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McCurdy 1 Shellie McCurdy 72044306 Classics 131 9 September 2013 The Characterization of Zeus In the Ancient Greek ideology,

Zeus is primarily presented as the father of gods and man, and as the primary ruler over both entities. In Hesiods Theogony, the story of Zeuss birth, defeat of his father, and subsequent defeat of the Titans and Typheous establish Zeus authority as king of Olympus. In the Hymn to Demeter, though Zeus does not play a major role, he uses his male authority to essentially create the conflict for the course of the myth. Although there are minor differences in the characterization of Zeus between the two hymns, the patriarchal undertones are consistent throughout both myths. In both myths, Zeus is defined as the ruler over the gods and mortals, and while both images are clearly Zeus, each poem presents an image of him at different stages of his life. In the Theogony, Zeus is young and establishing himself hes clearly a strategist, as Cottus says regarding the request to join fighting the Titans, Well do we know your intelligence, also your high understanding/For it is thanks to your thoughtfulness we have returned back again (Theogony, 624,626). The Theogonys Zeus is unassuming; he doesnt reign over Olympus until the other gods in their gratitude gave him the thunder and dazzling lightning, which instill the authority of rule in him (Theogony, 478). Early in this hymn, Zeus is obviously powerful, but perhaps he isnt as aware of this power. He simply acts in the ways in which he feels is just and appropriate. In contrast to this, Zeus in the Hymn to Demeter has spent some time in office, and is more confident both as a leader and in his own authority. Hes described as the deep thunderer wildly discerning and the Earth produces flowers at [his bidding] (Hymn to

McCurdy 2 Demeter, 3, 8). In fact, Zeus instigates most of the action of this myth first, the kidnap, then the gathering of the gods, and then the command to send Hermes to the rescue. From the beginning of the Theogony to the end of the Hymn to Demeter, Zeus grows as a character, transitioning from an agent of action to the master strategist who gets others to bring his plans into fruition. Despite these subtle differences in portrayal, one thing about Zeus character is clear in both versions of the myth: Zeus is the ultimate masculine authority, and what he says goes. The author of the Hymn to Demeter writes, It was with Zeuss connivance that Hades had abducted the maid all reluctant (Hymn to Demeter, 31, 33). Zeus decides he has the authority to pass off Persephone to Hades, without any care to her preferences on the matter, or the preferences of Demeter. In the Theogony, Zeus has relations with Metis, brilliant Themis Eurynome Demeter, who nourishes many exquisite Mnemosyne [and] Hera his beautiful flourishing consort (Theogony, 856, 861, 866, 869, 875). Not once does anyone complain about Zeus sleeping around and fathering basically everyone with the exception of his actual wife, Hera, but shes often painted as a cruel and petty shrew. In both of these myths, Zeus, a masculine god above all others, consistently disregards the emotions and opinions of the females also present, connoting his opinion of his own superiority. While there are slight differences in character portrayal between the two myths, ultimately the Zeus seen in the Theogony and the Hymn to Demeter is the same powerful, misogynistic patriarch in both stories. This Zeus dominates most of Greek mythology and these character traits remain common throughout the stories hes present in. Whether these misogynistic themes mirrored the culture or the culture mirrored the myths, this sort of behavior must not have been an issue for the ancient people, and its a consistent character trait of Zeus, the king God, across all myths in which he is involved. (636 words)