Zeus the God of All Gods

The stories of Greek mythology are entirely fascinating and thought provoking. Nevertheless, these myths have become so popularized because of the teachings found within the strengths and battles of each Greek figure. The chronicled lives of Greek gods and goddesses is a compilation of oral stories that have been passed from generation to generation.1 Although these didactic stories are all intriguing, one compelling one is the upbringing of Zeus, God of the Sky and the King of the Gods. Zeus’s admiration and notorious reputation in Olympus was not an easily achieved title. He endured various struggles throughout young adulthood within himself, his family, and those who sought for control.2 Despite great obstacles, Zeus fulfilled a destiny that would lead him to reign over Olympus.

Colossal Head of Zeus made from Roman Marble | Courtesy of Wikipedia

Son of Cronus and Rhea, Zeus was the last-born child of six siblings. His father, Cronus, managed to seize domination of the skies from his own father, Ouranos, and was cautious that his actions would repeat itself with his own children. To prevent a detestable takeover before his death, Cronus consumed his children Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. Luckily, Rhea, Cronus’s wife, spared Zeus by giving her partner a stone wrapped in a blanket.3 Assisted by Titans, Uranus and Gaea, Rhea managed to send her son to Mount Dikte, on a Greek island in Crete, so that he would be far away from his father’s tyrannical greed. Zeus was nurtured by Nymphs, or divine spirits, and was fed by Amaltheia, a goat nurse, that acquired milk for him through one of her cracked horns.4 His unknowing escape resulted in Zeus’s ignorance regarding his powers and potential ability to be the God of all Gods.

Zeus at Getty Villa Museum in Roman, Italy | Courtesy of Wikipedia

As his coming of age grew closer, Zeus’s powers became increasingly dominant, and could not go unnoticed. Since Zeus was unaware of his true beginnings, and was raised by Amaltheia, he held great adoration toward her. On one occasion, Amaltheia got trapped on a tree branch, and in her attempt to become untangled, her horn broke off. She proceeded to fill the horn with fruits and handed it over to Zeus as a keepsake of protection. To show her his appreciation, he transformed Amaltheia’s horn into a cornucopia. Symbolically, this is the “horn of plenty,” and has all the food and drink that the owner desires.5 Having the cornucopia in his possession, Zeus’s powers increased, and fruits were never scarce, becoming richer than they were before. Gaea noticed Zeus’s extraordinary powers, and she entrusted to him his fate to overthrow his father for his total rule.

Zeus, the god of the sky, lighting, thunder, and justice stature discovered in Smyrna | Courtesy of Wikipedia

Upon learning of his origins, Zeus returned to gain control of Olympus from Cronus. Initially, Zeus got his father to eat a special herb, which caused him to eject Zeus’s siblings from his stomach.6 Ungovernable Titans wanted to battle for jurisdiction over all Olympian gods, and a decade-long battle emerged, which came to be known as Titanomachy. The Titans were siblings of Cronus, and Zeus gained assistance from a cyclops. The cyclops provided Zeus with his signature lightning bolt, and Zeus’s brothers, Poseidon and Hades, managed to take supreme authority from Cronus.7 Much of Zeus’s struggles came to him when he realized that he possessed his supernatural powers. Fortunately, he instinctively chose to do what was morally right, while being able to implement his powers on others.

Ultimately, Zeus and his brothers chose to rule over distinct parts of the cosmos. Zeus secured the heavens, Poseidon ruled the seas, and Hades became lord of the underworld.8 The limitations that Cronus once wished to deprive Zeus of were no longer an obstacle. According to Homer, Zeus reigned at the top of Mount Olympus, where he observed the affairs of men.9 Zeus also married his sister, Hera, and embodied the divine dimension of the code of ethics that ancient Greeks aspired to live by. Artistically, Zeus is characterized as a bearded and honorable man. When the topic of Greek gods and mythology arises, it is typical for one to envision Zeus and his lightning bolt.

  1. Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2017, s.v. “Zeus(Deity),” by Trudy Mercadal.
  2. Elaine Margery, Greek Mythology: Ancient Myths of the Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes-Zeus, Hercules and the Olympians (n.p., 2016), 30.
  3. Russel Robert, Zeus (Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2008), 10.
  4. Robin Waterfield, The Greek Myths (London: Quercus, 2013), 6.
  5. Karoly Kerenyi, The God’s of the Greeks (London: Thames and Hudson, 2006), 3.
  6. Elaine Margery, Greek Mythology: Ancient Myths of the Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes-Zeus, Hercules and the Olympians (n.p., 2016), 23.
  7.  Russel Robert, Zeus (Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2008), 33.
  8.  Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2017, s.v. “Zeus(Deity),” by Trudy Mercadal.
  9. Russel Robert, Zeus (Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2008), 15.
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47 Comments

  • I really enjoyed this mythology piece on Zeus. It taught me a lot about mythology I never knew about Zeus as well as other smaller concepts I didn’t know about. For example, I never knew that the idea of the “cornucopia” actually had origins in Greek tales. Zeus also ironically has a similar beginning like his own son Hercules. It was interesting to see the correlation between those two tales and learning more about this iconic figure in Greek mythology.

  • I think you did a good job at telling this mythology. The article overall was well written and flowed nicely. I knew some of the story but I did not know its entirety so I liked how you were able to touch on all the points of the story while not dragging it out. The only criticism I have is that I wish your article had images because I feel like that would’ve brought your story to life.

  • Really cool, article. I never really knew Zeus story like that. I Think you article was well written and organized. I really liked how you told his story from a young child to who Zeus is today. Also, I do agree that Zeus is in deed, is the God of all Gods for a good reason. Overall, I enjoyed this short read and would recommend this to the category ” World History”.

  • Mythology is a awesome thing to do research about as it is so interesting and so much to learn. I feel that Zeus is so powerful and its crazy when the article said ” his powers were so dominant and he went unnoticed”, to read that and put it in perspective is crazy! I really enjoyed this article and how it told me about the origin of one of the most powerful mythology Gods of all time. Next I wanna read the article about Hades which is a son of Zeus. Im super interested in mythology and in fact will do more research on it to learn more and maybe use it for a article in the future.

  • I have never learnt about any Greek mythology. Reading this has made me actually want to know more about all of the Greek gods and past history in that aspect. I think this article did a good job of expressing how Zeus obtained power over the Earth. I have learnt about what it was like when Zeus had his power but I never knew how he become to obtain it or anything to do with the lead up of him getting it.

  • Zeus is an interesting character in Greek mythology. Most often we learn about the exploits of Zeus once he had already ascended to the throne as the “God of All Gods” so it was fun to hear his back story. I think one of the things that is so captivating about Greek mythology is how much detail the Greek’s brought to the lives of their gods and goddesses.

  • Zeus’ coming of age story is less well known than his later exploits. Most modern depictions have Zeus as the ‘god of gods’ but never go into the details of his rise to power, and I enjoyed reading this article. A mother’s love is prevailing in saving Zeus by tricking her partner and hiding her son away.

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