Zeus, Ruler of Mount Olympus,
Known by Many Names,
Lord of the Sky,
And Zeus of the Thunderbolt.
The Mighty Zeus, the Greek god known
also as the Roman god Jupiter or Jove.
Zeus was the Greek god of the sky but also the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus, which domain included: all of the Olympian pantheon of gods as well as all of the earth, a mighty position indeed.
Zeus (not surprisingly) had an unorthodox childhood. At the time of Zeusís conception Cronus, Zeusís father, had been eating whole all the children his wife, Rhea, had born him. Not because they looked oh so scrumptious, but because of a prophecy that Cronus would be overthrown by one of his children. So simple solution: just eat your children.
However when Rhea had born Zeus she knew she couldnít hand him over to Cronus to be devoured, so instead of handing Cronus Zeus to eat she took some clothes and wrapped a rock and gave that to Cronus (Cronus must have been as smart as one to actually fall for that). After she was safe she sent little Zeus to earth to be raised by nymphs and the divine goat Amalthea. Amalthea was also important later on because upon her death Zeus was moved to sadness and used her horn as the cornucopia and eventually used her golden fleece as the impregnable aegis.
Once he grew to be a young man Rhea sought him once more and brought him back to the gods, where Cronus employed him as the royal cupbearer of the Gods, not even suspecting that it was his son. Eventually Zeus was given a special wine, given to him by Metis, the Titan Goddess of Wisdom, to bear to Cronus. Upon swallowing it he vomited all of the previous children he had swallowed: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon.
Upon the regurgitation of his brothers and sisters he they were understandably pissed for having been digested for the last couple decades and so Zeus was able to band them together to wrest power away from Cronus and the Titans in a long bloody war that followed. They intended to give Cronus his just desserts (desserts that didnít involve them).
The first thing they needed was some weaponry. So their first move was to travel into Tartarus together and free the Cyclopes who had been imprisoned there by Cronus. Upon freeing them they were so full of gratitude that they forged three excellent weapons. To Hades they gave him a magical helm which rendered him invisible while he wore it, a trident to Poseidon, and thunderbolts to Zeus.
The war was long and bloody and they all fought ferociously. The war finally ended when the three brothers cornered Cronus. Hades was able to sneak upon him invisibly and distract him while Poseidon used his trident to paralyze him, and finally Zeus applied the finishing blow, knocking him out with his thunderbolt. The war was finally over and the Olympian gods had won. The Olympians promptly banished almost all of the Titans to Tartarus, including their father Cronus. Although itís been said that later Cronus was able to escape from Tartarus and lived with the mortals undetected afterwards.
Gaia was angered by the way the Olympians had treated her children (The titans were also her children) and so she sent the monsters Typhon and Echidna to attack them. Zeus was able to defeat them, and banished Typhon to Tartarus but allowed Echidna to live. Echidna was said to be the mother and the source of every monster portrayed in greek mythologies and stories.
Now came the ever important question of how to decide which of the three brothers got which realm. How did they decide this paramount question of severe importance? They drew lots. Hades drew the underworld, Poseidon drew the seas and the oceans, and Zeus drew the skies as well as Mount Olympus, making him supreme ruler of the Olympian gods.
Zeus however was a very hot-headed man at this point, and maybe a tad arrogant. Zeus built a luxurious and grand palace for himself upon Mt. Olympus where his throne sat. He also used his thunderbolts freely, flinging them at will at any and all who even dared to oppose him.
Upon becoming king Zeus was notorious for the number of consorts he had. They were bountiful, and Zeus kept on adding more and more. But of course being king of mount Olympus he decided he needed a wife. He first picked Metis, the goddess who had first helped him trick Cronus. However Metis declined and transformed to into a different form to try and elude Zeus, however Zeus was really persistent and relentlessly followed her until finally tired, Metis relented and accepted his proposal.
However Gaia was upset with the very heavy-handed rule of Zeus, and so she cast a prophecy that any son of Zeus born by Metis would become stronger than him and eventually usurp his power. So when Metis became pregnant, Zeus was extremely fearful. How did he solve his problem? He swallowed Metis and her unborn child whole (like father like son).
However as it turned out Metis was carrying no son, but a daughter, and while she was in the stomach of Zeus she began to fashion a shield and armor for her daughter. Long afterwards Zeus began to feel a terrible headache and he was in dire pain. Eventually when his headache was reaching the apex of its pain he asked Hermes, the messenger of the gods, for help. Hermes got a large golden axe fashioned by Hepheastus, and with it Hermes struck Zeusís forehead splitting it right open (talk about a splitting headache), and from his forehead Athena popped out, fully grown and armored. Athena was a strong goddess who Zeus grew to trust deeply, and eventually Athena would become Zeusís most trusted advisor.
Eventually after Metis was out of the way Zeusís eyes fell upon the beautiful goddess Hera (who also happened to be his sister).The problem was Hera was not interested with being the consort of the arrogant god Zeus (thatís 0 for 2, apparently Zeus wasnít THAT good with the ladies), and so she constantly did everything she could to evade him. Eventually Zeus realized what was going on and devised a plan to lure Hera into his grasp. Zeus transformed himself into a small helpless bird and soaked himself in a thunderstorm then approached Hera. Hera saw the small helpless bird and took pity on it and so she embraced the small bird. As soon as she did that Zeus transformed back to his regular form, and now that he was finally in front of her, convinced her of his love for her. Eventually she fell in love with him too; however she wouldnít give in to any of his more demanding advances until after they were married. However this waiting may have amplified Zeusís ďfeelingsĒ for her, because after their wedding Zeus got the help of Viagra the God of Virility, and Zeus and Hera shared a three hundred year long wedding night.
However Zeus, even though he was married, didnít at any point slow down his philandering ways, except of course for those three hundred years he was with Hera. He pursued goddesses, nymphys, mortals, and whatever else caught his eye. Zeusís mythology is filled with all his various affairs, and the methods he used, turning into animals, turning into womansí husbands, he did everything. With all this philandering there were plenty of children, many of whom mighty and powerful.
In the story of Alcmene, her and her husband were exiled from Thebes after her husband, Amphitryon accidentally killed his father in a freak incident. Amphitryon then refused to lay with Alcmene until he avenged the death of his brothers who had been killed in war against the Taphians. Seeing his opportunity Zeus descended upon the household of Alcmene, having transformed into the shape of Amphitryon. He then proceeded to describe to her ďhisĒ military conquests, and finally slept with her. The next day however (Zeus of course was long gone by now) Amphitryon had returned and began to recount his great stories to his wife, but she turned a deaf ear saying heíd already been there and laid with her the night before. Confused Amphitryon eventually sought Tiresias, the blind seer, who told him exactly what had transpired. Also it turned out from Zeusís escapade Alcmene became pregnant.
Another prevalent part of Zeusís mythology was that because Hera could do very little to vent rage upon her powerful husband, she usually directed her anger against his various mistresses, Alcmene was no different. While Alcmene was in labor Hera got the goddess of childbirth Lucina to descend upon the household and prevent Alcmene from giving birth. At first the midwives thought that she was there to help her but eventually the midwife Galanthis saw through the ploy and was able to trick Lucina in to losing focus for a moment, long enough for Alcmene to give birth. Her son was Heracles, the demi-god who would become one of the greatest greek heroes of all times.
When it came to getting some action, Zeus went far and wide and got plenty creative on several occasions. When King Acrisius of Argos locked his daughter up in a bronze tower (because there was a prophecy that said her son would eventually bring his downfall), did that stop Zeus? Nope, he just turned into golden rain and impregnated her that way. Did the presence of Europa surrounded by attendant after attendant with no privacy stop Zeus? Nope, he turned into a pristine white bull and abducted Europe right from where she stood to the island of Crete.
Sometimes though his philandering did land him in some trouble every now and again, such as in the story of Sisyphus. Zeus saw Sisyphusís daughter and was rather enchanted with her beautiful appearance, and decided to go and start flirting with her (big surprise there). However Sisyphus being as overprotective as he was saw Zeus, not knowing it was Zeus, and attacked him with a club (talk about a boyfriendís worst nightmare). Zeus, who had left his thunderbolts in a nearby tree, was helpless and could only simply run and finally turned himself into a stone. In the end Zeus was humiliated and was furious. He demanded that his brother Hades punish Sisyphus, and in the end Sisyphus was condemned to push a heavy rock up a hill forever.
Zeusís hotheadedness extended further than just the ladies. He was harsh against any affront to his power as well. When Prometheus took pity on the mortals of earth and gave them the fire of Olympus, Zeus was furious. Zeus then captured Prometheus and tied him to a rock. The rock itself wasnít so special, but what was special was the Eagle flying overhead. The eagle each day would devour Prometheusís organs, and every new night Prometheus would regenerate his organs only to have them devoured once more by Zeusís eagle.
At this point in Zeusís reign the Olympians were growing weary of Zeusís arrogance and his heavy handed ways, thus the Olympians planned a coup against him. The conspiracy was originally hatched by his brother Poseidon (yay brotherly love) and Apollo. The Olympians were eventually able to capture Zeus and imprisoned him. However the plans began to fall apart as the conspirators began to argue how to divide the power. While the Olympians were arguing Zeus broke free, essentially ruining the plot.
Perhaps being attacked and imprisoned by his brothers, sons, daughters, loved ones, and his wife gave Zeus the epiphany that perhaps he was not the most benevolent and wonderful of rulers. Thus, though the coup was a failure, it succeeded in having Zeus doing better as a ruler. Zeus shed his arrogant hotheaded ways, and became a very rational and outstanding leader. He had very high standards coupled with strict discipline. As for the coup itself he very fairly meted out punishments to all those involved.
For Apollo and Poseidon, who were the main conspirators in the plot, he let them off lightly with only a year of hard labor as mortals, and even forgave Athena for conspiring against him.
Zeus however left the most severe punishment for conspirators to his wife Hera. For her role, Zeus strung Hera from the stars with fine silver thread, tying heavy anvils to her ankles. For two days nonstop, Hera moaned from the intense pain that she felt. At the end of the two days Zeus took pity upon Hera and finally let he down, under the condition that she not betray him again, which she agreed to. Despite the quantity of Zeusís affairs he still loved Hera. Eventually Hera was finally able to convince Zeus that he really didnít need to continue with his infidelity. Finally Zeus saw the err of his ways, and he really did stop, plenty of ruined lives and dozens of illegitimate children later, but thatís beside the point.
Zeus rule did improve vastly, but he still needed help, he certainly had quite the staff on his side to assist him. His son Hermes became Zeusís messenger as well as the aide of Zeus. Beyond the obvious message delivery, Hermes also countless times helped Zeus out of binds and tricky situations.
His daughter, Athena, was the goddess of war and wisdom (not to mention one of his favorite children) which were more than ample credentials to be Zeusís most trusted advisor both inside and outside of battle. She was also the judge of the Olympian courts.
Zeus also had two other special attendants: Nike the goddess of winged victory, and the cup-bearer named Hebe. Hebe was a beautiful woman who served the drinks to the gods, however Hebe eventually left to marry Heracles. Zeus then found a young boy named Ganymedes. His beauty and youth entranced Zeus and he just had to have him as his cup bearer, turning into an eagle and abducting him on the spot.
Outside of the coup by the Olympians, the greatest threat to the rule of Zeus was Gaia herself. Gaia was furious about how her children, the Titans, had been treated by the Olympians and she wanted retribution against the Olympians, especially Zeus. She tried once before (see above) but failed, however if at first you donít succeed try try again, and Gaia took this to heart.
With her second attempt Gaia laid siege to mount Olympus by sending an army of giants to attack and siege Mount Olympus. Usually this would be no difficult task for the Olympians to conquer, however Gaia made is so that only a mortal could go about killing the giants, which left the Olympians helpless against the giants. When the giants were about to scale Mt. Olympus and destroy everything Zeusís son Heracles stepped up, and together they were able to kill all the giants.
Being as persistent as she was and even angrier that she had been thwarted again, Gaia created one more monster. This monster was Typhon. Typhon was a very special monster in that he had a regular human shape. What was not regular about him was that instead of legs he had thousands of snakes which each measured hundreds of miles longs (suffice to say applying socks in the morning was always a challenge). It was said that when Typhon stretched out to his very full length, his head touched the stars.
Seeing this monstrosity approach Mount Olympus, all the Gods trembled in fear. To escape they all transformed into small animals and escaped unnoticed, all but one that is.
Athena stayed behind, standing her ground. She was disgusted by the cowardly departure of the gods, and began taunting Zeus of how big a coward he was. Zeus not about to let himself be ridiculed by his own daughter finally turned around and faced the monster.
The battle between Typhon and Zeus for days as the two fought ferociously, with the very earth shaking as the two came to blows. The fight was reaching its climax as Typhon, in an attempt to end things, picked up a mountain to defeat Zeus with. However Zeus was able to throw with precision and skill, one hundred perfectly aimed thunderbolts at the distracted Typhon. By doing this he was able to destroy the mountain and bury Typhon under it thereby ending the fight. The mighty Zeus, king of the Gods, is the one who looms largest over greek mythology. He defended political order, exerted his wraith on those who dared angered him, seduced countless mortals, nymphs, and goddeses. Zeus was ever multi-faceted and ever intriguing in his rule.
The Symbols of the Greek God Zeus ē Thunderbolts ē Aegis (shield) ē Thunderstorms ē Gold ē Marble ē Eagles ē Oak trees ē Goats ē Ash trees ē Rainbows