ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on September 3, 2010

Zeus, in ancient Greek religion, is the chief deity. He was known to the Romans as Jupiter (Juppiter) and to Asiatic Indians as Dyaus pita. In origin he was an Indo-European divinity- a weather god enthroned on mountain summits, which are watched for indications of weather, and the ruler of the sky (the name means "sky"), where atmospheric phenomena are observed. As god of the bright sky, he controlled the sun, moon, stars, and planets; as god of the dark sky, he caused thunder, lightning, clouds, winds, dew, rain, hail, sleet, snow, comets, meteors, and meteorites.

Zeus was the son of Cronus (Kronos) and Rhea, and brother of Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. He married successively Metis (Counsel), Themis (Law), and Hera (Lady), of whom the last was his sister. By more than 115 mistresses, both mortal and immortal, he had over 140 offspring, such as the Graces, the Muses, the Seasons, and numerous kings and queens, heroes and heroines, who were considered demideities. His divine children, who ranked as Olympian divinities (except Persephone), were Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, Hebe, Hephaestus, and Hermes.


Homer, the earliest Greek writer to mention Zeus, calls him "father of gods and men," a designation to be interpreted as signifying a paterfamilias, the father of a family, whose members owe obedience to him as director of their conduct and upholder of customary law. From this conception came several of his more than 685 recorded epithets, such as Ktesios (protector of the household), Herkios (defender of the courtyard), Hikesios (supporter of suppliants), and Xenios (upholder of hospitality). Since the family was the foundation of the state, it was a short step to associate Zeus with care of the city-state; hence political epithets, such as Polieus (guardian of the city), Eleutherios (vindicator of liberty), Agoraios (advocate of the assembly), and Boulaios (champion of the council). From his role as overseer of the state developed his role as observer of conditions among mortals; hence moral epithets, such as Epopsios (observer of all things), in which capacity he castigated criminals and avenged injured persons, and Horkios (maintainer of oaths), wherein he punished violators of the sanctity of their sworn pacts.

As Panomphaios (author of all divination), Zeus was the primal source of prophetic power. As Soter (savior), he saved persons, particularly sailors and seafarers, from peril. Other epithets referred to the many places where Zeus was worshiped throughout the Hellenic world. Of these the most noted were Diktaios (of Mount Dikte in Crete, where he was born); Lykaios (of Mount Lykaion in Arcadia, where he was reared); Olympics (of Mount Olympus in Thessaly, where he dwelt); Dodonaios (of Dodona in Epirus, where his oracle was the oldest oracle in Greece); Ammort or Ammonios (of Ammonium, now the Oasis of Siwa, in Egypt, where Alexander the Great of Macedon was hailed in 332 B.C. as the son of Zeus Ammon by the priests of this oracular shrine); and Olympikos (of Olympia in Elis, where, from 776 B.C., the Olympic games were held quadrennially in his honor and where, in 457 B.C., Phidias completed his collosal statue of Zeus Olympikos, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, in the Olympeium or Temple of Zeus).


Many important myths, with numerous variations, concerned Zeus. Cronus, his father, was destined to be overthrown by one of his sons and therefore customarily swallowed his newborn male children. Rhea, Cronus' sister-wife, consulted Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea or Ge (Earth), their parents, as to how the unborn Zeus might be saved. For her lying-in they sent her to Crete, where she bore Zeus, concealed him in a cave, and substituted a stone, wrapped in swaddling clothes, for Cronus to swallow. The infant Zeus was tended by nymphs and nourished on milk given by a goat and on honey gathered by bees. Weapon-clattering Curetes (semidivine beings) danced around him and by their noise prevented his father from hearing the babe's cries.

After he had reached manhood, Zeus plotted with Poseidon and Hades whom Cronus had been persuaded by trickery to disgorge- to dethrone their father. This attempt induced war with the Titans, who supported their brother Cronus. Zeus received aid from the Cyclopes, whom he had liberated from the bonds put upon them by Cronus and who in gratitude armed their deliverer with thunderbolts. He also had the help of certain hundred-handed giants. With these allies he conquered the Titans and then imprisoned them with Cronus in Tartarus (Hell). Thus Zeus won domination of the world, which he then divided by lot with his brothers: Poseidon obtained the sea, Hades received the underworld, Zeus secured the sky, while the earth was held as common property.

Above all, Zeus was the supreme ruler, the most powerful among the immortals, the protector of regal power, the custodian of law, and the guardian of morality, his assistants being the goddesses Dike (Justice), Themis (Law), and Nemesis (Retribution). According to his own choice, he assigned a good or evil lot to mortals.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)