Table of Contents
In Greek mythology, Zeus was the most powerful god, considered as the King of all gods, who controlled the sky, weather, law and fate. Zeus had a numerous children with several women both mortals and goddesses. Zeus was married to Hera, who was also his sister and the goddess of marriage and birth. She mothered several of his children, and was always jealous about his lovers and the children he had with them. Zeus was never faithful to his wife, and would find various ways to deceive the women he found attractive into sleeping with him, often transforming into various animals and objects. Here’s a list of the most famous of Zeus’ children and what they were known for.
Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the Titaness. Although she was married to Hephaestus, the god of the blacksmiths, she had several affairs with other gods including Poseidon, Dionysus, and Hermes as well as the mortals Anchises and Adonis. She played an important role in the Trojan War by siding with the Trojans and protecting Aeneas and Paris in battle. Aphroditewas one of the most famous goddesses in Greek mythology and one of the most loved. She was the goddess of beauty, love and marriage and was known for her powers to make couples who fought with each other fall in love again.
Born to Zeus and the Titaness Leto, Apollo was the god of music, light, medicine and prophecy. When Zeus’ wife Hera found out that Leto was pregnant by Zeus, she cursed Leto, preventing her from giving birth to her children (Leto was expecting twins) anywhere on earth. Eventually, Leto found Delos, a secret floating island, where she delivered her twins. Apollo was one of the most important deities of the Greek pantheon, appearing in many myths. During the Trojan War, he fought on the Trojan’s side and it was he who guided the arrow that pierced Achilles’ heel and ended his life.
Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister, the goddess of archery, the hunt, the moon and wilderness. Artemis was a beautiful and very powerful goddess, who could aim perfectly with her bow and arrow, never missing her target. Artemis was also the protectress of young girls until they were married and of fertility. Interstingly, she herself never married nor had any children of her own. She’s often depicted as a beautiful young maiden armed with a bow and arrow, and wearing a tunic.
Ares was the god of war and the son of Zeus and Hera. He represented the untamed and violent acts which occurred during war. Although Ares was famous for being cruel and aggressive, he was also said to be cowardly. He was much disliked by the rest of the Olympian gods, including his own parents. He is perhaps the most unloved of the Greek gods.
The son of Zeus and the mortal, Semele, Dionysus was famous as the god of debauchery and wine. It’s said that he was the only Olympian god to have one mortal parent. When Semele was expecting Dionysus, Hera found out about it and befriended Semele, finally tricking her into looking at Zeus in his true form, which resulted in her instant death. Zeus saved Dionysus by sewing the child into his thigh and taking him out when he was ready to be born.
Athena, the goddess of wisdom, was born in a very strange way to Zeus and the Oceanid Metis. When Metis became pregnant, Zeus found out about a prophecy that he would have a child who would one day threaten his authority and overthrow him. Zeus was terrified and swallowed the fetus as soon as he knew about the pregnancy. However, nine months later he began to feel strange pains and soon Athena came out of the top of his head as a fully grown woman dressed in armor. Out of all Zeus’ children, his favorite turned out to be Athena.
Agdistis was born when Zeus impregnated Gaia, the personification of the earth. Agdistis was hermaphroditic which means that she had both male and female organs. However, her androgyny made the gods fear her because it symbolized an uncontrollable and wild nature. Because of this, they castrated her and she then became the goddess Cybele, according to the ancient records. Agdistis’ castrated male organ fell and grew into an almond tree, the fruit of which impregnanted Nana the nymph when she placed it on her breast.
Heracles was the greatest hero ever to have existed in Greek mythology. He was the son of Zeus and Alkmene, a mortal princess, who became pregnant with him after Zeus seduced her in the form of her husband. Heracles was very strong even as a baby and when Hera placed two snakes in his crib to kill him, he strangled them using only his bare hands. He appears in numerous myths including the 12 Labors of Heracles that King Eyristheus set to have him killed.
Aeacuswas the son of Zeus and the nymph, Aegina. He was the god of justice and he later lived in the underworld as one of the judges of the dead, together with Rhadamanthys and Minos.
Aigipan (also known as Goat-Pan), was the goat-legged deity born to Zeus and a goat or as some sources say, Zeus and Aega, who was the wife of Pan. During the contest between Zeus and the Titans, the Olympian god found that the sinews of his feet and hands were falling off. Aigipan and his step-brother Hermes took the sinews secretly and fitted them back into their correct places.
Alatheiawas the Greek goddess of truthfulness and sincerity. She was the daughter of Zeus, but the identity of her mother remains a mystery.
Eileithyiawas the goddess of childbirth and labor pains, the daughter of Zeus and Hera.
Apaphus(or Epaphus), was a son of Zeus by Io, the daughter of a river god. He was the king of Egypt, where he was born and was said to have been a great and powerful ruler.
Eris was the goddess of discord and strife, and the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She was closely linked to Enyo and was known as one of the Underworld deities. She often caused the smallest of arguments to escalate into something very serious, resulting in fights and even war.
Hebe, the goddess of the prime of life or youth, was born to Zeus and his wife Hera.
Hephaestus was the god of fire and blacksmiths, known for making weapons for the Olympian gods, born to Zeus and Hera. He presided over craftsmen, smiths, metalworking and sculpture. He appears in many myths including the story about Harmonia’s cursed necklace, the crafting of Achilles’ armor and the crafting of the first woman on earth, Pandora, at Zeus’ command. Hephaestus was known to be ugly and lame, and was chosen as Aphrodite’s wife. Their marriage was a turbulent one, and Aphrodite was never faithful to him.
Hermes was the god of fertility, trade, wealth, animal husbandry and luck. Born to Zeus and Maia (one of the Pleiades), Hermes was the cleverest of the gods, knkown mainly for his role as the herald of the gods.
Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa, the princess of Phoenicia. It was Minos who made King Aegeus choose seven girls and seven boys to be sent into the Labyrinth as offerings to the Minotaur every year (or every nine years). He finally became one of the judges of the Underworld, alongside Rhadamanthys and Aeacus.
Pandiawas the daughter of Zeus and Selene, the personification of the moon. She was the goddess of earth-nourishing dew and the full moon.
Persephone was the beautiful goddess of vegetation and the wife of Hades, god of the Underworld. She was the daughter of Zeus and the goddess of fertility and harvest, Demeter. Accordingly, she was abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld to be his wife. Her mother’s grief caused drought, the death and decay of crops and a winter of sorts to afflic the land. Eventually, Persephone was allowed to live with her mother for six months of the year and with Hades for the rest of the year. Persephone’s myth explains how and why the seasons came into existence.
Perseus was one of the most famous children of Zeus and Danae and one of the greatest heroes in Greek mythology. He is best known for beheading the Gorgon Medusa and rescuing Andromeda from sea monsters.
Rhadamanthus was a Cretan king who later became one of the judges of the dead. He was the son of Zeus and Europa and the brother of Minos who also joined him as a judge in the Underworld.
The Graces (or Charites), were the three goddesses of beauty, charm, nature, fertility and human creativity. They were said to be the daughters of Zeus and the Titaness Eurynome. Their role was to bestow charm, beauty and goodness on all young women and to spread joy among the people.
The Horae were the goddesses of the four seasons and time. There were three of them and they were the daughters of Themis, the Titaness of divine order, and Zeus. However, according to other sources, they were the daughters of Aphrodite.
The Litaewere personifications of prayer and ministers of Zeus, often described as old, hobbling women. They were said to be Zeus daughters, but there has never been any mention of their mother’s identity.
The Nine Muses were the inspirational goddesses of literature, arts and science. They were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Muses were conceived on nine consecutive nights, and Mnemosyne gave birth to them nine nights in a row. They lived on Mt. Olympus with the other deities, entertaining the gods with their singing and dancing. Their main role was to assist the mortals to excel in the arts and science.
The Moirai, also called the Fates, were the daughters of Zeus and Themis and the incarnations of life and destiny. Their role in Greek mythology was to assign destinies to newborn mortals. There were said to be three Moirai, who were very powerful deities. Even their own father couldn’t recall their decisions.
Helen of Troy
Helen, the daughter of Zeus and Leda, the Aetolian princess, was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the wife of Menelaus, the king of Sparta, and became famous for eloping with the Trojan prince Paris, which sparked the ten year long Trojan War. Throughout history, she was known as ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’.
Harmonia was the goddess of harmony and concord. She was daughter of the Pleiad Elektra by Zeus. Harmonia was famous for owning the Necklace of Harmonia, a cursed wedding gift which brought disaster to many generations of mortals.
The Korybantes were the offspring of Zeus and Calliope, one of the nine Younger Muses. They were crested, armed dancers who worshipped Cybele, the Phrygian goddess, with their dancing and drumming.
Nemea was a Naiad-nymph who presided over the springs of a town called Nemea in southern Greece. She was the daughter of Zeus and Selene, the goddess of the moon.
Melinoe was a chthonic goddess and the daughter of Persephone and Zeus. However, in some myths, she’s described as being the daughter of Persephone and Hades. She played a role in the propitiations that were offered to the souls of the deceased. Melinoe was quite frightful and wandered the earth at the dead of night with her entourage of ghosts, instilling fear in the hearts of mortals. She’s often depicted with black limbs on one side of her body and white limbs on the other, symbolizing her connection to the underworld as well as her heavenly nature.
Although Zeus had over fifty children, we’ve only included some of the most well-known ones in this list. Many of them were important figures in Greek mythology, while several remain in obscurity.