Zeus Family Tree

This lesson is called the "Zeus Family Tree."

We will examine the major players in Greek mythology.

So the main thing to remember about

Greek mythology and why it came about.

It is because Greeks,

the Greek people, were not monotheistic -

meaning that they did not believe in just one God.

They believed in many gods and they believed that the gods and goddesses

controlled everything.

And they used the gods and goddesses to explain everything.

They believed if they built temples to them and had festivals that celebrated them

then their lives would be better.

And if good things were happening in their lives then that meant that gods and goddesses were happy.

But if bad things were happening in their lives that meant that the gods and goddesses were displeased.

Another thing to remember about gods and goddesses

is that they would marry one another even if they were brother and sister.

Now the Greek people didn't do this, they didn't believe in this,

but they did believe that the gods and goddesses did this because they became more powerful.

If they were married to their brother or sister they maybe controlled more things.

So when talking about Zeus's family tree you have to start with his father Cronus.

Cronus had three sons.

His three sons were Hades,


and Zeus.

He also had three daughters.

The three daughters were Hestia,


and Demeter.

There was a prophecy that one of these six children,

one of the children of Cronus, would eventually

kill him and take all of his power.

So as each child was born

Cronus would swallow them.


one by one they were swallowed by their father.

This way they wouldn't be able to overtake him.

His wife Rhea wanted to save one of the babies.

So when Zeus was born instead she wrapped a stone in a blanket

and she fed it to

Cronus. And he didn't realize it wasn't a baby so he swallowed it like the others.

Zeus went and was living on the Isle of Crete and growing up on the Isle of Crete.

So when he became an adult he and his mother got this idea.

They gave Cronus some nectar which was poisoned; which caused him to, one by one,

throw back up his children starting with the stone that he thought was Zeus.

Then he threw up Hades, Poseidon,

Hestia, Hera, and Demeter and they all came out full-grown

and alive. To get back for him swallowing them all this time they waged war on him.

Zeus was leading the war and it lasted a very long time

but finally they overthrew Cronus

and Zeus became king of the gods.

Let's start with Zeus. He divided the universe into three parts - the sky, the sea and the underworld.

His symbol is the lightning bolt. He married his sister Hera.

His brother Hades is king of the underworld.

He loved Demeter's daughter, Persephone; Demeter being his sister.

And he wanted to marry her but Demeter said, "absolutely not." So he abducted Persephone

and made her live with him in the underworld. This upset her mother and

Zeus decided that half the year Persephone would be with Hades and half the year

Persephone would be with her mom. So when Demeter was happy then we have spring and we have summer but

when Persephone was with Hades and Demeter was unhappy

that's why we have fall and we have winter.

So that was the myth of the changing of the seasons with Persephone

and her mom. This is a picture of Hades

and Persephone in the underworld.

The underworld again, remember, is not like the Christian hell.

It's a place where some people if you were bad were punished but they were alive and had to be there.

But, everybody who died went to the underworld.

So Hades and Persephone spent their time

with the souls of the dead. Zeus's other brother was Poseidon. He was ruler of the Seas.

He was in love with his sister Demeter and he wanted to impress her so

he tried to create some kind of land animal. And we ended up with the beautiful horse.

I'm not really sure if she was impressed but, it was a nice gift anyway.

His symbol is the Trident and he is ruler of the seas.

One of Zeus's sisters is Hestia.

She has no distinct personality. She doesn't really play a major role in any of the myths.

She is goddess of the hearth which is the fire that everybody has in their home if they have a fireplace.

And it's supposed to make you feel comfortable and in each Greek city

they had an eternal fire for her that they kept all the time.

His other sister was Hera. She was protector of marriage and of married women.

But, she was married to her brother Zeus who often cheated on her and had children with other women.

So, it's kind of ironic that she was the protector of married women.

Demeter we've talked about already. She's goddess of the harvest.

She's mother to Persephone. She causes the changes of the seasons

and she was the one that Poseidon was in love with.

Now, if she's happy we have a good harvest and if she's unhappy we don't

according to the Greeks.

Athena was one of Zeus's daughters and she actually sprang full-grown and in armor from his forehead.

So I guess she didn't have a mom per se.

She's the goddess of battle and she's the symbol of wisdom and of reason.

Apollo is his son and he has a twin, Artemis.

He's the god of music and medicine and he's the one who drives the Sun across the sky for us each morning.

So we're glad to have Apollo.

Aphrodite is the goddess of love, desire, and beauty

and the dove is her bird.

She's also the daughter of Zeus.

And it is said that she was not born from a woman

but she was actually born

of seafoam. So she just appeared out of the seafoam.

This is a painting of Aphrodite and her son Eros. E.R.O.S.

and he's actually also known as Cupid.

He is the one who shoots arrows

at people so they fall in love. So this is Aphrodite and Eros, or otherwise known as Cupid.

So if you get hit by an arrow and someone else does too

you might fall in love. So be careful.

And that's the family of Zeus;

all the major players.