In Greek mythology, Zeus was the principal god of the pantheon and the ultimate ruler of heaven and Earth and of all gods and humankind. The youngest son of the Titan Cronus, Zeus escaped the fate of his siblings. Cronus had swallowed them in fear that one would grow up to depose him, but Zeus was hidden on Crete by his mother, Rhea, who had given her husband a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes in place of her infant son. When Zeus reached manhood he reappeared and, by means of a trick, caused Cronus to vomit up Poseidon, Hades, and the rest of his swallowed offspring. Led by Zeus, they fought a successful war against Cronus and his fellow Titans. Cronus was banished to Tartarus, a subterranean region, and Zeus and his siblings established their residence atop Mount Olympus and assumed power.
Zeus was married to his sister Hera.
He had, however, many casual affairs with mortal women as well as goddesses, and he fathered innumerable children. Among them were the brilliant god Apollo, Helen of Troy, and the warlike goddess Athena, who sprang fully armed from his forehead without benefit of a mother.
Originally identified as a sky and weather god, Zeus had control over meteorological phenomena. His traditional weapon was the thunderbolt. Considered the "righteous governor of the world," Zeus saw all that humankind did and punished their wrongdoing. He was identified with Jupiter in Roman mythology.