Why is Zeus such a dog? Zeus – The supreme ruler of the gods. He had dominion over the sky, the earth, and Mt. Olympus. He was depicted as a regal man, mature with sturdy figure and dark beard. His usual attributes were a lightning bolt, royal scepter and eagle. HOWEVER, in the myths Zeus appears to be a less-than-worthy character. His constant affairs, his sly behavior, his failure to stand by his one-time lovers ---- all these tend to make Zeus an object of ridicule, not respect. However, there may be a reason behind his romantic escapades. (Other than the fact that: when it comes to the Greek gods, Zeus is the “man”.) SO why make such a flawed ruler of the gods? Theory 1: Syncretism – is a form of blending or combining two different beliefs, in this case religious beliefs. For example: Santeria religion. Santeria - a mixture of the YorubaLucumi African religion with Catholicism is an example of religious syncretism found in one area of the United States today. The arrival in Cuba of African slaves from Nigeria brought their pagan Gods into contact with the Catholic faith of colonizers in Cuba.. Through the years, the symbols and saints of Catholicism became mixed with the pagan beliefs and rituals. With the influx of Cuban refugees to the Miami area, this new religion – Santeria – was brought to South Florida. Religious syncretism, as related to mythological stories, might have resulted from the following occurrence. If a culture had a female deity and was conquered by a foreign power with a male deity, (Greeks/Zeus conquering another culture) then the natural result would be to proclaim a marriage of the two. In the case of the Greeks, Zeus, as chief god, frequently “married” lesser deities, earth-goddesses. Thus, while Hera may appear to be the wife of Zeus in most of the classical myths, Zeus could have had numerous wives in earlier, more primitive myths, long before he married Hera. Theory 2: Glory/ Nationalism – Affairs between Zeus and mortals might be explained in another way. People of different regions, wanting to make themselves greater or higher than their neighbors, would proclaim Zeus as founding father of a town or country. Thus, an affair between Zeus and a mortal princess would mean that particular country was under the patronage of the chief god. Societal groups still have an innate need to be “the best”. A claim to have a member of your society descended from a god would boost an early people’s claim to superiority. Theory 3: Man created in God’s image - These days, peoples’ gods are generally forgiving, generous, loving, etc. They are usually good examples to we “inferior” people of mankind. The ancient Greek gods, however, were the exact opposite. They were basically human. They were jealous, they committed what the Catholic church might call the seven deadly sins over and over, they killed, they hurt – they were pretty much just like people. The only difference is that they lived forever and as gods, whenever they got angry they could do a million times more damage than we humans could do. If our gods are flawed and make mistakes, then in theory it is ok for man to make mistakes. Thus, Zeus being the most powerful of the gods, is also the most flawed/ human. The various ways Zeus appears to women: Zeus appears to mortals as a bull, a swan, golden rain, the guise of an absent husband, fire, and as a goddess. He appeared to goddesses as himself, but mortals were not able to stand the splendor of a god (as in the case of Semele). Perhaps these animal appearances were a throwback to earlier, primitive times when gods were part animal. (Theory 1 perhaps) Before you ask the question “How?” read the following definition: Suspension of Disbelief - is a willingness of a reader or viewer to suspend his critical faculties to the extent of ignoring minor inconsistencies so as to enjoy a work of fiction. In other words: Yes it is far fetched, but who cares. It makes a good story even if it is too crazy to be real.