Zeus

zeusZeus was a god of the sky and weather. He was also known as the King of the gods and a ruler of mankind as he influenced the natural law and order of the cosmos. Although, he could pretty much intervene in every decision made by any of other gods, he had no control over the fates. Zeus was naturally the most respected and awed god by both gods and mortals. He was caring and protected his family, often intervening and making peace between them, and was as also known as wise, fair and honest, always striving for justice. However, he was fierce in punishing those who tried to escape oaths and laws. Despite being almost a perfect icon in the Greek culture, he was known to be quite naive in many of his numerous love affairs and that made him very unpredictable in terms of malevolence, such as kidnapping, cannibalism and murder.

Appearance in the works of art

Most of the time, Zeus is depicted as a grown man with a beard and longer curly hair, holding a scepter or thunderbolt and is sometimes accompanied with an eagle, his sacred animal. Sometimes, he is also depicted as a young man.

Becoming a King of the Gods

Zeus was the last born of Cronus and Rhea. Never swallowed by his father, he was raised by his grandmother Gaea on the island of Crete, well at least according to Hesiod. Other sources refer to him as being raised by other entities, either gods or mythical creatures. Once grown up, he saved his brothers and sisters after he forced Cronus to vomit them back into existence. Later on, he was recognised as a mighty warrior and a great leader in a series of battles against the Titans in a ten-year war called Titanomachy. For majority of the years, things looked bad for the younger gods who were overwhelmed by the titans, led by Atlas. Zeus knew that they were in serious need of aid and therefore helped the Cyclopes and the Hekatoncheires escape from Tartarus. The Cyclops, with the help of Hephaestus, crafted three magnificent items for the three brothers as a token of gratitude. Zeus received the most powerful weapon of all, the magical Thunderbolt with which he struck down many titans and caused havoc on their grounds. With their new items and help of Hekatoncheires, the hundred-handers, they were able to finally defeat the titans and imprison them to Tartarus. After the victory, Zeus and his brothers Poseidon and Hades divided the cosmos among them and Zeus got the realm of sky and heavens under his control by drawing lots. He became a new ruler of the cosmos and a king of the Olympian gods.

Attempts to dethrone Him

In two accounts during his ruleage, an attempt was made to overthrow the king of the gods. In first, Giants were throwing rocks and flaming oak trees in the sky, after previous disagreements and battles. After consulting the oracle among gods, Zeus was told that they would need help from a mortal hand, if they were going to defeat the giants.Gigantomachy It happened to be Heracles who came to assist the gods in their quest to destroy these gigantic enemies. With the guidance of Athena and help from Zeus's thunderbolt, Heracles was able to overcome the two most powerful giants, Porphyrion and Alkyoneus. The rest were slain by the gods themselves. In second account, Zeus had to deal with Typhoeus, a monstrous immortal storm giant. He was born as the last son of Gaea, as retribution for Zeus who imprisoned her children in Tartarus. Typhoeus was the strongest of all and so huge that his head was said to had brushed the stars. One hand reached to the west, the other to the east and attached to these were hundred heads of serpents. Despite his size, appearance and all the might he possessed, Zeus was able to defeat him in a great battle, where the earth shook and water boiled. He made a leap from Olympus and struck his head with thunderbolt and made the giant lose consciousness and crash on to groaning earth beneath him. The fall was said to be so fierce that made the earth melt from his flesh of blazing fire and heated wind. In the end, Zeus cast him to Tartarus and reunite him with his relatives.

Love affairs of Zeus

In his life, he was known for having numerous love affairs. First love was Metis, a goddess of wisdom and foresight. Zeus consorted with Metis in his young age and got her pregnant with Athena. And because of the prophecy that he will lose kingdom to his firstborn, he swallowed Metis. However, this didn't prevent Athena from being born, as she later jumped out of Zeus's head as an adult, dressed in armour. He also mated with his aunt Themis who gave birth to Horae (hours) and Moirae (fates). With Mnemosyne, he fathered nine Muses in nine nights. Titaness Leto gave him twins Artemis and Apollo. Mortal woman Alcmene gave birth to Heracles, while Danae brought forth Perseus. His sister Demeter gave birth to Persephone and his sister and wife Hera gave birth to Hebe, Ares, and variously Hephaestus, Eileithyia and Eris. Another mortal woman Semele gave birth to Dionysus, while titaness Maia gave him Hermes. There are of course other love affairs of Zeus who seemed to have no boundaries when it came to women. For further insight of his affairs, I recommend checking his site on Wikipedia.

The Great flood

Zeus is said to had ended the bronze age with the Deluge or the Great flood. His reasons behind such action were in people of bronze who were very warlike and cherished the works of destructive Ares. The main reason, which finally tipped the king of the gods over the edge,the deluge was disrespect for gods and fellow human being. It all started when Lycaon, a king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus. These kinds of sacrifices were forbidden in the new Olympian order. Zeus was angered and struck a lightning at his house and turned Lycaon into a wolf. He thought that example has been made for others. However, he was shocked when he later, disguised in a beggar, attended the hall of the fifty sons of Lycaon. They prepared him a meal of sheep guts, hearts and livers, in which they included the stewed organs of their brother Nyctimus. Zeus, shocked about these cannibal offerings, decided that mankind is cursed and casted a great flood over the world to wipe out all living creatures and then start from the beginning. But Prometheus was aware of this happening and, therefore, he warned his son Deucalion to prepare himself for the deluge. He took Pyrrha, a daughter of his brother Epimetheus, along with him on a safe location and it is said that they were the only ones who survived the cataclysmic event.

Trojan war

It is said that Zeus was involved in the Trojan war from the very beginning when he passed the decision to Paris, a prince of Troy. Paris had to decide which one of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite is the fairest of goddesses and should be given the golden apple. When hostility reached its boiling point between the two sides and there was no going back, it is said that Zeus was orchestrating the involvement of immortals the war. He ordered them not to involve in any battle, after Aphrodite and Ares were wounded. However, Hera was eager to help and deceived her husband in making love to her to exhaustion, in order for him to fall asleep so that they could intervene without him knowing. In a middle of the battle, Zeus woke up and realised he had been deceived by his wife. In his revenge, he ordered Apollo to go to Troy and revive Hector and back up Trojan defenses. With Zeus' Aegis(shield), he managed to push the Greeks back to their ships. After Zeus was appeased with giving his punishment, he commanded all the Gods to assemble on Mount Olympus. He then told them to choose sides and engage the battle whenever they want.