Today’s post is about Zeus, one of the most important figures in Greek mythology, if not the most important. We will be examining symbols of Zeus including his sacred animals and plants as well as providing information about his characteristics, family tree, wives and children.
Who Is Zeus in Greek Mythology?
Zeus is the god of the sky, lightning/thunder, weather, fate and kings in Greek mythology. He is also known as the King of the Gods since he is the main deity in the Greek pantheon as the most powerful figure that is featured to a varying degree in many myths involving all the other gods and mortals alike.
His counterpart in Roman mythology is Jupiter.
Zeus’ Family Tree: Parents, Brothers And Sisters
Zeus’ parents are the Titan King and Queen, Kronos and Rhea. He is one of their six children along with his brothers Hades and Poseidon and sisters Hera, Demeter and Hestia.
Zeus had many lovers and eight wives in total, although only Hera, who also happens to be his sister, is considered to be her legal wife.
It is important to note that the word ‘wife’ in relation to ancient Greek myths might not have the same literal meaning in English today and can/should sometimes be interpreted as ‘consort/companion’.
Other wives of Zeus were Metis, Themys, Eurynome, Demeter (also his sister), Mnemosyne, Leto and Maia. Zeus’ legal marriage to Hera came right before Maia.
Zeus had many children from both goddesses and mortals including interesting mythological figures like Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld and Helen of Troy, who was known to be the most beautiful woman in Greece.
Zeus’ other children were Apollo, Aphrodite, Artemis, Ares, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Perseus, Hermes, Heracles/Hercules, the Muses, the Moirai (the Fates), the Graces, the Horae, the Litae, Aeacus, Agdistis, Angelos,, Britomartis, Eileithyia, Enyo, Epaphus, Eris, Ersa, Hebe, Lacedaemon, Melinoë, Minos, Pandia, Rhadamanthus and Zagreus.
Zeus’ Symbols, The Complete List
The main symbol of Zeus is the lightning bolt. In both modern and ancient artworks, he is mostly depicted while holding a lightning bolt in his hands. It is believed that he had the power to call storms as well as using the lightning bolt like a javelin.
As he is known as both the King of Gods (of the Greek pantheon) and the god of the kings, other Zeus symbols include the throne and the royal sceptre while he was also represented by sacred animals and plants mentioned below.
Zeus’ Sacred Animals
Eagles and bulls are Zeus’ sacred animals. In two different myths, he transformed himself into an eagle and a bull, respectively, to abduct Ganymede, the Greek hero and Europa, the maiden princess (after whom the continent Europe was named).
Zeus Sacred Plants
The holm oak, also known as the holy oak and the evergreen oak, and the olive trees are known as Zeus’ sacred plants.
If you liked our post on Zeus’ symbols, sacred animals and plants, you will probably enjoy reading our extensive list of Greek god symbols here. Thanks for reading!