Mythology is inevitably intertwined at the core of Greek culture. The Greeks have succeeding in making extremely intricate compilations of legends and lore which, as a whole, results in Greek mythology. Much of the mythology is centered around the Olympian gods. Zeus, chief among the gods plays an important part in the formation of Greek mythology and serves as a representation of how Greek mythology is a cycle that repeats on a continuum.
Everyone knows that Zeus is the thunder god and ruler of the Heavens. Few people know how he came to possession of his impressive power. Cronus, ruler of the heavens and Rhea, mother of the earth, had six children. Five of the children proceeded Zeus’s birth. Rhea had prophesied that one of their children woZeus.jpguld overthrow Cronus from his pedestal. To guarantee his throne, Cronus ate all of his children immediately after birth. Opposing Cronus’s actions, Rhea hid Zeus, their sixth child, on an island far away. The ruler of the heavens was deceived by his wife into eating a rock wrapped in a blanket, disguised as Zeus. When Zeus was mature enough, he sought after his father to seek revenge. To inflict the regurgitation his children, Cronus was poisoned by his youngest son. With the assistance of his siblings, Zeus attacked his father and locked him the the dark abyss deep below the crust of the earth, Tartarus. (Leadbetter “Zeus”)
After his miraculous victory, Zeus and his two brothers divided the galaxy. Subsequent to drawing lots, Zeus became the God of the Heavens, Poseidon became the God of the Sea and Hades received the underworld. In addition to being god of the Heavens, he was seen as being the king of the Gods. This has to do with all of his impressive powers. Being ruler of the heavens, he was also master of Olympus. He is well known for his impressive bolts of lightning. Since he has authority over the weather, no one dares to challenge him. Lightning, thunder, rainstorms and drought are examples of elements that Zeus has power over. (MMM “Zeus: Greek God of the Sky”)
Posterior to establishing his place as king of Olympus and ruler of the heavens, he began to build his paternal and marital reputation. Zeus and one of his sisters, Hera, became fond of each other. Their fondness led to the eventual marriage of the two siblings. Together, they bore many children including other Olympian Gods such as Ares and Hephaestus. Infamous for his lust for women, he didn’t stay with just one partner. He had various children with various other goddesses. In addition to having relations with relations with other goddesses, he had many mortal mates. To many of his mortal ‘lovers’, the loving feeling was not mutual. The end result of all his ‘relationships’ were dozens and dozens of children, which are called demigods. Through Zeus’s and his children children, he was able to provide everything that mankind would need to live morally governed lives. (Low 11-21)
zeus_tartarus.jpg In addition to being the king of gods, Zeus is also the god of humankind. The task of creating the first man, assigned by Zeus himself was bestowed upon Prometheus. Upon the completion of the first man, Prometheus desired to endow mankind with the grandest of gifts: fire. Fire was sacred and exclusive to only to gods. Prometheus was punished for giving away one of the most prestigious gifts. Despite his anger, Zeus still wanted to conclude the creation of humankind by constructing the first woman. The Gods all granted one gift to the first woman. Zeus bestowed the woman with the gift of curiosity and gave her the box that he told her not to open. Pandora, the first woman was unable to restrain her curiosity from making her open up the box. When her will broke and she opened up the box, she released the forces of evil, famine, hate and all things foul. Although mankind was subjected the evils of the world, Zeus was fair because he gave humankind a chance to leave the evil contained. (Low 22-30)
Although Zeus was know to be a democratic, fair and overall peaceful god, he could also be a god of war, when necessary. Several times, there were instances where he had to fight to defend his throne or the very foundations of Olympus itself. One of the Zeus’s most famous battles was between him and the child of Gaia and Tartarus, Typhoes. The astronomically large storm, Typhoes, sought to dethrone the gods, but Zeus had already discovered his intentions. Zeus struck Typhoes with his lightning bolt and cast in into the pit of Tartarus with the titans and his father, Cronus. (Atsma “TITANS”) Another notable battle that Zeus had a significant involvement in was the war of the giants. The giants, children of Gaia, sought to bring an end to Olympus. Among the many giants assaulting the gods, the most powerful were Porphyrion and Alkyoneus. With the help of his demigod son, Heracles, Zeus was able suppress the invasion and return peace and order to heavens and earth. (Atsma “TYPHOES”)
Researching Zeus has led me to some realizations about Greek mythology. If Greek mythology is looked at like it is a continuum, there are apparent patterns. Much of Greek mythology revolves around the idea that children will overpower their father. Cronus over powered his father, Zeus overpowered Cronus and since the inception of his rule, others have been trying to take over Zeus’s throne. Researching Zeus as an individual god helps to gain a greater understanding of the whole which is Greek mythology itself.


Works Cited
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Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Boston: Back Bay, 1942. Print.
Leadbetter, Ron. "Zeus." Encyclopedia Mythica: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion. 3 Mar. 1997. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <__>.
Low, Alice, and Arvis L. Stewart. The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 1985. Print.
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