Zeus, most likely the most renowned god of all gods, the mighty god of lightning has taken part in some of the most widely known myths of all times. Zeus has taken part in many Greek and Roman myths alike, either as Zeus or as his Roman counterpart of Jupiter. Unlike most gods in mythology though, Zeus is the main character in almost all of the myths he is mentioned in. Whether the myth is about his epic clash against the Titans, his fight against the Giants or even about his extramarital affairs, Zeus always seems to come out of these conflicts unaffected and triumphant. When examining Zeus’ character though, it is important to note that Zeus is a god that exhibits human characteristics throughout most of his myths. Growth is one of the many human attributes that Zeus portrays in many of his myths.
Zeus does not appear to be portrayed as a dual natured god in any of his myths. The fact that Zeus is not a dual natured god means that he is a divine being with flaws. Instead of Zeus being portrayed as someone who is supreme and flawless, he is portrayed as a sky god who is king among other gods but has many flaws to his character. Xenophanes, a poet of the pre-Socratic period wrote “Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all that is shameful and reproachable among mortals.” (ML 140) One of the most important flaws to Zeus’ character is the fact that he had countless numbers of extramarital affairs while still being married to his wife Hera.
Even though Zeus is the god of morality, law and order, he shows very little restraint for his carnal instincts. This weakness for his pure carnal needs is evidently shown in the myths about his extramarital affairs with mortals, nymphs and even other goddesses. One of his extramarital affairs led to the birth of the god Dionysus. In this myth Zeus was having an affair with a mortal named Semele. When Hera found out about Zeus’ dirty deeds, she convinced Semele to ask Zeus for proof of his true nature. Zeus agreed and presented himself to her in his true form, Zeus’ true glory however burned Semele alive. (ML 301) This myth is a prime example of Zeus’ human tendencies of acting like a common man as he gives in to his more primitive needs and cheats on Hera with Semele.
Another example of Zeus’ predisposition for not having control over his more human needs is the fact that Aphrodite has power over him. Aphrodite, the very powerful goddess of love and lust, flaunts about her alleged power over Zeus. This, however, angered Zeus and led to a very stern punishment for Aphrodite. Zeus was growing tired of Aphrodite’s arrogance, so he punished her by making her fall in love with a mortal named Anchises.
Zeus’ affinity for being the main character of a myth is no different in the epic myth about his fight against Cronus and the Titans or the “Titanomachy.” In this larger-than-life battle Zeus has to overthrow his father Cronus and take his predestined place as king of the gods. In this myth however,...