Hello all and happy Tuesday! Welcome back to another mythology lesson! Since we did the queen of the gods last week I thought it’d make sense to now discuss the king of the gods, Zeus. I hope y’all enjoy!
Zeus: The Greek
Zeus was born to the Titan King and Queen, Cronus and Rhea, and was the brother of Demeter, Hestia, Poseidon, Hades, and Hera. Zeus married Hera and became the King of the Gods, ruling over the heavens by her side. He was the father of pretty much everyone (lol, the guy sure did get around) but, most notably, were his children Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, Enyo, Eris, Hebe, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, Heracles, Hermes, Persephone, Perseus, Theseus, and the Muses.
Zeus was the god of the sky, weather (this includes, most notably, lightning and thunder), law and order, destiny/fate, and kingship. He was often depicted as a regal man with a stern expression and dark beard. He was usually shown with a lightning bolt, a royal scepter, and an eagle (his sacred bird).
The most famous myth about Zeus is his birth and the overthrowing of his Titan father. His father, Cronus, had heard of a prophecy that one of his children would grow up and overthrow him. Not wanting to have his life ended and his throne taken from him, Cronus did the only logical thing he could think of and ordered his wife Rhea to hand him every child born from them so that he could eat them by swallowing them whole. He did this with his first five children (in order: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon). Finally, after having all of her children eaten by their father, Rhea gave birth to Zeus and had nymphs and dryads (female woodland spirits) secret him away, raising him so that no one would find him until he was already grown. Rhea, instead, gave Cronus a large rock wrapped in cloth as a decoy Zeus. Once Zeus was fully grown, he went after his father and beat the guy up so that he puked out the other five children who were now fully grown (they had continued developing inside of Cronus). Once they all were rescued, Zeus’ brothers Poseidon and Hades helped him defeat their father by chopping him up into a million little pieces and scattering his remains over the expanse of Tartarus in the Underworld. Now that the Olympian children were free of their father’s cruelty, they decided to rule together. Since the three brothers were the ones to defeat their father, they got to divide the realms amongst themselves to rule. Zeus, being the instigator (though he was the youngest) obviously, and selfishly so in my opinion, chose the heavens to rule over. Poseidon kind of butted his way in there, though he was the second youngest, and stole the sea to rule over which left poor Hades with the miserable task of ruling over and guarding the Underworld (even though he was the eldest son, dammit!)
Zeus was a carefree god who was known to party and boisterously laugh. He was regarded as wise, fair, merciful, and prudent. He was also, however, very very unpredictable. He was known, as well, to get easily angered which could be very destructive, especially for the mortals. He hurled lightning bolts and caused violent storms that wreaked havoc on earth, which is why many mortals both were awe inspired and feared him. Zeus was also known to fall in love easily and had many affairs with various women, however he would severely punish anybody who attempted to court his wife, Hera. Because of his many affairs, he, subsequently, had many children.
His favorite child, Athena, has two prominent stories of how her birth came to be. In one Zeus ate the goddess Metis, who was pregnant at the time, because an oracle had told him that Metis’ son would replace him as King of the Gods (lol, sound familiar? There’s a lot of eating of people in these Greek myths). Because Zeus ate Metis when she was pregnant, their child, Athena, was then born in his belly and birthed from his head. This, however, is not the tale version I’m used to. In the second version (the more known version), Zeus had a raging migraine that he wailed and yelled about for a long time. His screams coming from Mount Olympus would cause havoc among the mortals down below who suffered from the avalanches, rock slides, thunder storms, and lightning strikes from his misery. So, to end his pain and the mortals’ suffering, Zeus ordered his son, Hephaestus, to take his iron hammer he used for blacksmith crafting work and crack Zeus’ head open to relieve the pain (he obviously didn’t die from this, the guy is an all powerful immortal god). Once Hephaestus did as he was told, from the crack in Zeus’ head sprouted his “brain child” Athena who was fully grown and decked out in a suit of armor. She would later become the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy.
Zeus often seduced women, both mortals and goddesses, in the guise of an animal or as another person (he was a big fan of dress up). For example, when he came to Hera, he was in the form of a cuckoo bird. When he seduced Leda he was a swan and he was a bull when he went off with Europa. He had many children with many women like the twins Apollo and Artemis with Leto, Helen of Troy and the Dioscuri (the twin brothers Castor and Pollux, though only Pollux was his son since Castor was actually the King of Sparta’s son) with Leda of Sparta, Persephone with his sister Demeter, Hephaestus (along with Hebe, Ares, and Eileithyia) with his wife Hera, and Dionysus with Semele.
There are many many many more tales of Zeus, way too many for me to list off her for you, but I will be happy to discuss any that you really wanted me to talk about in the comments below. There’s just so much Zeus, it’d be painstaking to try to fit it all in. What else could you expect from the King of the Gods?
Jupiter: The Roman
Jupiter, or Jove as he was sometimes called, was born to Saturn and Ops, King and Queen of the Titans. He was the brother of Ceres, Vesta, Neptune, Pluto, and Juno. Jupiter married Juno and became the King of the Gods, the most beloved and sacred god of the Roman Empire. He was also the father of many many many people (both demigods and gods alike), most notably Minerva, Apollo, Diana, Mercury, Mars, Vulcan, Bacchus, Proserpine, and Hercules. Jupiter was the protector of the state of the empire and god of laws, the sky, weather (especially of storms), and fate. His appearance was usually identical to that of the depictions of his Greek counterpart, Zeus.
Unfortunately for us, this is another instance in which the Roman and Greek gods are synonymous with one another. Jupiter is very much like Zeus in his might, his fury/temper, his power, his sovereign mindset, and his attitude when it comes to his affairs (in that he didn’t have any remorse for cheating on his wife with literally everyone and anyone he could find).
I hope y’all enjoyed learning a little about Zeus/Jupiter. He is pretty much the most famous of all the Greek gods and beloved for his powerful presence and super cool lightning powers, but not many people realize that his true nature is that of a spoiled child who doesn’t always think things through and ends up causing more trouble than he solves (lol, but that’s why I love the guy). I hope this post was illuminating for y’all as I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. If y’all have any questions about stuff I didn’t touch on, or you’d just like an elaboration on something please leave me a comment below so we can chat! I really hope this was interesting to y’all. Thanks for reading, I’ll talk mythology with you next Tuesday!Thanks so much for reading y’all! Let me know anything you’d like to say in the comments below, you know I love hearing from y’all!
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