Zeus was the King of the gods, the god of the sky and he lived atop Mt. Olympus with the other Olympian gods including his wife Hera and many of his children. He would often ride a winged horse called Pegasus and carry a shield called Aegis. His favoured weapon was the thunderbolt which he would throw from atop Mt. Olympus at anyone who angered him.
Zeus had something of a mixed personality. His behaviour would depend on his flippant mood. He could be protective while at the same time quite unjust and vengeful.
- Protective – Heracles was one of the, if not the most, favoured sons of Zeus. He was born of one of the many affairs that Zeus would have. As such, Zeus’ wife Hera would torment Heracles for much of his life. Zeus would do his upmost to protect his son throughout many of his famous 12 labours. When Heracles was dying from the poison of Nessus, Zeus took pity on his son and brought him to Mt. Olympus and made him into a god.
- Unjust – Asclepius was the son of Apollo and the Greek god of medicine. He was very good at his job of healing and took part in the Trojan War, tending to many of the combatants. Hades, the god of the underworld, was angered by this because he was eager to receive more souls in his realm. He lobbied Zeus, and rather unjustly Zeus threw a thunderbolt at Asclepius killing him dead.
- Vengeful – There was once a King of Corinth called Sisyphus. He was a smart and tricky sort of character who decided to deceive the gods. When he died, he was taken to Hades by Thanatos, the god of death. Sisyphus outsmarted the god and escaped. A second time he was sent to Hades he persuaded the Queen of the underworld he was there mistakenly and was again allowed to leave. Zeus was angered by this deception. The third time he made sure Sisyphus stayed in Hades, and as a punishment he made him roll a boulder up a hill every day, only for him to lose his grip and for it to roll back down.
Zeus Facts – Everything You’d Possibly Want to Know
- The Roman name of Zeus was Jupiter. The Romans believed in a more formal version of the Greek gods. The Greeks saw both the serious and playful side. So, the Greeks actually thought that the gods would on occasion walk amongst the people on earth, while Romans thought the gods were very much removed from day to day life.
- Zeus once ate one of his wives. His wife was Metis and she was pregnant with his daughter Athena. Athena actually survived inside the head of Zeus but would cause him terrible headaches. Zeus asked his sculptor Hephaestus to open his head, so he split it with his axe and out jumped Athena in a full suit of armour.
- Zeus’ favourite weapon was the thunderbolt. This weapon was a gift from the Cyclopes, given because Zeus had released them from their prison in Tartarus. They also gave the gifts of a trident to Poseidon and a helm of invisibility to Hades.
- Zeus had affairs with many goddesses and mortals. Just a few of these include Themis, Demeter, Mnemosyne, Leto who were goddesses and the mortal women Niobe, Io, Europa, Antiope, Leda Alcmena, Danae, Semele.
- He had a number of siblings including Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. He actually married his own sister Hera. But he also had an important half-brother. This was Chiron the centaur, who was born when his father Cronus had an affair.
- In the Trojan War he attempted to stay neutral and he also ordered the other Olympian gods not to take sides. Many of the gods disobeyed him including his wife Hera, his brother Poseidon and his son Apollo.
- He loved to dish out the most terrible punishments. There was Sisyphus who had to roll his boulder up a hill, Prometheus who had his liver eaten by an eagle every morning, and Tantalus who stood for eternity in a pool of water dying of thirst.
- Zeus would often transform into many different animals. Over the many myths this included transforming into a bull, a cuckoo and one time even a swan. He also transformed into a rain shower, and sometimes into other people.
- He could be quite cruel to the world of men. After Prometheus brought men fire, he punished them by giving them the women Pandora who brought with her a terrible box full of evil spirits. Pandora would eventually open this box and into the world were released death, famine, disease and much more terror.
- His grandmother Gaia wasn’t pleased with Zeus. In her opinion he had too many affairs and she also didn’t like how he ran the universe. She tried to overthrow him by sending forth a terrible monster called Typhon to attack Mt. Olympus. Zeus was initially beaten but made a comeback and banished the beast to Tartarus.