Who was Zeus?
Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Zeus, the Greek god of the sky. Zeus was the famous Greek god of the sky, heavens and the earth. He was also king of the gods where he ruled with his wife Hera. Although he was married he was renown for the number of liaisons with other women, he was a real womaniser. His powers were legendary and his famous weapon was the thunderbolt which, when hurled, could shatter mountains.
Picture of Zeus
Zeus for Kids
The Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were the three sons of the Titans Cronus and and his wife Rhea. The brothers rebelled against Cronus in the War with the Titans and divided up the dominions of the Titans. The brothers threw lots and Zeus became ruler of the sky or heavens, Hades became ruler of the Underworld and Poseidon was given all fresh and salt water. The Olympians agreed that the earth itself would be ruled jointly, with Zeus as the king of the Olympians. Each god had his own dwelling, but they all were obliged to attend, when summoned, the palace of Zeus where he sat on his throne of gold and ivory. As with most brothers there were elements of rivalry and jealousy between the three brothers led to a number of territorial disputes and quarrels among the three gods.
Zeus (Roman Counterpart was Jupiter, also known as Jove)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. The Roman counterpart of Zeus was Jupiter who was also referred to as Jove.
Facts about Zeus
Zeus features in myths relating to his victory in the War with the Titans which led to the establishment of the Olympians on Mount Olympus. His liaisons with many mortals resulted in many offspring who are described as Demigods. The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Zeus:
Personality: Knowledgeable, just, merciful, unpredictable, womaniser, carefree
Appearance: Powerful, strong, middle-aged, imposing and regal with curly hair
Role & Function: His function is described as being the ruler of the Greek gods and responsible for justice, law and order
Status: Major God and one of the Twelve Olympians
Alternative Names: The King of the Gods
Symbols: The thunderbolt, the eagle, the sceptre, the bull and the oak tree
Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for this god was Jupiter, who was also known as Jove
Name of Wife: Hera (he was also her brother)
Name of Father: Cronus
Name of Mother: Rhea
Names of Children: The names of his children with Hera were Ares, Hephaestus, and Hebe
The Family of Zeus
According to Greek legends and myths the family of Zeus were as follows:
- Father: Cronus
- Mother: Rhea
- Brothers: Hades and Poseidon
- Sisters: Hestia, Hera, and Demeter
- Wife: Hera
- The names of his sons by Hera were: Ares, Hephaestus
- The names of his daughters by Hera were: Hebe
Symbols of Zeus
In the sculptures, vases, mosaics and paintings of Greek Art the supreme god Zeus was often illustrated seated on his throne with images representing his symbols. The symbols of the king of the gods were the:
- Oak Tree
- The Aegis, a shield
The sceptre represents his role as a king, the thunderbolt represents his power over the elements and the eagle represents his power across the sky. He is depicted as a powerful, strong, and regal man with a beard and occasionally wearing a crown of oak leaves. The aegis, a protective shield, was also an attribute of the god.
Zeus and Mount Olympus
In Greek Mythology the principle Greek gods were referred to as the Twelve Olympians and lived on the summit of Mount Olympus which was protected by a special layer of clouds. Zeus was the king of the Olympians sat on his great throne and ruled with his wife, Hera, who was Queen of the Gods. As king of the gods Zeus had almost absolute authority over all of the other gods. His role was primarily to watch over the activities of the other gods to ensure that they did not exceed their powers. The gods and goddesses attended sumptuous banquets in the council-chamber of the gods, presided over by Zeus, and feasted on ambrosia (the food of the gods) and nectar (the drink of the gods). The names of the Olympian gods were Zeus, Hera, Athena, Hestia or Dionysus, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Demeter, Artemis, Hephaestus and Hermes.
Zeus in Greek Mythology - the Lover
Zeus, the Greek god of the sky and heavens, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Greek Mythology and is renown as a lover whose liaisons with mortals led to the birth of famous demigods and included the hero Perseus. The names of the lovers of Zeus were Antiope, Callisto, Danae, Europa, Electra, Leda, Leto, Maria, Taygete, Niobe, Io, Semele, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter and Alcmene. Zeus had the power of transformation and would appear to women in the guise of various creatures and then seduce them. The mythology of Zeus the lover included his seduction of Leda in the form of a swan, Europa in the form of a bull and Antiope as a satyr. For more details refer to the Lovers of Zeus.
Zeus in Greek Mythology - the Legends and the Myths
In Greek religion and mythology Zeus was the son and successor of Cronus (ruler of the Titans) and took his place as the supreme god. His mother, Rhea, immediately after his birth concealed him from Cronus, who, because he was fated to be overthrown by one of his children, ate all his offspring. In the 'Deception of Zeus' Hera deceives and distracts Zeus enabling the Greeks to obtain the upper hand during the Trojan War.
Facts about Zeus in Greek Mythology
Discover interesting information and facts about Zeus, the Greek god of the sky. The facts about Zeus provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Zeus in Greek Mythology.
- A great warrior called Periphas was killed by Ares during the Trojan War and Zeus turned him into an eagle after his death, as a reward for being righteous and just.
- He was the husband of his sister Hera
- Zeus punished his jealous wife Hera when she attempted to drown Heracles (Hercules) in a storm. According to the myth she was her hung upside down from the sky
- The father of Zeus was Cronus, who, because he was fated to be overthrown by one of his children, ate all his offspring. His mother, Rhea, tricked her husband and saved her son.
- He was the father of Athena, who in some legends and myths is said to have sprung from his head.
- Zeus was well respected as he dispensed justice and served as protector.
- His brothers, Poseidon and Hades ruled the sea and the underworld
- The most important places for the worship of the supreme god were Dodona (Epirus) and Olympia (Elis), where the Olympian games were held in honor of him.
- His retinue included Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia.
- Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. As a terrible punishment he condemned Prometheus to having his liver eaten by a giant eagle