Greek MythologyMythology

Greater than Zeus?! No, but these 4 had special powers

I’ve said before that Zeus is strong. Very strong. He was the most powerful, objectively. But that doesn’t mean he was all-powerful in the mythology. In Greek mythology, even being the cosmic king of the gods didn’t make him all-knowing, all-powerful, and unable to be stopped. Nearly, yes. But there are several situations where he ended up either blocked or stopped by another deity’s power, if only temporarily. Strength takes many forms, after all. Here are four deities that were able to, not overpower him per se, but temporarily weaken him.

Table of Contents

1. Aite

The goddess of folly, Aite is not a very well-known deity. She doesn’t show up much in the myths, but she had a role in the Iliad, where she tricked Zeus and, as a result, was thrown from Olympus. Literally.

Illiad 14:90-96

Eldest daughter of Zeus is Ate that blindeth all—a power fraught with bane; delicate are her feet, for it is not upon the ground that she fareth, but she walketh over the heads of men, bringing men to harm, and this one or that she ensnareth. [95] Aye, and on a time she blinded Zeus, albeit men say that he is the greatest among men and gods;

Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.

2. Hypnos

Even gods need to sleep. And Hera once asked Hypnos to put Zeus to sleep so she could get revenge on Herakles without him interfering. It went about as well as you would expect, but he was able to do it.

Iliad 14:250

 I, verily, beguiled the mind of Zeus, that beareth the aegis, being shed in sweetness round about him, and thou didst devise evil in thy heart against his son,

Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.

3. Styx

Styx is an interesting one. Both a river and a goddess, she was granted a very special and apparently unbreakable power by Zeus for being the first to side with him during the Titanomachy. Any divine vows sworn on the waters of Styx were unbreakable. Doing so would result in 10 years of punishment.

Theogony 790-805

For whoever of the deathless gods that hold the peaks of snowy Olympus pours a libation of her water and is forsworn, [795] must lie breathless until a full year is completed, and never come near to taste ambrosia and nectar, but lie spiritless and voiceless on a strewn bed: and a heavy trance overshadows him. But when he has spent a long year in his sickness, [800] another penance more hard follows after the first. For nine years he is cut off from the eternal gods and never joins their councils or their feasts, nine full years. But in the tenth year he comes again to join the assemblies of the deathless gods who live in the house of Olympus. [805] Such an oath, then, did the gods appoint the eternal and primeval water of Styx to be

Hesiod. The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Theogony. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.

Even Zeus was bound by this, when he swore a Styx vow to Semele that he couldn’t break and ended up burning her alive.

4. Nyx

Nyx the goddess of night, is the one who saved Hypnos from Zeus’ wrath after he woke up. Even though Zeus was furious, shaking the very heavens, as described in the Illiad.

Iliad 14:259

me above all he sought, and would have hurled me from heaven into the deep to be no more seen, had Night not saved me—Night that bends to her sway both gods and men. To her I came in my flight, and besought her, and Zeus refrained him, albeit he was wroth, for he had awe lest he do aught displeasing to swift Night

Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.

Unlike the others, we don’t specifically know what her powers are, but Zeus, even in his rage, didn’t go against her. That says something.

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