Zeus Otricoli


Title: Zeus Otricoli
Location: The Vatican Museums
Medium: Marble

The king of the gods and perhaps the most famous god of Roman and Greek mythology. No discussion surrounding the gods of the heavens would be completed without mentioning Zeus. This supreme ruler of Olympus was historically worshiped by the Greeks as the god of weather. Zeus also was thought to be the great judge in the times of democracy among the Greeks. Yet, how many people know the actual Zeus? Being such a famous god one would assume that many people would know the origins of this king of gods. Even if they know his origins, however, fewer still know of Zeus’s true character. To shed light on this god let me begin the tale with the birth of Zeus.

Zeus is the child of the titans Cronus and Rhea and for being ruler of the gods he is actually the youngest son. Up until the birth of Zeus Cronus had ate every child that Rhea produced. Rhea did not like this, however, and so formed a plot with Gaia and Uranus to hide her next child. This next child just happened to be Zeus and so when the time came Rhea switched out her newborn son with a rock, which Cronus then ate. Zeus, who had been smuggled away to Crete, grew up to be strong and eventually plotted with Gaia to rescue his brothers and sisters. So in a battle against his father Zeus and Gaia forced the committing up of Zeus’s brothers and sisters. Zeus’s siblings, who emerged fully grown, then helped in the battle against the Titans for control of the universe. It was after the conclusion of this battle that Zeus was set up as king of the gods. Yet, even this ruler of gods was not the Disney Zeus many have come to love.

Zeus, the king of the gods, is not the moral compass for anyone to look towards. This god not only married his own sister, but also continuously had many affairs with goddesses and mortals alike. Hera, Zeus’s sister, is not the first wife of Zeus. Metis, a titan of wisdom, was the first wife of Zeus and her’s is an unfortunate fate. It was predicted by Gaia that Metis would bear a child that would overthrow Zeus. Thus Zeus decided to take matters into his own hands by swallowing his wife Metis. Now the child would not be born by Metis, but born by Zeus and, therefore, prevent the prophesy from happening. From this point on marks the beginning of Zeus’s sexcapades.

Zeus then took a second wife in the form of his sister Hera. Hera bore for Zeus many children, but she did not fully satisfy the god’s voracious want for sex. Zeus, much to Hera’s disapproval, had relations with many mortal women. In all of these encounters Zeus appeared in a different form to seduce the women. Two of the more famous tales include Zeus appearing as a swan and a golden shower. The first encounter takes place between Zeus and Leda. In order to seduce Leda Zeus appeared in the form of a beautiful swan. From this relationship came two sets of twins; Castor and Polydeuces, and Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy. In the second relation with a mortal Zeus visited Danae in the form of a golden shower. From this sexual encounter was born the hero Perseus.

Looking at the bust of Zeus Otricoli with the prior knowledge one gains a different prospective. This god is no longer the good father as seen in Disney’s “Hercules.” Instead he seems to almost wear a smirk as if to say that he can take whatever and whomever he wants. Zeus’s hair is untamed and curly. His eyes seem omniscient for they lack any trace of a pupil. This Zeus seems less like the moral dad in Disney’s “Hercules” and more like the immoral Zeus of mythology.







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