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Zeus, Father of the Gods

Updated on August 1, 2013

Zeus

Zeus was the father of gods and men. He was the God of sky and thunder. He ruled the Olympians. All the gods rose in his presence and called him father. He ruled the entire universe. What he said was law.

Zeus was also known as Jupiter, Indra and Tinia. Symbols associated with him are the thunderbolt, eagle and bull.

Birth to Adulthood

Cronus was Zeus' father by Rhea. Cronus had a lot of children but at their birth he would swallow them. He did this because he was told he was going to be overthrown by his son just like he did his father. Rhea found out and decided to save her child. When Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete she gave Cronus a rock wrapped in clothes which he swallowed. Then she left Zeus in Crete to be raised. There are different versions of the way Zeus was raised. One version is he was raised by a goat, another he was raised by a nymph.

Zeus was said to have been a muscular man with curly hair and a beard. In pictures and statues he is shown to be of middle age.

When Zeus became of age he forced his father to throw up the rock and then his siblings in reverse order of swallowing. Then Zeus released the prisoners from the dungeon in Tartarus. For doing so the Cyclops gave Zeus thunder and lightening. That is why he is pictured with the thunder bolt.

Overthrowing Cronus

Together with his brothers, sisters and prisoners Zeus overthrew Cronus and the Titans. The Titans were sent to the underworld. Atlas, a Titan, punishment was to hold up the sky.

Zeus shared the world with his brothers. Zeus had the sky and air, Poseidon took the water and Hades the underworld. The earth was shared by all three.


Zeus' Wife and His Many Children

Zeus married Hera, his sister. They had six children. Hera was a jealous goddess because of Zeus' many affairs and hated the children by them. So Echo, a nymph, was told to distract her from the affairs by constantly talking. When Hera found out she cursed Echo. He had to repeat what others said. Thus the story of the echo.

Zeus had 65 devine children by 23 goddesses and 66 semi devine children by 44 mortal women. Zeus would change into different beings and seduce women and have children with them. Some of his famous children were Hercules, Athena and Dionysos. Zeus' favorite child was Hercules, his mother was a mortal.

Some Things Zeus Was Said To Have Done

Zeus was credited with doing a lot of things both good and bad. He was said to have turned Periphas into an eagle when he died because Periphas was righteous, a good thing. He killed Salmoneus for impersonating him, can go both ways. When Hera tried to drown Hercules Zeus hung her upside down from the sky.

Conclusion

The Greek God Zeus was an awesome figure in Greek mythology. He was feared by everyone. He ruled the gods and men. He made up the laws people and gods followed and he enforced them. Everyone called him father. He got around a lot having 131 children.

What made him so great? Was it because he lived to overthrow his father and rule? How did these myths come to be?

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