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ZEUS LOVES 1
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Roman Name
Ζευς Zeus Zeus Jupiter, Jove
OTHER ZEUS PAGES

Zeus Intro, Index & Gallery
Zeus Family
Zeus Loves Part 2, Part 3
Zeus Cult Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Zeus Titles & Epithets

ZEUS was the King of the Gods, and the god of weather, fate, law and order.

He had numerous lovers in mythology. This page describes his various divine consorts.

The second and third Loves pages contain the stories of his liaisons with Nymphs and mortal woman respectively.


(1) DIVINE LOVES
APHRODITE The Goddess of Love and Beauty was pursued by Zeus when she first emerged from the sea but managed to escape him. According to some, she later had an affair with the god, and through the curses of Hera bore a deformed son: the god Priapos (most sources however say his father was Dionysos).
ASTERIA A Titan goddess who was pursued by the lustful Zeusacross the heavens. She assumed many forms to escape him, but eventually leapt from the heavens in the shape of a quail, and metamorphosed into the island of Delos.
DEMETER The Goddess of Agriculture and Zeus mated in the form of intertwining serpents. From this union the goddess Persephone was born (some say Dionysos was also their son).
DIONE A Titaness who, according to some, bore Zeus the goddess Aphrodite (though most accounts say she was born in the sea, grown from the severed genitalia of Ouranos). An even rarer account, makes her the mother of Dionysos, also by Zeus (again contrary to the usual tradition where Dionysos' mother is Semele).
EURYNOME A Titan goddess who was the mother by Zeus of the three Kharites (Graces) and, according to some, the river-god Asopos.
GAIA The Goddess of the Earth was accidentally impregnated by Zeus on two separate occasions: in Phrygia where she gave birth to the goddess Agdistis, and in Kypros where she bore the Kentauroi Kyprioi.
HERA The Queen of the Gods wed Zeus in a secret ceremony back in the days of the Titan-War. She bore him several divine children: Ares, Eileithyia and Hebe (and possibly also Eris).
HYBRIS The Goddess of Excessive Pride was, according to some, the mother by Zeus of Pan (though he is usually called a son of Hermes and Penelopeia).
KALLIOPE A Goddess of Music and one of the nine Mousai was, according to one account, the mother of the Korybantes (or Kabeiroi) by Zeus (however, these gods were usually called sons of some other god).
LETO A Titan goddess who was loved by Zeus. She bore him the twin gods Apollon and Artemis.
METIS The Titan goddess of Good Counsel was impregnated by Zeus who then swallowed her whole upon learning of a prophecy that she was destined to bear a son greater than his father. She gave birth to Athena within the belly of the god, who later emerged fully grown from the skull of Zeus.
MNEMOSYNE The Titaness of Memory was seduced by Zeus in the disguise of a shepherd. He lay with her for nine nights and gave birth to the nine goddesses known as Mousai.
NEMESIS The Goddess of Retribution was seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. After their union she laid the egg from which Helene of Troy was hatched.
PERSEPHONE The Goddess of Spring (before her abduction to Haides) was seduced by Zeus in the form of a serpentine Drakon. She bore him a son, the short-lived god Zagreos. Later, as goddess of the underworld, she was again seduced by Zeus but this time disguised as her husband Haides.
SELENE The Goddess of the Moon bore Zeus two daughters: Pandia and Ersa.
STYX The Goddess of the great Underworld River Styx was, according to one author (perhaps in error), the mother of Persephone by Zeus (all others accounts say her mother was Demeter).
THEMIS The Titaness of Custom and Tradition was one of the first wives of Zeus. She bore him two sets of offspring: the three Horai (Seasons also representing Justice, Peace, Good Governance), the three Moirai (Fates), and in some accounts, of three prophetic Nymphai.
THETIS A Goddess of the Sea who was wooed by Zeus. The god abandoned his attempts to seduce her when it was revealed that she was destined to bear a son greater than his father.

ORDER OF GODDESSES LOVED BY ZEUS

Before his marriage to Hera, Zeus consorted with a number of the female Titanes (and his sister Demeter). These liaisons are ordered by Hesiod as follows: (1) Metis; (2) Themis; (3) Eurynome; (4) Demeter; (5) Mnemosyne; (6) Leto.
Some authors add Dione and Persephone to the list, as well as the unsuccesful attempts to seduce Asteria and Aphrodite.

Hesiod, Theogony 886 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Now Zeus, king of the gods, made Metis his wife first, and she was wisest among gods and mortal men. But when she was about to bring forth the goddess bright-eyed Athene, Zeus craftily deceived her with cunning words and put her in his own belly . . .
Next he married bright Themis who bare the Horai (Seasons), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moirai (Fates) to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Klotho, and Lakhesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have.
And Eurynome, the daughter of Okeanos, beautiful in form, bare him three fair-cheeked Kharites (Graces), Aglaia, and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thaleia, from whose eyes as they glanced flowed love that unnerves the limbs: and beautiful is their glance beneath their brows.
Also he came to the bed of all-nourishing Demeter, and she bare white-armed Persephone whom Aidoneus carried off from her mother; but wise Zeus gave her to him.
And again, he loved Mnemosyne with the beautiful hair: and of her the nine gold-crowned Muses were born who delight in feasts and the pleasures of song.
And Leto was joined in love with Zeus who holds the aegis, and bare Apollo and Artemis delighting in arrows, children lovely above all the sons of Heaven.
Lastly, he made Hera his blooming wife: and she was joined in love with the king of gods and men, and brought forth Hebe and Ares and Eileithyia.
But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia [Athena, whose mother Metis had earlier been swallowed whole by Zeus], the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles . . .
And Maia, the daughter of Atlas, bare to Zeus glorious Hermes, the herald of the deathless gods, for she went up into his holy bed.
And Semele, daughter of Kadmos was joined with him in love and bare him a splendid son, joyous Dionysos,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are gods.
And Alkmena was joined in love with Zeus who drives the clouds and bare mighty Herakles."


ZEUS LOVES: METIS

LOCALE: Mount Olympos (Home of the Gods)

Hesiod, Theogony 886 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Zeus, as king of the gods, took as his first wife Metis, and she knew more than all the gods or mortal people. But when she was about to be delivered of the goddess, gray-eyed Athene, then Zeus, deceiving her perception by treachery and by slippery speeches, put her away inside his own belly. This was by the advices of Gaia and starry Ouranos, for so they counselled, in order that no other everlasting god, beside Zeus, should ever be given kingly position. For it had been arranged that, from her, children surpassing in wisdom should be born, first the gray-eyed girl, the Tritogeneia Athene . . . but then a son to be king over gods and mortals was to be born to her and his heart would be overmastering; but before this, Zeus put her away inside his own belly so that this goddess should think for him, for good and for evil."

Hesiod, Theogony 924 ff :
"[Zeus], apart from Hera, had lain in love with a fair-faced daughter of Okeanos and lovley-haired Tethys, Metis, whom he deceived, for all she was so resourceful, for he snatched her up in his hands and put her inside his belly for fear that she might bring forth a thunderbolt stronger than his own; therefore the son of Kronos . . . swallowed her down of a sudden, but she then conceived Pallas Athene, but the father of gods and men gave birth to her near the summit of Triton beside the banks of the river. But Metis herself, hidden away under the vitals of Zeus, stayed there; she was Athene's mother; worker of right actions, beyond all the gods and beyond all mortal people in knowledge; and there Athene had given to her hands what made her supreme over all other immortals who have their homes on Olympos; for Metis made that armor of Athene, terror of armies, in which Athene was born."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 20 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Zeus slept with Metis, although she turned herself into many forms in order to avoid having sex with him. When she was pregnant, Zeus took the precaution of swallowing her, because she had said that, after giving birth to the daughter presently in her womb [Athena], she would bear a son who would gain the lordship of the sky."

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see METIS


ZEUS LOVES: THEMIS

LOCALE: Mount Olympos (Home of the Gods)

Hesiod, Theogony 901 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Next [after Metis] he [Zeus] married bright Themis who bare the Horai (Seasons), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moirai (Fates) to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Klotho, and Lakhesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have."

Pindar, Olympian Ode 13 str1 - ant1 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Eunomia and that unsullied fountain Dike (Justice), her sister, sure support of cities; and Eirene (Peace) of the same kin, who are the stewards of wealth for mankind - three glorious daughters of wise-counselled Themis."

Pindar, Fragment 30 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"First did the Moirai (Fates) in their golden chariot bring heavenly Themis, wise in counsel, by a gleaming pathway from the springs of Okeanos to the sacred stair of Olympos, there to be the primal bride of the Saviour Zeus. And she bare him the Horai (Seasons) with golden fillet and gleaming fruit,--the Horai that are ever true."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"With Themis, the daughter of Ouranos (Heaven), he [Zeus] fathered his daughters the Horai (Seasons), by name Eirene, Eunomia, and Dike; also the Moirai (Fates), called Klotho, Lakhesis, and Atropos."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 114 :
"Herakles continued by foot through the Illyrians' land and hurried on to the Eridanos river where he found the Nymphai who were daughters of Zeus and Themis."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 17. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[Beside images of Zeus and Hera in the temple of Hera at Olympia:] The figures of Horai (Seasons) next to them, seated upon thrones, were made by the Aiginetan Smilis. Beside them stands an image of Themis, as being mother of the Horai."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Jove [Zeus] and Themis [were born]: Horae."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 183 :
"The names of the Horae, daughters of Jove [Zeus], son of Saturn [Kronos], and Themis, daughter Titanidis, are these: Auxo, Eunomia (Order), Pherusa, Carpo (Fruit), Dice (Justice), Euporia, Irene (Peace), Orthosie, Thallo."

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see THEMIS


ZEUS LOVES: EURYNOME

LOCALE: Perhaps Olympos (Home of the Gods)

Hesiod, Theogony 907 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"And [after Zeus consorted with Themis] Eurynome, the daughter of Okeanos, beautiful in form, bare him [Zeus] three fair-cheeked Kharites (Graces), Aglaia, and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thaleia, from whose eyes as they glanced flowed love that unnerves the limbs: and beautiful is their glance beneath their brows."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"And by Okeanos' daughter Eurynome he [Zeus] had the Kharites (Graces), named Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thaleia."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 156 :
"The Asopos river was born of Okeanos and Tethys . . . [but] others say of Zeus and Eurynome."

Callimachus, Aetia Fragmetn 6 (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Others said that the Titenia (Titaness) Eurynome gave birth to the Kharites (Graces)."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Jove [Zeus] and Eurynome [were born]: Gratiae (Graces)."

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see EURYNOME


ZEUS LOVES: DEMETER

LOCALE: Non-specific

Hesiod, Theogony 912 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Also he [Zeus] came to the bed of all-nourishing Demeter, and she bare white-armed Persephone whom Aidoneus carried off from her mother; but wise Zeus gave her to him."

Homer, Iliad 14. 326 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Zeus naming his dearest loves:] ‘I loved the queen Demeter of the lovely tresses.’"

In the Orphic myths Demeter and Zeus were mated in the form of serpents.

For MORE information on this Olympian goddess see DEMETER


ZEUS LOVES: MNEMOSYNE

LOCALE: Eleuther, Pieria (Northern Greece)

Hesiod, Theogony 53 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Them [the Mousai, Muses] in Pieria did Mnemosyne, who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Kronos [Zeus], a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus."

Hesiod, Theogony 915 ff :
"And again, he [Zeus, after lying with Demeter.] loved Mnemosyne with the beautiful hair: and of her the nine gold-crowned Moisai (Muses) were born."

Pindar, Isthmian Ode 6 ep3 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The deep-bosomed daughters [the Mousai, Muses] of golden-robed Mnamosyne."

Alcman, Fragment 8 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C7th B.C.) :
"Blessed Mosai (Muses), whom Mnamosyna (Memory) bore to Zeus having lain with him."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[By] Mnemosyne [Zeus fathered] the Mousai (Muses), the eldest of whom was Kalliope, followed by Kleio, Melpomene, Euterpe, Erato, Terpsikhore, Ourania, Thaleia, and Polymnia."

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 9 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Zeus made love to Mnemosyne in Pieria and became father of the Mousai (Muses)."

Orphic Hymn 77 to Mnemosyne (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Mnemosyne (Memory) . . . The consort I invoke of Zeus divine; source of the holy, sweetly speaking Mousai (Muses) nine."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Jove [Zeus] and Moneta [Mnemosyne] [were born]: Musae."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 114 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"As a shepherd [Zeus] snared Mnemosyne."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 31. 168 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Mnemosyne in the old time before us; how he [Zeus] lay by her side for nine whole nights, with eyes ever wakeful, full of passion for many children in that unresting bridal. Another allvanquishing god, winged like Hypnos (Sleep), little Eros (Love), conquered Kronides with a tiny dart."

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see MNEMOSYNE


ZEUS LOVES: LETO

LOCALE: Non-specific

Hesiod, Theogony 918 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"And Leto was joined in love with Zeus who holds the aegis, and bare Apollon and Artemis delighting in arrows, children lovely above all the sons of Heaven."

Homer, Iliad 14. 327 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Zeus recounts his favorite loves:] ‘I loved . . . glorious Leto.’"

Homer, Odyssey 11. 318 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The god [Apollon] that Zeus begot and lovely-haired Leto bore."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 21 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Leto had relations with Zeus, for which she was hounded by Hera all over the earth. She finally reached Delos and gave birth to Artemis, who thereupon helped her deliver Apollon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 140 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Jove [Zeus] lay with Latona, daughter of Polus [Koios]. When Juno [Hera] found this out, she decreed that Latona should give birth at a place where the sun did not shine. When Python knew that Latona was pregnant by Jove, he followed her to kill her. But by order of Jove the wind Aquilo [Boreas the North Wind] carried Latona away."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 4. 166 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Even Hera, goddess though she is and queen of the heavens, grudges Zeus his bastard wives on earth . . . she spared not even goddesses; because his mother was anry, Ares persecuted Leto with child in her birthpangs."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 27. 259 ff :
"[Zeus to Apollon:] ‘She [Hera] always cherishes jealousy and resentment for my loves, and attacks my children. I will not remind you of your mother's tribulation in childbirth, when Leto carried her twin burden and had to wander over the world.’"

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see LETO


ZEUS LOVES: ASTERIA

LOCALE: The Heavens

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 21 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Of the daughters of [the Titan] Koios, Asteria in the form of a quail threw herself into the sea while fleeing a sexual union with Zeus. A polis was originally named Asteria after her: later on it became Delos. The other daughter Leto had relations with Zeus, for which she was hounded by Hera all over the earth. She finally reached Delos and gave birth to Artemis, who thereupon helped her deliver Apollon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 53 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Though Jove [Zeus] loved Asterie, daughter of Titan [Koios], she scorned him. Therefore she was transformed in to the bird ortyks, which we call a quail, and he cast her into the sea. From her an island sprang up, which was named Ortygia. This was floating. Later Latona [Leto] was borne there at Jove's command by the wind Aquilo [Boreas], at the time when the Python was pursuing her, and there, clinging to an olive, she gave birth to Apollo and Diana [Artemis]. This island later was called Delos."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 108 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Asterie in the struggling eagle's clutch [Zeus' animal disguise]."

For MORE information on this Titan goddess see ASTERIA


ZEUS LOVES: APHRODITE

LOCALE: Kypros (Eastern Meditteranean) AND Lampsakos, Mysia (Anatolia)

I) ATTEMPTED RAPE APHRODITE IN KYPROS

Zeus once tried to rape Aphrodite on the island of Kypros but the goddess managed to escape his pursuit.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 611 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Wild his [Zeus’] desire had been for Kypris [Aphrodite, after her birth from the sea], when craving but not attaining he scattered his seed on the ground, and shot out the hot foam of love self-sown, where in the fruitful land horned Kypros flourished the two-coloured generation of wild creatures with horns (Pheres)."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 193 ff :
"Once when Kypris [Aphrodite] fled like the wind from the pursuit of her lascivious father [Zeus], that she might not see an unhallowed bedfellow in her own begetter, Zeus the Father gave up the chase and left the union unattempted, because unwilling Aphrodite was too fast and he could not catch her: instead of Kypris' bed, he dropt on the ground the love-shower of seed from the generative plow. Gaia (Earth) received Kronion’s fruitful dew, and shot up a strange-looking horned generation [the Kentauroi, Centaurs, of the island of Kypros]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32. 65 ff :
"I [Zeus] desired Paphia [Aphrodite], for whose sake I dropt seed in the furrow of the plowland and begat the Kentauroi (Centaurs)."

II) CURSED BIRTH OF PRIAPOS

Aphrodite later and of her own volition had an affair with Zeus, but his jealous wife Hera laid her hands upon the belly of the goddess and cursed their offspring with malformity. Their child was the ugly god Priapos.

Suidas s.v. Priapos (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Priapos: was conceived from Zeus and Aphrodite; but Hera in a jealous rage laid hands by a certain trickery on the belly of Aphrodite and readied a shapeless and ugly and over-meaty babe to be born. His mother flung it onto a mountain; a shepherd raised it up. He had genitals [rising up] above his butt."

For MORE information on this Olympian goddess see APHRODITE


ZEUS LOVES: PERSEPHONE

LOCALE: Henna, Sicily (Southern Italy) OR River Kokytos, The Underworld

In the Orphic myths, the maiden goddess Persephone was seduced by Zeus in the guise of a serpent. She bore him a son, the godling Zagreus, who, when Zeus placed him upon the throne of heaven, was attacked and dismembered by the Titanes. His heart was recovered and he was reborn through Semele as the god Dionysos. An infernal goddess named Melinoe (perhaps Hekate) was also said to have been born of their union.

Orphic Hymn 30 to Dionysos (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Thrice begotten (trigonon), Bakkheion king [Dionysos] . . . Eubouleos [Dionysos-Zagreos], whom the leaves of vines adorn, of Zeus and Persephoneia occultly born in beds ineffable."

Orphic Hymn 46 to Licnitus :
"[Dionysos-Zagreos] from Zeus' high counsels nursed by Persephoneia, and born the dread of all the powers divine."

Orphic Hymn 71 to Melinoe:
"Melinoe (the Black), saffron-veiled, terrene, who from Phersephone dread venerable queen, mixt with Zeus Kronion, arose, near where Kokytos' mournful river flows; when, under Plouton's [Haides'] semblance, Zeus divine deceived with guileful arts dark Phersephone. Hence, partly black thy limbs and partly white, from Plouton dark, from Zeus ethereal bright."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 4. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Some writers of myth, however, relate that there was a second Dionysos [Zagreos] who was much earlier in time than the one we have just mentioned. For according to them there was born of Zeus and Persephone a Dionysos who is called by some Sabazios and whose birth and sacrifices and honours are celebrated at night and in secret."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 75. 4 :
"This god [Dionysos-Zagreus] was born in Krete, men say, of Zeus and Persephone, and Orpheus has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the Titanes."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 155 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Sons of Jove [Zeus]. Liber [Dionysos-Zagreos] by Proserpina [Persephone], whom the Titanes dismembered."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 167 :
"Liber [Zagreos-Dionysos], son of Jove [Zeus] and Proserpina [Persephone], was dismembered by the Titanes, and Jove gave his heart, torn to bits, to Semele in a drink. When she was made pregnant by this [with the god Dionysos] . . . For this reason he is called Dionysus, and also ‘the one with two mothers.’"

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 114 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"As a spotted serpent [Zeus seduced] Deois [Persephone]."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 562 - 6. 168 (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Semele was kept for a more brilliant union, for already Zeus ruling on high intended to make a new Dionysos grow up, a bullshaped copy of the older Dionysos [Zagreus]; since he thought with regret of the illfated Zagreus. This was a son born to Zeus in dragonbed by Persephoneia, the consort of the blackrobed king of the underworld [Haides]; when Zeus put on a deceiving shape of many coils, as a gentle drakon twining around her in lovely curves, and ravished the maidenhood of unwedded Persephoneia; though she was hidden when all that dwelt in Olympos were bewitched by this one girl, rivals in love for the marriageable maid, and offered their dowers for an unsmirched bridal. Hermes had not yet gone to the bed of Peitho, and he offered his rod as gift to adorn her chamber. Apollon produced his melodious harp as a marriage-gift. Ares brought spear and cuirass for the wedding, and shield as bride-gift. Lemnian Hephaistos held out a curious necklace of many colours, new made and breathing still of the furnace, poor hobbler! For he had already, though unwilling, rejected his former bride Aphrodite, when he spied her rioting with Ares . . .
And father Zeus was much more bewitched by Persephoneia. When Zeus spied the virgin beauty of her shape, his eye ran ahead of him to guide all the Erotes (Loves), and could not have enough of Persephone; in his heart storms of unsleeping passion raged without ceasing, and gradually a greater furnace of the Paphian [Aphrodite] was kindled from a small spark; the gaze of lovemaddened Zeus was enslaved by the lovely breast of the goddess. Once she was amusing herself with a resplendent bronze plate, which reflected her face like a judge of beauty; and she confirmed the image of her shape by this free voiceless herald, testing the unreal form in the shadow of the mirror, and smiling at the mimic likeness. Thus Persephone gazed in the selfgraved portrait of her face, and beheld the self-impressed aspect of a false Persephoneia. Once in the scorching steam of thirsty heat, the girl would cease the loomtoilling labours of her shuttle at midday to shun the tread of the parching season, and wipe the running sweat from her face; she loosed the modest bodice which held her breast so tight, and moistened her skin with a refreshing bath, floating in the cool running stream, and left behind her threads fixt on the loom of Pallas. But she could not escape the allseeing eye of Zeus. He gazed at the whole body of Persephoneia, uncovered in her bath . . .
He - so mighty! The ruler of the universe, the charioteer of heaven, bowed his neck to desire - for all his greatness no thunderbolts, no lightnings helped him against Aphrodite in arms: he left the house of Hera, he refused the bed of Dione, he threw away the love of Deo, he fled from Themis, he deserted Leto - no charm was left for him but only union with Persephoneia.
Not the Father alone felt desire; but all that dwelt in Olympos had the same, struck by one bolt, and wooed for a union with Deo's divine daughter. Then Deo lost the brightness of her rosy face, her swelling heart was lashed by sorrows. She untied the fruitful frontlet [a wreath of corn-ears] from her head, and shook loose the long locks of hair over her neck, trembling for her girl; the cheeks of the goddess were moistened with self-running tears, in her sorrow that so many wooers had been stung with one fiery shot for a struggle of rival wooing, by maddening Eros, all contending together for their loves. From all the bounteous mother shrank, but specially she feared Hephaistos to be her daughter’s lame bedfellow . . .
All that dwelt in Olympos had the same, struck by one bolt [of desire], and wooed for a union with Deo’s divine daughter [Persephone] . . . Then Deo [Demeter] lost the brightness of her rosy face, her swelling heart was lashed by sorrows . . . She hastened with quick foot to the house of Astraios the god of prophecy [or more specifically astrology] . . . She laid her left hand on the knees of the kindly ancient, and with her right touched his deepflowing beard in supplication. She recounted all her daughter’s wooers and craved a comfortable oracle; for divinations can steal away anxieties by means of hopes to come.
Nor did old Astraios refuse. He learnt the details of the day when her only child was new born, and the exact time and veritable course of the season which gave her birth; then he bent the turning fingers of his hands and measured the moving circle of the ever-recurring number counting from hand to hand in double exchange [reckoning the number of days in the years of her life on his fingers]. He called to a servant, and Asterion lifted a round revolving sphere, the shape of the sky, the image of the universe, and laid it upon the lid of a chest. Here the ancient got to work. He turned it upon its pivot, and directed this gaze round the circle of the Zodiac, scanning in this place and that the planets and fixt stars . . .
When he had noticed everything and reckoned the circuit of the stars, he put away the ever-revolving sphere in its roomy box, the sphere with its curious surface; and in answer to the goddess he mouthed out a triple oracle of prophetic sound: ‘Fond mother Demeter, when the rays of the Moon are stolen under a shady cone and her light is gone, guard against a robber-bridegroom for Perephoneia, a secret ravisher of your unsmirched girl, if the threads of the Moirai (Fates) can be persuaded. You will see before marriage a false and secret bedfellow come unforeseen, a half-monster cunning-minded: since I perceive the western point Ares the wife-stealer [the planet Mars] walking with the Paphian [the planet Venus], and I notice the Drakon is rising beside them both . . .’
This said, he let the oracular voice sleep in his mouth. But when Demeter Sicklebearer heard the hope of coming fruits, and how one uninvited and unbetrothed was to ravish her beloved maiden girl, she groaned and smiled at once, and hastening by the paths of high heaven with despondent step. Then beside the drakon-manger she balanced the curved yoke over the two necks of the monsters, and fastened the untamed crawlers with the yokestrap, pressing their jaws about the crooktooth bit. So goldenbrown Deo in that grim car conveyed her girl hidden in a black veil of cloud. Boreas roared like thunder against the passage of the wagon, but she whistled him down with her monster-driving whip, guiding the light wings of the quick drakons as they sped horselike along the course of the wind, through the sky and round the back-reaching cape of the Libyan Ocean . . .
Looking for a stony harbourage, she alighted among the Pelorian cliffs of Threepeak Sikelia (Sicily) near the Adriatic shores, where the restless briny flood is driven towards the west and bends round like a sickle, bringing the current in a curve to southwest from the north. And in the place where that River [Anapos] had often bathed the maiden Kyane . . . she saw a neighbouring grotto like a lofty hall crowned and concealed by a roof of stone, which nature had completed with a rocky gateway and a loom of stone [stalactites] tended by the neighbouring Nymphai.
The goddess passed through the dark hall, and concealed her daughter well-secured in this hollow rock. Then she loosed the drakons from the winged car; one she placed by the jutting rock on the right of the door, one on the left beside the stone-pointed barrier of the entry, to protect Persephoneia unseen. There also she left Kalligeneia, her own fond nurse, with her baskets, and all that cleverhand Pallas [Athena] gives to make womankind sweat over their wool-spinning. Then she left her rounded chariot for the Nymphai to watch, in their lonely home among the rocks, and cut the air with her feet.
The girl busied herself in carding fleeces of wool under the sharp teeth of the iron comb. She packed the wool on the distaff, and twirling spindle with many a twist and jerk ran round and around in dancing step, as the threads were spun and drawn through the fingers. She fixed the first threads of the warp which begins the cloth, and gave them a turn round the beam, moving from end to end to and fro with unresting feet. She wove away, plying the rod and pulling the bobbin along through the threads, while she sang over the cloth to her cousin Athena the clever webster.
Ah, maiden Persephoneia! You could not find how to escape your mating! No, a drakon was your mate, when Zeus changed his face and came, rolling in many a loving coil through the dark to the corner of the maiden’s chamber, and shaking his hairy chaps: he lulled to sleep as he crept the eyes of those creatures of his own shape who guarded the door. He licked the girl’s form gently with wooing lips. By this marriage with the heavenly drakon, the womb of Persephone swelled with living fruit, and she bore Zagreus the horned baby, who by himself climbed upon the heavenly throne of Zeus and brandished lightning in his little hand, and newly born, lifted and carried thunderbolts in his tender fingers."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 31. 28 ff :
"[Hera persuades Persephone with her wiles:] ‘He [Zeus] rescued Semele’s son [Dionysos] from the flaming fire, he saved Bakkhos from the thunderbolt, while still a baby brat . . . But Zagreus the heavenly Dionysos [Persephone's son] he would not defend, when he was cut up with knives! What made me angrier still, was that Kronides gave the starry heaven to Semele for a bridegift, - and Tartaros to Persephoneia! Heaven is reserved for Apollon, Hermes lives in heaven - and you have this abode full of gloom! What good was it that he put on the deceiving shape of a serpent, and ravished the girdle of your inviolate maidenhood, if after bed he was to destroy your babe?’"

Suidas s.v. Zagreus (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Zagreus: Dionysos in poets. For Zeus, it seems, had intercourse with Persephone, and she gave birth to Dionysos Khthonios (chthonic)."

For MORE information on this chthonian goddess see PERSEPHONE


Sources:

  • Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
  • Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
  • Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th BC
  • Greek Lyric II Alcman, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th BC
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
  • The Orphic Hymns - Greek Hymns BC
  • Callimachus, Hymns - Greek C3rd BC
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
  • Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd AD
  • Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
  • Nonnos, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th AD
  • Suidas - Byzantine Lexicographer C10th AD