Greek MythologyMythology

How Strong is Zeus?

How strong is Zeus? Overwhelmingly so. It’s almost impossible to overstate how powerful he is. One of the more common questions is “Is Zeus more powerful than X?” The answer is probably yes. While it doesn’t make sense to think of some DBZ-style power-levels for Greek Mythology, Zeus is the cosmic king for a reason. Some gods were able to defy him, temporarily at least, but his raw power is clear. There’s one moment in the Iliad that spells it out perfectly.

In Homer’s Illiad 8.15-20 it explicitly states about Zeus’ strength:

ἐξάπτεσθε θεοὶ πᾶσαί τε θέαιναι: ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἐρύσαιτ᾽ ἐξ οὐρανόθεν πεδίον δὲ Ζῆν᾽ ὕπατον μήστωρ᾽, οὐδ᾽ εἰ μάλα πολλὰ κάμοιτε. ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ καὶ ἐγὼ πρόφρων ἐθέλοιμι ἐρύσσαι, αὐτῇ κεν γαίῃ ἐρύσαιμ᾽ αὐτῇ τε θαλάσσῃ: σειρὴν μέν κεν ἔπειτα περὶ ῥίον Οὐλύμποιο δησαίμην, τὰ δέ κ᾽ αὖτε μετήορα πάντα γένοιτο. τόσσον ἐγὼ περί τ᾽ εἰμὶ θεῶν περί τ᾽ εἴμ᾽ ἀνθρώπων.If all gods and goddesses took up a golden cord from the heavens, you would not be able to drag Zeus, highest counselor, from the heavens, though you would try. But if I wished, I could drag you all and the sea up with the earth so that all was hanging from the cord. So great I am above gods and humans.

So…yeah. He’s powerful. And yeah, I know, elephant-in-the-room. Nyx.  I’ve talked about this before. Hypnos fled to her because Zeus wouldn’t follow him there for some reason. We know that. But we don’t get much more than that. I chose to interpret it as fear in the face of a primordial being, and I still think it makes sense, but we don’t actually know what her powers are. Zeus wasn’t omnipotent; even he was bound by certain rules set in place, and he needed help during the Titanomachy. Whether she’s more powerful than him or whether her powers were simply something he couldn’t interfere with (like a Styx-vow, for example), is an open question. Her title/description seems to imply that she is, and the precise word used seems to imply it (like I mentioned when talking about Nyx, and I obviously think that interpretation is fun, but I’m biased), but I admit we can’t really say for sure. None of the primordials really have much of an active role in the myths. So for all practical purposes, who’s the most powerful? Zeus. How powerful is he? Yes.

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