Greek & Roman Mythology – Zeus or Jupiter

Here we cover the Greek God Zeus one of the deities of the highest order, other postings examine the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with descriptions of the gods individually.  Below is an excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray published 1897.  The entire book is in our library in individual chapters – and you can begin reading it here.

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Zeus, or Jupiter

Zeus or JupiterThird and last on the throne of the highest god sat Zeus. The fertile imagination of early times had, as we have seen, placed his abode on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. But a later and more practical age usually conceived him as inhabiting a region above the sky, where the source of all light was supposed to be. He was god of the broad light of day, as his name implies, had control of all the phenomena of the heavens, and accordingly sudden changes of weather, the gathering of clouds, and, more than all, the burst of a thunder-storm made his presence felt as a supernatural being interested in the affairs of mankind. Hence such titles as “cloud-gatherer,” “god of the murky cloud,” “thunderer,” and “mighty thunderer,” were those by which he was most frequently invoked. On the other hand, the serenity and boundless extent of the sky, over which he ruled, combined with the never-failing recurrence of day, led him to be regarded as an everlasting god: “Zeus who was and is and shall be.” To indicate this feature of his character he was styled Cronides or Cronion, a title which, though apparently derived from his father Cronus, must have assumed even at a very early time a special significance; otherwise we should expect to find it applied also to his two brothers, Poseidon (Neptune) and Hades (Pluto).

The eagle soaring beyond vision seemed to benefit by its approach to Zeus, and came to be looked on as sacred to him. Similarly high mountain peaks derived a sanctity from their nearness to the region of light, and were everywhere in Greece associated with his worship, many of them furnishing titles by which he was locally known as, for instance, Aetnaeus, a title derived from Mount Aetna in Sicily, or Atabyrius, from a mountain in Rhodes.  Altars to him and even temples were erected on hill tops, to reach which by long toiling, and then to see the earth spread out small beneath, was perhaps the best preparation for approaching him in a proper spirit.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Greek God Zeus 

Zeus family tree