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Infidelity of Zeus refers to the Ancient Greek mythological character Zeus’ affairs with several divine wives and conception of many offsprings as a result of their consummation. When not bearing children with his wives, he was often said to be out seeking consorts in the mortal lands.
According to the myth, during his marriage to his third wife, Hera, Zeus often left Mount Olympus while she was distracted, and pursued romances with other divine, mortal, and bestial consorts. Many of these women found themselves unable to resist Zeus’s divine nature, and bore the gods, half-gods, and mortals that filled out the rest of the Greek Pantheon. Those that did resist him were often beguiled into laying with the God King through means of disguise or other trickery. It’s told the Zeus laid with more than sixty women, and fathered more than one hundred children.
Leda and the Swan
One of the more notable examples of Zeus’s infidelity lies in the story of Leda and the Swan. Leda was the wife of King Tyndareus, and Queen of Sparta. Her beauty caught Zeus’s eye, and he called upon her to sleep with him. When she refused, Zeus hatched a plan to deceive Leda. Taking the form of a swan, he flew to her under the pretense of seeking protection from a pursuing eagle. When Leda held the disguised god to her body, he (still in swan form) forced himself on her. Following her rapture, Leda did not tell her husband Tyndareus of the encounter. After laying with him that night, Leda gave birth to two eggs, from which hatched the children Helen (of Troy fame), Cytemnestra, Castor, and Pollux.
The stories of Zeus’s infidelity have carried on for more than two and a half thousand years. In the transition to Roman Mythology, Zeus (now Jupiter), still carried the stories of his affairs with him. Many of his more well-known encounters found their way into classical sculpture and paintings, adding further permanency to the tales of his exploits.
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