Zeus

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Jupiter Tonans

Jupiter Tonans
Jupiter Tonans. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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).

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Olympian Gods

Zeus, Ares, Hermes, Athena, and Apollo
Zeus, Ares, Hermes, Athena, and Apollo. Clipart.com

Zeus seated with Ares, Hermes, Athena, and Apollo.

As the king of the gods Zeus is seated with the warlike gods Athena and Ares in front of him and Apollo and Hermes behind him. Beneath his throne is an eagle, a bird Zeus sometimes changes into, as when he abducted Ganymede.

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Temple of Zeus at Olympia

Ruins of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia
Ruins of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Ryan Vinson http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=profile&l=raien

Remains of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, where the Olympic games were held.

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Europa and Zeus

Europa on the back of Zeus as a white bull. Gustave Moreau, watercolor, c. 1869.
Europa on the back of Zeus as a white bull. Gustave Moreau, watercolor, c. 1869. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Zeus in the form of a white bull abducted the Phoenician princess Europa.

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Ganymede and Zeus

Ganymede and Zeus
Ganymede, the gods' cup-bearer is serving Zeus in eagle form. Ganymede and Zeus. Clipart.com

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Jupiter et Thétis, 1811

Jupiter et Thétis, 1811, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Jupiter et Thétis, 1811, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thetis was the nymph mother of Achilles. Zeus had wanted to marry her until an oracle predicted their son would be greater than his father.

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Hera and Zeus

Frieze of Hera and Zeus
Frieze of Hera and Zeus. Clipart.com

A frieze of Zeus and Hera, the king (seated) and queen of the gods, in Greek mythology.

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Zeus Courting Ganymede

Zeus Courting Ganymede, by the Penthesileia painter. Red-figure kylix from 450 B.C.
Zeus Courting Ganymede, by the Penthesileia painter. Red-figure kylix from 450 B.C. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

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Zeus and Danae

Danae, by Titian, 1554
Danae, by Titian, 1554. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.