LibGuides: Zeus: God of Thunder

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In Ancient Greek mythology, a pantheon of powerful gods controlled the universe. Their leader was Zeus, god of the sky and protector of gods and men. In Ancient Greece, Zeus was a hero, a father, and a judge, but what made Zeus such a compelling mythological figure wasn’t his strength, but the many trials that shaped Zeus’s character and his turbulent reign.


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Zeus, in ancient Greek religion, chief deity of the pantheon, a sky and weather god who was identical with the Roman god Jupiter. His name clearly comes from that of the sky god Dyaus of the ancient Hindu Rigveda. Zeus was regarded as the sender of thunder and lightning, rain, and winds, and his traditional weapon was the thunderbolt. He was called the father (i.e., the ruler and protector) of both gods and men.

According to a Cretan myth that was later adopted by the Greeks, Cronus, king of the Titans, upon learning that one of his children was fated to dethrone him, swallowed his children as soon as they were born. But Rhea, his wife, saved the infant Zeus by substituting a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes for Cronus to swallow and hiding Zeus in a cave on Crete. There he was nursed by the nymph (or female goat) Amalthaea and guarded by the Curetes (young warriors), who clashed their weapons to disguise the baby’s cries. After Zeus grew to manhood he led a revolt against the Titans and succeeded in dethroning Cronus, perhaps with the assistance of his brothers Hades and Poseidon, with whom he then divided dominion over the world. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

Jupiter, also called Jove, Latin Iuppiter, Iovis, or Diespiter, the chief ancient Roman and Italian god. Like Zeus, the Greek god with whom he is etymologically identical (root diu, “bright”), Jupiter was a sky god. One of his most ancient epithets is Lucetius (“Light-Bringer”); and later literature has preserved the same idea in such phrases as sub Iove, “under the open sky.” As Jupiter Elicius he was propitiated with a peculiar ritual to send rain in time of drought; as Jupiter Fulgur he had an altar in the Campus Martius, and all places struck by lightning were made his property and were guarded from the profane by a circular wall. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

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