ZEUS Picture

Zeus, the youngest son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and of the Pantheon of gods who resided there. Being the supreme ruler he upheld law, justice and morals, and this made him the spiritual leader of both gods and men. Zeus was a celestial god, and originally worshiped as a weather god by the Greek tribes. These people came southward from the Balkans circa 2100 BCE. He has always been associated as being a weather god, as his main attribute is the thunderbolt, he controlled thunder, lightning and rain. Theocritus wrote circa 265 BCE: "sometimes Zeus is clear, sometimes he rains". He is also known to have caused thunderstorms. In Homer's epic poem the Iliad he sent thunderstorms against his enemies. The name Zeus is related to the Greek word dios, meaning "bright". His other attributes as well as lightning were the scepter, the eagle and his aegis (this was the goat-skin of Amaltheia).

Before the abolition of monarchies, Zeus was protector of the king and his family. Once the age of Greek kings faded into democracy he became chief judge and peacemaker, but most importantly civic god. He brought peace in place of violence and Hesiod (circa 700 BCE) describes Zeus as "the lord of justice". Zeus was also known as "Kosmetas" (orderer), "Soter" (savior), "Polieos" (overseer of the polis, city) and "Eleutherios" (guarantor of political freedoms). His duties in this role were to maintain the laws, protect suppliants, to summon festivals and to give prophecies (his oldest and most famous oracle was at Dodona, in Epirus, northwestern Greece). As the supreme deity Zeus oversaw the conduct of civilized life. But the "father of gods and men" as Homer calls him, has many mythological tales.