ZEUS Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


Biography » religious figures icons » zeus


Zeus in Greek mythology is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and th
god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull and the 
oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical "cloud-gatherer" 
Zeus also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient   
Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in   
one of two poses: standing, striding forward, a thunderbolt leveled in his       
raised right hand, or seated in majesty.                                         
Zeus was the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most 
traditions he was married to Hera, although at the oracle of Dodona his consort   
was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. He is 
known for his erotic escapades, including one pederastic relationship with       
Ganymede. These resulted in many famous offspring, including Athena, Apollo and   
Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen,     
Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera he is usually said to have fathered 
Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.                                                       
His Roman counterpart was Jupiter, and his Etruscan counterpart was Tinia.       
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-polis sanctuaries, there were no modes of worshipping 
Zeus precisely shared across the Greek world. Most of the titles listed below,   
for instance, could be found at any number of Greek temples from Asia Minor to   
Sicily. Certain modes of ritual were held in common as well: sacrificing a white 
animal over a raised altar, for instance.                                         
Colossal seated Marnas from Gaza portrayed in the style of Zeus. Marnas was       
the chief divinity of Gaza. Roman period Istanbul Archaeology Museum)