Study Guide

Zeus (Jupiter)

  • Profile

    What? You don't know who Zeus is? Have you been living under a rock?  He's basically the most powerful guy on Mount Olympus, the king of the gods. Everybody, gods and mortals, has to do what he says. Cross Zeus the wrong way, and you might just get a lightning bolt in the face – or worse. (Don't believe us? Just ask Prometheus and Pandora.) It's Zeus' job to make sure that the good are rewarded and the evil are punished.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Zeus

    Nickname

    Jupiter, Jove

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Mount Olympus

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    King of the Gods
    Lord of the Sky
    God of Weather
    Enforcer of the Law and Justice

    Education

    I was born knowing everything.

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Olympians rule, Titans drool (in Tartarus)

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Cronus (dad), Rhea (mom)

    Siblings

    Hestia, Demeter, Hades, Poseidon, Hera

    Children

    Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite (maybe), Athena, Dionysus, Hebe, Hephaestus (maybe), Hermes, the Muses, Pan, Persephone, Helen, Heracles (a.k.a. Hercules), Minos, Orion, Perseus, and so many more … (see relationship status)

    Friends

    My brothers Poseidon and Hades (most of the time)

    Enemies

    My dad, Cronus
    The Titans
    Typhon
    Echidna

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Married to my sister Hera. It's really complicated.
    In relationships with Io, Leda, Europa, Danae …

    Interested in

    Nymphs
    Goddesses
    Mortals
    Oh, and sometimes my wife

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Game of Thrones
    The Weather Channel
    Kings

    Quotations

    "It's a man's world."
    – James Brown

    "I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies."
    – Napoleon Bonaparte

    "Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage."
    – Ambrose Bierce

    "I'm too sexy for my shirt."
    – Right Said Fred

    "If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it."
    – Julius Caesar

    "My relationship to power and authority is that I'm all for it. People need somebody to watch over them. Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave."
    – Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Books

    The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
    To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
    To the Virgins to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds) by Robert Herrick
    "The Lightning is a yellow Fork" by Emily Dickinson
    The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss

    Music

    Lightning Strikes by Aerosmith
    Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
    AC/DC
    Lightnin' Strikes by Lou Christie
    Jupiter from The Planets by Holst

    Movies

    I Think I Love My Wife
    The Godfather
    Clash of the Titans

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    The sky
    Lightning bolts
    Oak trees
    Eagles

    Interests

    Meteorology
    Thunderstorms, I really like thunderstorms

    Groups

    Gods of Olympus
    Titan War Vets

  • Spotter's Guide

    Zeus isn't always easy to spot because he spends so much time wearing disguises while seducing the ladies. If you see a pretty girl next to an animal, like a swan or a bull, it might be Zeus. Heck, if you see a girl wrapped in a cloud of mist, that could be Zeus too. When he's in his godly form, though, you'll know Zeus because he's the guy with the beard and the lightning bolt who looks large and in charge.

    Physical Description

    Sex: Male
    Age: Middle-Aged
    Build: Brawny
    Complexion: Tan
    Hair color: Curly black or white hair
    Facial hair: Curly black or white beard
    Scars/marks/tattoos: None
    Jewelry and accessories: His thunderbolt; a golden crown
    Clothing: Silky white togas
    Armor: None
    Type of weapon: Thunderbolt; storms; bad weather

    Typical Companions

    • Hera
    • Demeter
    • Io
    • Leda
    • Rhea
    • Hermes
    • Pretty ladies
    • Oak trees
    • Eagles
    • Bulls
    • Swans

    Other Notes

    Known hangouts: Mount Olympus; the sky; anywhere where there are ladies

    Escape vehicle: Bulls; cows; swans

  • Sightings

    Shmoop has been keeping tabs on Zeus for centuries. Here are some places where we've seen him.

    Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970

    The Odyssey

    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.

    Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970

    The Iliad

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Oresteia

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    The Aeneid

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    The Metamorphoses

    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.

    Dec 20, 1380 - Dec 20, 1390

    The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

    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.

    Dec 20, 1596 - Dec 20, 1599

    Henry IV Part 2

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Heart of Darkness

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    "Sunday Morning"

    Zeus gets an extended shout-out (as "Jove") in lines 31-35 in this Wallace Stevens poem.

    Dec 20, 2019

    "Leda and the Swan"

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    Fantasia

    Zeus has a bit of fun in Disney's Fantasia, throwing lightning bolts into Bacchus's party.

    Dec 20, 2019

    The Flies

    Ancient Greece meets WWII in Jean Paul Sartre's play. This retelling of the Oresteia features an annoying, childish Zeus whom everyone hates.

    Dec 20, 1965

    Marvel Comics

    Zeus made his first appearance in the Marvel universe in the Journey into Mystery comics. His superhero outfit includes a pretty crazy belt buckle.

    Dec 20, 1987

    DC Comics

    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.

    Dec 20, 1997

    Hercules

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019

    The Lightning Thief

    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.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    God of War, God of War II, and God of War III

    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.)

    Dec 20, 2019

    Clash of the Titans

    This movie follows Zeus's mortal son, Perseus, but has lots of scenes with the King of the Gods.