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Greek gods (Zeus, Hera)

Zeus

Zeus is the supreme god and ruler of Olympus. He is known by many titles: Lord of the Sky, the Cloud- gatherer, the Rain-god and Zeus the Thunderer, all of which show which force of nature was considered to be the most important in Ancient World - rain. In most other mythologies the "ruler-god" was usually associated with the sun, but in Greece the climate is hot and dry making rain the scarce, life-giving force.

Zeus was the sixth child born to Cronus and Rhea, Because Cronus, ruler of the Titans and the supreme god at the time, was afraid that one of his children would overthrow him, just like he overthrew his father, Uranus, he swallowed his first five children - Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter and Hestia. This, of course, infuriated Rhea and when Zeus was born she tricked Cronus into swallowing a rock wrapped in blankets. Zeus is more powerful than any other god or even all the other gods combined. But, unlike many gods in other religions he was neither omnipotent nor omniscient. He could be, and in fact was, opposed, deceived and tricked by gods and men alike. His power, although great, was not boundless, Zeus had no control over The Fates and Destiny. Like all Greek divinities, Zeus was subject to pleasure, pain, grief, and anger, but he was most susceptible to the power of Eros - love, which often got the objects of his desire in a lot of trouble with his wife, Hera.

The representation of Zeus was a most noble one - mighty, glorious, awesome and wise, although he did show a certain degree of surprising foolishness and naiveness when it came to hiding his love affairs. Some historians attribute this less than noble behavior of the "noblest one of all" to the fact that Zeus was most likely a compilation of many "supreme gods" from different areas. When his worship spread to an area which already worshipped another god, some of that god's qualities as well as his wife or lover were transferred to Zeus. Aside from the endless affairs Zeus was different from other gods in that he did not participate in the arguments and the resulting petty scheming that made up the daily activities of other gods. Being this wise ruler, he also demanded just and righteous action from men. Zeus was however vengeful, as can be seen in The creation of man by Prometheus, but only rightly so.

Zeus had two special attendants, Nike (Victoria), the goddess of victory, and his cup-bearer, Hebe, who was one of his numerous daughters. After Hebe married Heracles, Ganymede replaced her as the cup-bearer for Zeus. In Roman Mythology, Zeus' counterpart, Jupiter, was also attended by Fama (fame) and Fortuna (luck and chance, Tyche in Greek).

Zeus was the guardian of political order and peace. The aegis is his breastplate - so glorious and at the same time awful to behold that no human could see Zeus in all his magnificence and survive. His weapon is, of course the thunderbolt which he hurled at whoever displeased him. The thunderbolts were fashioned for him the three Cyclopes who also were the deciding power in the battle with the Titans. His bird is the Eagle, his tree - the Oak. Dodona was his oracle. His will was revealed by the rustling of oak leaves which was interpreted by his priests.

Hera

Hera was Zeus' sister and wife. She was brought up by the Titans Ocean and Tethys, despite the nickname "cow-faced" (in some translations - "ox-eyed") which seems to have stuck with her through the ages, she was very beautiful, in fact she was one of the three contestants in the Judgment of Paris which led to the Trojan War. But her personality was not as attractive, she was petty and cruel and is most often shown administering some sort of revenge on one of Zeus' lovers. In one, and only one, myth is shown as a noble and gracious protector of heroes and inspirer of heroic deeds, the Quest of the Golden Fleece.

As might have been expected Hera's marriage to Zeus was not to her liking, after Zeus had courted her unsuccessfully for some time, he turned to trickery. Changed himself into an injured bird, Hera, feeling sorry for it, held it to her breast to warm it, Zeus, taking advantage of the situation raped her. She then married him to cover her shame.

Zeus was anything, but a faithful husband, so Hera, in her turn was not a loyal wife. Once she even convinced the other gods to join in a revolt against Zeus. Her part was to drug Zeus, and in this she was successful. The gods then bound the sleeping Zeus to a couch taking care to tie many strong knots. They had not, however, planned what to do next and began to quarrel over who would take Zeus' place. Briareus overheard the arguments, still full of gratitude to Zeus, he came to his help and was able to quickly untie the many knots. Zeus sprang from the couch and grabbed his thunderbolt. As the gods fell to their knees begging and pleading for mercy, he seized Hera and hung her from the sky with gold chains. She wept in pain all night but, none of the others dared to help her. The weeping kept Zeus up and the next morning he agreed to release her if she would swear never to go against him. She had little choice but, to agree. While she never again rebelled, she often intrigued against Zeus's plans and she was often able to outwit him.

Hera was the goddess of marriage and protector of married women. Her sandals, chariot and throne were all of pure gold, but that was not uncommon with the gods. Her animal is the cow, the peacock, and sometimes the cuckoo, her birds. Hera had her own messenger - the fleet- footed Iris (rainbow). Argos and Sparta were her favorite cities. She had no distinguishing featured and can only be identified in artistic representations by either inscription or context.

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