|Zeus. Public Domain|
What we know most about Zeus is all those women he seduced or raped. It’s hard to see how he found time to run the universe in between all those amorous adventures(not all of them even in human shape), but he did.
In the opening episode of the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, he appears, holding his newborn son and, smiling, assuring him that one day he will learn the pleasures of women and have a great time. That role was played by Anthony Quinn, not the majestic Zeus we usually imagine, but certainly getting across Zeus the womaniser.
A number of other actors have played the role in films, of course. Liam Neeson played the role in the 2010 Clash Of The Titans, with Laurence Olivier in the Ray Harryhausen film. Sean Bean played the role in Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief. Even Rip Torn got to play Zeus, in the animated Hercules film.
Usually he is presented as a dignified figure, with a long white beard and long hair - think Laurence Olivier. I believe that the later images of Jesus are based on the image of Zeus; the Byzantine Jesus is very different.
To be honest, though, I don’t see him as remotely dignified. He is always at it, with chasing women, and having to make sure nobody can overthrow him, for which I don’t blame him, as he overthrew his own father, Cronos, who had done nasty things to Uranus, his father.
In Offenbach’s Orpheus In The Underworld, the gods of Olympus laugh at Jupiter(Zeus) for all his affairs, after he has taken Pluton(Hades) to task for his.
After escaping being swallowed by Cronos and being nursed and cared for by some nymphs(one of them a goat, whose horn became the Horn of Plenty), Zeus grows up on Mount Ida, among the shepherds. Armed by his mother, Rhea, with the appropriate emetic, he makes Cronos vomit up his siblings and leads them in revolt, before taking up his position as king of the gods on Olympus.
|Zeus in his chariot. Public Domain|
After that, it’s one woman after another, with Hera pursuing her rivals to make their lives miserable. Pretty much every myth I can think of about him, after that rebellion, involves a woman(or, in some cases, a boy). A randy god indeed! Thinking about it, it’s surprising the world isn’t filled with demigods!
Someone said that a lot of us are related to Genghis Khan; if the Greek myths are true, we can probably add Zeus as a relative.
What do you think? Would you like to be a Zeus descendant?
And here we will end, except tomorrow’s summary of this year’s A to Z. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.