A Jungian Psychoanalytic Approach to Zeus's Defeat of Cronus
Since the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung founded a series of
analytical psychology theories first introducing the concept of "personal unconscious",
"collective unconscious" and "archetype" in 1953, an advanced Jungian psychoanalytic
approach has been extensively applied to the interpretation of Art, literature and Greek myth.
This essay will argue that Zeus's behavior of defeating his father Cronus was motivated by
"personal unconscious", yet his fiery desire for supreme power and authority was an
"archetype" genetically inherited from Cronus. Also, "the recurring pattern of the victory of
the ambitious son in his battle for power against his ruthless father" is an "archetype" that has
been circulated for generations (Morford, Lenardon, and Sham 80). Some criticism regarding
the applicability of this theory will also be discussed.
The environment in which Zeus grew up had not only significantly contributed to Zeus's
future personality development and his attitude towards Cronus, but also effectively
explained Zeus's defeat of Cronus by the psychological term "personal unconscious".
According to Jung's concept of "personal unconscious", the way how people think and
behave at this level in the mental consciousness system is influenced by a number of
environmental factors such as childhood memories, parents' preferences as well as repressed
ideas and emotion et cetera. As the youngest son of the sky god Cronus, Zeus, unlike his
September 27, 2014
siblings who were all swallowed by their cursed father, was hidden by his mother Rhea and
raised up by three nymphs on Mount Lycaeum Olympus in Arcadia (Morford, Lenardon, and
Sham 78). Accepting the truth that he barely escaped from being devoured by his own father
must have been a repugnant and agonizing process for young Zeus. It was this childhood
experience that rooted Zeus's internal anger and hostility towards Cronus which Zeus himself
constantly remained personally unconscious of. Meanwhile, young Zeus also realized the vast
disparity in divine power between Cronus and him so he had to repress his feelings and wait
till the arrival of proper time. When Zeus had grown to maturity, the suppression of his rage
helped the animosity to build up in intensity. Eventually, when the time came, it prompted
Zeus to take action to rescue his brothers and sisters and battle against Cronus. In a word,
impacted by Cronus's negative image that was deeply imprinted in Zeus's childhood
memories, Zeus's defeat of Cronus was encouraged by the "personal unconscious" of his
cumulative anger towards Cronus.
The repeated pattern of the victory of the ambitious son in his battle for power against
his brutal father (Morford, Lenardon, and Sham 80), both Zeus's and Cronus's internal desire
for supreme authority, and the dominated fathers' hatred of their aggressive sons can be...