Zeus, God of Thunder

A preliminary attempt to associate Zeus with the universal God the Father might work as far as correlating the recognized throne and authority, however Zeus’ character, perfections and attributes do not match at all.

The ancient Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition by Minoan and Mycenaean singers beginning in 18th century BC. Because of the transitory nature of this means of preservation, different narrators may have embellished the myths.  Making these myths more salacious would capture the attention of the audience and also help to gain a reputation as a good storyteller. Over time stories may have expanded beyond authentic origins and taken on a life of their own; consistent with the character of the archetypes. Zeus ought to be understood as a character, or personification of arcane knowledge intended to be preserved. Anciently stories of the gods also provided a foundation of knowledge and morality from which people had a universal cultural context when relating to one another.

Zeus, the King of the gods of Mount Olympus, wielded the thunderbolt. Rather than ruling by invitation, intelligence and love, it was the threat and violence of his weapon through which he claimed unique authority as the leader of the gods. With this authoritative power, he ordered the heavenly bodies, made laws, enforced oaths, and pronounced oracles. Although depicted as regal and wise, Zeus was actually quite selfish and petty, using his position of power for free reign to behave however he liked and whenever he liked to do it. (See ruling commandment: VII, Thou shalt not commit adultery).

Zeus was married to the beautiful goddess Hera, yet she often found him womanizing the daughters of mortal men, siring many illegitimate children. Hera’s distress and heartbreak turned into jealous revenge against the innocent women, making them twice victimized for the crime of being too beautiful. Hera’s wrath was also manifest against Zeus children themselves. 

Accounts vary, but some estimate Zeus might have had around 92 children. Only three of those were with his wife Hera (Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus). Zeus pretended to be the husband of Alceme, fathering Hercules. Princess Danea conceived Perseus through a divine shower of gold while locked away by her father to bear Perseus. An important highlight from this aspect of the Zeus archetype is that an immaculately conceived divine child was within the realm of possibility to a Greek audience. 

Zeus is famous for his elaborate punishments. For example, he ordered that the Titan Atlas should hold up the sky on his shoulders as a punishment for leading the titans in battle against the Olympians in the war over who would control the heavens. Sisyphus was punished for chaining and cheating death with the fruitless labor of pushing a boulder up a mountain only to have it roll down again. Prometheus tricked Zeus into accepting in perpetuity a substandard sacrifice of bones rather than meat.  For the insult Zeus took fire away from humans, which Prometheus returned.  He was punished by being chained to a mountain where an eagle would eat his immortal liver that would rejuvenate only to be eaten again. This eternal punishment theme is also seen less obviously in the self-inflicted punishment of the usurping god. Zeus was himself living in a generational trap where fathers were overthrown by their sons.

The twelve Greek Gods who ruled in Olympus were several generations removed from the twelve original Primordial deities. Primordial Gaia gave birth to twelve titans, the youngest titan Cronos overthrew his father Uranus (another arcane archetype) and castrated him. Cronos fathered Zeus, who later overthrew him. The recurring theme of familial treachery seems to be waged at a level of progression where the number 12 is significant. There is no advancement, but only a revolving door of perpetual betrayal and usurpation, where the archetype appears as both father and son repeating forever.

Perhaps the lesson here is that desires, appetites, and passions are to be kept within the bounds the Lord has set.
Zeus is the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter.

More On This Topic

Explore Other Themes