The 12 Gods

Zeus's Appearance: Usually represented as an older, vigorous bearded man. But representations of Zeus as a powerful young man also exist.

Zeus' Symbols or Attributes: Thunderbolt.

Zeus's Strengths: Highly powerful, strong, charming, persuasive.

Zeus's Weaknesses: Gets in trouble over love affairs, can be moody.

Major Temple Sites of Zeus to Visit:Dodona in northwestern Greece; the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens; Mount Olympus.

Zeus's Birthplace:Zeus is most commonly believed to be born in a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete where he took ashore Europa at the beach of Matala. The Cave of Psychro or Diktaean Cave above the Lassithi Plain is also said to be his birthplace. His mother is Rhea and his father is Kronos; things got off to a rocky start as Kronos, fearful of being usurped, kept eating Rhea's children. Finally, she got wise after giving birth to Zeus and subsituted a swaddled rock for her husband's snack. Zeus conquered his father and freed his siblings, who were still living in Kronos' stomach.

Zeus's Tomb:Unlike mainland Greeks, the Cretans believed that Zeus died and was resurrected annually. His "tomb" was said to be on Mount Juchtas just outside of Heraklion, where from the west the mountain looks like a giant man lying on his back. A Minoan peak sanctuary crowns the mountain and can be visited, though these days it has to share space with cell phone towers.

Zeus's Spouse: Hera in most stories; Europa, at least among the Cretans; Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis; Dione, mother of Aphrodite, at Dodona. Here is a picture of Zeus: at Dodona

Children: Lots and lots of them. Hercules is one famous child.

Basic Story: Zeus is King of the Gods of Mount Olympus, fights with his wife Hera, and drops down to earth in a variety of disguises to seduce maidens who catch his fancy.

Interesting Fact: Some experts believe that not all the names of Zeus really refer to Zeus, but instead refer to similar gods popular in local areas of Greece. Zeus Kretagenes is the Zeus born on Crete.


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