Cook, Arthur B.
Zeus: a study in ancient religion (Band 1): Zeus god of the bright sky — Cambridge, 1914

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§ g. General Conclusions with regard to Zeus as god of the

Bright Sky.

Having advanced thus far in our main enquiry we must pause
to take our bearings afresh. A brief survey of the ground already
traversed will enable us to apprehend better the position that we
have reached, and will fittingly close the first stage of our

Zeus, whose name means 'the Bright One,' was originally con-
ceived in zoTstic fashion as the bright sky itself—a conception that
has left its mark on the language and literature of ancient Greece1.

The change from the zoistic to the anthropomorphic Zeus was
occasioned, not by any despair of magic, but rather by a naive
attempt to express heaven in terms of earth. The divine sky, as
supreme weather-maker, was represented under the guise of an
ordinary human magician or weather-ruling king2. This transition,
which had been accomplished well before the end of the second
millenium B.C., meant that Zeus was no longer worshipped as the
sky but as the sky-god. Yet his earlier character can still be
surmised from the cult-titles and art-types of a more sophisticated
age. Behind Zeus Aitherios and Zeus Azthrios, if not also behind
Zeus Amdrios, Zeus Dzos, and Zeus Lykaios, we detect the old-
world cult of the day-light sky3. Again, when Hellenistic artists
portray Zeus with a blue nimbus round his head4, a blue globe at
his feet5, a blue mantle wrapped about his loins6, what are these
attributes, taken together, but an indication that the god so por-
trayed was once the blue sky and the blue sky only ?

As god of the bright or burning sky, Zeus dwelt in aither,
the most exalted portion of the celestial vault7. And, since high
mountains were supposed to rise above the lower zone of aer and
to penetrate the upper zone of aither, mountain-tops were regarded
as in a peculiar sense the abode of Zeus8. His mountain-cults can
be classified in a roughly chronological series according as they
involved a mere altar, or an altar with a statue of the god, or an
altar with a statue enclosed in a temple9. Further, the mountain
that dominated the district was often looked upon as his throne —
a prerogative that he appears to have inherited from Hittite pre-
decessors10. Mythology associated Zeus with the mountain in a
variety of ways. There he had been born11. There he consorted

1 Supra pp. 1—8. 2 Supra pp. 9—14. 3 Supra pp. 4, 14—33, 63—99.

4 Supra pp. 33—41. 3 Supra pp. 41—56. 6 Supra pp. 56—62.

7 Supra p. 25 f 8 Supra pp. 100—117. 9 Supra pp. 117—123.

10 Supra, pp. 124—148. 11 Supra pp. 148—154.
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