Zeus and Mount Olympus: myths and reality about the famous peak

Zeus is the supreme god and father of most of the Olympians. The beginning of his reign is marked with a change of power: the Olympian gods replaced the Titans. In particular, this is due to the fact that most of the Titans fought on the side of his father, King Kronos, and after victory were punished and cast into Tartarus.

The new generation signified a change in the world order through the actions of Zeus and his co-rulers: 

  1. The creation of mankind;
  2. the writing of a code of laws;
  3. the formation of a system of justice (the thunderer’s first wife, Metida, became his counselor in matters of right and wrong).

On the orders of the leader of Olympus, the titan Prometheus, who was at Zeus’ side, molded a man out of clay, and the goddess Athena breathed life into the clay statue. According to legend, this is how the first man was created. In addition to creation, Prometheus gave humans fire to keep them warm and cook food (as we know, he was punished for it). Zeus did not leave humans alone and controlled their lives and more:

  • created families;
  • described the rights and responsibilities of women and men;
  • made laws and punished those who broke them;
  • He directed the elements of nature: rain, thunder, wind, hail;
  • established night and day and the changing of the seasons.

Divine Domains

The ancient Greeks believed that the thunderer lived atop Mount Olympus, better known as the “Throne of Zeus. His parent, King Kronos, originally lived there, but was expelled after his defeat. And, of course, from the top there was a good view of the cities and neighborhoods, so the ancient Greeks had no doubt about this theory.

The coordinates of the mountain are: 40.085556, 22.358611. Mount Olympus is composed of sedimentary rocks formed about 200 million years ago in what was then a shallow sea.

Its summit is only 2918 m, but even this height was inaccessible to the inhabitants of ancient Greece (the first time the top was climbed only in 1913). Not surprisingly, people believed there was a pantheon of gods.

Along with Zeus on Mount Olympus lived other gods:

  • Hera, the native sister and second wife of the Olympian;
  • Athena – daughter of Zeus and Metida, goddess of wisdom and just war;
  • Artemis – goddess of the hunt, patroness of all life on earth;
  • Apollo, god of medicine and patron of music;
  • Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love;
  • Demeter (from Gr. “mother earth”), goddess of fertility;
  • Hestia – goddess of the family hearth and sacrificial fire;
  • Ares – god of war and common child of Hera and the thunderer;
  • Hermes – god of commerce, youth and eloquence;
  • Hephaestus, patron of blacksmithing and god of fire;
  • Dionysus, god of viticulture and winemaking.

Hades, brother of Zeus and god of the underworld, lived separately to rule over the world of the dead.


Of course, the celestials had advantages over ordinary human beings: a limited lifespan, disease, and death. Immortality and eternal youth were gifts bestowed only upon the gods. Of course, demigods could also qualify for higher gifts if they passed tests (for example, Hercules performed 12 feats to earn the right to become a full-fledged celestial).

Of course, the Olympians also had prohibitions and restrictions:

  • It was impossible to act against fate.
  • It was impossible to undo another god’s miracle.
  • It is impossible to break an oath taken on the river Styx. The punishment for transgression was a sentence of terrible punishment: the guilty lay dormant for a year and were banished from Olympus for nine years from the host of celestials.
  • It is impossible to defeat a more powerful god, except by cunning.

Zeus also issued laws that could not be broken. For violations, the anger of the supreme one and punishment. It used to be believed that thunder was a demonstration of Zeus’ power and that he had something to say to his believers.

Key role in people’s lives

To the people of ancient Greece, Zeus is the main god. He performs various functions:

  • protects during journeys;
  • protects family ties and the customs of hospitality;
  • punishes criminals and executes just retribution.

Of course, the pantheon has not been worshipped for a long time nowadays. However, this does not prevent the interest of its characters, Greek mythology and even preserved some traditions. For example, the ancient Greeks believed that a man who neglected the advice of hospitality would be cursed and punished by Zeus himself. Ancient authors note that the third goblet of wine during feasts was dedicated to the thunderer and, interestingly, the Greeks still have a similar tradition today (except that the dedication concerns people).

Zeus is an interesting and unusual person in all respects. He is fair and stern, distinguished by wisdom, but sometimes subject to quite human weaknesses, emotions and passions. The latter, however, only made the image of the thunderer even more attractive and bright.

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