I legitimately cannot believe I haven’t written a mythology Monday on Zeus yet.
Wow, where to even start. Okay, first you’ll need some background on creation and the Titanomachy.
Zeus’s father, Cronus, was terrified that his children were going to be the death of him. So he would eat his children as soon as his wife, Rhea gave birth. Why continue to have children then? In my world, I had a hard time imagining that the gods themselves couldn’t control whether or not they became pregnant, at least when it came to hooking up with each other, so I built in a different explanation.
The gods had to pass on bits of their powers when their powers became too much for them. Zeus didn’t just have a ton of kids because he loved sleeping around (though that did factor in), he had an obscene amount of worship fueling his power. I’m sure the god king before him did as well.
But Rhea was not a fan of her husband eating her children. Rather than putting her foot down and just saying no, she put the fate of her previously eaten children in the hands of an infant. When Chaos got ready to eat Zeus, Rhea tricked him into eating a rock instead. (It is revealed in Aphrodite that Rhea was the first god to use charm).
Zeus was given to
the last unicorn Amalthea the goat or possibly nymph depending on the version of the myth you ascribe to, to raise on Mt. Dikte, but there are a lot of variations on how he was kept out of Cronus’s awareness. Some versions of the myth say he was hung, suspended from a tree, neither touching the earth nor sky. His cries were covered by the warrior Curetes, banging his shield in a dance.
Upon coming of age, Zeus created a shield from Amalthea’s hide and a magical horn of plenty from her horn. He also enlisted the aid of a Titan named Metis to force Cronus to throw up his older siblings, enlisted those siblings with his far, freed the six giant-sons of Heaven from the pit of Tartaros, and enlisted the aid of the Cyclopes (who armed him with lightning-bolts) and the Hekatonkheires (Hundred-Handed) who aided him in his assault on the Titanes with volleys of thrown boulders (theoi.com). The Titans were locked into Tartarus and the Olympian siblings divided up the cosmos. Some Titans did side with the Olympians in the war, which is why they pop up in later myths, and the alliance with the monsters didn’t last long (see Gigantomachy).
The gods created man, and Zeus went on to have many children and take an active role in almost every other myth in the mythos for Greek Mythology. As far as children went, there were some changes I made in my story. Athena’s mother is in fact Metis (remember her from a few paragraphs ago?) whom Zeus ate when he discovered she was pregnant, because he also feared his children would destroy him. In some versions of the myth, Ares was created solely by Hera when she touched a flower provided by Flora. Neither one of those was mentioned in my books because A. Ares has to have charm, the plot demands it ((which in that case means I’m just choosing a different interpretation of the myth), and B. Athena is a minor character, and none of the POV characters who ever interact with her would know the whole story of her birth. (Hades was in the Underworld, Persephone wasn’t born, and Aphrodite only knows what the gods passed on through the bloodlines, and I can totally see Hera leaving that out.) Athena plays things pretty close to the vest and is unlikely to ever bring up anything irrelevant to the conversation.
Powers wise, Zeus has lightning bolts (in mythology, these were crafted and given to him by either the cyclopses or Heph, but in my version, he’s just got control over storms because sometimes the myths threw that in). He was Lord of the skies, and in my version, he has charm. Charm is entirely made up by me in this context, but mythologically it fixes a ton of plot holes for Zeus to have mind control powers, so it fits really well.
In my story, Zeus went on to rule much as he did in mythology until the fall of Olympus, at which point he went underground and started plotting. I’ll do a master post on Zeus’s children at some point in the coming weeks. But that’s Zeus in a nutshell.
Friendly reminder! Aphrodite is on sale for .99 cents!