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Thetis begs Zeus to help her son Achilles, pg. 151: You and the Universe



Zeus-Jupiter-Thundering Jove-Wotan-Thor

        Thetis, a Nereid/sea nymph-goddess, begs Zeus to help her son Achilles survive the Trojan War. Thetis had actually rescued Zeus himself when Hera his wife, Poseidon his brother, and Pallas Athene his parthenogenetic daughter had plotted to throw him into chains. In the Iliad I, her son Achilles reminds Thetis of this:

"You alone of all the gods saved Zeus the Darkener of the Skies from an inglorious fate, when some of the other Olympians—Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene—had plotted to throw him into chains . . . You, goddess, went and saved him from that indignity. You quickly summoned to high Olympus the monster of the hundred arms whom the gods call Briareus, but mankind Aegaeon, a giant more powerful even than his father [Ouranos]. He squatted by the Son of Cronos [Zeus/Jupiter] with such a show of force that the blessed gods slunk off in terror, leaving Zeus free" (translated by E. V. Rieu).

         Thetis had also rescued (a typical Pisces) the Argonauts from Scylla and Charybdis, and Hephaestus when his mother, Hera, found him so ugly she threw him from Olympus; in return Hephaestus had fashioned Achilles’ armor. Thetis knew Achilles’ fate: he could return home to his father Peleus and die happily yet forgotten; or he could die at Troy forever remembered as a hero. In Jean Ingres' 1811 painting above, Zeus appears unmoved.

         Jupiter (Greek Zeus), king of the gods and the god of thunder and lightning, was the son of Saturn (Greek Kronos) and Rhea (Ops to the Romans). Like his father before him, he deposed his father from the throne. As Kronos was about to slay his own father Ouranos (Zeus’ grandfather Uranus), it was prophesied that his son would someday in turn depose him. To keep this prophesy from being fulfilled, Kronos swallowed his children as they were born, but Rhea tricked him. When their sixth child was born, she substituted a stone for the infant Zeus, and Kronos ignorantly swallowed it down.

         Rhea hid Zeus in a cave on Crete, where he was suckled and raised by the divine goat Amaltheia until old enough to fulfill his destiny. One day while Kronos was hunting, Zeus ambushed and kicked him so hard in the stomach that he vomited up the stone and Zeus’ five undigested siblings: Demeter, Hades, Hestia, Hera and Poseidon. His immortal brothers and sisters each took a portion of creation to rule over and gratefully made him their leader. Zeus then led them in a ten-year war against their father and Kronos’ siblings, the Titans, at the end of which Kronos and the Titans were exiled to Tartarus (the lowest part of Earth, a great stormy pit beneath even Hades itself).

         Zeus lived and held court on Mount Olympus with the 12 Olympians known as the Dodekatheon: Zeus, Hera (Juno), Poseidon (Neptune), Demeter (Ceres), Apollo, Artemis (Diana), Ares (Mars), Hephaestus (Vulcan), Aphrodite (Venus), Hermes (Mercury), Athene (Minerva), and Hades (Pluto). Bacchus and Hestia are sometimes included as Olympians.

         Zeus was the rain god and cloud gatherer who wielded the terrible thunderbolt. His breastplate was the Aegis, his bird the eagle (in painting, above right), his tree the oak. The god of justice and mercy, he was the protector of the weak and the punisher of the wicked. Zeus married his beautiful older sister, Hera, but his countless love affairs with mortals and goddesses alike never gave his wife much peace, causing her divine wrath to be visited on her husband’s usually innocent human conquests. Their children were Mars, Hebe, and Eileithyia, but Jupiter’s moons are named after his many consorts, their children, and his other intimates.

         This Zeus-Jupiter-Jove-Wotan-Thor page and much of this 600-page resource website are taken from You and the Universe.


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© Carl Woebcke: Zeus, Jupiter, Jove, Wotan, Thor Mythology, 1991-2017. All rights reserved.