Who is Zeus

The main and presiding deity of the ancient Greek pantheon Zeus (Ζεύς) is also the god of thunder and lightning. He rules on Olympus, the mountain of the gods, from where he also rules the world. He is the son of the titans Rhea and Kronos/Cronos. His brothers are Hades and Poseidon; and his sisters are Hera (who is also his wife), Hestia and Demeter.

As the chief god in the pantheon of gods of Olympus, Zeus is often described as ruling the destinies of men and gods, placing good and bad in the world, as well as shame and conscience, ruling the fate of everything. In other myths (interestingly) Zeus is subject to the Moiras – the balancing forces of the threads of fate. Creator and maintainer of society and divine order, Zeus was raised by the mountain nymph Amalthea on the island of Crete, so he was saved from the terrible fate of his jealous father Kronos, who wanted to swallow the infant Zeus, but Rhea tricked him (she gave him the Omphalos stone instead of the child). When he grew up Zeus treated Kronos to wine, which caused Kronos to regurgitate the deity’s brothers and sisters he had swallowed, and so began the war between the Gods and the Titans.

The offspring of Zeus is proverbially large. Several of their names are: Zagreus, Achilles, Persephone (mother: Demeter); Hephaestus, Ares, Ilithyia, Phoebe (mother: Hera); Apollo and Artemis (mother: Leto); Hermes (mother: Maya); Athena (mother: Metis); the muses of the arts (mother: Mnemosyne); the three moira (mother: Themis); and many more of nymphs and mortal women.

Myth of the Birth of Zeus

Cronus was not sure his great power would remain in his hands forever. He feared that one day his children would rise up against him and doom him to the same fate as he had doomed his father Uranus. He was afraid of his children. And he commanded his wife, Rhea, to bring him the children that were being born, and he devoured them mercilessly. Rhea was horrified to see the fate of her children. He had already swallowed five Cronus: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon.

Rhea didn’t want to lose her last child either. On the advice of her parents, Uranus – Sky, and Gaia – Earth, she retired to the island of Crete and there, in a deep cave, her youngest son Zeus was born, they raised him with milk from the divine goat Amalthea. Bees brought honey to the little god from the entrance of the cave. Young curettes struck the shields with their swords every time little Zeus cried so as not to hear his crying Cronus and so that Zeus would not reach the fate of his brothers and sisters.

Myth of Zeus Defeating Cronus

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Cronus devours his children,
Peter Paul Rubens

The wonderful and powerful god Zeus grew up and matured. He rebelled against his father and forced him to bring back to life the children he had swallowed. One by one, Cronus vomited his children – gods, beautiful and bright. They shared a struggle with Cronus and the Titans to rule the world.

This struggle was terrible and stubborn. The children of Cronus fortified themselves on the high Olympus. On their side stood some of the titans, and the first – the titan Ocean and his daughter Styx with his children Diligence, Power and Victory. The fight was dangerous for the Olympian gods. Mighty and terrible were their opponents – the Titans. But the Cyclops came to Zeus’ aid. They forged thunder and lightning, which Zeus threw at the Titans. The struggle had been going on for ten years, and the victory was not leaning on either side. In the end, Zeus decided to free the giants with the hundred hands from the bowels of the earth – the hecatonchires; called them for help. Terrible, huge as mountains, they came out of the bowels of the earth and threw themselves into battle. They crushed whole rocks from the mountains and threw them at the Titans. Hundreds of rocks flew against the Titans as they approached Olympus. The ground groaned, a roar filled the air, everything around shook. Even Tartarus shuddered at this struggle. Zeus threw fiery lightning after another and caught the whole earth, the seas boiled, thick stinking smoke covered everything.

Finally, the mighty Titans retreated. Their strength was broken, they were defeated. The Olympians chained them and threw them into the gloomy Tartarus into the age-old darkness. In front of the strong copper doors of Tartarus stood the guards, the hecatonchairs, to keep the mighty titans from escaping Tartarus to freedom again. The rule of the Titans in the world was over.

Myth of Zeus and Typhon

But the struggle does not end there. Gaia – Earth, was terribly angry with the Olympian Zeus for treating her children – the defeated titans – so cruelly. She married the gloomy Tartarus and gave birth to the terrible hundred-headed monster Typhon. The huge Typhon, with a hundred dragon heads, rose from the bowels of the earth. He shook the air with a wild howl. Barking of dogs, human voices, the mooing of an angry bull and the roar of a lion were heard in this howl. Violent flames swirled around Typhon, and the earth shook under his heavy footsteps. The gods were horrified. But Zeus the Thunderer boldly attacked him; a fight begins. Lightning flashed in Zeus’s hands again, thunder rumbled. The earth and the sky shook to the ground. The earth blazed brightly again, as it had in the fight against the Titans. The seas boiled as Typhon approached. The thunderbolt Zeus poured his fiery lightning bolts with hundreds; as if their fire had ignited the air itself and blazed the dark storm clouds. Zeus had turned Typhon’s hundred heads into ashes. Typhon collapsed to the ground; such a strong heat radiated from his body that everything around him melted. Zeus grabbed Typhon’s body and threw it into the gloomy Tartarus who had created it. But even from Tartarus, Typhon was still terrible to the gods and to all living things. Caused storms and eruptions; from him and from Echidna, half-snake, were born the terrible two-headed dog Orpho, the hell dog Cerberus, the Lerneian hydra and the Chimera; Typhon often shakes the earth.

The Olympian gods defeated their enemies. No one was able to resist their power anymore. They could now rule the world in peace. The strongest of them, the thunderer Zeus, took for himself the sky, Poseidon – the sea, and Hades – the underworld, the kingdom of the souls of the dead. And the land remained in common possession. But although the sons of Cronus shared power over the world, they were still ruled by the lord of heaven, Zeus; he rules over people and gods, he rules everything in the world.

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Zeus strikes Typhon with a lightning , 540-530 BC