A note about Zeus
I’ve mentioned this before, but Zeus is one of my favorite gods. I know that many people might be puzzled by this. For many people Zeus is the god you either condemn for his infidelity or just laugh at. I can certainly see where these people are coming from, but I see him differently.
If you are just looking at the myths, you might get wonder why any woman would want to worship him. As a counterexample I want to name Aeschylos’s play The Suppliants. In this play, 50 sisters are fleeing from Egypt to escape a forced marriage to their cousins. In Argos, a city in Greece, they ask the king to protect them. And it is made very explicit that the king is obligated to help them if he doesn’t want to arouse the anger of Zeus. In ancient Greek religion Zeus was, among other things, the protector of refugees. So here you can see Zeus as a protector of women!
I love that Zeus, the most powerful of all the gods, protects those who have no one else, like refugees (as Zeus Hikesios, Zeus of the Suppliants) and strangers (As Zeus Xenios, Zeus the friend of strangers).
Now this is my own personal interpretation, but you could also look at his many illegitimate children this way. Children born out of wedlock were (and in some places still are) outcasts. Zeus is very closely connected to them and in a sense, to mankind in general.
I think this is a very comforting thought.
I want to make one thing very clear though: I have no problem with people disagreeing with me on this. If you don’t like Zeus, that’s totally fine. And if you like joking about his infidelity, that’s okay too. I myself have shared a few of these jokes on my blog because I thought they were very funny.
My issue is not that people are criticizing him. I actually think this is important. There is a lot to criticize about his portrayal in the myths. My issue is that the criticism is making up an overwhelming majority and that some people seem to reduce him just to that. “Zeus is an adulterer and that’s all I need to know because what else is there, right” seems to be a widespread attitude. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the “All problems in Greek mythology were caused because Zeus put his dick in something” meme and sadly some people don’t take this as a joke but think that to be true.
So yeah, I’ve already made several posts in defense of Zeus, but I think they are important.