[Milton-L] Re: God as tyrant

rose williams rwill627 at cox.net
Fri Jul 21 09:15:00 EDT 2006

Jupiter  (Jove in the objective and possessive cases) or Jove Pater, the 
supreme god of the Roman pantheon, was somewhat different from Zeus. At the 
founding of Rome, the gods were 'numina', divine manifestations, faceless, 
formless, but very powerful. The idea of gods in human form came later, with 
the influence from Etruscans and Greeks. The Poet Ennius in the 3rd Century 
bc lists as most honored by the Romans a group of twelve Gods called Dii 
Consentes: Iuppiter, Iuno, Minerva, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, 
Mercurius, Neptunus, Volcanus, and Apollo. Their gilt statues stood in the 
Forum, later apparently in the Porticus Deorum Consentium. They were 
probably the twelve worshipped in 217 bc at a lectisternium, which 
tongue-twisting term means a banquet of the gods at which the statues of the 
gods were put upon cushions and were offered meals. Although the Etruscans 
also worshipped a main pantheon of 12 Gods, the Dii Consentes were not 
identified with Etruscan deities but rather with the Greek Olympian Gods. 
The twelve Dii Consentes were lead by the first three, Jupiter, Juno, and 
Minerva. These form the Capitoline Triad whose rites were conducted in the 
Capitoleum Vetus on the Capitoline Hill. Though he shared the great 
Capitoline temple with Juno and Minerva, but Jupiter was the most prominent 
of the three. Jupiter, or Jove Pater, in classical times corresponded in 
many aspects to Zeus. Like Zeus he wielded the lightning bolt, and the eagle 
was both his symbol and his messenger. In addition to being the ruler of the 
sky, he was also the protector of the state and its laws. As Jupiter Victor 
he led the Roman army to victory, and was the protector of the Latin League 
(an ancient confederation of Italian city-states independent but bound 
together by the necessity of defending themselves against their various 
enemies).  Before the eyebrow-raising stories about Zeus were added to his 
biography, he was a very majestic, extremely powerful, and slightly dull 
father figure.
Rose Williams

>On the question of Zeus's tyranny.  I will not speak for the Romans,
>but the Greeks thought Zeus ruled by law.  He overthrew the real
>tyrant, Cronos (who had overthrown his own father,
> and established law, dividing his kingdom between
>Poseidon and Hades (see Milton's reference in Comus, 18-20, where
>he apparently conflates Jove with God).

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