God of: The sky, lightning, thunder, and justice
Symbols: Thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and the oak tree
Parents: Cronus and Rhea
Children: Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hermes, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus
Abode: Mount Olympus
Roman name: Jupiter
Zeus was the king of the Greek gods who lived on Mount Olympus. He was the god of the sky and thunder. His symbols include the lightning bolt, the eagle, the bull, and the oak tree. He was married to the goddess Hera.
What powers did Zeus have?
Zeus was the most powerful of the Greek gods and had a number of powers. His most famous power is the ability to throw lightning bolts. His winged horse Pegasus carried his lightning bolts and he trained an eagle to retrieve them. He could also control the weather causing rain and huge storms.
Zeus also had other powers. He could mimic people's voices to sound like anyone. He could also shape shift so that he looked like an animal or a person. If people made him angry, sometimes he would turn them into animals as punishment.
Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen
Brothers and Sisters
Zeus had several brothers and sisters who were also powerful gods and goddesses. He was the youngest, but the most powerful of three brothers. His oldest brother was Hades who ruled the Underworld. His other brother was Poseidon, god of the sea. He had three sisters including Hestia, Demeter, and Hera (who he married).
Zeus had a number of children. Some of his children were Olympic gods such as Ares, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, Hermes and Dionysus. He also had some children who were half human and were heroes such as Hercules and Perseus. Other famous children include the Muses, the Graces, and Helen of Troy.
How did Zeus become king of the gods?
Zeus was the sixth child of the Titan gods Cronus and Rhea. Zeus' father Cronus was worried that his children would become too powerful, so he ate his first five children. They didn't die, but they couldn't get out of his stomach either! When Rhea had Zeus, she hid him from Cronus and Zeus was raised in the forest by Nymphs.
When Zeus grew older he wanted to rescue his brothers and sisters. He got a special potion and disguised himself so that Cronus would not recognize him. When Cronus drank the potion, he coughed up his five children. They were Hades, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, and Hestia.
Cronus and the Titans were angry. They battled Zeus and his brothers and sisters for years. Zeus set the giants and Cyclopes of Earth free to help him fight. They gave the Olympians weapons to fight the Titans. Zeus got thunder and lightning, Poseidon got a powerful trident, and Hades a helm that made him invisible. The Titans surrendered and Zeus had them locked deep underground.
Mother Earth then became angry with Zeus for locking the Titans underground. She sent the world's most fearsome monster called the Typhon to fight the Olympians. The other Olympians ran and hid, but not Zeus. Zeus fought the Typhon and trapped him under Mount Etna. This is the legend of how Mount Etna became a volcano.
Now Zeus was the most powerful of all the gods. He and his fellow gods went to live on Mount Olympus. There Zeus married Hera and ruled over the gods and humans.
Interesting Facts about Zeus
- The Roman equivalent of Zeus is Jupiter.
- The Olympics were held each year by the Greeks in honor of Zeus.
- Zeus originally married the Titan Metis, but grew worried that she would have a son that was stronger than him. So he swallowed her and married Hera.
- Zeus sided with the Trojans in the Trojan War, however, his wife Hera sided with the Greeks.
- He had a powerful shield called the Aegis.
- Zeus was also the keeper of oaths. He punished those who lied or made dishonest business deals.
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