King of the Gods



The all-powerful king of the gods in ancient Greek mythology.  Zeus (Zyoos; Zoos, meaning, bright sky) was the son of Cronus or Kronos (Kroh-nuhs; Kroh-nohs) and Rhea (Ree-ah; Ray-ah).  Cronus and Rhea, both Titans (Tie-tanz), were siblings as well as spouses. Cronus castrated and/or slew his father,  Uranus/Ouranus (Yoo-ran-us; Yoor-ah-nuhs), in order to become king of the gods.  His father's last words were a foreboding prophecy which over-shadowed Cronus' reign.  The prophecy was that one of Cronus' own sons would betray and replace him as he had done his own father.  Therefore, Cronos he vowed to destroy all his children and did so by swallowing them whole.  In desperation, Rhea finally decided to deceive her husband, and when the infant Zeus was born she wrapped a stone in the child's blanket, which Cronus swallowed thinking it the child.  Rhea secreted away the young and powerful godling, hoping that someday he may prove to be the one that might compleat her father's prophecy and end her all devouring husband's tyranny. 

There are many versions of how this came to pass.  Some accounts say that Zeus was raised as a mortal on a farm.  Most accounts, however, credit his upbringing to the Cretan goat goddess, Amalthea who suckled and hid the infant from his child devouring father until he grew into a young god.  Other's claim he was suckled by wolves.  In either case eventually, Zeus grew to manhood and attacked Cronus as he was out hunting, kicking the unsuspecting Titan brutally in the stomach.  Zeus' assault was so fierce that Cronus immediately began to retch and vomit.  First came the stone followed by Zeus' siblings that Cronus had swallowed over the years.  Cronus fled Zeus' attack hiding from the young god.  An immortal war was waged and inevitably the young gods won.  Some myths say that Zeus castrated Cronos and cast his genitals into the ocean; from the blood and foam of which Aphrodite (Af-roh-die-tee) was conceived (some accounts claim it is the blood and foam of Ouranos' severed organs which she was conceived).  Other tales add that Cronos fled to Italy heralding in the Golden Era or hid elsewhere never challenging his potent son again. 

Having won the war Zeus named himself chief of the new gods, whom he called The Olympians (named after the mountain on which they resided, Olympus in Thessaly).  Rhea continued as an earth goddess, however,  most other Titans fled into the earth and seas to hide and are said to be responsible for earthquakes, volcanic activities and even for tidal waves as they are still crashing and thrashing about in frustration of their defeat.  There was some argument as to which sibling should preside over what area of nature.  To settle the dispute, lots (dice) were cast to decide the matter.  Poseidon (Poh-sigh-dahn) won the waters of the earth and all therein,  Hades (Hay-deez) become lord of the underworld and king of the dead, though not death himself.  Zeus, however, had won the sky and all therein.  Not entirely happy, the brothers excepted their respective realms. 

Zeus was the all-father; cloud-gatherer; supreme ruler; lord of the sky.  It was said that his power was greater than all the other gods and goddesses combined.  His breastplate was the Aegis (Ee-jihs; Ay-juhz), horrible to behold and his weapons was the mighty thunder-bolt.  The latter was eventually fashioned by his lame son Hephaestus (Hee-fee-stuhs) also known as Vulcan or Mulciber (vuhl-kanne or Muhl-sih-buhr).  While he was clearly an impressive figure, he was not as omniscient nor omnipotent as he may seem.  His power and rule was not as absolute as one might presume or imagine.  He could be deceived and opposed.  Hera and Poseidon both dupe him in the Iliad.  He was also, according to Homer, as much at the mercy of Fate as anyone.  Zeus is most notorious for his amorous excursions, which were abundant. 

He married at least eight times.  His wives and their children by Zeus in order are: 
Metis (Mee-tihs, an Oceanid, whom Zeus swallowed when he learned she was pregnant) Later Athena (ah-thee-nah, Goddess of wisdom & strategic war) was born from his head (split with an ax by Hephaestos [Heh-fee-stuhs, God of Smithees]).
Themis (Thee-Mihs), a Titaness. The three Horae (Hoh-ree), the three Fates and according to some mythologists, Prometheus (Proh-mee-thee-uhs) noted hero and in some cases a Titan.
Eurynome (Yoo-rihn-oh-mee) The Three Graces (Gray-suhz).
Mnemosyne (Nee-mahs-ih-nee, meaning memory,) a Titaness  The nine Muses (Myoo-zuhz)
Demeter (Dehm-ih-tuhr; Dee-mee-tuhr; Deh-mee-tuhr), grain Goddess.
Persephone (Puhr-sehf-oh-nee), Queen of the Underworld and in some stories Dionysus as well (Digh-oh-nigh-suhs; Digh-ahn-ih-suhs).
Leto, Titaness Apollo (Ap-pahl-oh) and Artemis (Ahr-tih-mihs)
Maia (May-yah; My-yah; May-ah) eldest and loveliest of the Pleiades (Plee-ya-deez) Hermes.
His sister Hera (Hee-rah; Her-uh; Hayr-uh) whom Zeus named queen of the gods Some accounts list Hephaestos as their son and other list him as Hera's alone.
It is estimated that he had 115 mistresses and 140 children (as best as experts can guess).  But, it is important to note that his infidelities might actually be caused by his absorbtion of lesser divinities as his worship spread. 

Many of his lovers were mortal, nevertheless.  There was rumours of a homosexual relationship with the beautiful Trojan youth, Ganymede (Gan-ih-mee-dee) or Ganymedes (Gan-ih-mee-deez).  In some accounts Ganymede was made the king of the winds and was then known as Aeolus (Ee-oh-luhs) who mysteriously fathered the four winds [Eurus (Yoo-ruhs), prince of the East winds; Notus or Auster (Noh-tuhs/Oh-stihr), prince of the South winds; Zephyr/Zephyrus/Favonius (Zeh-fuhr/Zeh-fuhr-uhs/Fah-voh-nee-uhs), prince of the West winds; and last but not least Boreas/Aquilo/Aquilos (Boh-ree-uhs/Ah-kwee-loh/Ah-kwee-lohs), prince of the North winds and harshest of the quartet] from his cave where all winds are chained.  Either way, Ganymede was believed to be the most beautiful of mortal men and was carried to Mount Olympus by Zeus' eagle, his sacred bird, to be cup-bearer for the mighty king of the gods.  Oddly enough some myths suggest that he was to replace Zeus or Hera' s female cup-bearer curiously named Ganymeda (Gan-ih-mee-dah) or Hebe (Hee-bee).  Some believe that Ganymede was emasculated in myths to save the philosophical Hellenics of later years the embarrassment.  It may also seem that the two are separate entities as Ganymeda later marries Herakles, but, the similarities of the name is curious nevertheless.  In some accounts, Hera was so furious that Zeus would replace her cup-bearer the the boy had to be renamed Aeolus, deified and relocated to protect him from Hera's wrath, typical of her jealous episodes.

Mythology is riddled with the tales of Zeus' infidelities and Hera's wrathful anger and vengeance. The most notable and well known are those pertaining to his son by Semele (Sehm-ah-lee),  Heracles (Her-uh-kleez; Hee-rah-kleez; Hayr-uh-kleez).  While Zeus was quick to break his own marriage vows the Iliad tells us he "never helps liars or those who break their oaths."  He was also depicted as bearing the scales of justice and was noted for his wisdom.  These two contradicting images of him existed side by side for an extremely long time.  Zeus' festival was the Olympia which became today's Olympics.  His temples were existent throughout Greece, particularly Athens (Ath-ihnz).  The Athenian sanctuary was began by Pisastratus (Pihs-ah-stray-ruhs) and compleated by Hadrian (Hay-dree-ahn).  The major temple of every Greek city was that of Zeus.  Probably the most notable, however, is that of Dodona (Doh-dahn-ah).  Dodona was built by the Greek Noah, Deucalion (Doo-kahl-ee-ahn) after Zeus' deluge, in Epiris (Ehp-ih-rihs).  It was the sight of his famous oracles who listened to the voice of the wind as it rustled through the leaves of the mighty oak, Zeus' sacred tree.  Their divinitory skills were supposedly excellent and unrivaled until the Oracles of Delphi (Dehl-fee; SEE APOLLO).  The oracles of Dodona are likely the oldest known in recorded history. 

Zeus had many other names as well.  He was also known as Mechaneus (Mehk-ah-noos), manager and contriver; the name he shared with Apollo (Ap-ah-loh),  Moeragetes (Mee-rah-juh-teez) as the leader and guide of the Fates; in Epeiros (Ee-pih-rohs) he was called Molossus (Moh-lah-suhs) which is conspicuously similar to Apollo's Colossus (Coh-lah-suhs); as the rain god, he was called Pluvius (Ploo-vee-uhs); and as the god of boundaries, landmarks and limitations he was Terminalis (Tuhr-min-ah-lihs).  He was known to the Aegyptians and was honored as Zeus-Ammon or the ram-horned Zeus.  The Romans called him Jove (Johv) which became used as as an expression of astonishment or of personal oath,  Dispater (Dihs-pay-tuhr), Jupiter (Joo-piht-uhr) for whom the planet was named and Viktor (Vihk-tohr) which was also applied to Hercules (Her-kyoo-leez) and Mars (Mahrz) to name a few.  Dyaus, Indo-European; Dianus (Dih-ahn-uhs; Digh-an-us), Janicot (Jan-ih-koh) and Janus (Jan-uhs) may also be associated with him.  He also bore many titles including: Soter (Soh-tehr), meaning saviour; Kosmokrater or Kosmokrates (Kahz-moh-kray-tuhr or Kahz-moh-kray-teez), ruler of the cosmos and Olympian Zeus, as chief of the Olympians. 

He has been a notable figure in the arts, of course.  Popular amongst artists, poets, sculptors and the like.  Sculptures, reliefs and other carvings are likely the most abundant medium which has been applied to him.  He is featured in Homer's Iliad and Hesiod's Theogeny.  The following associations have been applied to him esotericly:


Table Of Correspondences
God All Generous Odours Almond In Flower Aur
Elephant All Odoriferous Roots  Aspen Lead
Eagle Or Man (Cherub Of Air) Ambergris Banyan Pot

Galbanum Damiana Tin

Ginseng Fig

Jasmine Hyssop

Saffron Mandrake



Amethyst Aces Crown
Chalcedony Emperor (Swords) Dagger
Diamond Fool Fan
Lapis Lazuli Nines Fylfat Cross
Quartz Prince (Swords) Perfume
Topaz Wheel Of Fortune Sandals




It is known from recorded history and other ancient writings that Zeus was worshipped from circe 800 BCE until Christianization circa 400 CE, but, it is indoubtable that his worship far exceeds these records. It is possible, if not probable that his worship continued past the later date as well.  As previously mentioned, he may have been absorbed by or may have himself absorbed other deities.  He readily equates to many divinities,  Thor (Thohr), Norse; Iskur (Ihz-kuhr; Eez-kuhr), Sumerian; Teshub (Teh-shoob), Hittite; Hadad (Had-add) and many other similar deities as well.


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Copyright 1995-2004 by endora@iglou.com
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Created:  9:52 PM 11/19/1996
Updated: 1:16 PM 9/25/2004