Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (7)

Zeus

In the Greek pantheon he is the king of the gods, the god of the sky, the heavens, and thunder and lightning. When compared to the Norse pantheon, he might be considered a combination of some of the attributes of Odin and Thor.  His name in the Roman pantheon is Jupiter.

Jupiter of Smyrna (discovered in Smyrna in 1680).
Jupiter of Smyrna (discovered in Smyrna in 1680).

In the painting below, Jupiter is shown appearing to Semele, one of his many lovers, as per her request. This, of course, kills her since she is a mere mortal. The account is from The Metamorphoses by Ovid.

Jupiter and Semele (1640 or earlier) by Peter Paul Rubens.
Jupiter and Semele (1640 or earlier) by Peter Paul Rubens.

I am reminded of God’s admonition to Moses in Exodus 33:20: “No one may see me and live.” This biblical account, by the way, is much older.

Hera is the wife of Zeus and is also one of his (gasp) sisters. Not only did he carry on with mortal women, but also with nymphs and other goddesses. Oh, what has become of our pagan idols?

Zeus and Thetis on Mount Olympus (1811) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
Zeus and Thetis on Mount Olympus (1811) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

Zeus also appears in (guess what) Marvel Comics…

zeus5.

… and DC Comics.

zeus4

I’ll skip the more adolescent, “mean world” representations of later issues.

He  is also portrayed in more movies than I care to list. Furthermore, so much of the Greco-Roman pantheon has been appropriated by Marvel Comics and DC Comics that I grow tired of this sport.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Next week, I will change topics and begin a series of posts on mythological beasts and spirits.

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9 thoughts on “Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (7)”

  1. In some ways, I think, the Greco Roman mythology is a common frame of reference, like singing a popular song because you know your audience will recognize it. So there have been such deities in comics all along. Did you know that Venus, Goddess of Love, had a comic in the ’50s?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, but I’d be interested in reading some samples to see how it portrays women. Incorporating Greco Roman mythology in new stories is a mixed bag. When good, it can be very good, but it can also devolve into trite and unimaginative story lines. I loved the way C. S. Lewis incorporated it into his space trilogy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zeus is the exact counterpart of Indian Indra. Both wield the thunderbolt and both are King of heaven. Semele finds a counterpart in Kunti, who could invoke any God of her choice for procuring a child. Indra Kunti union gave birth to Arjun (Mahabharata)

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