In ancient Greek religion, Zeus was not only the king of the gods but also the god of the sky, lightning, and thunder. The most prominent symbols associated with him and his power are thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. This ruler of Mount Olympus was first worshiped by the Greeks then by the Romans who referred to him as Jupiter. As the father of the gods, Zeus always ensured that each deity performed their individual duty, punished their misdeeds, etc. And as king of the gods, there are many interesting things about Zeus that you might want to know. I bring some of the best today, so let’s find out together.
1The Birth of Zeus
As many of us know, Zeus was the last child of the titans Kronos and Rhea. He was also the youngest and the oldest of his siblings, weird as it may sound but that is how it went. Had been told that one of his children would overthrow him, Kronos tried to swallow Zeus just like he did to Zeus’s siblings. Before Zeus, Kronos had already swallowed Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. Zeus avoided being swallowed by his father, and his mother hid him in a cave on Mount Ida.
While being raised in the cave, Zeus met Metis, the goddess of wisdom. It was her who convinced Zeus to take revenge on Kronos, and she gave him the potion to do so. Then, Zeus disguised himself as an Olympian cupbearer and poisoned his father’s wine with the potion. The poison did not kill Kronos, but it made him vomit so much that he disgorged Zeus’s siblings back out. As a result, Zeus vanquished his father, and released his siblings back from Kronos’s stomach.
2The Power of Zeus
After the disgorging of his siblings, Zeus then went to Tartarus which was the dungeon of torment used as a prison. He killed the guards and released Kronos’s brothers, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes. As gratitude, the Cyclopes gave Zeus the thunderbolt which served as his weapon as well as his best known symbol. Alongside with Kronos’s brothers and siblings, Zeus fought against Kronos and the titans in the gods battle known as Titanomachy.
The Olympians, the younger generation led by Zeus defeated the Titans and overthrew Kronos. Zeus shared the rule of the world with his siblings Hades and Poseidon by drawing lots. Zeus became the ruler of heaven and earth and took control of the sky and air, and he also became king of Olympus. While Hades became the god of the underworld, and Poseidon became god of the sea. The ancient Earth could not be claimed; therefore, it was shared by the three.
3The Roles & Epithets of Zeus
With so many titles, Zeus also had a lot roles and responsibilities as the king of the gods as well. Hesiod described Zeus as a god who “brought peace in place of violence”, and referred to him as the Lord of Justice. Albeit he was most well known as god of the sky and thunder, Zeus was the supreme cultural embodiment of Greek religious beliefs. At the same time, the father of gods himself also had may epithets (titles) that emphasized his roles and responsibilities.
- Zeus made laws, and he could punish mortals for committing crimes. His punishments were usually very harsh and strict so that the message is clear.
- Zeus was responsible for dictating all gods, goddesses, and mortals.
- Zeus was also responsible for changes in the weather (especially rain and lightning), and temperature. If there were lightning bolts and violent storms, the people could tell that Zeus was angry about something.
- Zeus had the role to protect the gods and humans from evil.
- Zeus also dispensed justice, and offered signs and omens. He was also the keeper of oaths, and he would punish those who lied or made dishonest business deals.
4The Relationship & Affair of Zeus
Zeus fell in love very easily, and he was not a faithful lover for the fact that he had many affairs. His wife was Hera, and she was also his sister. He had also been already married twice before he married Hera, and the previous wives were Metis and Themis. He worried that Metis would have a son that was stronger than him, so she swallowed her and married Hera. Apart from the three women, Zeus also married his another sister Demeter, his aunt Mnemosyne, his cousin Leto, and his cousins’ daughters.
This king of the gods also had many erotic escapades with various women including his own daughter, Aphrodite. When his wife Hera knew about that affair, she cursed Zeus which resulted in the birth of Priapos. Priapos was a deformed God in the shape of a penis, but that didn’t stop Zeus. He also had sexual escapades with 20 mortals as well, and his sexual partners were no less than 57 women. As a result, Zeus had many godly and heroic offspring including Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Minos, the Muses, and the great Heracles.
As for the end of Greek mythology, it began with the born of Ares who was a war deity. Ares was keen about war while Athena cared a lot about peace, so they fought quite a lot. Ares also faced many humiliation, and one time he was put in a jar as a POW for 13 months. After everything, Ares planned to terrify the world by working alongside with 4 other companions. Those included Phobos (fear), Deioms (violence), Eris (unrest), and Enyo, and Phobos played a significant role to terrified all Olympus. Olympus declared war to Ares after some chaos in both Olympus and Greek mainland.
Unfortunately, they lost and Olympus fell due to Fear of Phobos when Phobos turned into phobia in modern world. Despite the fact that gods lost the war, Zeus did not lost his throne at Olympus. It was a day of stalemate so Zeus and Ares had to have an agreement. Zeus demanded peace, and Ares would give him peace with only one condition. The condition stated:
“From now on, none of the gods will interfere the world.”
Zeus had two options, either he accept the condition or all gods would be killed. The king of the gods accepted it. He then closed all doors to earth, mythology ended since that time, and gods were slowly forgotten in Greek minds.