Zeus, the father of gods and men, is symbolizing the ancient Greeks' omnipotence and absolute power. He had the governance of the entire universe. Zeus could control everything, after all the other gods who held some area of responsibility, were just his assistants. Although he had all these responsibilities, there always remained time to seduce some goddess or some beautiful princess and thus cause the jealousy of his legal wife, Hera.
Zeus was the last son of Cronus and Rhea. The modest Rea, indignant by her cruel and cold-hearted husband who trembled for his throne and for this reason he devoured his children immediately after birth, managed with the help of Uranus and Gaia, to fool him.
For this reason, she traveled to Crete, where with the help of the King Melisseas and his daughters, Melissa and Adrasteia, Zeus was born in a cave of Mount Dicti, called “Dikteon antrum”. Then she entrusted the infant to the Nymphs of the mountain and returned to the palace of Cronus. She gave him a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to swallow. The naive Cronus believed her and devoured the stone.
There are several cute myths about the raising the newborn god Zeus. Nymphs placed him in a golden cradle, which hung among the foliage of a huge oak, so that it hovered between the land and the sky and Cronus could not detect him. But the divine infant’s crying was very strong and loud. The young girls, in order to avoid an unexpected visit by Cronus due to all this noise, they called their friends, Kouretes. These were demonic forest elves with strange appearance. Whenever Zeus was crying, they began to dance a wild war dance, the pyrrhic, starting singing war cries and beating their spears and javelins on the ground. Therefore, the noise from Kouretes was overlaying the baby’s crying and Cronus could not hear it.
The beloved Nymph of Zeus, the Amalthea, milked a goat and fed it to the divine infant, who with great voracity devoured it. The goat, which was called the Aiga was a descendant of Helios. She was huge and terrible in form. The Titans could not bear to see her, so Gaia closed her in a cave of Mount Ida. Nevertheless, Zeus was not afraid at all of this creature, which helped his upbringing. Therefore, when he grew a little and began to walk, he played with the huge goat, which he even called Amalthea, giving her the name of his beloved Nymph. Many times Zeus did not wait for the Nymphs to feed him. He sat under the goat, milking her by himself and drinking the milk.
Someday Zeus, inadvertent because he could not control his divine power, broke a horn of Amalthea. He was very pity and to comfort the blessed animal, he gave the horn to Nymph Amalthea after he first endowed it with magical properties. The one possessing the horn could just make a wish and immediately appear in front of him all the goods of the world. Since then, it became known as "cornucopia" or "horn of plenty". When the goat grew old and died, Zeus was very sad. From her skin, he made the powerful Aegis, which was his most important weapon in the Clash of the Titans.
Another myth describes that the divine child was raised with honey. The wild bees of the mountain, gathered the best honey from their queens especially for Zeus. Nymphs gave it to the little Zeus, who was delighted by its sweet taste.
According to another legend, the god was brought up with ambrosia and nectar, which is the food and drink of the immortals. White sacred doves were carrying the ambrosia and were feeding the baby themselves, just like they did with their young. An eagle, with shiny wings and sharp claws, flew every evening at incredible speed through the skies, and reached the fountain, from which it drew, the nectar and moved it the mountain of Crete.
When Zeus grew and gained power, he showed his gratitude to all the creatures who had helped his upbringing. Therefore, he did the Amalthea and the eagle constellations and assigned to the cute doves the pleasant duty to announce the seasons.
From the other fairies of the forest that protected Zeus, the most famous are Idis and Metis. Idis actually had given the little god his first game, a crystal ball, which when was thrown into the air was leaving bright colorful lines just like the stars of Uranus.
Surrounded by so much love and affection, Zeus became a beautiful teenager, with strong and harmonious body and excellent appearance. Nymphs then realized that it was time to reveal everything to him. So he learned about his cruel father and all the adventures that he and his mother had experienced to reach in this age.
With valuable tips, wishes and magic herbs of the Nymphs and especially Metis, he arrived in front of Cronus. Zeus revealed his identity and asked for his throne. Cronus declined, but Zeus after a lengthy struggle managed to immobilize him. Then he gave him an herb and immediately Cronus threw up the rest of his children, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon and Hades. Zeus went through too many adventures in order to become the absolute overlord.
We need only to recall the terrible Clash of the Titans, which lasted ten years. The Clash of the Titans was the war between the Olympians and the brothers of Cronus, who did not acknowledge in any way a younger god as their superior. Eventually, following the advice of Gaia, Zeus freed the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires that the Titans had imprisoned in Tartarus. They in turn, to show their gratitude, gave the three brothers, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon fierce weapons. They gave Zeus thunder and lightning, Hades the kynee, a magic helmet that made anyone who wore it invisible, and Poseidon the trident. Therefore, the Olympians after a long war finally managed to crush the Titans. Right after, Zeus and his brothers had to face the terrible Giants. However, with Athena fighting like a man, Hercules and Dionysus as supporters, they managed to win again.
Last and most painful conflict was that with the Typhon (Hurricane), who managed to injure Zeus. Nevertheless, with the cunning of Hermes and Pan there was again a happy conclusion for the Olympians and especially for Zeus.
After all these adventures ended, the kingdom was split between the three brothers. Zeus took the kingdom of Uranus, Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld. But the problems of Zeus did not stop. It took several times to confront the other gods in order to convince them about his superiority. Quite often, he faced the intense displeasure of Neptune who constantly challenged his authority and did not carry out his orders obediently. He had to threaten him several times in order for Poseidon to become obedient.
Sometimes even the other gods organized conspiracy against the king of the gods in his own palace. In this conspiracy, Hera, Poseidon, Athena and Apollo took part. Moreover, they would certainly manage to harm him, if Thetis did not bring Briareus from the depths of the ocean as a supporter of Zeus.
Zeus, in order to take revenge on Hera, tied her hands and feet with invisible chains and hung her from the sky. In addition, he sent Poseidon and Apollo to work as slaves in the service of the mortal king Laomedon of Troy. As for Athena, since she was his favorite daughter, he did not punish her and then she was faithful and obedient.
Some legends tell that when he took power, he created the world again from the beginning. He took Chthonia, an old deity strongly connected with the earth, as his wife. Zeus gave her a veil, in which the whole world was designed over it, lands and seas, mountains and plains, rivers and lakes.
As for the human race, when it became very sinful and ceased to make sacrifices to the gods, he destroyed it with a terrible cataclysm of which only Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha survived. Of these two, by the will of Zeus, young people were born from the stones they were throwing over their backs. But, in this new human race, wickedness once again began to reign. For this reason, Zeus caused two major wars, the expedition of the Seven Generals against Thebes and the Trojan War. Another reason was that the world's population had increased rapidly and the war was a means to reduce it again.
In the first case, Zeus punished the seven generals because they were disrespectful and arrogant. One general said that he would conquer Thebes regardless of the will of Almighty God, the other had Typhon in his emblem, the biggest enemy of Zeus, and someone else questioned the power of his lightning. All of them had a horrible end. Later, their sons, who were devout and regularly sacrificed to the gods, Zeus helped them to conquer the Theban castle.
In the case of the Trojan War, Zeus took care firstly and foremost that Helen would be born, so her grabbing from Paris would mark the start of the war. During the war, he had put his plan in motion.
He kept Achilles enough time outside the battlefield as he had promised to his mother Thetis. Furthermore, he gave the final victory to the Greeks as he had decided, regardless of other Olympians who fought on the side of one or the other faction.
Many gods and even more mortals experienced the wrath of Zeus when they did something against his will or something that disturbed the order of the universe and natural laws. That is why he thunder stroked Faethonos, who dared to drive the chariot of Helios (Sun) close to earth and endangered her burning.
He did the same with Asclepius who had progressed so much in the medical art, so that he managed to raise the dead with his herbs. Apollo, enraged by the death of his son, seeking revenge, wanted to kill Cyclopes with his golden arrows. Zeus was so angered that he was ready to throw his son to Tartarus. However, after Leto’s solicitation, he mitigated the penalty of Apollo and sent him for a year in the service of King Admitos.
Additionally, Zeus killed Jason with a thunderbolt when he found out that he had fallen in love with the goddess Demeter. She responded in Jason’s love and they lived happily together in the fields. Zeus did not want the goddesses to mate with mortals. All erotic cravings that were not in line with the laws of nature were caused by Aphrodite and then she mocked the immortals.
The almighty Zeus, who was one of her most frequent victims, to punish her, inspired Aphrodite with great passion and love for the mortal Anchises. Therefore, the goddess of beauty acquired the mortal hero Aineias by him. Sometimes, Zeus visited mortals to test their faith. The King of Gods once went to Kea, which was inhabited by Telchines. These were savage and cruel people, who did not accept Zeus as the chief god and did not welcome him with respect. Dexithea, the only daughter of the king, fell to his knees and offered to serve as a faithful servant. Zeus then destroyed all the inhabitants except the venerable daughter.
Another time, the Father of Gods and men went to Arcadia. There the king Lycaon and his sons, in order test his power and omniscience, massacred an infant, roasted it, and gave it to him to eat. Zeus was enraged by this outrageous act and transformed the king and his sons into wolves. Salmoneas, king of Elis, had become so arrogant that almost went mad and claimed that he resembled Zeus. The almighty god was very irritated and threw a thunder in the palace of the king, which caused a huge fire that burned the whole city.
Zeus is rightly named as father of gods and men. Indeed, many Olympians and minor deities, as well as a multitude of different famous heroes were his children.
Metis is considered as his first wife, the Nymph that gave him the magic herb to beat Cronus. However, unfortunately there was a prophecy saying that the Metis’ son would become stronger than his father would. Therefore, Zeus decided to swallow his wife.
Thereby, he removed the risk of dethronement and acquired all the wisdom of the world. After nine months had passed, it was his fate to make himself a peculiar cesarean. A terrible headache was tormenting Zeus and his head began to grow. Therefore, Hephaestus, despite his initial objections dealt a severe blow with the hammer in the divine head from where the goddess Athena sprang fully armed.
In addition, Zeus, during the early years of his domination, paired with two female Titans. Firstly, he mated with Themis, the personification of justice. From her, Zeus acquired the three Hours (Ores), Eunomia, Trial and Peace, and the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. The Fates not only defined the fate of people but also the fate of gods. From the titan Mnemosyne, the personification of memory, after nine nights of continuous mating, Zeus acquired the nine Muses, Calliope, Clio, Polyhymnia, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Erato, Melpomene, Thalia and Urania.
The nine Muses protected music, poetry and the arts in general. From the Oceanis Eurynome, Zeus acquired the three Graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. He once wanted to mate with the sea goddess Thetis. Nevertheless, Themis warned him that a child from Thetis would obtain a weapon more powerful than lightning. After hearing this, the Greek god choked his erotic passion and arranged to marry the beautiful Nereid with the mortal Pileas. After pairing with these earlier goddesses, Hera was recognized as the only lawful wife of Zeus, who was his sister.
A Greek myth says that Hera did not succumb initially in his love, so Zeus resorted to a trick. A very cold winter day, he appeared outside the window of the revered goddess being transformed into a cuckoo. She pitied the frozen bird and put it in her body to warm up. Then the king of the gods took his normal form and after having promised her that he will make her his lawful wife, they mated together. The dominant pair of Olympus had three children, the eternal teenager Evie, who gave as wife to Hercules when he became immortal, the warlike Ares and the divine blacksmith Hephaestus.
Of course, they lived a turbulent marital life and the passionate jealousy of Hera could not endure the constant amorous adventures of her husband. Several times, Hera even attempted to leave the marital home. The almighty Zeus was always finding a way to bring her back. He always asserted that the extramarital adventures meant nothing to him and that she was the only woman that he craved for.
The Greek god Hermes was also son of Zeus. The great god once saw Atlantis Maia, who lived on Mount Kyllini of Arcadia. He fell in love on first sight and mated with her during a dark night, when Hera was asleep and no one else, immortal or mortal, could see them. From this pairing came Hermes, who shook the world, just after seeing the sunlight.
Leto, daughter Titans, also did not escape Zeus’ hugs. However, this infidelity became known to Hera. Nevertheless, as she could not hurt the almighty husband, she chased with all her forces his mistress. However, even after long wanderings Leto found a place to give birth, Hera held captive Ilithyia, the goddess of successful births. Only with a precious gift did the other goddesses manage to appease Hera. Thus were born two young Olympian gods, Artemis and Apollo.
Once, Zeus also liked Asteria, Leto’s sister. However, she resisted in every possible way and so he transformed her into a quail and later on a small island called Ortygia, which was doomed to sail continuously at sea. Only when Ortygia accepted her sister, Leto, to give birth, then became a stable island named Delos. Other Greek myths recount that ultimately the king of gods and men conquered Asteria, who gave birth to Ekati (Hecate). Another time, Zeus fell in love with Demeter, his other sister. She repelled him for a very long time. Eventually the almighty god also satisfied his passion, which resulted in the birth of Persephone. Furthermore, Zeus was joined by Selini (Moon), which gave birth to two daughters, Herse and Pandias, as well as the Nymph Thyvris that begat the goat-footed Pan, god of fertility.
The myth about the birth of Dionysus is one of the most famous. Zeus fell in love with the princess of Thebes, Semele. The mortal girl was unable to resist the divine beauty and joined him. Hera, wanting to avenge the princess, presented in the form of her nurse and persuaded her to ask Zeus for a favor. The favor was that the Father of Gods would present himself in front of her in all his glory and power. Therefore, Semele was trying to persuade Zeus to do this favor, while he on the other hand was trying to convince her for the opposite and change her mind.
In the end, the almighty god accepted her request and appeared in front of her on a gold chariot, holding thunders on his hands, accompanied by lightning and thunderclap. Semele, as it would happen to any mortal, could not stand his greatness and burnt. Zeus took the infant who was in the young girl's womb and sewed it in his thigh. Having passed nine months, Dionysus was born, the god of the vine and wine. The great god, since he could not keep the baby on the mountain Olympus, confided it in Ino, Semele's sister, and her husband Athamas. However, the jealous Hera destroyed both spouses sending them temporary madness. Then Zeus entrusted the infant to the Nymphs of Boeotia, where he was raised.
Nevertheless, Io was the mortal who was especially afflicted by Hera. She was the daughter of Inachus, king of Argos. Io's beauty was exceptional and Zeus, unsurprisingly, fell in love with her. From that time and beyond, her suffering began. The Queen of the Gods had prepared a plan to destroy her and Zeus managed to save her transforming her into a white cow. Then the jealous wife sent a loathsome and annoying insect, estrus (horsefly), which constantly embroidered Io. Being delirious and in order to avoid the bites, she started running. Io crossed the sea, which got her name, Ionian Sea, and after many adventures arrived in Egypt.
There, Zeus took pity on her for her many sufferings and gave her back her human form. Then Io begat Epaphos, who ruled those places, irrigated the Nile and was the ancestor of all those who founded the great kingdoms in Asia, Africa and Argolid. Hera instructed the Curetes to wipe out Epaphos. Zeus, in his fury, blasted them with thunders, although they had helped him so much when he was an infant. As for Io, she took her place in the celestial concave as constellation. Well known is the first love of the god with Danae, the princess of Argos. Her father, Acrisius, had imprisoned her in a cell in the palace because he had taken an oracle that the son of Danae would kill his grandfather. Then Zeus appeared, who had fallen in love with the princess and transformed into golden rain, penetrated the roof and entered the cell. From their mating, the hero Perseus was born.
Danae kept that fact hidden for a long time. However, at some point her father heard the baby crying and found out everything. Then he asked who the baby's father was. When Danae told him the name of Zeus, he did not believe it and as punishment, he locked her with the baby in a wooden box and threw it into the sea. After some time, they arrived near Serifos Island. Dichtis, a fisherman, saw the box and heard voices, collected it and opened it. Danae and Perseus recounted their adventure to him and Dichtis took them to his home, where they lived for several years.
Zeus often wished for women who were already married with mortals. He fell in love with Leda, wife of Tyndareus. To approach her, the Greek god took the form of a pure white swan. From their mating, Leda gave birth to the gorgeous Helen, who was the cause that the Trojan War broke out, as well as the twin Castor and Pollux. Of the twins, one came from the seed of Zeus and was immortal while the other came from Tyndareus' sperm and was mortal. This is why when Castor died, Pollux asked for and it was accepted by his father to switch to life with his beloved brother.
The great god was the father of one of the most famous heroes of antiquity, Heracles (Hercules). Zeus fell in love with Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon and for one more time he used a fraudulent way. The Greek god took the form of Amphitryon and entered the queen’s room where he mated with her. Nine months later, the demigod Heracles was born. Zeus also mated with various nymphs and mortals and gave birth to the first ancestors of many people and founders of many cities. In Crete, where he spent the first years of his life, a Greek myth narrates that he paired with a local heroine, named Crete who gave her name to the island and had a son, Kora, the founder of a people who lived in very ancient times in the Aegean.
Much more famous is the myth, which tells the love of Zeus for Europe. Europe was the daughter of the king of Syria. One day that she was playing with her friends in the meadows and was picking flowers, the flirty God saw her and immediately fell in love with her. In order to approach the girl, Zeus transformed into a tamed bull.
Europe began to caress the strong animal and climbed on his back. Immediately, Zeus-bull started running at lightning speed; Europe was crying but could not jump off the bull because she would surely be killed. The disguised god crossed the sea and arrived in Crete. There in the cave that he was born, Dikteon antrum, Zeus mated with the young princess. The fruits of this mating were Minos and Rhadamanthus. After a while, Europe married a king of the island, Asterios, who adopted Zeus’ children.
Another time, Zeus disguised again and managed to seduce the nymph Callisto. She was a companion of Artemis and had sworn eternal maiden life. When the Olympian goddess realized what happened, she expelled Callisto from her company. Zeus, feeling pity for her, transformed her into a bear, but Artemis killed her with her arrows. The almighty God, as he used with his loved ones, transformed her into a constellation, Ursa Major (Bear). The child’s name that was conceived was Arcas. He was brought up by Maia and was the ancestor of the inhabitants of Arcadia.
At Argos, a Greek myth narrates that the first mortal lover of Zeus was Niobe, who begat Argus, founder of Argos. Furthermore, Thebe was born from Iodama, leader of Thebes. Asopos was born from Eurynome, from whom the Boeotians descended. Locros was born from Maira, who gave his name to Locris, and Orchomenus was born from Isonoi, who was the ancestor of Orchomenos.
Selene (Moon) gave Zeus a son called Nemeas and Taygeti gave him Lacedaemon. From both of them respectively originated the Nemean and the Spartans. Moreover, Aeacus was born from Aegina and Sithnida gave birth to Magaros.
The grab of a new man, Ganymedes, is also attributed to Zeus. The father of Gods and men was fascinated by the look and posture of the amazing mortal, transformed himself into an eagle, grabbed him and carried him to Mount Olympus. There he used Ganymedes as a sommelier, a property that until then belonged to Hebe, and generally as a companion to their feasts. Zeus, as we said, was the chief god. He had the entire universe under his supervision. Zeus also protected nature, but also various aspects of personal, social and political life.
He was the leader of the gods and the strongest one of all. An attribute of his omnipotence is the passage of the Iliad, where he challenges all the other Olympians to draw him from the sky down to earth using a golden rope. The almighty God assures them that they will not make it.
Nevertheless, if Zeus just pulled the rope towards the sky, then he would not only have taken the rest of the gods with him, but also the whole lands and seas and it would seem like a ball hanging from the sky. For these reasons he was considered the protector of individual power, be it king or noble, or the municipality (people). Similarly, Zeus protected the father of each house, who was the head of the family.
Mortals always invoked Zeus in their oaths as the first god and the gods swore to the sacred waters of the Styx. A breach of this oath, even to the immortals, had terrible consequences. For an entire year, they fell dormant and for the next nine years, they did not participate in the councils and feasts of gods.
The King of Gods had absolute and unconditional power over the nature and weather. It was he, who was sending the clear sky light and the good weather (nickname “Zeus Uranius and Aithrios”).
In addition, he was also sending the winds, rains, clouds, snow, hail, as well as the lightning, thunder and lightning, the gifts of the Cyclops.
Zeus was often worshiped on mountaintops, where the people built shrines and altars because they believed that this is closer to god.
Zeus was revealing his will through dreams but also through oracles. There were two famous oracles, which were dedicated to him. One was the oracle of Dodona in Epirus and the other of Zeus Ammon in Libya.
The most important symbol of Zeus was the thunderbolt, the most valuable weapon he had. Additionally, the scepter, which ended in eagle, was the symbol of his authority.
Moreover, the aegis was the skin of Amalthea, which made him invincible. The sacred tree of Zeus was the oak. Very often, it is depicted with two jars on the side, which symbolized the good and bad things that Zeus was sending to humans.
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