Olympos: Zeus the King of the Heaven

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Studio Tablinum: In the coming months I will keep you company with a series of articles on classical Greek Mythology.

Each month will be dedicated to a god of the Pantheon. For timing reasons I’m focused on the twelve main gods, that we could considerer the most important, as the months of the year. Some have tickled me, asking me to write about all three generations, and I will not deny that I was attracted to the idea of starting from the union between Uranus and Gaea and the creation of the first deity, from the overthrow of father Uranus by his son the Titan Cronus, the emasculation of Uranus and the birth of a new divine order: the famous golden age for men. Cronus and his sister-wife Rea generated the third generation, the best knowned among the people and the one that I’m discussing in these articles, the Olympians, until the overthrow of father Cronus by the youngest son Zeus, who freed the Cyclopes, imprisoned at birth by father Uranus in the center of the earth;Zeus receveid from Cyclopes the thunder and lightning, symbols of power and domination.

We don’t need to transform these article in an encyclopedia page but only in a pleasant discussion on classical myth, for further information I suggest you to read the “Dictionnaire de la Mythologie”, by Prof. Pierre Grimal, an unparalleled opera.

I would rather offer the items that put the classic myth amazing: so I’m writing about the emotions they felt the gods, their disputes, the love values and betrayal, all stories will be in a key understandable and sometimes ironic.

Are you ready?

So we begin.

The deity treated this month of January is the figure of the father of the gods, Zeus.

You should know that when Zeus was not on Olympus, to postpone the ongoing and sometimes violent disputes among the other gods, he was on the earth intent on his favorite pastime: adultery. The mother of the gods, Hera, knew all about “weakness” of her husband and sometimes she tryied to put a drag to Zeus intemperance and, most of the time, she getted so terribly angry.

The father of the gods was usually take the form of animals, humans, or even natural elements in order to achieve “the purpose” fixed.

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zeus-europaIn the case of the attempted seduction of Europe *, a beautiful girl, she was happily basking in the sun of the East when a white bull, nice and mild, which made her climb on his back and suddenly, he running through the waves of the sea and kidnapped her. As you have guess, it was Zeus in disguise. Zeus brought Europe in the island of Crete and there abused her. From this union was born the future King Minos of Crete.

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ledaOther times, Zeus chose a more regal animal, as in the case of Leda, Queen of Sparta. To deceive her, he turned into a white swan. From this bizarre union Leda layed two eggs from which the divine twins Castor and Pollux and the most beautiful woman in the world, Elena where born.

danae

The culmination of Zeus seductive cunning was reached in the case of the daughter of King Acrisius, the beautiful Danae. Danae was imprisoned at the behest of his father, alarmed by a prophecy that he wanted killed at the hands of his nephew, in a secret room, built entirely in bronze, the father of the gods, turned into a golden rain that penetrated into the room and “bath” Danae, from this union we will have the well-knowed hero Perseus, Medusa’s winner.

alcmenaThis is the funniest story: Zeus dressed the role of King Amphitryon and abused of queen Alcmene. Her husband, unaware of all, had left her wife in order to avenge the death of her brothers; during his absensence, the servant of the king, named Sosia, ran back to announce to the queen that the king had obtained justice for her borthers. But when he arrived in front of the queen’s bedrooms, he found, in his own likeness, the messenger of the gods Hermes, guarding outside; We could imagine the astonishment of the servant. The confusion was all for the king when his queen swored to be lain with him for three nights. From this union was born the best-known demigod of classical mythology, Hercules.

ganimedeWe can not leave out the only homosexual seduction of the father of the gods, fall in love with a shepherd, from the perfect features, Zeus transformed himself into an eagle and abducted him, leading him to Olympus, this young man, called Ganymede, became the official cupbearer of the gods.

The most surprising thing about Zeus, despite his supreme godhead, is the proximity to the man with the same vices and the same weaknesses: it was not uncommon for the father of the gods be turned into a poor beggar or a youth and by those conditions observe the human being, his outbursts and its miseries. We have to consider that for the greek period, Zeus was the supreme deity and from him depended not only happiness, but also the very existence of every creature. This fact was very importantwas something important for faithful of men in him. Yet it was not always easy for the father of the gods, the world was totally different before and he had to fight with cunning and courage to get the power.

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zeus cronoZeus since childhood had a stormy life and how not to understand it? Can you guess what it’s mean to have as primary experience of your existence to the parent who seeks to “devour” you?

You have to know that the father of Zeus, Cronos, was obsessed with being overthrown by one of his sons, as he did the same against the father Uranus, and in order to avoid his destiny, he devored his Newborn children. to eliminate any possible threat in the bud.

Rhea, the mother who, angered by the behavior of her husband Cronos, decided to grow his last child on the island of Crete, on Mount Ida, nurtured by the goat Amalthea, by bees and Curetes, goblins who took care of him. Fortunately the mother Rhea, the child, after losing so many children in such a hideous way, decided to cheat her husband and made eat a stone to him, covered with a cloth, instead of his son.

When Zeus had full knowledge of their means defy his father Cronus, made him throw up his own brothers and imprisoned him in Tartarus. Cronus, so degenerate father, was later forgiven by Zeus and was transferred in the Isle of the Blessed, intent to welcome the heroes, sons of Zeus.


titanomachiaAt that point, it would seem that everything is decided in favor of the new lord of the sky, but instead it was not so wright: Zeus faced a revolt led by the Titans, the brothers of Cronus, who did not take well the “nephew” in charge of “all things, “then conquered a peak as high as Mount Olympus, Mount Othrys and from there the parts counter. Zeus stood firm in Olympus chief to call and if the gods, gigantic and monstrous, also brothers of Cronus, The Centimani, creatures with a hundred arms and fifty heads and freed from Tartarus the Cyclopes, creatures with one eye, previously imprigionatevi by Kronos, who donated it to Zesu lightning and lightning. Defeated, the Titans were imprisoned in the depths of the earth.

gigantomachiaAfter a short time there was another similar situation that Zeus had to face, the revolt of the Giants. The Giants were the children of Gaea, the wife of Uranus, who decided to side with the children, but with various tricks, Zeus managed to limit her aid to Giants. But, determined to conquer the Olympus, the Giants, began a climb that end with their fall * ruinous.

etnaTired, probably of a similar overcrowding reign, Tartarus with the goddess Gaea, mother of the Titans and Giants, dediced to sent against the father of the gods a terrifying monster, Typhon. The monster with his arms encircled all the globe, Zeus lost his first collision and was taken prisoner by Typhon, but soon managed to escape and start a counterattack, Typhon was hitting with lightning and thunderbolts. Finally, Zeus in order to kill Typhon hurled against him a mountain. The mountain, even today, gives us the spectacle of the wrath of Typhon. That mountain is the volcano Etna, in Italy. We could say that Zeus was not stable on the throne of the gods, but always in danger.

PROMETEOThe Titans, You might at this point tell me: “them … yet? …” Well, let me say that these creatures was very stubborn: almost all of them accepted the power of the father of the gods, but not one of them, Prometheus. The Titan Prometheus, against the will of Zeus, made as a gift the fire to the human people. The “rioter” was imprisoned for this on a large rock in the Caucasus, with the burden of an eagle that was flying all day and pecked the liver and the organ that grew back every night to the delight of the prey. Really, Prometheus had also an accomplice, his brother Epimetheus, less clever than him, and as a punishment for this “revolt” Zeus send a punishment that went against the human beings rather than Epimetheus himself, Pandora, universally known for having opened the infamous jar and have released all the evils of the world, only the hope, less quick to ensue, remained in the jar. From this moment, men is subject to all the ills of the world.

L'olimpo

But the father of the gods had to remember to the other gods of the Pantheon who was the most powerful in the Olympus. The other divinities attempted several times, to defeat him and get rid of him.

We could say that the only one deity who really held the head to Zeus and to which, sometimes, the father of the gods had to submit to her whims, was his wife Hera, who will know the next month.

Alessandro Cerioli

Notes

* Her name will become the name of european continent.

* I invite the followers to visit the pictures in the “Room of the Giants” by Giulio Romano, Palazzo Tè, in Mantova, Italy.

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