The ancient Greek writer Homer included many of the gods of Olympus in The Odyssey, the story of the hero Odysseus. Zeus pops up now and again to help out Odysseus at Athena's request, including getting Odysseus away from the seductress Calypso.
Homer brings the gods into The Iliad as well, which tells the story of the mythic Trojan War. Most of the gods of Olympus take sides in the human war: Hera, Athena, and Poseidon are rooting for the Greeks, while Aphrodite, Ares, and Apollo are fighting for the Trojans. Though his whole family is going bonkers over the war, Zeus doesn't pick a side.
The Oresteia is a trilogy of tragic plays (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides) by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. These plays are about how Orestes and his sister Electra take revenge on their mother for killing their father. As in any good Greek tragedy, the characters call on the gods for help, and Apollo and Athena become pretty involved in the third play. Unfortunately, though Orestes and the Chorus call out to Zeus, he doesn't seem to be answering much.
In the Roman poet Virgil's epic poem, Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus) plays the normal role of a god meddling in the affairs of humans.
Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus) shows up in all sorts of forms in The Metamorphoses, Roman poet Ovid's retelling of Greek myths. Want to know about Jupiter disguising himself as a bull to seduce a girl? How about as a swan? Or as a cloud of mist? You'll find all of Jupiter's crazy escapades here.
Part of Chaucer's story takes place on Mount Olympus. Here we see Mars (Ares) and Venus (Aphrodite) bickering about which knight should win a joust and get the girl, Jupiter (Zeus) totally fed up with the argument, and Saturn (Cronus) stepping in to save the day.
When Shakespeare's Prince Hal disguises himself as a commoner, he compares himself to Zeus ("Jove") turning into a bull to seduce Europa. Hmm … those seem like totally different levels of disguise to us, but whatever. Read all about it in our summary of Act 2, Scene 2.
The dark and crazy Mr. Kurtz is described as a Jupiter-like guy. What does that say about Jupiter (a.k.a. Zeus)? Nothing good.
Zeus gets an extended shout-out (as "Jove") in lines 31-35 in this Wallace Stevens poem.
Zeus is at it again. He just can't keep away from the ladies. Here's W.B. Yeats's poem about Zeus' seduction of Leda.
Zeus has a bit of fun in Disney's Fantasia, throwing lightning bolts into Bacchus's party.
Ancient Greece meets WWII in Jean Paul Sartre's play. This retelling of the Oresteia features an annoying, childish Zeus whom everyone hates.
Zeus made his first appearance in the Marvel universe in the Journey into Mystery comics. His superhero outfit includes a pretty crazy belt buckle.
Zeus first popped up in the world of DC Comics in Wonder Woman Volume 2, butting heads with Wonder Woman (who knew?). When Wonder Woman refuses to sleep with Zeus, he's pretty ticked off.
Disney's movie focuses mainly on the hero Hercules, but his dad Zeus shows up pretty often. Since Hercules is a Disney movie, Zeus isn't as sleazy as he is in the original myths. Here, he's actually a pretty nice guy.
Zeus' lightning bolt is stolen in The Lightning Thief, the first book of the Percy Jackson series. He comes off as pretty grumpy, but not all bad.
The Greek gods make it onto the PlayStation in the God of War video game trilogy. The mortal hero of the games, Kratos, butts heads with the gods of Olympus, including Zeus (who, as it turns out, is Kratos's dad – oops). In God of War II and III, Zeus is the end boss (and we all know what happens to bosses in video games.)