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~Napoleon Bonaparte

Saturday, 14 April 2012

God Zeus

ZEUS, the greatest of the Olympian gods, and the father of gods and men, was a son of Cronus and Rhea, a brother of Poseidon, Hades (Pluto), Hestia, Demeter, Hera, and at the same time married to his sister Hera. When Zeus and his brothers distributed among themselves the government of the world by lot, Poseidon obtained the sea, Hades the lower world, and Zeus the heavens and the upper regions, but the earth became common to all (Hom. Il. xv. 187, &c., i. 528, ii. 111; Virg. Aen. iv. 372).

ZEUS was the king of the gods, the god of sky and weather, law, order and fate. He was depicted as a regal man, mature with sturdy figure and dark beard. His usual attributes were a lightning bolt, royal scepter and eagle.

Musée du Louvre, Paris
ca 470 - 460 BC
Zeus aims his lightning bolt at a giant (not shown). An eagle sits perched on his   other hand.

 According to the Homeric account Zeus, like the other Olympian gods, dwelt on Mount Olympus in Thessaly, which was believed to penetrate with its lofty summit into heaven itself (Il. i. 221, &c., 354, 609, xxi. 438). He is called the father of gods and men (i. 514, v. 33; comp. Aeschyl. Sept. 512), the most high and powerful among the immortals, whom all others obey (Il. xix. 258, viii. 10, &c.). He is the highest ruler, who with his counsel manages everything (i. 175, viii. 22), the founder of kingly power, of law and of order, whence Dice, Themis and Nemesis are his assistants (i. 238, ii. 205, ix. 99, xvi. 387; comp. Hes. Op. et D. 36 ; Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 79).

 Statue of Jupiter/Zeus Late 1st century AD  

He is armed with thunder and lightning, and the shaking of his aegis produces storm and tempest (Il. xvii. 593) : a number of epithets of Zeus in the Homeric poems describe him as the thunderer, the gatherer of clouds, and the like.

 Zeus, Early Imperial Roman

He was married to Hera, by whom he had two sons, Ares and Hephaestus, and one daughter, Hebe (Il. i. 585, v. 896, Od. xi. 604). Hera sometimes acts as an independent divinity, she is ambitious and rebels against her lord, but she is nevertheless inferior to him, and is punished for her opposition (Il. xv. 17, &c., xix. 95, &c.)

Zeus, no doubt, was originally a god of a portion of nature, whence the oak with its eatable fruit and the fertile doves were sacred to him at Dodona and in Arcadia (hence also rain, storms, and the seasons were regarded as his work, and hence the Cretan stories of milk, honey, and cornucopia)

 Annibale Carracci, Juno and Jupiter, (Zeus and Hera)

Hesiod (Theog. 116, &c.) also calls Zeus the son of Cronus and Rhea , and the brother of Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. Cronus swallowed his children immediately after their birth, but when Rhea was near giving birth to Zeus, she applied to Uranus and Ge for advice as to how the child might be saved. Before the hour of birth came, Uranus and Ge sent Rhea to Lyctos in Crete, requesting her to bring up her child there. Rhea accordingly concealed her infant in a cave of Mount Aegaeon, and gave to Cronos a stone wrapped up in cloth, which he swallowed in the belief that it was his son. Other traditions state that Zeus was born and brought up on Mount Dicte or Ida (also the Trojan Ida), Ithome in Messenia, Thebes in Boeotia, Aegion in Achaia, or Olenos in Aetolia. According to the common account, however, Zeus grew up in Crete. As Rhea is sometimes identified with Ge, Zeus is also called a son of Ge. (Aeschyl. Suppl. 901.)

 The goddess Rhea, standing on a rock, hands the omphalos stone wrapped in swaddling cloth over to Cronus, as a substitute for her infant Zeus. The Titan raises his hand to receive the mock child which he will devour. He holds a royal scepter in his other hand. 

In the meantime Cronus by a cunning device of Ge or Metis was made to bring up the children he had swallowed, and first of all the stone, which was afterwards set up by Zeus at Delphi. The young god now delivered the Cyclopes from the bonds with which they had been fettered by Cronus, and they in their gratitude provided him with thunder and lightning. On the advice of Ge. Zeus also liberated the hundred-armed Gigantes, Briareos, Cottus, and Gyes, that they might assist him in his fight against the Titans. (Apollod. i. 2. § 1; Hes. Theog. 617, &c.) The Titans were conquered and shut up in Tartarus (Theog. 717), where they were henceforth guarded by the Hecatoncheires. Thereupon Tartarus and Ge begot  Typhon (Typhoeus), who began a fearful struggle with Zeus, but was conquered. (Theog. 820, &c.) 

Zeus obtained the dominion of the world, and chose Metis for his wife. (Theog. 881, &c.) When she was pregnant with Athena, he took the child out of her body and concealed it in his own, on the advice of Uranus and Ge, who told him that thereby he would retain the supremacy of the world. For Metis had given birth to a son, this son (so fate had ordained it) would have acquired the sovereignty. After this Zeus, by his second wife Themis. became the father of the Horae and Moerae; of the Charites by Eurynome, of Persephone by Demeter, of the Muses by Mnemosyne, of Apollo and Artemis by Leto, and of Hebe, Ares, and Eileithyia by Hera. Athena was born out of the head of Zeus; while Hera, on the other hand, gave birth to Hephaestus without the co-operation of Zeus. (Theog. 8866, &c.)

Roman cast terracotta of ram-horned Jupiter Ammon, 1st century AD (Museo Barracco, Rome)


 Zeus  Meilichios

 Julio Romano, Zeus and Olimpia

The family of the Cronidae accordingly embraces the twelve great gods of Olympus, Zeus (the head of them all), Poseidon, Apollo, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, and Artemis. These twelve Olympian gods, who in some places were worshipped as a body, as at Athens (Thueyd. vi. 54), were recognised not only by the Greeks, but were adopted also by the Romans, who, in particular, identified their Jupiter with the Greek Zeus.

 Palais Palffy in Vienna 1st district Wallnerstraße 6, god Zeus

In surveying the different local traditions about Zeus, it would seem that originally there were several, at least three, divinities which in their respective countries were supreme, but which in the course of time became united in the minds of tile people into one great national divinity. We may accordingly speak of an Arcadian, Dodonaean, Cretan, and a national Hellenic Zeus.

1. The Arcadian Zeus (Zeus Lukaios) was born, according to the legends of the country, in Arcadia, either on Mount Parrhasion (Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 7, 10), or in a district of Mount Lycaeon, which was calledCretea. (Paus. viii. 38. § 1 ; Callim. l. c. 14.) He was brought up there by the nymphs Theisoa, Neda, and Hagno; the first of these gave her name to an Arcadian town, the second to a river, and the third to a well.

2. The Dodonaean Zeus (Zeus Dôdônaios or Pelasgikos) possessed the most ancient oracle in Greece, at Dodona in Epeirus, near mount Tomarus (Tmarus or Tomurus), from which he derived his name. (Hom. Il. ii. 750, xvi. 233; Herod. ii. 52 ; Paus. i. 17. § 5; Strab. v. p. 338, vi. p. 504; Virg. Eclog. viii. 44.) At Dodona Zeus was mainly a prophetic god, and the oak tree was sacred to him ; but there too he was said to have been reared by if the Dodonaean nymphs (Hyades; Schol. ad Hom. Il. xviii. 486; Hygin. Fab. 182 ; Ov. Fast. vi. 711, Met. iii. 314)

3. The Cretan Zeus. We have already given the account of him which is contained in the Theogony of Hesiod. He is the god, to whom Rhea, concealed from Cronos, gave birth in a cave of mount Dicte, and whom she entrusted to the Curetes and the nymphs Adrasteia and Ida, the daughters of Melisseus.
Jupiter, Mercury and the Virtue, Dosso Dossi

Some of the more famous myths featuring the god include:-

His birth and upbringing in the Diktaion cave, where he was nursed by Amaltheia and guarded by the shield-clashing Kouretes;
The Titan War in which he overthrew the Titans and imprisoned them in Tartarus;
His battle with Typhoeus, a hundred headed, monstrous giant who attempted to capture heaven;
The War of the Giants who attempted to storm Olympus but were slain by Zeus and the gods;
The Great Deluge in which he flooded the earth to destroy mankind and begin the world anew;
His conflict with Prometheus over the theft of benefactions for mankind;
The punishment of Salmoneus, Tantalos and Ixion, men who offended the god with their impiety;
The birth and life of Heracles, his favored son, who he had transferred to Olympus at death;
His extramarital affairs with women such as Leda, seduced in the form of a swan; Europe, as a bull; Danae, as a golden shower; Callisto, as Artemis; and Antiope as a satyr;
The Trojan War which he orchestrated from start to end, including the casting of the golden apple of discord.

Typhon also Typhoeus, Typhaon or Typhos was the last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, and the most deadly monster of Greek mythology. He was known as the "Father of all monsters"; his wife Echidna was likewise the "Mother of All Monsters."

 Zeus armed with a lightning bolt battles the winged, serpent-legged giant Typhoeus. 540 BC

 Zeus  and  Typhon

The GIANTS, they say, were serpent-footed, had a thousand hands, and being huge they were also invincible in their might. Some have said that the GIANTS were born in Phlegrae or Pallene, which is the westernmost of the three peninsulas jutting into the Aegean Sea from Chalcidice.
The GIANTS were born from the flowing blood which fell upon the earth after the Castration of Uranus, performed by Cronos. But it has also been told that Gaia, vexed because the OLYMPIANS had defeated the TITANS, gave birth to a race of GIANTS so that they should attack heaven, and obtain revenge.
These GIANTS did attack heaven (see Gigantomachy), and as an oracle had declared that none of the them could perish at the hands of the gods unless a mortal could help them, these summoned Heracles 1 to their aid, and the GIANTS were destroyed.

 Zeus  fight Giant,  Pergamon

The eagle, the oak, and the summits of mountains were sacred to Zeus, and his sacrifices generally consisted of goats, bulls and cows. (Hom. Il. ii. 403; Aristot. Ethic. v. 10, ix. 2; Virg. Aen. iii. 21, ix. 627.) His usual attributes are, the sceptre, eagle, thunderbolt, and a figure of Victory in his hand, and sometimes also a cornucopia. The Olympian Zeus sometimes wears a wreath of olive, and the Dodonaean Zeus a wreath of oak leaves.

His extramarital affairs with women such as Leda, seduced in the form of a swan; Europe, as a bull; Danae, as a golden shower, and Ganymede as eagle.  

 Rubens,  Rape of Europa

 REMBRANDT,  Rape of Europa

Paulo Veronese,  Rape of Europa

 Luca GIORDANO, Rape of Europa

 Carl Milles Europa & Zeus i Halmstad

 Europa riding the bull) made by Gerard van der Leeden in 1975. Placed at the Rijnlaan in Utrecht.

 Europa and the Bull) by Pieter d'Hont. Placed at the Rijsterborgherpark in Deventer in 1963.

 Europa en de Stier" by Jits Bakker in 1998. Placed at the roundabound at the Hesenweg/Looydijk in De Bilt.

 Europa and the bull), made by Ek van Zanten in 1961 and placed at the little park at the Laapersweg in Hilversum.

 Sculpture "Europa en de Stier" by Eric Claus in 2000. Placed in 2008 at the Lingedijk in Buurmalsen (right next to Tricht). It used to be placed in Kijkduin in The Hague.

 This one is in Hollywood, California

 Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida

 Zeus i Europa, Consell Europeu, Brusel·les
Léon de Pas, Europe en avant (Zeus and Europe), Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, Brussels.

Leda and Zeus as a swan.

 Leda and the Swan, copy by Cesare Sesto after a lost original by Leonardo, 1515-1520, Oil on canvas, Wilton House, England.

 Rubens, Leda and the Swan

 Leda and the Swan, copy by Cornelis Bos after a lost original by Michelangelo.

 Leda and the Swan Paul Cezanne

 Titian, Danaë with a Nurse 



 GENTILESCHI Orazio, Danaë

 Danaë by Gustav Klimt

Ganymede is the young, beautiful boy that became one of Zeus' lovers. One source of the myth says that Zeus fell in love with Ganymede when he spotted him herding his flock on Mount Ida. Zeus then came down in the form of an eagle or sent an eagle to carry Ganymede to Mount Olympus where Ganymede became cupbearer to the gods. According to other accounts, Eos kidnapped Ganymede, to be her lover, at the same time she kidnapped Tithonus. Zeus then robbed Eos of Ganymede, in return granting Eos the wish that Tithonus be immortal. Unthinkingly, Eos forgot to ask that Tithonus remain youthful. Everyday, the faithful Eos watched over Tithonus, until one day she locked him in a room and left him to get old by himself.
When Ganymede's father, King Tros of Troy or Laomedon, found out about Ganymede's disappearance, he grieved so hard that Zeus sent Hermes on his behalf to give Tros or Laomedon two storm footed horses. In other accounts, Zeus gave Tros a golden vine and two swift horses that could run over water. Hermes was also ordered to assure the bereaved father that Ganymede was and would be immortal. Later, Heracles asked for the two beautiful horses in exchange for destroying the sea monster sent by Poseidon to besiege the city of Troy. Tros agreed and Heracles became the owner of the bribe sent by Zeus to Tros.
Upon hearing that Ganymede was to be cup bearer as well as Zeus' lover, the infinitely jealous Hera was outraged. Therefor Zeus set Ganymede's image among the stars as the constellation Aquarius, the water carrier. Aquarius was originally the Egyptian god over the Nile. The Egyptian god poured water not wine from a flagon.

All of Zeus' scandalous liaisons have allegorical meanings. Some sources say that Zeus' affair with Ganymede was a (religious) justification for homosexuality within the Greek culture, yet others state that this is merely a reflection of Greek life at that time. Before the popularity of the Zeus and Ganymede myth spread, however, the only toleration for sodomy was an external form of goddess worship. Cybele's male devotees tried to achieve unity with her by castrating themselves and dressing like women.

Apollodorus argued that this myth emphasized the victory of patriarchy over matriarchy. This showed that men did not need women to exist, therefor they did not need the attentions of women. The philosopher Plato used this myth to justify his sexual feelings towards male pupils.

GANYMEDES was a handsome, young Trojan prince who was carried off to heaven by Zeus, or his eagle, to be the god's lover and cup-bearer of the gods. Ganymedes also received a place amongst the stars as theconstellation Aquarius, his ambrosial mixing cup became the Krater, and the eagle Aquila. Ganymedes was frequently represented as the god of homosexual love, and as such appears as a playmate of the love-gods Eros(Love) and Hymenaios (Marital Love).
Ganymedes was depicted in Greek vase painting as a handsome boy. In the abduction scene his attributes were usually a rooster (a lover's gift), a hoop (a boy's toy), or a lyre. When portrayed as the cup-bearer of the gods he is shown pouring nectar from a jug. In sculpture and mosaic art, on the other hand, Ganymedes usually appears with shepherd's crock and a Phrygian cap.
The boy's name was derived from the Greek words ganumai "gladdening" and mêdon ormedeôn, "prince" or "genitals." The name may have been formed to contain a deliberate double-meaning.

Plato, Laws 636c (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"One certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure. And we all accuse the Kretans of concocting the story about Ganymedes. Because it was the belief that they derived their laws from Zeus, they added on this story about Zeus in order that they might be following his example in enjoying this pleasure as well."
Plato, Phaedrus 255:
"The fountain of that stream [homosexual desire], which Zeus when he was in love with Ganymede named Himeros (Desire)."

Zeus abducts Ganymede to heaven, sweeping him up in the form of a giant eagle. The young Trojan prince holds a staff, and wears a Phrygian cap.
Date: ca 525-475 BC
Zeus (not shown) pursues the boy Ganymede, who is playings with a toy hoop and pet rooster (perhaps a gift from his male suitor).
 Peter Paul Rubens The Abduction of Ganymede-II
 CORREGGIO, Ganymede
 Ganymede, Rembrandt
 The Rape of Ganymede by Jupiter's Eagle with satyrs, Annibale Carracci
   Jupiter and Ganymede, Grangerel, engraving after Peter Paul Rubens
 Ganymede Louvre Museum,

 Museum Vatican,
 Imperial Roman
 The youth Ganymede standing beside the  eagle of Zeus.
 GANYMEDES & THE EAGLE              
 Imperial Roman
The youth Ganymede holding a staff and wearing a Phrygian cap, rests an arm across the back of the eagle of Zeus.


 Beham, (Hans) Sebald : Jupiter, from The Seven Planets with the Signs of the Zodiac, 1539