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4. The national Hellenic Zeus, near whose temple at Olympia in Elis, the great national panegyris was celebrated every fifth year. There too Zeus was regarded as the father and king of gods and men, and as the supreme god of the Hellenic nation, His statue there was executed by Pheidias, a few years before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war, the majestic and sublime idea for this statue having been suggested to the artist by the words of Homer, Hom. Il. 1.527. (Comp. Hygin. Fab. 223.) According to the traditions of Elis, Cronos was the first ruler of the country, and in the golden age there was a temple dedicated to him at Olympia. Rhea, it is further said, entrusted the infant Zeus to the Idaean Dactyls, who were also called Curetes, and had come from mount Ida in Crete to Elis. Heracles, one of them, contended with his brother Dactyls in a footrace, and adorned the victor with a wreath of olive. In this manner he is said to have founded the Olympian games, and Zeus to have contended with Cronos for the kingdom of Elis. (Paus. 5.7.4.)

The Greek and Latin poets give to Zeus an immense number of epithets and surnames, which are derived partly from the places where he was worshipped, and partly from his powers and functions. He was worshipped throughout Greece and her colonies, so that it would be useless and almost impossible to enumerate all the places. The eagle, the oak, and the summits of mountains were sacred to him, and his sacrifices generally consisted of goats, bulls and cows. (Hom. Il. 2.403; Aristot. Ethic. 5.10, 9.2; Verg. A. 3.21, 9.627.) His usual attributes are, the sceptre, eagle, thunderbolt, and a figure of Victory in his hand, and sometimes also a cornucopia. The Olympian Zeus sometimes wears a wreath of olive, and the Dodonaean Zeus a wreath of oak leaves. In works of art Zeus is generally represented as the omnipotent father and king of gods and men, according to the idea which had been embodied in the statue of the Olympian Zeus by Pheidias. (Müller, Anc. Art and its Rem. §§ 349-351.)


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