Zeus and His Dysfunctional Family
Zeus is the last child of Cronus and Rhea. Like his father Uranus before him, the Titan Cronus feared a prophesy that his son would overthrow him. To thwart the oracle, as his wife Rhea delivered each of his children, he would immediately snatch the infant and swallow it. After Cronus had done this five times, Rhea, desperate to save her sixth child, appealed to her mother Gaia for help. Together they conspired for Rhea to deliver the baby Zeus in secret. Instead of his newborn son, Rhea presented to Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The hidden Zeus was able to grow in secret, raised and nurtured by nymphs. When he came of age, he and Rhea again conspired to overthrow Cronus and restore his five siblings. Rhea gave Cronus a poisoned drink that caused him to vomit up Hera, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, and Hestia. Together, the six children drove off their father and established a new seat for themselves on Mount Olympus.
Diodorus Siculus Histories 5.70.1-6 (trans. by C. H. Oldfather, adapted by T. Mulder)
Greek geography, 1st century BCE
The following passage comes from the historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in Greek in the 1st century BCE. He takes what is called a approach to mythology. That is, he attempts to explain the origins of a myth using actual or probable events. This approach to myth is named after an ancient Greek man named Euhemerus, who was apparently the first to try to rationalize the fantastical Greek myths.
[5.70.1] There is no agreement regarding the birth of Zeus and the manner in which he came to be king. Some say that he succeeded to the throne after Cronus died and passed from the company of men into the company of the gods, not by conquering his father with violence, but justly and in the customary manner. That is, he was judged to be worthy of the honour. But others tell the following myth: Cronus received an oracle regarding the birth of Zeus, which stated that his son would take the kingship from him by force.
[5.70.2] Consequently, over and over again Cronus killed the children that he begot; but Rhea, upset, though without the power to change her husband’s mind, after she had given birth to Zeus, concealed him in Idê, as it is called. Without Cronus’ knowledge she entrusted him to the care of the Curetes who lived in the neighbourhood of Mount Idê. The Curetes carried him off to a certain cave where they handed him over to the Nymphs, with the command that they should see to his every need.
[5.70.3] And the Nymphs raised the child on a mixture of honey and milk and fed him right at the udder of a goat named Amaltheia. Much evidence of the birth and upbringing of this god remain even today on the island.
[5.70.4] For instance, they say that when he was being carried away by the Curetes while still an infant, his umbilical cord (omphalos) fell off near the river known as Triton, and that this spot has been made sacred and has been called Omphalus after that incident. Similarly, the plain around it is known as Omphaleium. And on Mount Idê, where the god was nurtured, the cave in which he spent his days was declared sacred to him, and the meadows around it, which lie upon the ridges of the mountain, were likewise consecrated to him.
[5.70.5] But the most astonishing part of the myth has to do with the bees, and we won’t neglect to mention it: They say that the gods, wishing to preserve a reminder of his close association with the bees for all time, changed their colour, making it like copper with the gleam of gold. And since the region lay at a very high altitude, where fierce winds blew around it and heavy snows fell, he made the bees impervious and unaffected by such things, since they must forage over the most wintry stretches.
[5.70.6] Zeus also gave certain honours to the goat (aeg-) which suckled him, and specifically, he took a nickname from it: Aegiochus.33 And when he had reached manhood he founded a city in Dicta, where indeed the myth states that he was born; in later times this city was abandoned, but some of the stone blocks of its foundations are still preserved.
Zeus in Action
- Homeric Hymn 5, “To Aphrodite,” 203-217
- Theognis, Fragment 1.1345
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 3.12.2
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.152-160
Zeus’ main function in this early party of the cosmogony is to establish the cosmos, the order of the universe and everything in it. According to some versions of the myth, Zeus apportions to each of his siblings their particular (pronounced tee-may), or realm of influence in the world: Poseidon rules over the seas and is responsible for hurricanes and earthquakes; Hades has dominion over the dead in the realm named after him; Hestia is responsible for tending the sacred hearth on Mount Olympus and was worshipped as a domestic goddess within the homes of ancient Greece; Hera is the goddess of marriage and motherhood; and Demeter was responsible for the growth and cultivation of crops. Zeus himself was the ruler of the heavens and the air, wielder of the thunderbolt and creator of rain and storms.
Hesiod’s Theogony tells of the early struggles of Zeus and the other Olympians to establish and cement their rule: the Titanomachy (the battle fought against Cronus and the other Titans), the Gigantomachy (the battle between the Olympians and Gaia’s monstrous children, the Cyclops, Giants, and the Hundred-Handers), and the final battle with Typhon, Gaia’s last attempt to challenge Zeus’ control of the earth.
Zeus has sexual relations and reproduces abundantly with many gods and mortals. These include Themis, Metis (the mother of Athena), Hera (the mother of Ares, Eileithyia (the midwife of the gods), and Hebe (goddess of youth)), Demeter (the mother of Persephone), Mnemosyne (the mother of the nine Muses), Dione (the mother of Aphrodite in some accounts), Leto (the mother of Artemis and Apollo), and many others.
Additionally, he sexually assaults and generates offspring with several mortal women. These children make up the gods, demi-gods, and heroes that fill out the ancient Greek pantheon and the mythic world: Dionysus, Heracles, Helen, and many others. Zeus’ rapes of mortal women, often in strange guises (swan, bull, shower of gold), are the subject of much artwork from the ancient Greco-Roman world.
The fight with the half man/ half snake monster, Typhon, is Zeus’ last major battle before he assumes control of Mount Olympus and becomes the ruler of gods and men.
Greek mythography, 2nd century CE
[1.6.3] The defeat of the Gigantes () by the gods angered even more, so she had intercourse with and gave birth to in Cilicia. He was a mixture of man and beast, the largest and strongest of all ‘s children. From the thighs up he had the form of a human. He was so large that he extended beyond all the mountains and his head often touched the stars. One hand reached to the west, the other to the east, and attached to these were the heads of one hundred serpents. From the thighs down he had great vipers, which coiled around and extended up to the top of his head, hissing mightily. He had wings, and the hair that flowed from his head and cheeks in the wind was matted and dirty. Fire flashed in his eyes. This was the size and appearance of as he hurled red-hot rocks at the sky itself, and attacked it with mixed hisses and shouts, as a great storm of fire boiled out from his mouth.
When the gods saw him rushing toward the sky, they headed for Egypt to escape him, and as he pursued them they changed themselves into animal shapes. Zeus hurled thunderbolts at from a distance, and when he drew closer, Zeus tried to strike him down with an adamantine sickle. took flight, but Zeus pursued him right up to Mount Casium, which lies in Syria. Seeing that he was badly wounded, Zeus fell on him with his hands. But entwined the god and held him fast in his coils, and grabbing the sickle he cut out the sinews from Zeus’ hands and feet. Then, placing Zeus up on his shoulders, he carried him across the sea to Cilicia, where he deposited him in the Corycian cave. He also hid away the sinews there in the skin of a bear, and posted as guard over them the , a girl who was half animal.
But and stole back the sinews and succeeded in replanting them in Zeus without being seen. So Zeus, again having his strength, suddenly appeared from the sky in a chariot drawn by winged horses, and with thunderbolts chased to the mountain called . There the deceived the pursued creature, for he ate some of the ephemeral fruit on [i.e. the intoxicating grape of ] after they had persuaded him that he would gain strength from it.
Again pursued, made his way to Thrace, where, while fighting round Haimos he threw whole mountains at Zeus. But when these were pushed back upon him by the thunderbolt, a great quantity of his blood streamed out on the mountain, which allegedly is why the mountain is called Haimos. Then, as started to flee again through the Sicilian Sea, Zeus brought down Sicily's Mount Aitna on him , a great mountain which they say still erupts fire from the thunderbolts thrown by Zeus.
Taken from: https://www.theoi.com/Gigante/Typhoeus.html
During the Trojan War, Zeus famously refuses to take sides, instead recognizing that Fate– stronger than all the gods, even himself– decrees that Troy is destined to fall. At different points in the conflict, he helps one side or the other to gain the advantage in the fighting. When Achilles withdraws from battle at the beginning of the Iliad because of his quarrel with Agamemnon, Zeus acquiesces to the request of Achilles' mother, the divine sea-nymph Thetis, that the Achaeans (the Greeks) should start to lose the war, driven back to the beaches and ships by the Trojans.
In Book 16 of the Iliad, Achilles' cousin and companion Patroclus, disguises himself in Achilles' armor. Under his command the Achaeans are starting to regain some ground. At the climax of the book, Patroclus faces off with one of the Trojan heroes, Sarpedon, son of Zeus and king of the Lycians (a city on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey).
During the battle, Zeus debates whether to rescue his beloved son from his certain death. Hera councils him to be careful how he chooses to defy fate. What he wants for his son, surely all the other Olympians will want for their children as well, many of whom are destined to die on the battlefield at Troy.
For further discussion of Sarpedon and the Trojan War, see chapter 27.
Greek epic, ca. 8th century BCE
[394-507] But when saw his comrades, who wear their tunics loose,  being flattened beneath the hands of , son of Menoetius, he called aloud, scolding his godlike Lycians warriors: “Shame on you, Lycians, where do you flee? Stand fast in the fight; for I myself will meet this man, so that that I may know who he is that is so strong here, and who has caused so much mischief for the Trojans,  since he has loosed the knees of many good men.”
He spoke, and leapt in his armour from his chariot to the ground. And , towering over him, when he beheld him, sprang from his chariot. And as vultures with crooked talon and curved beaks fight with loud cries upon a high rock,  so with cries they rushed against one another. And the son of crooked-counselling took pity when he saw them, and spoke to , his sister and his wife: “Ah, woe is me, for it is fated that , dearest of men to me, be slain by , son of Menoetius!  And my heart is divided along two paths as I consider whether to snatch him up while he is still living and set him far from the tearful war in the rich land of Lycia, or whether I shall slay him now beneath the hands of the son of Menoetius.”
Then ox-eyed queenly answered him:  “Most dread son of , what a statement! Are you really inclined to rescue from mournful death a man that is mortal, doomed long since by fate? Do as you will; but know that the rest of us gods do not all agree. And I'll tell you another thing and do take it to heart:  if you send living to his house, consider that afterwards some other god may also want to send his own dear son away from the fierce conflict; for there are many fighting around the great city of that are sons of the immortals, and you will instill dread wrath among the gods.  But if he is dear to you, and your heart grieves for him, allow him to be slain in the fierce conflict beneath the hands of , son of Menoetius; but when his soul and life have left him, then send and sweet to bear him away  until they come to the land of wide Lycia; and there his brethren and his kinsfolk will give him burial with mound and pillar; for this is what is owed to the dead.”
So she spoke, and the father of gods and men listened; but he wept tears of blood that fell to the earth,  honouring his dear son—his own son whom was about to slay in the rich-soiled land of , far from his native land.
Now when when they had advanced close to one another, struck glorious Thrasymelus, the valiant squire of the prince ;  him he hit on the lower belly, and loosed his limbs. Then , making his throw, missed him with his bright spear, but struck the horse Pedasus on the right shoulder; and the horse shrieked aloud as he gasped forth his life, and down he fell in the dust with a moan, as his spirit flew from him. 
But the other two horses reared this way and that, and the yoke creaked, and above them the reins were entangled, when the outside horse lay low in the dust. At this, Automedon [Patroclus' charioteer], famed for his spear, saw what to do; drawing his long sword from beside his big thigh, he sprang forth and without hesitating, cut loose the outside horse, and the other two were righted, and strained at the reins; and the two warriors came together again in soul-devouring strife.
Then again missed with his bright spear, as it flew over the left shoulder of and did not strike him.  But in turn threw his bronze spear, and not in vain did the shaft speed from his hand, but struck his foe where the throbbing heart is enclosed in the muscles of the chest. And he fell as an oak falls, or a poplar, or a tall pine, that carpenters chop down among the mountains with their sharpened axes to be a ship's timber;  so he lay there outstretched in front of his horses and chariot, moaning aloud and clutching at the bloody dust.
And as a lion comes into the midst of a herd to slay a bull, pale brown and brave amid the slow footed cattle, and with a groan he dies beneath the jaws of the lion;  so beneath did the leader of the Lycian shield-men struggle in death; and he called to his beloved comrade by name: “Dear , warrior of warriors, now you must be a spearman and bold fighter; now, if you are brave, let dread war consume your heart.  First, go up and down everywhere, and urge on the leaders of the Lycians to fight for , and then you yourself fight with the bronze in my defence. For I will be a source of shame for you for all your days,  if the rob me of my armour, here where I fell beside the gathered ships. But hold your ground valiantly, and urge on all our men.”
Even as he spoke these words, the end of death enfolded him, covering his eyes and his nostrils; and , setting his foot upon his chest, drew the spear from the flesh, and his chest came with it;  so that at the same time he drew forth the spear-point and the soul of . And the held the snorting horses, trying to flee now that they had left their lord's chariot.
[content warning for the following section: sexual assault]
One of Zeus' rapes in particular demonstrates the broad sexuality of men in the ancient Greek world. Gazing down from Mount Olympus one day, Zeus spies a beautiful young Trojan man named Ganymede. Disguising himself as an eagle, he swoops down and abducts the young man, bringing him to Olympus to serve as his personal cup-bearer and boy lover.
Ancient Greek men were not expected to be sexually faithful to their wives. Nor were they expected to have sexual relationships only with women. The categories of heterosexual and homosexual would have been unintelligible to the ancient Greeks. Rather, ancient Greek men were expected to take on an active, penetrative role in sexual relationships with people of various sexes and genders. They had nearly full sexual impunity– rape was an act of legal hubris, or "insult" against another man, rather than a violation of a woman's sexual and bodily autonomy. If a man raped a married woman, then he was liable to that woman's husband; if he raped an unmarried woman, then he might owe a penalty to that woman's father, depending on how wealthy the father was and how much his daughter's virginity was worth to him. The rape of an enslaved man, woman, or child, who was understood to be legally the property of their owner, was viewed as damage done to that property and the rapist might be liable for those damages. All of these power relations would have impacted how the ancient Greeks viewed Zeus and his sexual behavior towards young women and men.
Greek hymn, ca. 7th - 4th century BCE
 Indeed wise Zeus carried off golden-haired because of his beauty, to be among the Deathless Ones and pour drink for the gods in the house of Zeus– a wonder to see–, honoured by all the immortals as he draws the red nectar from the golden bowl. But grief that could not be soothed filled the heart of Tros; for he did not know where the heaven-sent whirlwind had taken his dear son, so that he mourned him always, unceasingly, until Zeus pitied him and gave him prancing horses such as carry the immortals, as recompense for his son. These he gave him as a gift. And at the command of Zeus, the guide, , told him all, and how his son would be deathless and unageing, just like the gods. So when Tros heard this news from Zeus, he no longer kept mourning but rejoiced in his heart and rode joyfully with his storm-footed horses.
Taken from: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=HH%205.
For full hymn and context, see chapter 4.
Greek elegy, 6th century BCE
There is some pleasure in loving a youth, since once in fact even [Zeus] the son of king of the immortals, fell in love with , seized him, carried him off to , and made him divine, keeping the lovely bloom of boyhood.
Taken from: https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Ganymede.html
Greek mythography, 2nd century CE
[3.12.2] Tros married 's daughter Callirhoe, had a daughter Cleopatra, and sons , , and . Because of his beauty, Zeus kidnapped by means of an eagle, and made him cupbearer in the sky.
Taken from: https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Ganymede.html
Roman epic, ca. 1st century BCE-1st century CE
 But now I need a lighter tune, to sing of boys beloved by gods and girls bewitched by lawless passions who paid the price of lust. The King of Heaven (Rex Superum) once was fired with love of Phrygius (the Phrygian), and Zeus devised a trick to be something that he was not. But he wanted to be no bird other than one that had the power to bear his thunderbolts. At once his spurious pinions beat the breeze and off he swept Iliades [ ]; who now, mixing the nectar, waits in heaven above, though frowns, and hands the cup to Jove.
Taken from: https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Ganymede.html
Part of Zeus' was his adjudication of right and wrong among gods and mortals. One story of his role as adjudicator involved his own son, Tantalus, the king of Lydia. Being his son, Tantalus was beloved by Zeus, but he wanted to test the real power of his divine father and the other Olympians. Tantalus invited the gods to a feast and served them a stew made from the flesh his own son, Pelops. The gods knew immediately that the meat they were served was human flesh (except for Demeter who was grieving for her missing daughter, Persephone, and had eaten a bit of Pelops’ shoulder). The gods grew very angry at Tantalus’ sacrilege. They put Pelops together again (giving him an ivory shoulder to replace the one that had been eaten) and Tantalus was punished in the Underworld by having to stand up to his neck in a lake that would recede any time he moved to take a drink and overhead was a tree with delicious, ripe fruit that would move away from him when he tried to reach up and grab one. This myth is the origin of the word "tantalize".
Greek lyrical poem, 476 BCE
His [Hieron of Syracuse's] glory shines in the settlement of fine men founded by Lydian ,  with whom the mighty holder of the earth fell in love, when Clotho took him out of the pure cauldron, furnished with a gleaming ivory shoulder. Yes, there are many marvels, and yet I suppose the speech of mortals beyond the true account can be deceptive, stories adorned with embroidered lies;  and Grace, who fashions all gentle things for men, confers esteem and often contrives to make believable the unbelievable. But the days to come are the wisest witnesses.  It is proper for a man to speak well of the gods; for the blame is less that way. Son of , I will speak of you, contrary to earlier stories. When your father invited the gods to a very well-ordered banquet at his own dear Sipylus, in return for the meals he had enjoyed,  then it was that the god of the splendid trident [ ] seized you, his mind overcome with desire, and carried you away on his team of golden horses to the highest home of widely-honoured Zeus, to which at a later time came also,  to perform the same service for Zeus. But when you disappeared, and people did not bring you back to your mother, for all their searching, right away some envious neighbor whispered that they cut you limb from limb with a knife into the water's rolling boil over the fire,  and among the tables at the last course they divided and ate your flesh. For me it is impossible to call one of the blessed gods a glutton. I stand back from it. Often the lot of evil-speakers is profitlessness. If indeed the watchers of ever honoured a mortal man,  that man was . But he was not able to digest his great prosperity, and for his greed he gained overpowering ruin, which the Father [Zeus] hung over him: a mighty stone. Always longing to cast it away from his head, he wanders far from the joy of festivity. He has this helpless life of never-ending labor,  a fourth toil after three others, because he stole from the gods nectar and ambrosia, with which they had made him immortal, and gave them to his drinking companions. If any man expects that what he does escapes the notice of a god, he is wrong.  Because of that the immortals sent the son of back again to the swift-doomed race of men.
Stoic Hymn, 3rd century BCE
Cleanthes was an Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher. Stoics believed that pleasure and the passions (love, anger, fear, grief) were at odds with what was good and worthwhile, namely the rational life. A well-known Stoic maxim was that the goal of life is to "live consistently with nature." That is, to approach the vicissitudes of life with consistency and cheerful submission. Because the universe is ordered according to reason, they argued, humans should be content to follow that order.
This Hymn to Zeus is the largest piece of Cleanthes' writing that survives. It was preserved a 5th century CE anthology that contained extracts from earlier Greek writers. The Hymn is composed in dactylic hexameters, just like the Homeric Hymns.
Here Zeus is imagined as the principle of Reason which orders everything on earth and in the universe.
Most honoured of the immortals, of many names, all-powerful forever,
Zeus, Prime Mover of the universe, guiding everything according to law,
Hail! For it is right for mortals to address you.
For we are born from you, who alone have obtained the image of God,*
All of us mortal things who live and creep upon the earth:
For this I shall hymn you greatly and I shall forever sing of your power.
This whole universe revolving around the earth
Obeys you wherever you should lead it and is willingly mastered by you:
Such is the servant you hold in your unconquerable hands,
The two-edged, blazing, everlasting thunderbolt!
For every work of the universe is accomplished under threat of its strike
With it you guide the universal Reason, which travels
Through everything, mixing with the great and small lights.
[ . . . ]
In such a way you have become the supreme king for all time.
No deed comes upon the earth apart from you, God,
Neither in the divine vault of high heaven nor in the sea,
Except whatever deeds evil men do in their ignorance.
But you even know how to make the odd even,
And to order the disordered, and that which is not dear dear to you.
For so you have harmonized all the good with the bad into one
So that there is for all a single divine purpose (logos) which exists forever,
Those who flee it would be those among mortals who are wicked,
Ill-fated ones who are always coveting the gains of good men
Neither look to the universal law of God nor pay it heed,
In obeying it they would have a good life with sense:
But these men rush straightaway without sense, each to his own way,
Some make haste to unholy strife for the sake of honour,
Others turning to gains in no way decent,
Still others to indulgence and the pleasures of the body:
But they have their share of misfortunes, some at one time, others at another,
Though they altogether wish the opposite to come to pass.
But, O Zeus Giver of All, Wrapped in Dark Clouds, Lord of Lightning,
Deliver mankind from their destructive ignorance!
Disperse it, Father, from our soul, and grant that we
Obtain discernment, on which you are reliant as you steer everything with justice,
In order that when honoured we repay you with honour,
Hymning your deeds continuously, as is proper
For one who is mortal, since no other gift is greater for mortals
Or for gods than to hymn the everlasting universal law in justice.
*God in this text should be understood as Zeus in his capacity as the superseding intelligence of the universe, not as the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Art and Symbolism
In Greek art, Zeus was generally represented as a mature, bearded man.
In vase painting, sculpture, and coins, Zeus was commonly represented clothed. He can often be seen sitting on a throne, sometimes holding a sceptre and wearing a laurel or olive crown, although his sacred tree was the oak.
His two most recognizable attributes are the eagle and the thunderbolt. The latter is shaped like a sort of three-pointed spearhead, and it is sometimes showed being employed as a weapon during battles.
When the artistic depictions portrayed certain myths, Zeus could also be represented in animal form. For instance, he is often shown as a white bull when the scene being depicted is the abduction of princess Europa, and as a swan during the rape of Leda.
After the Macedonian conquest of Egypt, local artists would sometimes add ram horns to the depiction of Zeus in order to stress the correspondence between the Greek god and his Egyptian counterpart, Amun.
One of the most famous sculptures of Zeus was created by Pheidias around 435 BCE for the temple of the god in Olympia. The statue, made of gold and ivory over a wooden frame, depicted Zeus enthroned. He wore a crown, and held a Nike on his right hand and a sceptre in his left. His sandals rested on a footstool decorated with a relief representing the mythical fight between the Greeks and the Amazons. This artwork was reportedly 12.4 metres (41 ft) tall, and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although the original is lost, its appearance has been reconstructed on the basis of literary accounts and depictions on other media, such as coins and later copies.
Most of Jupiter's attributes in art were the same as his Greek counterpart, Zeus: the eagle, the sceptre, the thunderbolt, and the oak-tree. Jupiter was almost exclusively represented as a mature, bearded man, or as an animal if the myth being depicted told the story of one of his many transformations.
In Roman art, Jupiter could also be depicted as part of the so-called "Capitoline Triad" a group of three important deities consisting of Jupiter, his wife Juno, and his daughter Minerva, the goddess of war.
During the first century AD, some Roman Emperors were depicted in the guise of Jupiter in order to showcase their power and legitimacy.
Media Attributions and Footnotes
- Lecane de Zeus venciendo a los gigantes © Dorieo is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Bronze Drum of Zeus © C. Messier is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Combat de Zeus Contre Typhon is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Terracotta_bell-krater_(mixing_bowl)_MET_DT10908 is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Zeus and Ganymede. Penthesilea Painter © Ferrara Archaeological Museum is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Ganymedes Zeus © David Liam Moran is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Ganymede feeding the eagle, Hermitage © Sergey Sosnovskiy is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Stater Zeus Lampsacus is licensed under a Public Domain license
- God council in Olympus: Zeus and Hera throning, Iris serving them © Bibi St-Pol is licensed under a Public Domain license
- 600px-Ancient_Greece_Bronze_Statue_of_Zeus__(28493362195) © Gary Todd is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Zeus Louvre © Bibi St-Pol is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Calyx krater with Rape of Europa © Dave & Margie Hill is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Pompeiii Europa Fresco is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Zeus Ammon © Dan Mitai Pitea
- Zeus Olympia Ringstone is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Tétradrachme royaume Seleucide représentation de Zeus © cgb.fr is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Zeus, Museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli © Olivierw is licensed under a Public Domain license
- Arte romana, triade capitolina © Sailko is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- Statua di claudio da lanuvio © Sailko is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
- The seated statue of Tiberius as Jupiter Capitolinus. © Sergey Sosnovskiy is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
Interpretation of myths as rational, traditional accounts of historical people and events.
The office or sphere of influence of an individual (generally a deity).
Called Typhon or Typhoeus.
A snake-like son of Gaia and Tartarus (usually, though traditions of his parentage vary), known for being defeated by Zeus and for fathering many monsters.
Featured in chapter 1 and chapter 5.
Giant humanoids, often with snake-like limbs and features. Offspring of Gaia, born where the blood of Uranus landed on the earth. Known for their role in the Gigantomachy.
Featured in chapter 1.
Goddess of the earth.
Featured in chapter 1.
The deep abyss of the Underworld where the Titans were imprisoned, or the primordial deity personifying the abyss.
Female serpent or dragon creatures, often part-human.
A Dracaena, known for being killed by Apollo when he established the oracle at Delphi. In some traditions, given as the etymology for the place name of "Delphi."
God of travelers and trickery.
See chapter 16.
A figure associated with goats and nature, sometimes equated with the god Pan. Known for helping Zeus battle Typhon.
Mention in chapter 5.
A mountain or mountainous region associated with the worship of Dionysus. Nysa is located in different locations according to different authors, but is always outside of Greece (often in Africa).
Featured in chapter 15.
Called Moirai or Fates.
3 goddesses who appear as old women and control the destinies of living things.
God of wine and revelry.
See chapter 15.
A Greek hero and son of Menoetius. Known for being a close companion (and possibly romantic and/or sexual partner) of Achilles, for fighting in the Trojan war, and for being killed by Hector.
Featured in chapter 27.
Roman: Saturn or Saturnus
Titan father of many of the gods, including Zeus and Hera. Son of Gaia and Uranus.
Featured in chapter 1.
Goddess of marriage, wife of Zeus.
See chapter 6.
A king of Troy. Son of Laomedon, husband of Hecuba, and father of Hector, Cassandra, and Paris. Known for leading Troy during the Trojan War, and for being killed by Neoptolemus.
Featured in chapter 28 and chapter 29.
Personification of death.
Personification of sleep.
A hero of Lycia and descendant of Bellerophon. Known for fighting on the side of the Trojans in the Trojan War, and for his friendships with Diomedes and Sarpedon.
Appears in chapter 5.
A term to describe all the Greeks and people of Greek origin, notably the Greek armies in Homer's Iliad.
The soldiers under Achilles' command in the Trojan war.
A young hero of Troy, variously a son of Laomedon, Dardanus, Ilus, or Tros. Known for being kidnapped by Zeus and taken to Olympus to be a cup-bearer.
Featured in chapter 5.
A mountain in Greece, and the mythical home of the gods on this mountain.
Called Scamander or Xanthus.
A river at Troy, or the personification of this river. Known for siding with the Trojans in the Trojan War.
Appears in chapter 28.
Founder of Troy ("Ilium"), and father of Laomedon.
A king of Dardania. Brother of Ilus, son of Tros, and grandfather of Anchises.
A king of Pisa (though originally from Lydia or Phrygia). A son of Tantalus (in most traditions), husband of Hippodamia, and father of Atreus and Pittheus. Known for his victory in a chariot race at Olympia.
Appears in chapter 39.
God of the sea.
See chapter 7.
A son of Zeus, and father of Pelops and Niobe. Known for stealing nectar and ambrosia for the gods, and for attempting to feed his son Pelops to the gods in stew. For this crime, he was punished in the afterlife and his descendants (the house of Atreus) were cursed.
Featured in chapter 5, chapter 39, and chapter 41.