If you’re not familiar with old methodology, it might be hard to know what god comes from where. One such confusion is between Odin and Zeus, given that they are among the most notable or mentioned gods in modern-day works. They have inspired great works, from music to art and even poetry.
In this article, we’ll endeavor to give you detailed accounts about these two gods, Odin and Zeus. When you’re through, you’ll understand their origin, what makes them still relevant now centuries after they came about, and an understanding of their similarities and differences. Let’s dive in.
Odin is a revered good in both Germanic and Norse mythology. He is associated with a lot of facets in life from wisdom, knowledge, death, healing, victory, war, sorcery, and even poetry, among others. From the surviving information about him, he is also said to be the husband of the goddess Frigg. She is associated with the day of the week Friday. As for Odin, the name Wednesday does also bear his name. The story of Odin has survived for centuries, dating back into 12 BCE all the way into the Viking age between the 8th and 11th centuries. Even then, stories of the same among Germanic people survive.
Old Norse text has images of what they believed Odin to look like. He had one eye, the right one, and a long-beard. The god is also depicted holding a spear named Gungnir, and wore a large hut and a cloak. He is very reminiscent of the character Gandalf in the fictional Harry Porter, of whom he was the inspiration for the role. He was said to walk around with animals and familiars, which are, according to folklore, animals that helped witches and others in their endeavors. In this case, they would bring messages to Odin from all over. The legend also goes that Odin flew on an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir.
Perhaps what makes Odin well know is his exploits in seeking greater knowledge and also being part of the creation of the world. After slaying a primordial being, he gave the life as a gift to the first humans, Ask and Embla. Odin is also considered a cultural hero as being the pioneer or runes and poetry. In old English and Norse texts, you’ll find that this god is associated with some forms of magic and charms.
There is not much known about where Odin came from; it was aid that he was from elsewhere. Even then, in the 16th century, the government and historians of the then Sweden agreed to say that he was the first king to rule their country. Early scholars also thought Odin to be the god of the wind and the god of death as well. He was said to use Sleipnir to ride down to the underworld. Even then, there are more than 170 names discovered that all refer to Odin.
In ancient Greek religion, Zeus is the god of sky and thunder, and he also rules over other gods, residing in Mount Olympus. Something to note is that he is the Roman equivalent of the deity Jupiter. His parents were also gods, Cronus, and Rhea. Later, Zeus is said to have married Hera, his sister, since they shared the same parents, the goddess of women, family, marriage, and childbirth.
Perhaps what makes Zeus infamous is his erotic adventures. Away from Hera, he is said to have fathered a lot of other children, including Helen of Troy, Heracles, Hermes, Apollo, and Artemis. Even with that, he was considered the sky “Father.” Zeus’ work was to assign roles to the other gods. Even those he had not fathered would still give him this honorary title. Other gods would also stand at his presence.
The symbols for Zeus include the thunderbolt, oak, bull, and eagle. You will notice that a lot of Greek artists either draw him with a bolt of lightning raised in his right hand, seated as a king, or standing. Another interesting aspect of Zeus is that his mother, Rhea, saved him from his own father. The narrative goes that he heard from an oracle that just as he overthrew his father Uranus, the same thing would happen to him. Thus, when his first six children were born, he swallowed them.
Zeus escaped because his mother gave him away to be raised on earth. They are different stories about how he survived form Cronus, given he was the ruled over the earth, heavens, and the sea. His mother gave Cronus a rock wrapped in bundles, which the father swallowed. It was Zeus, upon reaching manhood, that he was able to disgorge his siblings from Cronus’s stomach. From there, they defeated their father and the Titans, and, along with his brothers, Zeus took the role their father once did.
Throughout history, Zeus is not entirely viewed as a friend to humans. In one narrative, with the help of his brother Poseidon, the god of water, he flooded the earth and left only two survivors. The reason was Zeus was appalled by human sacrifice and other things that humans did, which he considered moral decay and social decadence. Even after it was aid, he used violence to get something to go his way and generally made life hard for humans. When lightning hit, it was said that it was Zeus merely using his weapon against humans.
What is the difference between Odin and Zeus?
Here, we’ll look at the things that make Odin and Zeus similar and different. With an understanding of each segment, distinguishing the two based on their mythology becomes easier.
They are gods: Odin and Zeus were deities, both having a role in how matters on the earth played out. Zeus was the god of the sky but also played a part over the issues of the earth along with his siblings. Odin, on the other hand, had a lot of roles with regards to his interactions with the people in the world.
They had different names: Both these gods had a lot of different names from them. It has been the work of early historians and scholars to put the names together. These names came about with time, and also different writings over the ages that talk about them.
Played a role in human life: Odin is said to have gifted the first two humans on earth with life. Both were tasked then on with populating the earth. Zeus decided to start the world anew with one man and woman so that they could repopulate the earth because he detested how the humans were living.
Origin of the mythology: Odin mythology comes from ancient Norse and Germanic people, while that of Zeus is from the Greeks. However, it is not known when the narrative of Zeus began, but those of Odin started around 12BCE.
Humans feared Zeus: Odin was considered a god over a lot of things, including wisdom, life, war, knowledge, and other facets. For that reason, he was revered by men and women and held in high esteem. On the other hand, Zeus is said to have terrorized humankind using violence and his infamous thunderbolt to enforce what he wanted.
Odin was a one-person show: While Zeus had many siblings, the same was not the case for Odin. He relied on familiars to help him in his quests while Zeus was the one calling the shots at Mount Olympus, so much so that he assigned duties to the other gods. There are generally a lot of narratives that show that Zeus got help in running the affairs of both gods and humans while Odin did everything alone.
Zeus had many offspring: Zeus was notorious for taking different life forms so that he could bed his prey. From there, he got many offspring, all of whom were perhaps aware that he was their father but only got to stay on earth as their father ruled from the skies. In short, he was adulterous, given that he was married to Hera. On the other hand, there is no record of Odin having a wife or children. He merely seemed dedicated to humans.
Different personalities: Based on the content that is available about both gods, it is easier to see that Odin appeared to be more composed in his ways. He was systematic in his work and contributed a lot of things to humans, including runes and poetry. Zeus, on the other side, had two extremes, being a punisher in one moment and a peacemaker in the other.
Odin and Zeus are not the same; they don’t even hail from the same era or people. Knowing about them and their mythology behind them makes you more informed about the gods that ruled the past and the impact they’ve had on us today with regards to how we perhaps view deity.
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