Zeus: “Father of Gods and Men.” Sound like a grand title to you? This is Zeus. The Olympian who took control of Mount Olympus. I can’t think of a better immortal for our Immortal Monday focus around Father’s Day, can you?
You may recall we covered the birth and rise of Zeus in our Poseidon post in January of this year. If you missed it, the quick notes are that Zeus’ father feared one of his children would overthrow him so much that he swallowed them at birth. Zeus is the youngest of six. His father, Cronus, had swallowed five children before him. These were Zeus’ siblings: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. By the time Zeus was born, Rhea tricked Cronus, hiding Zeus and passing another off in his place.
There are various stories on how the young Zeus was raised, but the favorite version is that Rhea had stolen off to a cave to hide him with Amalthea, a nymph in the form of a goat, to be raised in the company of soldiers known as Kouretes. These soldiers would dance, keeping time with the beat of a drum, hitting their spears against their shields to hide the infant’s cries from Cronus.
Allowed to grow to his full potential, Zeus matured and received all of his divine powers.
When Zeus was of age he drugged Cronus with a special potion provided by Gaia, split open Cronus’ belly and released his siblings. Together the siblings fought against Cronus and his Titans, but more was needed to ensure victory. Gaia promised Zeus the win if he freed her monsters that Cronus had imprisoned in Tartarus, and it became so. Zeus freed the monsters and at the end of a long battle, he and his siblings were victorious, locking up the defeated Titans in the now available Tartarus. (There was never a Mount Tartarus. See post here)
Of course, the special weapons the gods had gifted to them by the Cyclops helped tremendously in the defeat of Cronus. Weapons such as Zeus’ thunderbolt, Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ helm of darkness.
Having defeated Cronus and taking control, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades divided the reign by the luck of the draw. You may already know the outcome. Hades got dominion over the underworld, Poseidon over the seas and Zeus got the heavens. Only Gaia controlled the land, although Poseidon possessed the power to shake the land with his mighty oceans.
Said to be the most powerful god of them all, he favored the golden eagle and often kept one by his side. He also treasured the oak tree for its strength, making the acorn sacred so it is told. He was known as the god of justice and mercy. The protector of the weak, and punisher of the wicked. Of course, this didn’t mean he was a good boy all the time, as we learned in our Hera post. Although he loved his wife, he had a hard time remaining faithful. An epidemic that seemed to run rampant amongst the gods. Zeus spent time with many women, both goddesses and mortal, and had many children of divine, semi-divine and mortal nature. He was a naughty boy. Tisk. Tisk.
It would be Zeus’ many off-spring that would rise up to become the heroes and heroines of written mythology. (See chart below for divine offspring)
Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology
Zeus is known for many things, from his birth and upbringing (previously mentioned), the aforementioned Titan War, his many seductions (Hera among them), the Trojan War (See Hera Post), and various battles and encounters with giants and monsters. But today I thought I’d highlight an event I find rather interesting. Let’s see if you agree.
As it’s been said in the time of old, a Titan god by the name of Prometheus was tasked with the job of molding mankind out of clay. It so happens, Prometheus wanted to make life better for his creations. An attitude that puts him at odds with Zeus. At first Prometheus did this by tricking the gods out of their best portions from the sacrificial feasts. He delivered the meat unto man for their own feasting. And when Zeus withheld fire – Prometheus stole that too! Smuggling it down to mankind inside a fennel-stalk.
Angered, Zeus was shrewd in his punishment. He had Pandora created (the first woman) as a way to deliver misfortune upon man and cheat them out their good spirits. As for Prometheus, he was arrested, bound and staked on Mount Kaukasos where an eagle was to feed upon his continuously regenerating liver (or was it his heart? Depends on which story you read). Anyway, gross!
Does anyone else see the similarities here with the creation of the woman and the temptations for sin? Religions overlapping? Borrowing? Or just a coincidence?
There is so much to know about Zeus, this may only begin to scratch the surface, but it’s a good place to start. So tell me, what would you get a guy like Zeus on Father’s Day?
Now, because it’s Immortal Monday… a quick look at the actors who have played Zeus through the years.
Of all these interpretations, do any of these actors capture the image you hold for the god of gods, father of men?
Quick Note: I am enrolled in an intense writer’s course over the summer and the instructor suggests that I refrain from all social media during this time. In order to give the class my best I will be dropping the summer series I had originally promised for Fridays and will move Wednesday’s picture post to Thursday. Sorry folks. But we are still putting together our fantastic readers’ vacation recommendation post, so send those pictures. In addition, Immortal Monday will be taking two weeks off and drop down to every other Monday starting July 9th.
This blog is shopping real estate. We are looking to move at the end of summer. Keep your eyes peeled for that. Once we’re set up in the new digs we’ll establish a stronger schedule. Let me know how attached you are, or are not, to Immortal Mondays. Should they continue after the move?
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