Zeus, “father of gods and men” according to Homer, was the supreme god of the Greek pantheon. According to prevailing tradition, he was born in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete, where his mother Rhea had sought refuge to save him from his father, Cronos. Zeus had to battle the older deities (the Titans and Giants) in order to prevail. The ancient Greeks imagined him having his abode on Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain, while a number of major sanctuaries to Zeus existed across Greece (Olympia, Nemea, Dodona). Over time, Zeus evolved from a punishing thunderbolt-wielding god into a guarantor of the cosmic order, providence and justice, with such epithets as xenios (patron of hospitality), ikesios (protector of supplicants), themistios (patron of right) and soter (saviour).
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