World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Deception of Zeus

Article Id: WHEBN0007425218
Reproduction Date:

Title: Deception of Zeus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Iliad, Tethys (mythology), De bello Troiano, Ilias Latina, Ransom (Malouf novel)
Collection: Iliad
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Deception of Zeus

Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida by James Barry, 1773 (City Art Galleries, Sheffield.)

The section of the Iliad that ancient editors called the Dios apate (the "Deception of Zeus") stands apart from the remainder of Book XIV. In this episode, Hera makes an excuse to leave her divine husband Zeus; in her deception speech she declares that she wishes to go to Oceanus, "origin of the gods", and Tethys the "mother". Instead Hera beautifies herself in preparation for seducing Zeus and obtains the help of Aphrodite. In the climax of the episode Zeus and Hera make love hidden within a golden cloud on the summit of Mount Ida. By distracting Zeus, Hera makes it possible for the Greeks to regain the upper hand in the Trojan War.[1]

The peculiarities of this episode were already being discussed in Antiquity. Even early commentators were shocked by the storyline and its implications for the morality of the gods. An expression of this moral criticism is found in Plato's Republic.[2]

Later, as it became fashionable to question whether certain passages of the known text of the Iliad were really composed by Homer (see Homeric scholarship), the genuineness of the "Deception of Zeus" was doubted. Albrecht Dihle[3] listed the linguistic features unique to this section and "found so many deviations from the normal traditional use of Homeric formulas that he concluded that this section of the Iliad could not belong to the phase of oral tradition but was a written composition."[4] Richard Janko, by contrast, describes the episode as "a bold, brilliant, graceful, sensuous, and above all amusing virtuoso performance, wherein Homer parades his mastery of the other types of epic composition in his repertoire".[5] The debate on this issue is not yet settled.

Walter Burkert found that the passage "shows divinity in a naturalistic, cosmic setting which is not otherwise a feature of Homeric anthropomorphism",[6] and linked it to the opening of the Babylonian Enuma Elish where Apsu and Tiamat, respectively the fresh and salt waters, are the primordial couple who "were mixing their waters." Like Tethys and Oceanus they were superseded by a later generation of gods. Tethys does not otherwise appear in Greek myth and she had no established cult.


  1. ^ Homer. Iliad, Book 14, Lines 153-353.
  2. ^ Plato. Republic, 390c.
  3. ^ Dihle 1970, pp. 83–92; Burkert 1992, p. 201: Note 9 offers a condensed bibliography of the discussion.
  4. ^ Burkert 1992, p. 91.
  5. ^ Janko 1994, p. 168.
  6. ^ Burkert 1992, p. 92.


  • Walter Burkert (1992). The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Period. Harvard University Press.
  • Albrecht Dihle (1970). Homer-Probleme.
  • Richard Janko (1994). The Iliad: A Commentary. Vol. 4: Books 13-16. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.