How Did Zeus Defeat His Father?

The ruler of all the gods, Zeus, was a powerful figure in ancient Greek times, and he is prominent in many of the myths and legends of the era. 

We recently wrote about Zeus’ children, but here we want to cover another story surrounding the god of sky and lightning. Read on to learn about how Zeus defeated his father, and other facts related to the tale. 

Who is Zeus’ father?

Kronos - Giovanni Romanelli
Kronos – Giovanni Romanelli

Zeus’ father was Kronos (or Cronus), a first generation Titan and the youngest son of the primordial deities Uranus and Gaia. Kronos himself overthrew his father (Uranus) in order to become the leader of the gods in the Golden Age of Greek mythology. 

Uranus hated his children, as he was jealous of the love that Gaia afforded them. Because of this, he ruled with a heavy hand and imprisoned his children in the underworld, Tartarus. Kronos was the only one who was willing to challenge Uranus’ tyranny and, as such, he wielded a giant flint weapon given to him by Gaia and castrated his father. 

Kronos’ consort, Rhea, who was also his sister, is the mother of Zeus. Rhea plays a big role in Zeus’ ascension to the ruler of all gods and leader of Mount Olympus. 

Who were Zeus’ siblings? 

Hades Abducting Persephone
Hades Abducting Persephone

According to Greek myth, Zeus had 6 siblings. One of these, Chiron, was his half-brother. The rest of his siblings were:

  • Hestia. The virgin goddess of the hearth and and the firstborn of the first generation of the Titans. 
  • Hades. The king of the underworld and the leader of the dead. Hades was also the eldest son of Kronos. 
  • Hera. The goddess of family and women, and the wife of Zeus. Hera was the patron of married women and her jealousy of Zeus’ multiple lovers was the source of many Greek myths. 
  • Poseidon. The god of the sea and a vengeful and ill-tempered deity. Poseidon is the father of Theseus, Pegasus, and Polyphemus, among others, and is commonly depicted wielding a giant trident. 
  • Demeter. Demeter is the goddess of harvest and is the mother of Persephone. The story of the abduction of Persephone by Hades is one of the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries

How did Zeus defeat his father?

The Fall of the Titans - van Haarlem
The Fall of the Titans – van Haarlem

It is commonly asked how Zeus killed his father, but this question is not really valid as it is widely suggested that Kronos is still living and confined to the underworld Tartarus. Zeus did, though, defeat his father and overthrow him to become the king of all gods. 

Kronos was worried that history would repeat itself, and that his children would overthrow him as he did to his own father. As such, when Rhea bore him a child he swallowed them on the day they were born to stop them from ever becoming powerful enough to overthrow him. 

Rhea grew tired of this, though, and when their youngest child (Zeus) was born, she devised a plan to trick Kronos. In order to do this, Rhea wrapped a stone in a blanket to resemble how her previous children looked after birth. After giving birth to Zeus, she gave the stone to Kronos for him to swallow in place of Zeus. Absentmindedly, he did so, and that was that, or so he thought. 

In actual fact, Rhea had sent Zeus away to be raised by Amalthea, his goat-like foster mother, and he grew up on Mound Ida, Crete. It was here that he would devise his plot to overthrow Kronos. 

Zeus utilised a poison given to him by Gaia that would force Kronos to expel the contents of his stomach and free Zeus’ siblings, the Hecatonkheires, and the Cyclopes. With the help of his freed allies, Zeus was equipped with everything he needed to defeat his father. This led to the ten-year Titanomachy, sometimes known as Battle of the Titans. 

Zeus and the Olympians defeated the Titans and imprisoned them in Tartarus, where Hades would look over them and the Hekatonkheires would serve as guards. 

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