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The Olympian God Zeus Upbringing:

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.

According to 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 Zeus.
  • Raised by Melissa, who nursed him with goat's-milk and honey.
  • 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 capabilities).

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.

Physical Appearance:

  • 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
Symbolized By:

  • Thunderbolt
  • Royal Sceptre
  • The Golden Eagle (kept at his side to symbolize strength, courage, and justice)
  • Bull
  • Oak Tree (symbolizing strength)
  • Scepter
  • A figure of Victory in his hand
Primary Role(s):

  • King of the gods
  • Ruler of Mount Olympus
  • god of the sky, thunder, weather, law, order and fate
  • Fathered many of the Greek heroes and heroines
  • He represented Greek religious beliefs and was the archetypal Greek deity
Noted For:

  • Strength, Courage, and Justice
  • Erotic escapades
  • Punishing those who displeased him with lightning bolts and/or physical transformation

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