Mortal hubris, it begs to my ears as if to ask to be struck-down. What sort of god would I be to ignore such a prayer?
~ Zeus: Bellerophon

Zeus was the chief deity of the Olympian pantheon and was considered the omnipotent master of the universe by the ancient Greeks, as such he was by no means a full-on malevolent character - however there is no denying the fact that Zeus and his fellow Olympians often engaged in petty acts of cruelty and vengeance on mortals as well as heroes and other gods.

Zeus was also infamous for his lust of mortals, indeed the all-powerful Zeus transcended male or female and even species when it came to his many affairs. His lascivious actions in bed always left a very positive mark on the mortals he slept with - which enraged Hera to no end (who was also Zeus' sister - despite being consorts). Because she could do nothing to the dominant Zeus, on rare occasions, she would take out her anger on the mortals he slept with.

Zeus had a cruel side to him, like all ancient gods, such as when he punished Prometheus for stealing fire from Olympus by having him strapped to a rock while an eagle ate his liver daily, only for the liver to regrow so as to repeat the torture for all of eternity (such extreme retribution was common amongst the Olympians and is often seen as petty and unnecessarily harsh, even by the standards of the time). He was also prone to acting like a spoiled brat at times, like many of his fellow gods. Another trait he share with other gods were bullying mortals into siding with him, usually offering an amazing gift if they follow or side with him in arguments, or punishing them if their side causes him to lose.

Of course Zeus was also capable of great benevolence and was the father of many heroes, such is the duel nature of this powerful and lively deity - who was considered the King of Gods and an icon of Greek religion at the time. He is, at least viewed as being very merciful when he sees that Hera has oushed too far. For example, he saves Heracles  (whom Zeus would later claim as his favorite child, even before Athena) when Hera attempts to drown him in a storm, and punishes Hera as a result. He also struck Hera when she blinded Tiresias as revenge for siding with Zeus in an argument, and rewarded Tiresias with foresight and seven lives.

Zeus was also the upholder of the universal order.  He gave justice to mortals to help civilize them and was in charge of punishing oath-breakers, liars, and violators of sacred hospitality.  The ancient Greek interpretation of the world was very different from modern values with gods being held as the center of the universe instead of mortals.  Zeus enforced a harsh sense of justice upon humans to keep them in line.  Though he usually allowed his fellow gods to do whatever they wanted to mortals he would sometimes intervene to mitigate the damage they caused when they went too far.  As upholder of the universal order he made sure their selfish actions did not destroy the world.

Powers and Abilities

  • Atmokinesis: Zeus was the God of Weather, so he had omnipotent control over the weather and storms.
  • Aerokinesis: Zeus was the god of air.
  • Electrokinesis/Thunderbolts: Thunderbolts were Zeus's weapons and that was one of the main reasons he was so powerful.
  • Massive Strength: Zeus was stronger than all the lesser gods combined.
  • Shapeshifting: Many women were seduced by Zeus using shapeshifting.
  • Aegis: Zeus's shield and breastplate set. It was created from the impregnable skin of the divine goat Amaltheia, who had nursed Zeus since birth. Athena covered it in bronze and set the image of Medusa. The face terrified Zeus's enemies and when Zeus shook the shield, it created thunderstorms. The Aegis was so tough, it was the only defense against Zeus's Master Bolt.
  • Power over the Lesser Gods: As king of the gods, Zeus could command all other gods and forcible punished them like the time he forced Apollo and Poseidon to serve a mortal king and the time he chained up Hera for attempting to overthrow him.
  • Semi-Omniscience: Zeus could see the world below him but not in a complete detail. It was like "seeing the forest but not the Trees in particular".

Acts Zeus Committed Which Can Be Considered Antagonistic

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Many of Zeus' acts listed below are punishments for transgressions - since he was considered the God of Justice in the time-period of the Ancient Greek he can be considered an anti-villain in the sense his actions, while cruel, were designed to enforce order rather than create chaos)

  • When Hera gave birth to Hephaestus, Zeus threw him off the top of Mount Olympus because of his repulsive appearance. Some stories however state this was Hera.
  • Zeus condemned Prometheus to having his liver eaten by a giant eagle every day for giving the Flames of Olympus to the mortals (i.e. giving mortals the ability to evolve and learn). This was punishment for defying Zeus's authority.
  • Zeus turned Pandareus to stone for stealing the golden dog which had guarded him as an infant in the holy Dictaeon Cave of Crete.
  • Zeus killed Salmoneus with a thunderbolt for attempting to impersonate him, riding around in a bronze chariot and loudly imitating thunder.
  • At the marriage of Zeus and Hera, a nymph named Chelone refused to attend. Zeus transformed her into a tortoise (chelone in Greek). Some stories state this was Hermes.
  • Zeus, with Hera, turned King Haemus and Queen Rhodope into mountains (the Balkan mountains, or Stara Planina, and Rhodope mountains, respectively) for their vanity.
  • Zeus hung Hera upside down in the sky after she attempted to drown Heracles.
  • Zeus condemned Tantalus to eternal torture in Tartarus for trying to trick the gods into eating the flesh of his butchered son Pelops.
  • Zeus condemned Ixion to be tied to a fiery wheel for eternity as punishment for attempting to violate Hera.
  • Zeus sank the Telchines beneath the sea for practicing black magic.
  • Zeus blinded the seer Phineus and sent the Harpies to plague him as punishment for revealing the secrets of the gods.
  • Zeus seduced and sometimes raped many mortal women (and some goddesses) and did little to protect them from the vengeance of his wife Hera.
  • Out of fear that his first wife Metis would have a son who would overthrow him, he ate her, only to bear a daughter named Athena out of his head.
  • Zeus sold his daughter Persephone to Hades without her mother Demeter's knowledge or permission and then feigned ignorance when Demeter inquired about her disappearence.
  • At the battle of Troy Zeus had the gods themselves manifest in the world as warriors to let off-steam by killing, pillaging, and egging-on the mortals involved.
  • If any temples or virgin priestess to Zeus's sister Hestia were violated Zeus would curse the city until the defiler was burned alive in the temple to purify it, if the defiler was never caught or punished Zeus would go so far as to destroy the entire city.
  • Zeus struck Aeneas's father in the foot after he bragged about an affair with Aphrodite, rending him lame in that foot for the rest of his days.

See also

External links