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The Character Differences Of Hesiod's Zeus And Ovid's Jupiter

1236 words - 5 pages

The Character Differences of Hesiod's Zeus and Ovid's Jupiter

There is no doubt in mythology that the king of gods, Zeus, is the most supreme and powerful, ruling the sky. He controls the thunderbolt, a symbol of power feared by both gods and mortals. The Greeks and Romans honored Zeus above all other gods. He is without mistake, the god of all gods. Their stories of Zeus are plenty; his designs have molded mythology from his birth. Zeus' victory in outwitting his intelligent wife, Metis, by swallowing her pregnant, was the gateway used by the Greeks and Romans to show Zeus as the greatest god to come since his father and grandfather. However, as the stories of the gods and goddesses unfold, the Greeks and Roman's interpretation of Zeus' characteristics are different. Zeus is always upheld as the king of gods, but his other personal attributes to his godly rein are conflicting. Zeus' characteristics of fearfulness of female deities, cunningness and use of trickery, and lust in Ovid's Metamorphoses compared to the Theogony are opposed due to Hesiod's true respect of Zeus versus Ovid's lack of respect of Jupiter in Roman mythology.

The first difference in Ovid and Hesiod's writings of Jupiter and Zeus, is the god's position with the female deities. In mythology, Jupiter is all-powerful. However, Ovid portrays him as being afraid of his wife, Juno. There are two examples in Ovid's Metamorphoses (BkI: 601-621) of Jupiter's apparent fear of Juno. After Jupiter raped Io, Juno approached him. Afraid that Juno would catch him in the act, Jupiter transformed Io into a heifer hoping to avoid the consequences of Juno's wrath. When Juno asked where the "beautiful" heifer was from, Jupiter lied to her and said the heifer was "born from the earth." Obviously Jupiter was afraid of his wife, so he concealed Io. Jupiter's fear of Juno is also apparent when he rapes Callisto (BkII: 401-416). Jupiter first scopes out the area where Callisto is wandering. He says, "Here, surely, my wife will not see my cunning, or if she does find out it is, oh it is, worth a quarrel!" It is clear that Juno's possible presence is a concern for Jupiter. Ovid certainly tells the stories of Jupiter's affairs with the god always thinking twice about the consequences of Juno's wrath. Compared to Ovid, it is very easy to see that Zeus lacks the characteristic of fearing female deities in Hesiod's Theogony. In the case of his first wife, Metis, he swallows her while she is pregnant. This is a courageous act to escape the trouble his father and grandfather faced with their wives. Also, Zeus goes from wife to wife without second guessing possible consequences of Hera's wrath. Hesiod portrays Zeus as a god that does not fear the goddesses. He is supreme and remains all-powerful throughout all his affairs. Ovid's portrayal of Jupiter as fearful and Hesiod's portrayal of Zeus as fearless are obviously conflicting views. Because Ovid makes Jupiter so fearful of a female deity, he...

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