The father of Zeus, Cronus, had learned from Gaia and
Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own son
as he himself had overthrown his own father. Therefore, in
order to prevent this, he swallowed all of his children
bore by Rhea as soon as they were born.
However, when Zeus, the youngest, was about to be
born, Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so
that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against
Uranus, his father, and his own children. Upon the
birth of Zeus, Rhea hid him in a cave on Mount Ida,
located in Crete. Instead of handing Cronus the baby
Zeus, Rhea handed him a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes,
which he promptly swallowed.
variations of the story, Zeus was then:
- Raised by Gaia.
- Raised by a goat named Amalthea.
- Raised by a nymph named Adamanthea.
- Raised by a nymph named Cynosura who, in
gratitude, was placed among the stars by
- Raised by Melissa, who nursed him with goat's-milk and
- Raised by a shepherd family.
After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge first
the stone, then his siblings in reverse order of
swallowing them. (Some versions indicate Cronus was given
an emetic by Metis to force him to disgorge the babies, others
that Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open). After, Zeus
released Cronus' brothers the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires
and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus. In
gratitude, the Cyclopes gave him thunder and the thunderbolt,
or lightning, which had been hidden by Gaia.
Together, Zeus, his brothers and sisters, the
Gigantes, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes overthrew Cronus
and the other Titans, in a battle called the Titanomachy. The
defeated Titans were cast into the shadowy underworld
region known as Tartarus. (Atlas, a Titan that fought against
Zeus, was punished by having to hold up the sky).
After the Titanomachy, Zeus shared the world with his elder
brothers, Poseidon and Hades. By drawing lots:
- Zeus got the sky and air
- Poseidon the waters
- Hades the world of the dead (the underworld)
(The Earth, Gaia, could not be claimed by one thus
was left to all three according to their
Because the Titans were Gaia's children,
she resented the way Zeus had treated them. As a result,
soon after taking the throne as king of the gods, Zeus had to
fight some of Gaia's other children, the monsters Typhon and
Echidna. He vanquished Typhon by trapping him under a
mountain, but left Echidna and her children alive.
- Primary depiction; regal, well built, mature male
with a dark beard
- Long-haired youth
- Disguised as an Eagle
- Disguised as a Swan, seduced Leda
- Disguised as a Bull, seduced Europa
- Disguised as a Satyr, seduced Antiope
- Disguised as a golden shower, seduced Danae
- Disguised as Artemis, seduced Kallisto
- Royal Sceptre
- The Golden Eagle (kept at his side
to symbolize strength, courage, and justice)
- Oak Tree (symbolizing strength)
- A figure of Victory in his hand
- King of the gods
- Ruler of Mount
- god of the sky, thunder, weather, law, order and
- Fathered many of the Greek heroes and heroines
- He represented Greek religious beliefs and was the
archetypal Greek deity
- Strength, Courage, and Justice
- Erotic escapades
- Punishing those who displeased him with lightning
bolts and/or physical transformation