Tuesday July 23, 2024



King of the Greek Gods - Zeus

February 1, 2023

Cronus had several children with Rhea, including Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, but he swallowed them all as soon as they were born because he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he would be overthrown by his son, just as he had previously overthrown Uranus, his own father, an oracle that Rhea heard and wished to avoid.

When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea asked Gaia to devise a plan to save him so that Cronus could be punished for his actions against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, passing a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes to Cronus, who promptly swallowed it.

After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge first the stone (which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, the Omphalos), then his siblings in reverse order of swallowing. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus' stomach open. Then Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Hecantochires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus, killing their guard, Campe. 

As a token of their appreciation, the Cyclopes gave him thunder and the thunderbolt, or lightning, which had previously been hidden by Gaia. Together, Zeus, his brothers and sisters, Hecatonchires and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans, in the combat called the Titanomachy. The defeated Titans were then cast into a shadowy underworld region known as Tartarus. Atlas, one of the titans who fought against Zeus, was punished by having to hold up the sky.

Following the Titans' defeat, Zeus divided the world with his elder brothers, Poseidon and Hades, by lot: Zeus received the sky and air, Poseidon the waters, and Hades the world of the dead (the underworld). The ancient Earth, Gaia, could not be claimed; she was given to all three, according to their abilities, which explains why Poseidon was the "earth-shaker" (the god of earthquakes) and Hades claimed the dead.

Gaia resented Zeus' treatment of the Titans because they were her children. Zeus had to fight some of Gaia's other children, including the Gigantes and the monsters Typhoons and Echidna, soon after taking the throne as king of the gods. He defeated Typhon and imprisoned him beneath Mount Etna, but he left Echidna and her children alive. 

Zeus' reign was once challenged by Hera, Poseidon, and Athena, who wished to bind him and overthrow him. The Nereid Thetis called the Hecatanicheire Briareus to rescue Zeus. The other Olympians were scared of Briareus, who then freed Zeus. 

Zeus was appalled by human sacrifice and other signs of human decadence while atop Mount Olympus. With the help of his brother Poseidon, he decided to wipe out humanity by flooding the world. Only Deucalion and Pyrrha survived the flood. This flood story is a common theme in mythology. 

Zeus has been depicted throughout history as using violence to get his way and terrorising humans. As the god of the sky, he can use lightning bolts as a weapon. Because lightning is quite powerful and can be lethal, when lightning strikes, it is a brave sign because it is known that Zeus most likely threw the bolt.

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July 23, 2024