Of all the Greek myths we know and have infused into our pop culture, Zeus has to be the most famous of them all.
What image did you think of when you read his name?
It is likely you pictured a large, well-muscled man with long flowing white hair and an impressive beard, wearing a toga and possibly throwing a lightning bolt.
Zeus tattoos are a popular choice for fans of Greek mythology tattoos, because he’s such a leader of the pack.
Zeus is not only the King of Gods, presiding over Mount Olympus, he is also responsible for so many of our favorite Greek myths because he has fathered so many gods and goddesses.
Though Zeus is something of an iconic character, most people only know his main talking points: Lightning bolts, ripped body, lover to many, and father to even more.
But if you’re going to get a Zeus tattoo, it might be a good idea to take a deep dive into his mythology.
Who is Zeus, why is he such a popular tattoo choice, and what can we learn from him?
The Mythology of Zeus
Zeus has quite a few stories in Greek mythology.
He’s truly at the center of it all. But he was almost never born.
Kronos, a Titan and Zeus’s father, became the King when he overthrew his father before him.
An oracle warned Kronos that he would meet the same fate and be usurped by one of his children.
Out of fear, Kronos swallowed every child that his wife, Rhea gave birth to.
When Rhea gave birth to Zeus, she hid him in a cave.
She then handed a boulder wrapped in a blanket to Kronos, who gobbled it up without thinking much about it.
When Zeus had grown, he joined the Kingdom disguised as a servant. One day, he gave his father some poison in a wine glass.
After drinking it, Kronos threw up Zeus’s brothers and sisters. Zeus then divided power among his siblings.
Zeus became the sky god, Hades the god of the underworld, Poiseden the god of the sea, and Demeter the goddess of the earth.
Zeus had two other siblings, Hera the goddess of marriage and birth, and Hestia the goddess of the domestic home.
The reason you often see Zeus with his trusty lightning bolt is because he is the god of the sky and has dominion over storms, rain, clouds, and everything of that nature.
He is also a shape-shifter and can turn into any animal he chooses, something he uses to his advantage.
Zeus And All His Children
Though Zeus is often seen as a symbol of power, prestige, and justice, he has a dark side.
He could indeed be kind and in some stories he would save his godly peers or even a common human.
He could also be vindictive and jealous, dishing out harsh punishments for anyone who disrespected his authority as the sky god.
One of the most common themes in Zeus’s tales however, is rape. Zeus is known for “seducing” many women, but if you read the original stories, they are often unwilling participants.
Zeus’s wife Hera is his sister and she was not interested in Zeus when he began to make advances on her.
Not taking no for an answer, Zeus played on Hera’s sweet side by disguising himself as a cuckoo caught out in the cold.
When Hera brought the poor bird inside, Zeus transformed and violated Hera sexually.
Out of shame, she married him and he cheated on her constantly.
Some of these stories are written as consensual, but many of them are not.
In many stories, Zeus turns into an animal to appeal to a woman who he later sexually assaults.
For anyone wondering why Hera never did anything about it, she did try to overthrow Zeus but he chained her to the sky and made her promise to never disrespect him again before letting her down.
It’s an interesting topic to wade through in modern times because, obviously, there was never a real sky god named Zeus who could turn into a bird.
The stories are fictional, but they remain the same.
Taking this into account when considering your Zeus tattoo- the choice is yours.
Based on the reason you want a Zeus tattoo, these stories may not factor into your decision.
But if it’s something you were unaware of that has changed your opinion on the god, it’s worth considering choosing someone else from Mount Olympus to pay homage to.
Common Themes in Zeus Tattoos
Zeus tattoos are often done in black and grey portrait style, but there are no rules against putting your own spin on it.
There are a few key images you may want to include, however.
Zeus Tattoo Lightning
Zeus holds his lightning bolt as if it were an Olympic javelin.
This shows not only his status as the sky god, but his athletic power as well.
Throne of Zeus
Zeus sat on a black marble throne with flecks of gold.
Eagle of Zeus
Zeus had an animal familiar in the form of an Eagle.
Stories say the Eagle was once a god who Zeus would have killed with a lightning bolt, but was graciously turned into an Eagle instead.
Zeus Tattoo Meaning
Above all, Zeus represents strength and power.
He could also represent the yin/yang qualities that life has.
He was kind and merciful to some, while being cruel and malicious with others.
He can represent the complicated relationship between our higher selves and our base urges.
Zeus Tattoo Designs
Zeus is a complicated God who could be both benevolent and wicked.
If you’re someone who loves a deeply flawed protagonist and likes to read a lot of unbelievable stories, Zeus is the god for you.
Still mulling over your Zeus tattoo?
Check out our Zeus tattoo gallery for some inspiration!
Zeus Tattoo Ideas
Zeus Tattoo Sleeve
Black & Grey Zeus Tattoos
Small Zeus Tattoos
Zeus Tattoos on Back
Zeus Tattoos on Forearm
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