Zeus was the king of the Olympian gods and the supreme deity in Greek religion. Often referred to as the Father, as the god of thunder and "cloud collector", he controlled the weather, offered signs and omens, and generally dispensed justice, ensuring order between the gods and mankind from his seat atop Mt. Olympus.
Zeus's father was Cronos and his mother, Rhea. Cronus had usurped control of the heavens from his father's Urano and was constantly wary that he did not do the same for his own children. To prevent any takeover, he swallowed them all: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. However, Rhea saved her youngest son Zeus by wrapping a stone in a sash and giving it to Cronos to swallow. Zeus was taken to Mount Dikti on the island of Crete where he was raised by the primitive goddess Gaia (Earth), or in some versions by nymphs. Among them was the Nymph Amalthea (in some versions of the myth she was a goat) who nursed the young god.
As an important figure in Greek religion, Zeus had an oracle, the oldest in fact, at Dodona in northern Greece, where ascetic priests served an oracle who interpreted the sounds of the wind in the branches of the sacred trees of the oak and the babbling water of the holy spring. There was another great sanctuary dedicated to Zeus at Olympia, where every four years, beginning in 776 BC, the Olympic Games drew crowds from all parts of the Greek world to honor the father of the gods, and where 100 oxen were sacrificed to Zeus at the end. of each game. Also at Olympia, the massive 5th-century B.C. of Zeus housed the gigantic gold and ivory statue of the god of Phidias, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Other important sacred sites for the god were on Mt. Lycaios, in Athens, Nemea, Pergamum, Stratos, and Libya.