos as soon as they were born (Kronos had been hoping to avoid one of them overthrowing him) Rhea however gave birth to Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete where she hid him. The Kouretes & Daktyloi were three, five, or nine rustic Daimones (Spirits) appointed by Rhea to guard the infant god Zeus In order to keep him safely hidden from his cannibalistic father, the Titan Kronos, they drowned out his cries with a frenzied dance of clashing spear and shield. Meanwhile Rhea gave a boulder wrapped in blankets to Kronos who ate that instead.
When Zeus came of age he entered the service of his father becoming his father's cupbearer. After gaining Kronos' trust he eventually served him a mixture of mustard and wine which made Kronos ill and caused him to vomit up the five children he had eaten. Not long after Zeus allied himself with his brothers, the three went to Tartarus where they convinced the Elder Cyclops to make them weapons. The three forged The Helm of Darkness for Hades, A Trident for Poseidon and Lightning Bolt for Zeus. Zeus then killed Kampe (the dragon lady who had been acting as the jailer for the Elder Cyclops and the Hekatonkheires) Zeus freed the Elder Cyclops and the Hekatonkheires recruiting them for battle. The Elder Cyclops and the Hekatonkheires helped build the palace on Mount Olympus and built weapons for the Olympians. A ten year war erupted between the Olympians and the Titans and their allies and the Olympians and theirs. Iapetos, Koios, Krios and Hyperion were imprisoned in Tartarus, Kronos was cut into pieces with his own scythe before being thrown into Tartarus, Atlas was cursed to forever hold up the sky Menoitios was struck down by a Thunderbolt from Zeus and thrown into Erebos. As for the palace at Mount Othrys, It was buried beneath hundreds of boulders thrown by the Hekatonkheires.
Depiction and Personality
Zeus was a foolish, greedy, selfish, hypocritical and cowardly god. He was a rampant womanizer, much to his wife, Hera's chagrin. He was arrogant and egotistical, forever hogging the limelight in many Greek myths. He dispensed justice at his own whims, and punished people who offended him.
Zeus first married his cousin, Metis, the Titaness of Wise Counsel. When he found out that she would bear him a son more powerful than him, Zeus swallowed the pregnant Metis. Luckily, a daughter, Athena was born, so no danger posed to Zeus. His next wife was the Titaness of Justice, Themis, Zeus's aunt. When she gave birth to the Three Fates, Zeus ended the marriage for fear of a more powerful child.
Zeus next married Eurynome, Metis's sister, and had the three Graces with her. Later the god fell in love with his sister, Demeter, and had the goddess, Persephone as daughter with her. Zeus married his aunt, Mnemosyne, Titaness of Memory, and fathered the nine muses with her.
Finally, Zeus fell in love with his elder and most beautiful sister, Hera and married her as queen. He remained faithful for 300 years, but began to cheat on her with many women, much to Hera's sadness.
Importance, Powers and Abilities
Zeus was one of the three most powerful gods, along with his brothers, Poseidon and Hades. In fact, it was said that he was more powerful than all the Olympians (and Hades) put together since many of the gods feared him and tried to trick him rather than challenge him out right. As god of the sky, Zeus held absolute control over the winds, thunderstorms, rain, moisture, clouds, lightning and weather. He controlled the movements of stars, day and night, the sun and the moon; decided the lifespan of mortals and controlled the effects of time. He also controlled the powers of all his children and sisters, and could remove or grant their powers as well.
Zeus had some control over fate, but weaker compared to the Moirae. He was also weak compared to the old primordial deities. He was physically very strong enough to lift mountains, and could move at incredible speeds. His greatest weapon was the lightning bolt, capable of shearing mountains, vaporizing islands, boiling the seas and razing entire cities. His lightning bolt was so powerful it was capable of destroying the bodies of gods and Titans.
His greatest enemy was the storm giant Typhon, who was stronger than all the gods combined.
Zeus was worshipped by every Greek. He was seen as the patron of kings. People feared his lightning bolts. With the help of Poseidon, Zeus flooded the entire earth, drowning most of the human race.
Zeus was powerful enough to command all the powers of the younger Olympians and those of his sisters. He was more powerful than all the gods, except his rival brothers, Poseidon and Hades, over whom Zeus rarely exercised authority.
As God of Human Race
Zeus was the patron of Kings. He inspired Justice, Law, Honor, Order, keeping of Oaths, Zeal, Hospitality and Leadership. Ironically, Zeus punished evil doers and killed anyone who broke their oaths, considering the great god couldn't even keep his marriage oaths. He controlled the events of battle. Zeus represented the household life of a man and the ultimate face of a Greek civilization and culture. He issued prophecies at the city of Dodona.
- Kronos: King of the Titans and Titan of Time. Zeus's father.
- Rhea: Kronos's sister and wife. Queen of the Titans and Titan of Motherhood and Fertility. Zeus's mother.
- Hestia: Eldest daughter of Kronos and Rhea. Goddess of Home, Family and the Hearth.
- Demeter: Elder sister of Zeus and Goddess of Plants, Fertility and Agriculture.
- Hera: Elder sister and wife of Zeus. Queen of Olympus and the vengeful Goddess of the Sky, Motherhood and Women.
- Hades: Elder brother and son in law of Zeus. The feared God of the Underworld, the dead and riches.
- Poseidon: Elder brother of Zeus. The dreaded God of the Oceans, Storms, Earthquakes, Water, Water bodies and Sea creatures.
- Khiron: Son of Kronos and Philyra and younger half brother of Zeus. He is an immortal centaur, well versed in arts. Trainer of Heracles, Jason, Asclepius and Achilles
Spouse & Lovers
- Metis: First wife and cousin of Zeus, Daughter of Oceanus and Titaness of Wise Counsel. Mother of Athena.
- Themis: Second wife and aunt of Zeus, sister of Kronos and Titaness of Divine Law and Justice.
- Eurynome: Third Wife of Zeus and sister of Metis.
- Demeter: Zeus's elder sister and Goddess of Plants, Agriculture and Fertility.
- Mnemosyne: Zeus's fourth wife and sister of Themis. Titaness of Memory and Literacy.
- Leto: Zeus's cousin and daughter of Koios. Titaness of Demurity and Motherhood. Mother of Apollo and Artemis.
- Hera: Zeus's elder sister and fifth wife. Queen of the Gods and Goddess of the Sky, Women, Marriage and Motherhood. Mother of Hephaestus, Ares, Hebe and Eilytheia.
- Maia: A Pleiade and daughter of Atlas. Mother of Hermes.
- Semele: Princess of Thebes, daughter of Cadmus and mother of Dionysus.
- Danäe: Princess of Argos and mother of Perseus.
- Alkmene : Princess of Thebes and great granddaughter of Zeus. Mother of Herakles.
- Aegina: Daughter of the river god, Asopus and mother of King Aeacus.
- Europa: Princess of Phoenicia, Queen of Crete and mother of Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon.
- Leda: Queen of Sparta and mother of Castor, Polydeuces, Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy.
- The Moirae, The Nymphai, and The Horae (Daughters with Themis)
- The Kharites (Daughters with Eurynome)
- The Muses (Daughters with Mnemosyne)
- Persephone (Daughter with Demeter)
- Apollo and Artemis (Children with Leto)
- Hebe, Ares, Hephaistos, and Eilithyia (Children with Hera)
- Athena (Daughter with Metis)
- Aphrodite (Daughter with Dione in some myths)
- Hermes (Son with Maia)
- Dionysos (Demigod-born son with Semele)
- Zagreus and Iacus (Children with Persephone)
- Ate (Daughter with Eris)
- The Litai (Children)
- Kaerus (Child with Tyche)
- Britomartis (Daughter with Karme)
- Pandia (Daughter with Selene)
- Ersa (Daughter with Eos)
- Aegipan (Son with Boetis)
- Palici (Daughter with Thalia)
- Agdistis and Manes (Child of Gaea)
- Perseus (Son with Danae)
- Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon (Children with Europa)
- Helen and Polydeukes (Children with Leda)
- Tantalus (Son with Plouto)
After the war, Zeus married Metis, the titaness of wisdom and daughter of Okeanos and Tethys. Metis sided with the gods during the war and became Zeus' mentor after the war. When Metis first became pregnant, Zeus learned that they were to have a son that would overpower Zeus. Zeus acted as his father and grandfather did and tried to change destiny. He swallowed Metis whole. However, because she was immortal, she gave birth inside of Zeus to a daughter. After their daughter was fully grown, Zeus suffered from a terrible headache. He asked Hephaestus to open his head with a blow with an axe. Hephaistos did so and Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, sprang out fully dressed in armor.
Zeus eventually fell in love with his sister, Hera. However, Hera didn't love Zeus back. So, Zeus summoned a storm and turned himself into a cuckoo. He flew to her window, pretending to be in distress. Hera brought the cuckoo into her room and dried it and cared for it. Zeus turned back into himself. Hera acknowledged his cunning and consented to marry him.
Aegina was the mortal daughter of the river god Asopus and the sea-nymph Metope. She had either eleven or nineteen sisters. Zeus fell in love with her and he abducted her into the shape of an eagle. He flew her to an island and there she gave birth to twin sons, Menoetius and Aeacus. Zeus then named the island Aegina after her. Menoetius' daughter, Polymede, gave birth to the hero Jason, and Aeacus' son Peleus married the goddes Thetis and they had the warrior Achilles.
Kallisto was a nymph who was a servant to Artemis. Zeus fell in love with her and seduced her. As Callisto slept, Zeus raped her and she was pregnant with his child. Hera, hearing of the affair, attacked Callisto's home. Artemis and the other nymphs fought her off as Callisto gave birth to a son, and went into the wilderness, but Hera found her and turned her into a she-bear. Callisto wandered the earth looking for her son. One day, she was spotted by a younger hunter who she recognized as her son, Arcas. He hurled his spear at her, Artemis dodged it and turned Arcas into a bear cub. He soon realized that his prey was his own mother and they were reunited. Zeus and Artemis pulled them by their tails and tossed them into the sky, fearing Hera would kill them. Callisto became the constellation Ursa Major, bearing the Big Dipper, and Arcas became Ursa Minor, bearing the Little Dipper.
Zeus also had an affair with a mortal woman named Semele. Hera, jealous that Zeus had impregnated this woman, disguised herself as an old woman and went to visit Semele. Hera talked friendly with Semele for a while but she eventually asked why her husband was not home.
Semele told the old woman that her husband was Zeus but Hera, still pretending to be the old lady, told Semele that she had met plenty of men who pretended to be Zeus. She told Semele that she should ask Zeus to see him in all his splendor to be absolutely certain that he was who he said he was. Hera then left and Semele was still questioning Zeus.
When Zeus returned, Semele asked him to grant her one wish. After he swore on the River Styx, she asked him to see him in his splendor. Zeus begged Semele to change her wish but she kept her wish as she didn't know that mortals would die if they saw the true form of gods. Zeus revealed his true form and Semele was burned to ashes. Zeus did however, save their son, Dionysos. Hermes took Dionysos to be raised by a band of Maenads. Dionysos grew up with tigers and leopards.
When Dionysos grew up, he invented wine. Zeus was so proud of him that he granted him immortality and a place among the Olympians. However, there were now thirteen Olympians. Because thirteen was an unlucky number, Zeus saw this as a problem. Zeus' sister, Hestia, gave up her place on the Olympian council to Dionysos for a simple wooden tripod near the hearth.
Disagreement with Prometheus
Epimetheus created the animals of the world and gave them all the gifts (horns, shells, etc). So nothing was left for man. Prometheus then created man out of clay and based it on the form of the gods, and gave them the mind. Thus making them superior to the other animals. Yet they were physically helpless, so he asked Zeus if he could give them some of the sacred fire of Olympus, but Zeus denied his request.
Prometheus still wasn't happy. He took some of the fire from Olympus, hiding it in a bundle of straw and gave it down to humans. Zeus was so angered at Prometheus' act that he chained him to a mountain and had the Kaukasian Eagle fly to him and eat out his liver every day, since it would heal overnight. Eventually, the hero Herakles shot the eagle, broke the chains binding Prometheus thus rescuing him.
Miscellaneous on Zeus
- Zeus turned his granddaughter Niobe into stone after Apollo and Artemis killed her fourteen children.
- Zeus killed Salmoneus with a thunderbolt for attempting to impersonate him, riding around in a bronze chariot and loudly imitating thunder.
- After Hera killed King Keyx of Thessaly, Zeus turned his soul into a kingfisher. He did the same to his mourning queen, Alcyone.
- At the marriage of Zeus and Hera, a nymph named Khelone refused to attend. As a punishment, Zeus transformed her into a tortoise (meaning of Chelone's name).
- After attempting to feed Zeus his grandson's severed body parts, the wicked king Lycaon was turned into a wolf by the angry god.
- Zeus condemned Tantalus to eternal torture in Tartarus for trying to trick the gods into eating the flesh of his butchered son Pelops.
- Zeus condemned Ixion to be tied to a fiery wheel for eternity as punishment for attempting to violate Hera.
- Zeus sank the Telkhines beneath the sea for practising dark magic.
- Zeus sent the Harpies to plague the seer Phineus as punishment for revealing the secrets of the gods.
- Zeus rewarded Tiresias with a life three times the norm as reward for ruling in his favor.
- Zeus punished Hera by having her hung upside down from the sky when she attempted to drown Herakles in a storm.
- Of all the children Zeus spawned, Herakles was often described as his favorite. Indeed, Herakles was often called by various gods and people as "the favorite son of Zeus", Zeus and Herakles were very close and in one story, where a tribe of earth-born Giants threatened Olympus and the Oracle at Delphi decreed that only the combined efforts of a lone god and mortal could stop the creature, Zeus chose Heracles to fight by his side. They proceeded to defeat the monsters.
- Athena has at times been called his favorite daughter and adviser.
- His sacred bird was the Golden Eagle, which he kept by his side at all times. Like him, the eagle was a symbol of strength, courage, and justice.
- His favorite trees were the linden, oak, and olive.
- Hebe, Nike, and the Furies were Zeus' retinue.
- Zeus condemned Prometheus to having his liver eaten by a giant eagle for giving the Flames of Olympus to the mortals.
In modern culture
Depictions of Zeus as a bull, the form he took when raping Europa, are found on the Greek 2-euro coin and on the United Kingdom identity card for visa holders. Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, has criticised this for its apparent celebration of rape. Zeus has been portrayed by various actors:
- Axel Ringvall in Jupiter på jorden, the first known film adaptation to feature Zeus.
- Niall MacGinnis in Jason and the Argonauts and Angus MacFadyen in the 2000 remake
- Laurence Olivier in the original Clash of the Titans, and Liam Neeson in the 2010 remake, along with the 2012 sequel Wrath of the Titans.
- Anthony Quinn in the 1990s TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Rip Torn in the Disney animated feature Hercules
- Sean Bean in the 2010 movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
- In season 8, episode 16 of the hit TV series Supernatural; Zeus is the main antagonist and is killed with a silver arrow by his daughter Artemis in the climax.
Sacred Symbols and Animals
All of Zeus' symbols include;
- Thunderbolt - Because of his status as the god of thunder and lightning. These thunderbolt also allow him to control the weather and allow him to destroy or kill whatever he dislikes.
- Aegis - A powerful shield that he used before he gave it to his favored daughter, Athena.
- Set of Scales - Showing him as a god of justice and law.
- Oak Tree- Oak tends to be a very sturdy and strong material, symbolizing Zeus as stable and protective.
- Olive Tree,
- Linden Tree
- Royal Scepter
All of his sacred animals include;
- Eagle - The eagle showed Zeus as a powerful and royal god. Also, because eagles are often seen in sunlight, they symbolize Zeus as being pure and courageous. Eagles are also known for the excellent vision, symbolizing that Zeus saw all.
- Wolf - A powerful creature of the land that is highly respected and feared.
- Zeus holds the number for most children. His wife however, had no children with others because she is the goddess of marriage.
- Zeus' Roman name is Jupiter, or sometimes Jove.
- Zeus punished anyone who lied.
- The Olympic Games were started in Zeus' honor.
- Ancient Greeks believed that thunder was used to predict when Zeus' wrath was coming upon them.
- Zeus can mean "day" in Ancient Greek.
Gallery of Things Sacred to Zeus
Gallery of Images of Zeus
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|Related Articles :||Mount Olympus • Protogenoi • Titans • Gigantes • Demigods|