It is worth noting that the reading “Works and Days and Theogony” is a comprehensive genealogy of the gods and it considers the origin of the world in a systematic way. Initially, the world started with the existing Chaos, Earth, and Eros. They produced the essential parts of the universe. After that, the genealogy began to develop, and a struggle for the division of power among the godly generations started. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the reasons why Zeus was able to remain in charge of the gods and what the crucial difference between Zeus and the other gods was.
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Zeus, Uranus, Cronus
It is important to emphasize that the main reason why Zeus was able to remain in charge of the gods was his true nature and the existence of moral guidelines that motivated his decisions. Uranus was the son of Chaos and Earth, together with his wife they gave birth to the second generation whom Uranus hated and returned them to the bosom of Gaia (Hesiod 74). Their son Cronus, together with his mother, overthrew his father and became the lord of the universe.
In his turn, Cronus was also afraid to lose the power and devoured all his children to sustain all the authority in his hands solely. Thus, Cronus was also guided by guile and hatred. Zeus was Cronus’s youngest son who was saved by his mother through deception. When Zeus grew up, he was not cunning by his nature and defeated Cronus using his force. The father was plunged into Tartaros. Metis, the wife of Zeus, helped him to bring back the children that were swallowed by Cronus (Hesiod 75). Zeus promised to ensure fair distribution of power to attain the gods’ loyalty. Thus, they divided the father’s power among themselves (Poseidon became the lord of the water element, Hades – of the underworld), and Zeus became the lord of the entire world.
When Zeus received power over the world, the era of catastrophes ended with his supremacy. He defeated all monsters and titans and established order in the world (Cosmos). The most important traits that characterized Zeus were wisdom and justice. He became the guardian of justice, unlike Cronus and Uranus, who were driven by the fear of losing their power. In addition, Zeus was able to bring the law into the world and became the principle of life.
Through wisdom, thoughtfulness, and loyalty to his commitments, Zeus was able to maintain order in the world and the appreciation of fellow gods (Hesiod 85). However, he had certain similarities with Cronus and Uranus in the treatment of children. When Zeus was told that Metis would give life to the child who would take the power of Zeus, he swallowed Metis (Hesiod 86). Nevertheless, Zeus himself gave birth to the child (Athena), and Metis remained in his head giving Zeus advice to drive his decision-making.
Thus, it can be concluded that despite the existing similarities between Zeus, Cronus, and Uranus, the lord of the world was very different from them. He did not direct his decisions by guile but used force that he had as well as wisdom. He did not intend to concentrate all the power in his hands and received it by casting lots with the fellow gods and winning their loyalty. After Zeus had come to power, the epoch of terror ceased, and the order and justice were introduced. For these reasons, he was able to remain in charge of the gods although he had faced a number of hurdles on this way.
Hesiod. Works and Days and Theogony. Translated by Stanley Lombardo and Robert Lamberton, Hackett Publishing Company, 1993.