Learn About the Olympian God Zeus

Fast Facts About the Olympians - The God Zeus

Head of Colossal Zeus
Head from a colossal marble cult statue of Zeus. Found at Aigeira, Achaia, along with the head. CC Flickr User Ian W Scott
  • Name: Greek - Zeus; Roman - Jupiter
  • Parents: Cronus and Rhea
  • Foster Parents: Nymphs in Crete; nursed by Amalthea
  • Siblings: Hestia, Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus. Zeus was the youngest sibling and also the oldest -- since he was alive before the regurgitation of the gods by Papa Cronus.
  • Mates: (legion:) Aegina, Alcmena, Antiope, Asteria, Boetis, Calliope, Callisto, Calyce, Carme, Danae, Demeter, Dia, Dino, Dione, Cassiopeia, Elare, Electra, Europa, Eurymedusa, Eurynome, Hera, Himalia, Hora, Hybris, Io, Juturna, Laodamia, Leda, Leto, Lysithoe, Maia, Mnemosyne, Niobe, Nemesis, Othris, Pandora, Persephone, Protogenia, Pyrrha, Selene, Semele, Taygete, Themis, Thyia [from Carlos Parada's list]
  • Wives: Metis, Themis, Hera
  • Children: legion, including: Moirai, Horae, Muses, Persephone, Dionysus, Heracles, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hebe, Hermes, Athena, Aphrodite

Role of Zeus

  • For Humans: Zeus was god of the sky, weather, law ​and order. Zeus presides over oaths, hospitality, and suppliants.
  • For Gods: ​Zeus was king of the gods. He was called the father of gods and men. The gods had to obey him.
  • Canonical Olympian? Yes. Zeus is one of the canonical Olympians.

Jupiter Tonans

Zeus is the king of the gods in the Greek pantheon. He and his two brothers split the rule of the world, with Hades becoming king of the Underworld, Poseidon, king of the sea, and Zeus, king of the heavens. Zeus is known as Jupiter among the Romans. In art work depicting Zeus, the king of the gods often appears in altered form. He frequently shows up as an eagle, as when he abducted Ganymede, or a bull.

One of the main attributes of Jupiter (Zeus) was as a thunder god.

Jupiter/Zeus sometimes takes on the characteristics of a supreme deity. In Suppliants, of Aeschylus, Zeus is described as:

"king of kings, of the happy most happy, of the perfect most perfect power, blessed Zeus"
Sup. 522.

Zeus is also described by Aeschylus with the following attributes:

  • the universal father
  • father of gods and men
  • the universal cause
  • the all-seer and all-doer
  • the all-wise and all-controlling
  • the just and the executor of justice
  • true and incapable of falsehood.

Source: Bibliotheca sacra Volume 16 (1859).

Zeus Courting Ganymede

Ganymede is known as the cupbearer of the gods. Ganymede had been a mortal prince of Troy when his great beauty caught the eye of Jupiter/Zeus.

When Zeus kidnapped the most beautiful of mortals, the Trojan prince Ganymede, from Mt. Ida (where Paris of Troy was later a shepherd and where Zeus had been raised in safety from his father), Zeus paid Ganymede's father with immortal horses. Ganymede's father was King Tros, the eponymous founder of Troy. Ganymede replaced Hebe as cupbearer for the gods after Hercules married her.

Galileo discovered the bright moon of Jupiter which we know of as Ganymede. In Greek mythology, Ganymede was made immortal when Zeus took him to Mt. Olympus, so it's appropriate that his name should be given to a bright object that is forever in Jupiter's orbit.

On Ganymede, from Vergil's Aeneid Book V (Dryden translation):

There Ganymede is wrought with living art,
Chasing thro' Ida's groves the trembling hart:
Breathless he seems, yet eager to pursue;
When from aloft descends, in open view,
The bird of Jove, and, sousing on his prey,
With crooked talons bears the boy away.
In vain, with lifted hands and gazing eyes,
His guards behold him soaring thro' the skies,
And dogs pursue his flight with imitated cries.

Zeus and Danae

Danae was the mother of the Greek hero Perseus. She became pregnant by Zeus in the form of a beam of sunlight or a shower of gold. Zeus' offspring included Moirai, Horae, Muses, Persephone, Dionysus, Heracles, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hebe, Hermes, Athena, and Aphrodite.


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Gill, N.S. "Learn About the Olympian God Zeus." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/fast-facts-about-zeus-116579. Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). Learn About the Olympian God Zeus. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/fast-facts-about-zeus-116579 Gill, N.S. "Learn About the Olympian God Zeus." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/fast-facts-about-zeus-116579 (accessed January 30, 2023).