Page semi-protected
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

  • King of the Gods
  • God of the sky, lightning, thunder, law and order
Member of the
Muses, the Moirai
Roman equivalentJupiter ("Jovis" or "Iovis" in Latin)
Indo-European equivalentDyēus or Perkwunos

Zeus (

Roman equivalent Jupiter.[5] His mythology and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra, Dyaus, and Zojz.[6][7][8][9][10]

Zeus is the child of

He was respected as an

. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of three poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty. It was very important for the lightning to be exclusively in the god's right hand as the Greeks believed that people who were left-handed were associated with bad luck.


The god's name in the nominative is Ζεύς (Zeús). It is inflected as follows:

Diogenes Laërtius quotes Pherecydes of Syros as spelling the name Ζάς.[24]

Zeus is the Greek continuation of *

pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology.[28]

The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek 𐀇𐀸, di-we and 𐀇𐀺, di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.[29]

Plato, in his Cratylus, gives a folk etymology of Zeus meaning "cause of life always to all things", because of puns between alternate titles of Zeus (Zen and Dia) with the Greek words for life and "because of".[30] This etymology, along with Plato's entire method of deriving etymologies, is not supported by modern scholarship.[31][32]

Diodorus Siculus wrote that Zeus was also called Zen, because the humans believed that he was the cause of life (zen).[33] While Lactantius wrote that he was called Zeus and Zen, not because he is the giver of life, but because he was the first who lived of the children of Cronus.[34]

Zeus was called by numerous alternative names or surnames, known as epithets. Some epithets are the surviving names of local gods who were consolidated into the myth of Zeus.[35]



Cave of Zeus", Mount Ida, Crete


Gaia and Uranus, that one of his own children is destined to one day overthrow him as he overthrew his father.[38] This causes Rhea "unceasing grief",[39] and upon becoming pregnant with her sixth child, Zeus, she approaches her parents, Gaia and Uranus, seeking a plan to save her child and bring retribution to Cronus.[40] Following her parents' instructions, she travels to Lyctus in Crete, where she gives birth to Zeus,[41] handing the newborn child over to Gaia for her to raise, and Gaia takes him to a cave on Mount Aegaeon.[42] Rhea then gives to Cronus, in the place of a child, a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallows, unaware that it isn't his son.[43]

While Hesiod gives Lyctus as Zeus's birthplace, he is the only source to do so,

Eumelos of Corinth (8th century BC), according to John the Lydian, considered Zeus to have been born in Lydia,[45] while the Alexandrian poet Callimachus (c. 310 – c. 240 BC), in his Hymn to Zeus, says that he was born in Arcadia.[46] Diodorus Siculus (fl. 1st century BC) seems at one point to give Mount Ida as his birthplace, but later states he is born in Dicte,[47] and the mythographer Apollodorus (first or second century AD) similarly says he was born in a cave in Dicte.[48]


While the Theogony says nothing of Zeus's upbringing other than that he grew up swiftly,[50] other sources provide more detailed accounts.

According to Apollodorus, Rhea, after giving birth to Zeus in a cave in Dicte, gives him to the nymphs

Kouretes guard the cave and beat their spears on their shields so that Cronus cannot hear the infant's crying.[53] Diodorus Siculus provides a similar account, saying that, after giving birth, Rhea travels to Mount Ida and gives the newborn Zeus to the Kouretes,[54] who then takes him to some nymphs (not named), who raised him on a mixture of honey and milk from the goat Amalthea.[55] He also refers to the Kouretes "rais[ing] a great alarum", and in doing so deceiving Cronus,[56] and relates that when the Kouretes were carrying the newborn Zeus that the umbilical cord fell away at the river Triton.[57]

Fabulae, relates a version in which Cronus casts Poseidon into the sea and Hades to the Underworld instead of swallowing them. When Zeus is born, Hera (also not swallowed), asks Rhea to give her the young Zeus, and Rhea gives Cronus a stone to swallow.[58] Hera gives him to Amalthea, who hangs his cradle from a tree, where he isn't in heaven, on earth or in the sea, meaning that when Cronus later goes looking for Zeus, he is unable to find him.[59] Hyginus also says that Ida, Althaea, and Adrasteia, usually considered the children of Oceanus, are sometimes called the daughters of Melisseus and the nurses of Zeus.[60]

According to a fragment of Epimenides, the nymphs Helike and Kynosura are the young Zeus's nurses. Cronus travels to Crete to look for Zeus, who, to conceal his presence, transforms himself into a snake and his two nurses into bears.[61] According to Musaeus, after Zeus is born, Rhea gives him to Themis. Themis in turn gives him to Amalthea, who owns a she-goat, which nurses the young Zeus.[62]

Antoninus Liberalis, in his Metamorphoses, says that Rhea gives birth to Zeus in a sacred cave in Crete, full of sacred bees, which become the nurses of the infant. While the cave is considered forbidden ground for both mortals and gods, a group of thieves seek to steal honey from it. Upon laying eyes on the swaddling clothes of Zeus, their bronze armour "split[s] away from their bodies", and Zeus would have killed them had it not been for the intervention of the Moirai and Themis; he instead transforms them into various species of birds.[63]

Ascension to Power

1st century BC statue of Zeus[64]

According to the Theogony, after Zeus reaches manhood, Cronus is made to disgorge the five children and the stone "by the stratagems of Gaia, but also by the skills and strength of Zeus", presumably in reverse order, vomiting out the stone first, then each of the five children in the opposite order to swallowing.

Hundred-Handers, who (similarly to the Cyclopes) were imprisoned beneath the Earth's surface.[69] He gives them nectar and ambrosia and revives their spirits,[70] and they agree to aid him in the war.[71] Zeus then launches his final attack on the Titans, hurling bolts of lightning upon them while the Hundred-Handers attack with barrages of rocks, and the Titans are finally defeated, with Zeus banishing them to Tartarus and assigning the Hundred-Handers the task of acting as their warders.[72]

Apollodorus provides a similar account, saying that, when Zeus reaches adulthood, he enlists the help of the Oceanid Metis, who gives Cronus an emetic, forcing to him to disgorge the stone and Zeus's five siblings.[73] Zeus then fights a similar ten-year war against the Titans, until, upon the prophesying of Gaia, he releases the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers from Tartarus, first slaying their warder, Campe.[74] The Cyclopes give him his thunderbolt, Poseidon his trident and Hades his helmet of invisibility, and the Titans are defeated and the Hundred-Handers made their guards.[75]

According to the Iliad, after the battle with the Titans, Zeus shares the world with his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, by drawing lots: Zeus receives the sky, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the underworld, with the earth and Olympus remaining common ground.[76]

Challenges to Power

Zeus (centre-left) battles against Porphyrion (far-right), detail of the Gigantomachy frieze from the Pergamon Altar, Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Upon assuming his place as king of the cosmos, Zeus' rule is quickly challenged. The first of these challenges to his power comes from the Giants, who fight the Olympian gods in a battle known as the Gigantomachy. According to Hesiod, the Giants are the offspring of Gaia, born from the drops of blood that fell on the ground when Cronus castrated his father Uranus;[77] there is, however, no mention of a battle between the gods and the Giants in the Theogony.[78] It is Apollodorus who provides the most complete account of the Gigantomachy. He says that Gaia, out of anger at how Zeus had imprisoned her children, the Titans, bore the Giants to Uranus.[79] There comes to the gods a prophecy that the Giants cannot be defeated by the gods on their own, but can be defeated only with the help of a mortal; Gaia, upon hearing of this, seeks a special pharmakon (herb) that will prevent the Giants from being killed. Zeus, however, orders Eos (Dawn), Selene (Moon) and Helios (Sun) to stop shining, and harvests all of the herb himself, before having Athena summon Heracles.[80] In the conflict, Porphyrion, one of the most powerful of the Giants, launches an attack upon Heracles and Hera; Zeus, however, causes Porphyrion to become lustful for Hera, and when he is just about to violate her, Zeus strikes him with his thunderbolt, before Heracles deals the fatal blow with an arrow.[81]

In the Theogony, after Zeus defeats the Titans and banishes them to Tartarus, his rule is challenged by the monster Typhon, a giant serpentine creature who battles Zeus for control of the cosmos. According to Hesiod, Typhon is the offspring of Gaia and Tartarus,[82] described as having a hundred snaky fire-breathing heads.[83] Hesiod says he "would have come to reign over mortals and immortals" had it not been for Zeus noticing the monster and dispatching with him quickly:[84] the two of them meet in a cataclysmic battle, before Zeus defeats him easily with his thunderbolt, and the creature is hurled down to Tartarus.[85] Epimenides presents a different version, in which Typhon makes his way into Zeus's palace while he is sleeping, only for Zeus to wake and kill the monster with a thunderbolt.[86] Aeschylus and Pindar give somewhat similar accounts to Hesiod, in that Zeus overcomes Typhon with relative ease, defeating him with his thunderbolt.[87] Apollodorus, in contrast, provides a more complex narrative.[88] Typhon is, similarly to in Hesiod, the child of Gaia and Tartarus, produced out of anger at Zeus's defeat of the Giants.[89] The monster attacks heaven, and all of the gods, out of fear, transform into animals and flee to Egypt, except for Zeus, who attacks the monster with his thunderbolt and sickle.[90] Typhon is wounded and retreats to Mount Kasios in Syria, where Zeus grapples with him, giving the monster a chance to wrap him in his coils, and rip out the sinews from his hands and feet.[91] Disabled, Zeus is taken by Typhon to the Corycian Cave in Cilicia, where he is guarded by the "she-dragon" Delphyne.[92] Hermes and Aegipan, however, steal back Zeus's sinews, and refit them, reviving him and allowing him to return to the battle, pursuing Typhon, who flees to Mount Nysa; there, Typhon is given "ephemeral fruits" by the Moirai, which reduce his strength.[93] The monster then flees to Thrace, where he hurls mountains at Zeus, which are sent back at him by the god's thunderbolts, before, while fleeing to Sicily, Zeus launches Mount Etna upon him, finally ending him.[94] Nonnus, who gives the most longest and most detailed account from antiquity, presents a narrative similar to Apollodorus, with differences such as that it is instead Cadmus and Pan who recovers Zeus's sinews, by luring Typhon with music and then tricking him.[95]

In the Iliad, Homer tells of another attempted overthrow, in which Hera, Poseidon, and Athena conspire to overpower Zeus and tie him in bonds. It is only because of the Nereid Thetis, who summons Briareus, one of the Hecatoncheires, to Olympus, that the other Olympians abandon their plans (out of fear for Briareus).[96]

Seven wives

Jupiter, disguised as a shepherd, tempts Mnemosyne by Jacob de Wit

According to Hesiod, Zeus takes

Oceanid daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, as his first wife. However, when she is about to give birth to a daughter, Athena, he swallows her whole upon the advice of Gaia and Uranus, as it had been foretold that after bearing a daughter, she would give birth to a son, who would overthrow him as king of gods and mortals; it is from this position that Metis gives counsel to Zeus. In time, Athena is born, emerging from Zeus's head, but the foretold son never comes forth.[97] Apollodorus presents a similar version, stating that Metis took many forms in attempting to avoid Zeus's embraces, and that it was Gaia alone who warned Zeus of the son who would overthrow him.[98] According to a fragment likely from the Hesiodic corpus,[99] quoted by Chrysippus, it is out of anger at Hera for producing Hephaestus on her own that Zeus has intercourse with Metis, and then swallows her, thereby giving rise to Athena from himself.[100] A scholiast on the Iliad, in contrast, states that when Zeus swallows her, Metis is pregnant with Athena not by Zeus himself, but by the Cyclops Brontes.[101] The motif of Zeus swallowing Metis can be seen as a continuation of the succession myth: it is prophesied that a son of Zeus will overthrow him, just as he overthrew his father, but whereas Cronos met his end because he did not swallow the real Zeus, Zeus holds onto his power because he successfully swallows the threat, in the form of the potential mother, and so the "cycle of displacement" is brought to an end.[102] In addition, the myth can be seen as an allegory for Zeus gaining the wisdom of Metis for himself by swallowing her.[103]

In Hesiod's account, Zeus's second wife is

Homeric Hymn to Apollo, are born on the island of Delos.[109] In Hesiod's account, Zeus's seventh and final wife is his sister Hera.[110]

Marriage to Hera

Wedding of Zeus and Hera on an antique fresco from Pompeii

While Hera is Zeus's seventh wife in Hesiod's version, in other accounts she is his first and only wife.[115] In the Theogony, the couple has three children, Ares, Hebe, and Eileithyia.[116] While Hesiod states that Hera produces Hephaestus on her own after Athena is born from Zeus's head,[117] other versions, including Homer, have Hephaestus as a child of Zeus and Hera as well.[118]

Various authors give descriptions of a youthful affair between Zeus and Hera. In the Iliad, the pair are described as having first lay with each other before Cronus is sent to Tartarus, without the knowledge of their parents.[119] A scholiast on the Iliad states that, after Cronus is banished to Tartarus, Oceanus and Tethys give Hera to Zeus in marriage, and only shortly after the two are wed, Hera gives birth to Hephaestus, having lay secretly with Zeus on the island of Samos beforehand; to conceal this act, she claimed that she had produced Hephaestus on her own.[120] According to another scholiast on the Iliad, Callimachus, in his Aetia, says that Zeus lay with Hera for three hundred years on the island of Samos.[121]

According to a scholion on Theocritus' Idylls, Zeus, one day seeing Hera walking apart from the other gods, becomes intent on having intercourse with her, and transforms himself into a cuckoo bird, landing on Mount Thornax. He creates a terrible storm, and when Hera arrives at the mountain and sees the bird, which sits on her lap, she takes pity on it, laying her cloak over it. Zeus then transforms back and takes hold of her; when she refuses to have intercourse with him because of their mother, he promises that she will become his wife.[122] Pausanias similarly refers to Zeus transforming himself into a cuckoo to woo Hera, and identifies the location as Mount Thornax.[123]

According to a version from

Photius, in his Bibliotheca, tells us that in Ptolemy Hephaestion's New History, Hera refuses to lay with Zeus, and hides in a cave to avoid him, before an earthborn man named Achilles convinces her to marry Zeus, leading to the pair first sleeping with each other.[126] According to Stephanus of Byzantium, Zeus and Hera first lay together at the city of Hermione, having come there from Crete.[127] Callimachus, in a fragment from his Aetia, also apparently makes reference to the couple's union occurring at Naxos.[128]

Though no complete account of Zeus and Hera's wedding exists, various authors make reference to it. According to a scholiast on

Varro the statement that the couple are married on the island of Samos.[133]

There exist several stories in which Zeus, receiving advice, is able to reconcile with an angered Hera. According to Pausanias, Hera, angry with her husband, retreats to the island of Euboea, where she was raised, and Zeus, unable to resolve the situation, seeks the advice of Cithaeron, ruler of

Plataia, and upon discovering the trick, the couple are reconciled, with the matter ending in joy and laughter among all involved.[135]


Zeus mated with several

Europa and Leda (for more details, see below) and the young Ganymede
(although he was mortal, Zeus granted him eternal youth and immortality).

Many myths render Hera as jealous of his affairs and a consistent enemy of Zeus' mistresses and their children by him. For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from his affairs by talking incessantly, and when Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to repeat the words of others.[140]

Zeus slept with his great-granddaughter, Alcmene, disguised as her husband Amphitryon. This resulted in the birth of Heracles, who would be tormented by Zeus's wife Hera for the rest of his life. After his death, Heracles's mortal parts were incinerated and he joined the gods on Olympus. He married Zeus and Hera's daughter, Hebe, and had two sons with her, Alexiares and Anicetus.[141]

According to Diodorus Siculus, Alcmene, the mother of Heracles, was the very last mortal woman Zeus ever slept with; following the birth of Heracles, he ceased to beget humans altogether, and fathered no more children.[142]

Zeus fell in love with Semele, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, and started an affair with her. Hera discovered his affair when Semele later became pregnant, and persuaded Semele to sleep with Zeus in his true form. When Zeus showed his true form to Semele, his lightning and thunderbolts burned her to death.[143] Zeus saved the fetus by stitching it into his thigh, and the fetus would be born as Dionysus.[144]

Prometheus and conflicts with humans

When the gods met at Mecone to discuss which portions they will receive after a sacrifice, the titan

humans receive the better portions. He sacrificed a large ox
, and divided it into two piles. In one pile he put all the meat and most of the fat, covering it with the ox's grotesque stomach, while in the other pile, he dressed up the bones with fat. Prometheus then invited Zeus to choose; Zeus chose the pile of bones. This set a precedent for sacrifices, where humans will keep the fat for themselves and burn the bones for the gods.

Zeus, enraged at Prometheus's deception, prohibited the use of fire by humans. Prometheus, however, stole fire from Olympus in a fennel stalk and gave it to humans. This further enraged Zeus, who punished Prometheus by binding him to a cliff, where an eagle constantly ate Prometheus's liver, which regenerated every night. Prometheus was eventually freed from his misery by Heracles.[145]

Now Zeus, angry at humans, decides to give humanity a punishing gift to compensate for the boon they had been given. He commands Hephaestus to mold from earth the first woman, a "beautiful evil" whose descendants would torment the human race. After Hephaestus does so, several other gods contribute to her creation. Hermes names the woman 'Pandora'.

Pandora was given in marriage to Prometheus's brother Epimetheus. Zeus gave her a jar which contained many evils. Pandora opened the jar and released all the evils, which made mankind miserable. Only hope remained inside the jar.[146]

When Zeus was atop Mount Olympus he was appalled by human sacrifice and other signs of human decadence. He decided to wipe out mankind and flooded the world with the help of his brother Poseidon. After the flood, only Deucalion and Pyrrha remained.[147] This flood narrative is a common motif in mythology.[148]

In the Iliad

Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida by James Barry
, 1773 (City Art Galleries, Sheffield.)


Trojan war and the battle over the City of Troy
, in which Zeus plays a major part.

Scenes in which Zeus appears include:[149][150]

  • Book 2: Zeus sends Agamemnon a dream and is able to partially control his decisions because of the effects of the dream
  • Book 4: Zeus promises Hera to ultimately destroy the City of Troy at the end of the war
  • Book 7: Zeus and Poseidon ruin the Achaeans fortress
  • Book 8: Zeus prohibits the other Gods from fighting each other and has to return to Mount Ida where he can think over his decision that the Greeks will lose the war
  • Book 14: Zeus is seduced by Hera and becomes distracted while she helps out the Greeks
  • Book 15: Zeus wakes up and realizes that his own brother, Poseidon has been aiding the Greeks, while also sending Hector and Apollo to help fight the Trojans ensuring that the City of Troy will fall
  • Book 16: Zeus is upset that he couldn't help save Sarpedon's life because it would then contradict his previous decisions
  • Book 17: Zeus is emotionally hurt by the fate of Hector
  • Book 20: Zeus lets the other Gods lend aid to their respective sides in the war
  • Book 24: Zeus demands that Achilles release the corpse of Hector to be buried honourably

Other myths

When Hades requested to marry Zeus's daughter, Persephone, Zeus approved and advised Hades to abduct Persephone, as her mother Demeter wouldn't allow her to marry Hades.[151]

In the Orphic "Rhapsodic Theogony" (first century BC/AD),[152] Zeus wanted to marry his mother Rhea. After Rhea refused to marry him, Zeus turned into a snake and raped her. Rhea became pregnant and gave birth to Persephone. Zeus in the form of a snake would mate with his daughter Persephone, which resulted in the birth of Dionysus.[153]

Zeus granted

Phegeus and his two sons.[154]

Both Zeus and Poseidon wooed Thetis, daughter of Nereus. But when Themis (or Prometheus) prophesied that the son born of Thetis would be mightier than his father, Thetis was married off to the mortal Peleus.[155][156]

Zeus was afraid that his grandson Asclepius would teach resurrection to humans, so he killed Asclepius with his thunderbolt. This angered Asclepius's father, Apollo, who in turn killed the Cyclopes who had fashioned the thunderbolts of Zeus. Angered at this, Zeus would have imprisoned Apollo in Tartarus. However, at the request of Apollo's mother, Leto, Zeus instead ordered Apollo to serve as a slave to King Admetus of Pherae for a year.[157] According to Diodorus Siculus, Zeus killed Asclepius because of complains from Hades, who was worried that the number of people in the underworld was diminishing because of Asclepius's resurrections.[158]

The winged horse Pegasus carried the thunderbolts of Zeus.[159]

Zeus took pity on Ixion, a man who was guilty of murdering his father-in-law, by purifying him and bringing him to Olympus. However, Ixion started to lust after Hera. Hera complained about this to her husband, and Zeus decided to test Ixion. Zeus fashioned a cloud that resembles Hera (Nephele) and laid the cloud-Hera in Ixion's bed. Ixion coupled with Nephele, resulting in the birth of Centaurus. Zeus punished Ixion for lusting after Hera by tying him to a wheel that spins forever.[160]

Once, Helios the sun god gave his chariot to his inexperienced son Phaethon to drive. Phaethon could not control his father's steeds so he ended up taking the chariot too high, freezing the earth, or too low, burning everything to the ground. The earth itself prayed to Zeus, and in order to prevent further disaster, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at Phaethon, killing him and saving the world from further harm.[161] In a satirical work, Dialogues of the Gods by Lucian, Zeus berates Helios for allowing such thing to happen; he returns the damaged chariot to him and warns him that if he dares do that again, he will strike him with one of this thunderbolts.[162]

Transformation of Zeus

Love interest Disguises
Aegina an eagle or a flame of fire[163]
Alcmene Amphitryon[164]
a satyr[165]
Asopis a flame of fire
Callisto Artemis[166] or Apollo[167]
Danaë shower of gold[168]
Europa a bull[169]
Eurymedusa ant
Ganymede an eagle[170]
Hera a cuckoo[171]
Lamia a lapwing
Leda a swan[172]
Nemesis a goose[173]
Persephone a serpent[153]
Rhea a serpent[153]
Semele a fire
Thalia a vulture
Manthaea A bear[174]


Offspring and mothers (Hesiod)
Offspring Mother
Heracles Alcmene[175]
Persephone Demeter[176]
Euphrosyne, Thalia
Ares, Eileithyia, Hebe Hera[178]
Apollo, Artemis Leto[179]
Hermes Maia[180]
Athena Metis[181]
) Mnemosyne[182]
Dionysus Semele[183]
Offspring and mothers (Other sources) Table 1
Offspring Mother
, Aix or Boetis
Tyche[186] Aphrodite
Hecate,[187] Heracles[188] Asteria
Acragas[189] Asterope
Corybantes[190] Calliope
Coria (Athene)[191] Coryphe
Dionysus[192] Demeter
Aphrodite Dione[193]
Euphrosyne, Thalia
Euanthe[194] or Eunomia[195] or Eurydome[196] or Eurymedusa[197]
Asopus[198] Eurynome
Dodon[199] Europa
Agdistis,[200] Manes,[201] Cyprian Centaurs[202]
Pan[206] Hybris
Helen of Troy[207]
Melinoë, Zagreus,[208] Dionysus Persephone
Persephone[209] Rhea
Dionysus,[210] Ersa,[211] Nemea,[212] Pandia[213] Selene
Persephone[214] Styx
Palici[215] Thalia
Aeacus,[216] Damocrateia[217] Aegina
Amphion, Zethus Antiope[218]
Targitaos[219] Borysthenis
Britomartis[221] Carme
Myrmidon[225] Eurymedousa
Cronius, Spartaios, Cytus Himalia[226]
Colaxes[227] Hora
Cres[228] Idaea
Saon[231] Nymphe
Meliteus[232] Othreis
Offspring and mothers (Other sources) Table 2
Offspring Mother
Tantalus[233] Plouto
Archas[235] Themisto
Carius[236] Torrhebia
Megarus[237] Nymph Sithnid
Olenus[238] Anaxithea
Aethlius or Endymion[239] Calyce
Milye,[240] Solymus[241] Chaldene
Perseus[242] Danaë
Pirithous[243] Dia
Tityos[244] Elara
Arcesius Euryodeia
Orchomenus Hermippe[248]
Agamedes Iocaste
Thebe,[249] Deucalion[203] Iodame
Libyan Sibyl (Herophile)[252] Lamia (daughter of Poseidon)
Sarpedon[253] Laodamia
Helen of Troy, Pollux Leda
Heracles[254] Lysithoe
Locrus Maera[255]
Argus, Pelasgus Niobe[256]
Graecus, Latinus
Achaeus[258] Phthia
Aethlius,[259] Aetolus,[260] Opus[261] Protogeneia
Hellen[262] Pyrrha
Aegyptus,[249] Heracles[263] Thebe
Magnes, Makednos Thyia[264]
unknown mothers
Orion[273] No mother

Roles and epithets

Roman marble colossal head of Zeus, 2nd century AD (British Museum)[274]

Zeus played a dominant role, presiding over the

local cults. Though the Homeric "cloud collector" was the god of the sky and thunder like his Near-Eastern counterparts, he was also the supreme cultural artifact; in some senses, he was the embodiment of Greek religious beliefs and the archetypal
Greek deity.

Popular conceptions of Zeus differed widely from place to place. Local varieties of Zeus often have little in common with each other except the name. They exercised different areas of authority and were worshiped in different ways; for example, some local cults conceived of Zeus as a chthonic earth-god rather than a god of the sky. These local divinities were gradually consolidated, via conquest and religious syncretism, with the Homeric conception of Zeus. Local or idiosyncratic versions of Zeus were given epithets — surnames or titles which distinguish different conceptions of the god.[35]

These epithets or titles applied to Zeus emphasized different aspects of his wide-ranging authority:

Additional names and epithets for Zeus are also:



  • Basileus (Βασιλευς, "King, Chief, Ruler")
  • Bottiaeus/ Bottaios (Βοττιαίος, "of the
    Bottiaei"): Worshipped at Antioch[285] Libanius wrote that Alexander the Great founded the temple of Zeus Bottiaios, in the place where later the city of Antioch was built.[286][287]
  • Zeus Bouleus/ Boulaios (Βουλαίος, "of the Council"): Worshipped at Dodona, the earliest oracle, along with Zeus Naos
  • Brontios and Brontaios (Βρονταῖος, "Thunderer"): Zeus as a weather god




  • Eilapinastes (Εἰλαπιναστής, "Feaster"). He was worshipped in Cyprus.[292][293]
  • Epikarpios (ἐπικάρπιος, "of the fruits").[283]
  • Eleutherios (Ἐλευθέριος, "of freedom"). At Athens after the Battle of Plataea, Athenians built the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios.[294] Some writers said that was called "of freedom" because free men built the portico near his shrine, while others because Athenians escaped subjection to the power of Persia and they were free.[295]
  • Epidôtês/ Epidotes (Επιδωτης; "Giver of Good"): an epithet of Zeus at Mantineia and Sparta
  • Euênemos/ Euanemos (Ευηνεμος; "of Fair Winds", "Giver of Favourable Wind") or Latinized Evenemus/ Evanemus[282]


  • Genethlios (Γενέθλιός; "of birth").[283]
  • Zeus Georgos (Ζεὺς Γεωργός, "Zeus the Farmer"): Zeus as god of crops and the harvest, worshipped in Athens


  • Zeus Helioupolites ("Heliopolite" or "Heliopolitan Zeus"): A Hellenization of the
    Heliopolis (modern Baalbek)[280] in Syria
  • Herkeios (Ἑρκειος, "of the Courtyard") or Latinized Herceius
  • Hecalesius, a festival named Hecalesia (Εκαλήσια) was celebrated at Athens in honour of Zeus Hecalesius and Hecale.[296]
  • Hetareios (Ἑταιρεῖος, "of fellowship"): According to the Suda, Zeus was called this among the Cretans.[297]
  • Hikesios (Ἱκεσιος; "of Suppliants") or Latinized Hicesius
  • Homognios (ὁμόγνιος; "of kindred")[283]
  • Hyetios (Ὑετιος; "of the Rain")
  • Hypatos (Ὑπατος, "Supreme, Most High")[282]
  • Hypsistos (Ὕψιστος, "Supreme, Most High")



  • Zeus Kasios ("Zeus of Mount Kasios" the modern
    Baal Zephon
  • Kataibates (Καταιβάτης, "descending") or Latinized Cataebates, because he was sending-down thunderbolts or because he was descending to earth due to his love of women.[300]
  • Katharsios (Καθάρσιος, "purifying").[283]
  • Keraunios (Κεραυνιος; "of the Thunderbolt") or Latinized Ceraunius
  • Klarios (Κλαριος; "of the Lots") or Latinized Clarius[282]
  • Konios (Κονιος; "of the Dust") or Latinized Conius[282]
  • Koryphaios (Κορυφαιος, "Chief, Leader") or Latinized Coryphaeus[282]
  • Kosmêtês (Κοσμητης; "Orderer") or Latinized Cosmetes
  • Ktesios (Κτησιος, "of the House, Property") or Latinized Ctesius[282]


  • Zeus Labrandos (Λαβρανδευς; "Furious, Raging", "Zeus of Labraunda"): Worshiped at Caria, depicted with a double-edged axe (labrys), a Hellenization of the Hurrian weather god Teshub
  • Laphystius ("of Laphystium"), Laphystium was a mountain in Boeotia on which there was a temple to Zeus.[301]
  • Limenoskopos (Λιμενοσκοπος; "Watcher of Sea-Havens") or Latinized Limenoscopus occurs as a surname of several deities, Zeus, Artemis, Aphrodite, Priapus and Pan
  • Lepsinos, there is a temple of Zeus Lepsinos at Euromus.[302]
  • Leukaios (Λευκαῖος Ζεύς; "Zeus of the white poplar")[303]




  • Ombrios (Ομβριος; "of the Rain", "Rain-Giver")[282]
  • Ouranios (Οὐράνιος, "Heavenly").[283]
  • Ourios (Οὐριος, "of Favourable Wind"). Ancient writers wrote about a sanctuary at the opening of the Black Sea dedicated to the Zeus Ourios (ἱερὸν τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ Οὐρίου).[306] In addition, on the island of Delos a dedication to Zeus Ourios was found. The dedication was made by a citizen of Ascalon, named Damon son of Demetrius, who escaped from pirates.[307]


  • Palaimnios (Παλαμναῖος; "of Vengeance")[283]
  • Panamaros (Πανάμαρος; "of the city of Panamara"): there was an important sanctuary of Zeus Panamaros at the city of Panamara in Caria[308][309]
  • Pankrates (Πανκρατής; "the almighty")[310]
  • Patrios (Πάτριος; "paternal")[283]
  • Phratrios (Φράτριος), as patron of a phratry[311]
  • Philios (Φιλιος; "of Friendship") or Latinized Philius
  • Phyxios (Φυξιος; "of Refuge") or Latinized Phyxius[282]
  • Plousios (Πλουσιος; "of Wealth") or Latinized Plusius
  • Polieus (Πολιεὺς; "from cities (




  • Xenios (Ξενιος; "of Hospitality, Strangers") or Latinized Xenius[282]


  • Zygius (Ζυγίος): As the presider over marriage. His wife Hera had also the epithet Zygia (Ζυγία). These epithets describing them as presiding over marriage.[314]

Cults of Zeus

Archaeological Museum of Dion

Panhellenic cults

Istanbul Archaeology Museum).

The major center where all Greeks converged to pay honor to their chief god was Olympia. Their quadrennial festival

featured the famous Games. There was also an altar to Zeus made not of stone, but of ash, from the accumulated remains of many centuries' worth of animals sacrificed there.

Outside of the major inter-

. Certain modes of ritual were held in common as well: sacrificing a white animal over a raised altar, for instance.

Zeus Velchanos

With one exception, Greeks were unanimous in recognizing the birthplace of Zeus as Crete. Minoan culture contributed many essentials of ancient Greek religion: "by a hundred channels the old civilization emptied itself into the new", Will Durant observed,[316] and Cretan Zeus retained his youthful Minoan features. The local child of the Great Mother, "a small and inferior deity who took the roles of son and consort",[317] whose Minoan name the Greeks Hellenized as Velchanos, was in time assumed as an epithet by Zeus, as transpired at many other sites, and he came to be venerated in Crete as Zeus Velchanos ("boy-Zeus"), often simply the Kouros.


Ida and Palaikastro. In the Hellenistic period a small sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Velchanos was founded at the Hagia Triada site of a long-ruined Minoan palace. Broadly contemporary coins from Phaistos show the form under which he was worshiped: a youth sits among the branches of a tree, with a cockerel on his knees.[318] On other Cretan coins Velchanos is represented as an eagle and in association with a goddess celebrating a mystic marriage.[319] Inscriptions at Gortyn and Lyttos record a Velchania festival, showing that Velchanios was still widely venerated in Hellenistic Crete.[320]

The stories of

Kouretes, a band of ecstatic armed dancers, he presided over the rigorous military-athletic training and secret rites of the Cretan paideia

The myth of the death of Cretan Zeus, localised in numerous mountain sites though only mentioned in a comparatively late source,

mythic swarm of bees, suggests that Velchanos had been an annual vegetative spirit.[323]
The Hellenistic writer
writers took up the suggestion.

Zeus Lykaios

Cabinet des Médailles