Zeus swallowed his wife Metis, titan of Wisdom, because he feared the prophecy that a son between the two of them would overrule him. It is then said that Metis became the source of Zeus's wisdom. Perhaps it's just my undeveloped sense, but, from all that I've read, I don't really see any wisdom from him, like, at all.

When has he shown Wisdom in his actions?

2 Answers 2


When he didn't destroy the world by with lightning bolts after his run-in with Lycaon because of a prophecy that the universe would be destroyed by fire (instead using flood):

And now his thunder bolts would Jove wide scatter, but he feared the flames, unnumbered, sacred ether might ignite and burn the axle of the universe: and he remembered in the scroll of fate, there is a time appointed when the sea and earth and Heavens shall melt, and fire destroy the universe of mighty labour wrought.
SOURCE: Metamorphoses, P. Ovidius Naso, 1.253 ff

I'm sure there are other examples of Zeus being wise, but Zeus was known for scheming more than wisdom, in my recollection.

  • So his only reason for not using his bolts is fear? May 2, 2018 at 1:17
  • In this one case, according to Ovid. (Apologies for the limited answer. I'm sure there are more examples, just that very little of my research subsequent to university involves Zeus' stories. [I'd highly recommend the compendium "The Greek Myths" (Graves) because he aggregates all of the stories and includes an extensive index. It's still the best resource in terms of comprehensive treatment of the canon, imho, and my first stop when running down citations for uncited material on the internet.])
    – DukeZhou
    May 3, 2018 at 17:42

It's been 3 years but better late than never. Zeus wisdom was always present either within his judgement or by Athena's voice.

We should remember that Metis is the expression of something people had in mind at that time. As always myths are made by people and myths many times represent ideas people of that time had. Metis personifies a set of skills.

J.P Vernant, a French Scientist did a huge research on Metis. Maybe reading his book might enlighten you, because Metis as an entity is wrongly taken as just the godess of wisdom. Wisdom as a term is wrong. Metis is a way of thinking. A way of thinking including trickster, wisdom, skill, engineering and many many other skills that come up to efficient problem solving.

Zeus efficiently cheating Hera alone, proves Metis presence. Nobody said that Zeus uses Metis wisely but nobody can say the opposite either. Who can defy his choices? His actions brought Hermes, Dionysus, Artemis and Apollo to the Pantheon. Not to mention Herakles. It was probably part of what other religions say "part of a divine plan".

I admit that it is a good question though.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.