From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Zeus in Greek mythology is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull and the oak. Zeus is frequently envisaged by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.
The son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the youngest of his siblings. He was married to Hera in most traditions, although at the oracle of Dodona his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. Accordingly, he is known for his erotic escapades, including one pederastic relationship with Ganymede. His trysts resulted in many famous offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera he is usually said to have sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
He is known for his shapeshifting abilities, especially when he wanted to seduce. He transforms himself into a cloud (he hid himself in a cloud with Io), a golden shower with Danae, a swan with Leda, a bull with Europa, depending on whether he needed to be charming and beautiful or powerful and frightening in his conquest.
The film Clash of the Titans (1981) has a dialogue on Zeus's promiscuousness:
[discussing Zeus' womanizing]
Thetis: So many women, and all these transformations and disguises he invents in order to seduce them. Sometimes a shower of gold, sometimes a bull or a swan. Why, once he even tried to ravish me disguised as a cuttlefish.
Hera: Did he succeed?
Thetis: Certainly not.
Athena: What did you do?
Thetis: Beat him at his own game. I simply turned myself into a shark.
- Burkert, Walter, (1977) 1985. Greek Religion, especially section III.ii.1 (Harvard University Press)
- Cook, Arthur Bernard, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, (3 volume set), (1914–1925). New York, Bibilo & Tannen: 1964.
- Druon, Maurice, The Memoirs of Zeus, 1964, Charles Scribner's and Sons. (tr. Humphrey Hare)
- Farnell, Lewis Richard, Cults of the Greek States 5 vols. Oxford; Clarendon 1896–1909. Still the standard reference.
- Farnell, Lewis Richard, Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality, 1921.
- Graves, Robert; The Greek Myths, Penguin Books Ltd. (1960 edition)
- Mitford,William, The History of Greece, 1784. Cf. v.1, Chapter II, Religion of the Early Greeks
- Moore, Clifford H., The Religious Thought of the Greeks, 1916.
- Nilsson, Martin P., Greek Popular Religion, 1940.
- Nilsson, Martin P., History of Greek Religion, 1949.
- Rohde, Erwin, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, 1925.
- Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, Ancientlibrary.com, William Smith, Dictionary: "Zeus" Ancientlibrary.com