How many children did Zeus have that were gods? How many were there? I know that the 9 Muses were fathered by Zeus, as well as some of the Olympians (Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus, Athena, Ares, and Hermes), and Persephone. I want to know all the minor gods fathered by Zeus.


1 Answer 1


Going by the most conservatively "mainstream" accounts of the myths, I count at least fifty-two divine offspring of Zeus, and if we were to expand that to include all the variant traditions of the genealogy out there, the number increases to at least 107, and, really, perhaps up to infinity in either case.

The reason for the infinity count is that, according to Homer's Iliad, a major source for the mainstream genealogy, the Litai [Litae] are daughters of Zeus (see Line 940 of Book 9). The Litai are the personifications of prayers of repentance. Neither Homer, nor Quintus Smyrnaeus, who follows the Iliad in naming the Litai as Zeus's offspring (see The Fall of Troy 10.300), gives us a number for these spirits, thus leaving us to guess at what that might be. Going by my own conjecture, I imagine that prayers would be innumerable.

On the other end of the spectrum from the mainstream, Antoninus Liberalis' Metamorphoses, a fairly late source from somewhere between 100 and 300 AD (in contradistinction to Homer, who is considered one of the earliest mythographers, from sometime between 800 and 700 BC), makes a statement to effect that "the nymphs" are the daughters of Zeus (see Ch. 22).

Carlos Parada, on his website the Greek Mythology Link, appears to understand Antoninus as referring here to all nymphs in general. Meanwhile Theoi.com, on the other hand, has it such that the Metamorphoses are indicating, rather, the nymphs of Mt Othrys in Malis in northern Greece specifically. Either way, their total number remains unmentioned, leaving that component of the matter indeterminate.

We do know of other nymphs occurring by name as Zeus's offspring, including Britomartis, the goddess of fishing; Adrasteia, who usually, however, is known as one of the nurses of the infant Zeus; and Aigle [Aegle], who occurs in certain accounts as the mother by Helios of the Kharites [Charites], who are minor goddesses of grace and beauty.

Boticelli's Primavera 3 Graces
Detail of The Three Graces from Sandro Boticelli's Primavera

The Kharites themselves, however, in the commonest version of the genealogy, are the daughters of Zeus and of the Oceanid Eurynome. Usually there are three of them, named Thaleia, Aglaia and Euphrosyne, but then there are other versions which have more of them or fewer, with varying names and functions. Commonly the most mainstream three Kharites make up part of the retinue of the much greater Olympian beauty-goddess Aphrodite, who is either Zeus's daughter, or the by-product of the castration of the sky-god Ouranos [Uranus] from the time before Zeus's own birth.

According to the Souda [Suda], the ithyphallic god Priapos [Priapus] was a son of Zeus and Aphrodite; and Virgil is cited by the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology as saying that Aphrodite also bore Eros, the mischievous godling of love, to Zeus.

The 9 Daughters of Mnemosyne + the 6 [or 9, or 12, or 15] Daughters of Themis

According to Theoi.com, the three prophetic pebble-nymphs called the Thriai [Thriae] in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes "may have been identified with" certain otherwise unnamed nymphs encountered by Herakles [Hercules] at the River Eridanos [Eridanus], and perhaps also by his ancestor Perseus a few generations earlier, and who are said, in Apollodorus' Library 2.5.11, to have been daughters of Zeus and Themis.

The three Moirai [Moerae], the goddesses of fate, and the three Horai [Horae], who personified the seasons, are generally also known as daughters of Zeus and Themis. Going by Theoi.com's analysis of the Thriai, Themis would therefore have borne to Zeus three different sets of triplet goddesses. This would then form a sort of parallel to the nonuplet (nine) Muses that Themis's sister Mnemosyne bore to Zeus during her own marriage to the king of the gods.

Prince Alexander von der Mark Grave 3 Moirai
Detail of The Three Moirai from the Tomb of Prince Alexander von der Mark, by Johann Gottfried Schadow

Like the Kharites, in some sources, the Horai also otherwise occur numbering—instead of three—as two, or four, or twelve. But even when they total out to three, rather than their usual names of Eunomia, Dike and Eirene, they might be quite different characters, bearing alternate names.

Another set of nymphs from Herakles' adventures, namely the Hesperides, are usually said to have been daughters of the Titan Atlas, and similarly to the Horai, they variously occur as a trio, a quartet or a septet. According to Servius' Commentary on Virgil's Aeneid, there were three of them, named Aigle, Erytheia and Hesperethoosa, and they were daughters of Zeus and Themis, making up yet a fourth set of triplets born to this couple.

The virgin Titan goddess Astraia [Astraea] is usually the daughter of the Titans Astraios [Astraeus] and Eos, but in Hyginus' Poetica Astronomica 2.25, she is yet one more daughter of Zeus and Themis. I am unable to trace the sources I once came across for the interpretations that Aidos, the personification of modesty (otherwise named as a daughter of the Titan Prometheus), and Adikia, the personification of injustice, were also daughters of Zeus and Themis. If these were counted together they would incidentally make a fifth set of three daughters of the same couple.

Selene's 3 Daughters + 6 Abstractions

The district of Nemea in Argolis was named after the goddess Nemea, whom Theoi.com says was a Naiad. Nemea and her sisters Pandeia and Ersa were daughters of Zeus by the moon-goddess Selene. Pindar's Nemean Ode says that Tykhe [Tyche], the goddess of fortune, is the daughter of Zeus Eleuthereios, "the Liberator," while in another place Pindar tells us that Khrysos [Chrysus], the personification and god of gold, is a son of Zeus. In Pindar's Olympian Ode, Alatheia, the personification of truth, is Zeus's daughter, as also is Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, in Fragment 8 of the Homeric Cypria.

According to Homer's Iliad, Atë, the personification of blind folly and reckless impulse, was Zeus's eldest daughter.

Zeus Casting Atë Out of Heaven
Zeus Casting His Daughter Atë Out of Heaven

Pausanias' Description of Greece says that Kairos [Caerus], the personification and god of opportunity, was the youngest divine offspring of Zeus.

Tyrian and Egyptian Deities, and Apotheosised Mortals

Diodorus Siculus tells us that Herakles, the son of Zeus and Alkmene [Alcmene], was the last and final child borne to the king of the gods by a mortal woman. After his own death as a mortal, he became a god on Mt Olympos [Olympus], where he officially bore the title Olympios, "Olympian" (Library of History 4.15.1).

Héraclès Cour Carrée Louvre
Héraclès, by Philippe-Laurent Roland, droite part of the West Façade of the Cour Carrée of the Louvre, Paris

Herakles' descendant Alexander the Great, however, was notoriously claimed, even during his lifetime, to have been the offspring of Zeus rather than the son of King Philip II of Makedonia [Macedon]. When he conquered Egypt he was enthroned as the son of Ammon-Ra. The African god Ammon, who formed part of this combination-deity, was equated by the Greeks with their Zeus. After Alexander's death, his successor as Pharaoh, Ptolemy I, venerated the deceased Makedonian conqueror as a god in a major cult whose institution in Egypt lasted for the next three centuries.

In his work On Animals, Aelian mentions the Greek notion that the Naiad Io, an ancestress of Herakles and of Alexander, became the Egyptian goddess Aset [Isis], while Epaphos [Epaphus], Io's son by Zeus, became the Apis bull, which was a very important god in the same country.

The Greeks referred to the Phoenician god Melqart as Herakles. The Roman writer Cicero identifies this Herakles as a child of Zeus who is different from the Theban son of Alkmene. This Phoenician Herakles, Cicero claims in De Natura Deorum, is the son of Zeus by the Titan Asteria.

Like Herakles, the twin Dioskouroi [Dioscuri], "Zeus's Boys," named Kastor [Castor] and Polydeukes [Polydeuces], grew up as mortal heroes before joining the gods on Mt Olympos. There are two versions of their parentage, in both of which they are said to have been twins. Either both of them were the sons of Zeus by the mortal queen Leda, or Polydeukes was Zeus's child while Kastor's father was Leda's husband Tyndareus.

In the same story from the Cypria which tells us that Nemesis was Zeus's daughter, the goddess is raped by her own father after each of them has taken the form of a bird. Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, who later on is the cause of the Trojan War, results from this forced union, and she is raised by Queen Leda as the sister of the Dioskouroi.

In most accounts, however, Leda is Helen's biological mother. Either way, Helen, after her mortal lifetime, came to be worshipped on the island of Rhodes as Dendritis, a goddess of trees, as well as in other cults, such as one in Attika [Attica] dedicated both to herself and to her brothers, and in certain locations in their native Lakonia [Laconia], whose queen she had been.

The Children of Hera, Demeter, Kore-Persephone, and Semele

By his seventh and final wife Hera, Zeus is generally known to have become the father of Hebe, the personification of youth; Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth; of the war-god Ares; and of the smith-god Hephaistos. There are, however, Greek myths making it out that Hephaistos actually had no father, and Roman myths to the effect that Ares and Hebe were not engendered through the power of male seed either.

Ricci Hydria Hebe & Herakles
Detail from Ricci Hydria showing Hebe bringing Herakles to Olympos from Earth upon his apotheosis

A number of Greek sources name Hera as Eileithyia's mother without mentioning Zeus, although this need not necessarily mean that her paternity is as dubious a proposition as that of the other children of the queen of the gods. Eileithyia is frequently referred to in plural form, as the Eileithyiai, making it such that there were at least two such daughters of Hera in addition to the other aforementioned siblings.

In the Iliad, Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, is referred to as "the sister and companion of murderous Ares", suggesting that she must be a daughter of Zeus and Hera. The war-goddess Enyo is either another sister of Ares or merely a form of Eris.

Hekate, the goddess of witchcraft, typically occurs as the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria, but there are versions of her parentage in which she is the daughter, rather, of Zeus either by Asteria or by Hera or Demeter. As the daughter of Zeus and Demeter she would be the sister of her fellow Underworld goddess Persephone.

The wine-god Dionysos [Dionysus], in his Orphic incarnation prior to his birth as the son of Zeus by the Kadmeian princess Semele, was a shape-shifting baby god named Zagreus, in whose myth he commonly appears as the son of Kore by her own father Zeus. (Kore is the name borne by Persephone before she becomes Queen of the Underworld.) Zagreus is otherwise named as son of Zeus and Demeter.

According to the Orphic Hymn to Melinoe, Persephone bore her own father Zeus a nymph named Melinoe, whom Theoi.com defines as "a frightful underworld goddess who presided over propitiations offered to the ghosts of the dead." According to Wikipedia, she was "represented as a bringer of nightmares and madness."

Olympians, Rivers, and Other Major and Minor Divinities

Theoi.com identifies Iasion, a son of Zeus by the Pleïad Elektra [Electra], as some sort of minor agricultural deity, a "Demi-God of the Samothracian Mysteries", based, apparently, on his association with Demeter. According to Diodorus Siculus, Harmonia, the goddess of harmony, otherwise known as the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, was the daughter of Zeus and Elektra. Iasion's wife the Phrygian goddess Kybele [Cybele], says Pausanias, was originally born as a double-gendered being called Agdistis, after the Phrygian sky-god Dios (identified with Zeus) had impregnated the Earth.

From the top ranks of the pantheon, you have already made note of Apollon [Apollo], Artemis, Athena, and Hermes. The part-goat woodland god Pan is usually named as a son of Hermes but in Apollodorus' Library 1.4.1 he occurs as a son of Zeus. Aigipan [Aegipan], another part-goat deity, closely associated with the great Pan, is usually said to be Zeus's son, although Oppian's Halieutica has him as Hermes' offspring.

Hermes & Aigipan - Zeus Rescue
Hermes and Aigipan Rescuing Their Father Zeus from a Dragon ✭✭

The Palikoi [Palici] were, as described by Theoi.com, "twin demi-gods (daimones) of the geysers and hot-springs of Palakia (Palacae) in Sicily", and they were the sons either of Zeus or Hephaistos.

Two groups of mysterious minor gods, the Korybantes [Corybantes] and the Idaean Dactyls, who are often confused or identified with each other, are associated with Kybele and Iasion, and are mentioned as having helped to rear Zeus when he was a baby. Strabo's Geography 10.3.19, however, names the Korybantes as the sons of Zeus by his own daughter the Muse Kalliope [Calliope].

Strabo doesn't say how many of them there are supposed to have been, but Nonnus' Dionysiaca names nine brothers who may or may not be equated with the Korybantes, or the Dactyls or the Kouretes [Curetes]. From the jumble of different traditions concerning the Dactyls, it seems that there may have been three, five or nine of them. The number five is attractive in their case because their name means "Fingers," thus corresponding to the digits on one human hand.

Finally, there are six rivers said, in some places, to have been Zeus' offspring, although the rivers generally are children of the Titan Okeanos [Oceanus]. In Apollodorus' Library, Asopos [Asopus] is the son of Zeus by Okeanos' daughter Eurynome, which would make him the brother of the three Kharites. The other five are Lamos [Lamus]; Istros [Ister], known today as the Danube; the Lydian river Paktolos [Pactolus]; the Colchian river Phasis; and the Trojan river Skamandros [Scamander], who is also known as Xanthos [Xanthus].

Further Reading

I'm yet to come across a completely comprehensive listing of every last one of Zeus's [divine] children in one spot, like I've tried to achieve here, but the following come pretty close. My collection of personages in this Answer is in part compiled from these sources. (The lists you'll find among these will include both mortal and divine offspring, not necessarily organised distinctly.)

  • The Greek Mythology Link article on Zeus (see the bottom of the page, under the heading "Family")
  • Wikipedia's list-tables of Zeus's Children
  • Theoi.com's Zeus Family page (which does in fact list Zeus's Divine Offspring separately from his mortal children)
  • There is also, in book format, an extremely comprehensive family tree of the characters from Greco-Roman mythology, which covers the various versions of the deities named in this Answer:
    A Genealogical Chart of Greek Mythology, Comprising 3,673 Named Figures of Greek Mythology, All Related to Each Other Within a Single Family of 20 Generations, Compiled by Harold Newman & Jon O. Newman (The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill & London, 2003)


✭ Peter (petrus.agricola). March 28, 2021, "T26 - Zeus, majestically seated on an eagle, clouds beneath feet, banishes his daughter Ate ( discord ) from heaven 4bs – Gnaios," plaster cast of a gem - Oxford; Beazley Gem database, viewed 20 December 2021, https://www.flickr.com/photos/28433765@N07/51078137382/

✭✭ Peter (petrus.agricola). March 28, 2021, "T24 - Hermes & Aegipan sending to sleep the enormous dragon which guards the cave of Corycus & deliver Zeus 4bs – Kromos," plaster cast of a gem - Oxford; Beazley Gem database, viewed 20 December 2021, https://www.flickr.com/photos/28433765@N07/51078138322/

  • 1
    This is an amazing answer, thanks!
    – Semaphore
    Dec 23, 2021 at 5:24

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