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Jupiter

Mythology of Jupiter ♃

What is the mythological origin of Jupiter’s name?

Jupiter ♃ is named after the ancient Roman god, Jupiter (Jove). In Greek mythology, Jupiter is Zeus or Z, the king of heaven and Earth and of all the Olympian gods. In Norse mythology he is Thor, protector and god of thunder. Thursday, the Jupiter-ruled day, is named after Thor.

Jupiter Mythology Stories

Foremost of the Olympian gods, Zeus was lord of the heavens and the sky. His father was Kronos (Saturn), the lord of time.Warned by his own parents, Ouranus and Gaia, that his son would destroy him, Kronos took up the practice of swallowing his children as soon as they were born. His wife, Rhea, was enraged by this behaviour, and when Zeus was to be born, she went to Crete and secretly gave birth to him in a cave. On her return, she gave Kronos a stone swaddled in clothing, The deception was successful, and Zeus was raised by nymphs.

A classical view of the god of lightning

A classical view of the god of lightning

When Zeus reached adulthood, he took Metis (Prudence) for his first wife. She shifted into many shapes to avoid him, but he prevailed and persuaded her to help him. She gave Kronos a drug which caused him to disgorge first the stone, then the brothers and sisters of Zeus who had been swallowed. Together they rebelled against Kronos and his brothers the Titans and after a mighty battle overcame them. Many of the Titans were imprisoned in Tartarus, while some received special penalties. Atlas was condemned to bear the heavens on his shoulders.

Zeus and two of his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, divided the universe between them. Poseidon took the oceans and rivers, Hades the Underworld, and Zeus the heavens, and dominion over the gods. The earth was left as common property.

By this time Metis was pregnant. Gaia foretold that after giving birth to the girl child in her womb, she would bear a son who would be lord of heaven. Placing self-preservation before any feelings of gratitude, Zeus promptly swallowed Metis. When the time came for the birth, Prometheus (or Hephaestos, by some accounts) hit Zeus on the head with an axe by the river Triton. Out of the top of his head, fully armed, sprang Pallas Athene (Minerva to the Romans), goddess of wisdom and prudent intelligence, champion of freedom.

If indeed it was Prometheus who struck Zeus, then it was not the only dispute he had with the lord of the heavens. One of the Titans, he has considerable relevance for us, since he is credited with being the creator of mankind, using mud and water to create a form in the image of the gods. When he realised that Zeus was neglecting his creation and distributing largesse only to the gods, Prometheus opposed Zeus by giving man access to arts and crafts through the gift of fire. This he kindled from the chariot of the sun while Zeus was busy in the arms of the boy Ganymedes.

The dominance of patriarchy and the denial of the goddess culture at this time is revealed in the accounts that say that Zeus then created woman and sent her to Prometheus to punish him for the theft of the fire! Most stories, though, have it that Zeus ordered Prometheus to be bound to a rock for eternity. An eagle, the creature of Zeus, every day came and tore out both lobes of his liver, which then grew back overnight. One story has it that he was finally released and granted immortality by Chiron.

The arbitrary nature of the gods was a constant danger to mankind..They demanded piety and worship, and if they

Zeus visits Leda in the form of a swan

Zeus visits Leda in the form of a swan

did not get it, their vengeance was terrible. Lycaon, king of Arcadia was one who offended Zeus, when he mixed his sacrifices with the bowel matter of a male child he had killed. Zeus, in disgust, killed Lycaon and his sons and then unleashed a terrible flood on the world. Enlisting Poseidon’s help he created storm and tempest which not only flooded crops but destroyed entire cities. In an echo of biblical flood accounts, one man and woman escaped by fitting out a chest with provisions and floating on the flood until it subsided. These were Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, who were warned by Deucalion’s father, Prometheus.

Zeus had an extraordinary sexual appetite. After his brief marriage to Metis, he married Hera, who became queen of heaven. Zeus was always unfaithful to her, taking women as he pleased. He regularly disguised himself as an animal, most often a bull.

Disguised as a white bull he encouraged Europa to climb on his back, whereupon he plunged into the sea and carried her off to Crete (reflecting the expansion of Greek culture from Asia Minor to Europe). Another famous transformation was his seduction of Leda disguised as a swan.

The eagle Zeus pays homage to the boy Ganymede

The eagle Zeus pays homage to the boy Ganymede

On another occasion, he was so taken with the beauty of the youthful Ganymedes that he disguised himself as an eagle and kidnapped the boy, flying him to Olympus.

“There, too, flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half buried in the eagle’s down,
Sole as flying star shot through the sky
Above the pillared town.” (Tennyson, Palace of Art)

He then raped him, and made him his plaything and the cup-bearer of the gods. The boy’s father Laomedon, king of Troy, was later compensated with a herd of fine mares.

(When Arachne challenged Athene to a weaving contest, she was unwise enough to make fun of the gods by depicting these seductions of Zeus. The punishment for her hubris was to be turned into a spider.)

Zeus’ assistance to humankind was not based on their good character. He is said to have intervened in a long and bloody dispute among the Mycenaeans, where the brothers Atreus and Thyestes were vying for rulership. Zeus commissioned Hermes to advise Atreum to claim the kingdom if he could make the Sun travel from west to east. Of course the challenge was acccepted by Thyestes, but Zeus intervened and Atreus took the crown. One of the first things he did was to invite his brother to a banquet. When Thyestes agreed, Atreus slaughtered three of his brother’s sons and served them to him for dinner. He then showed Thyestes the identifying extremities after the meal.

On another occasion, out of pity, Zeus deigned to purify Ixion for the crime of killing his father-in-law, the first familial crime among mortal men. Ixion repaid him by attempting to rape Hera. When Hera told Zeus, he fashioned a cloud in her shape.. Ixion, taken in by the deception, lay with the cloud then went around boasting he had slept with the goddess. Zeus cast him into Tartarus where he was bound to a wheel to be whirled by the winds for all eternity. Needless to say, Zeus had already slept with Ixion’s wife, Dia.

Zeus was acknowledged ruler of Olympus, but his actions in defeating the Titans earned him the ongoing enmity of Gaia, his grandmother. When the Titans were overthrown, she conceived and birthed the Giants so that they could overthrow heaven. Since an oracle had foretold that no Giant could be killed by a god, Zeus enlisted the aid of the mortal hero Heracles, who defeated and destroyed them.

Enraged, Gaia, the earth goddess, had intercourse with Tartarus, the deepest abyss below the earth and gave birth to Typhon. The winged monster with eyes of fire had human shape in head and trunk and huge viper coils from the thighs down. The largest of all Gaia’s offspring he was taller than the mountains and he brushed the stars with his head. From his hands came a hundred dragon’s heads.

Typhon attacked Olympus with gouts of fire and flaming missiles. The gods all fled to Egypt, save Zeus, who hurled thunderbolts from a distance, then struck the beast down with an adamantine sickle. Typhon gained control of the sickle and cut the tendons from Zeus’ hands and feet, hiding them in a bearskin and setting a dragon guard over them. Hermes, the thief and messenger stole them and returned them to Zeus. Restored, Zeus again attacked Typhon with thunderbolts, then cast Mt Etna on the fleeing monster. Etna still belches fire in memory of the battle.

What is the meaning of Jupiter in astrology?

Astrologically, Jupiter represents expansion and opportunity. He is the philosopher-teacher who creates and feeds the framework of social ideals and institutions. Jupiter’s influence is beneficent and extravagant, but his promise can often be greater than his actual performance.

Image credit Christina Balit

Last updated on August 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm. Word Count: 1470