Some Th(o)rsday Quotes for Zeus

For one thunder-loving god on another’s special day, some quotes from our Archive about Zeus where we learn that only he is free, that he has medicine for everything and that he is truly self-aware.


Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 50


“No one is free but Zeus”


ἐλεύθερος γὰρ οὔτις ἐστὶ πλὴν Διός.


This from Hermes speaking to Prometheus


Homer, Odyssey 14.58-59


… πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες

ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε

γίνεται ἡμετέρη·


“All strangers and beggars are from Zeus;

Our gift to them is small but dear.”

Stobaeus, 1.1.16

“Only Zeus has medicine for everything”

Ζεὺς πάντων αὐτὸς φάρμακα μοῦνος ἔχει

Stobaeus, wise man, collector of things

Ion of Chios, fr. 55

“Know yourself” is not a hard command:
but of all the gods only Zeus can do it.

τὸ γνῶθι σαυτὸν τοῦτ’ ἔπος μὲν οὐ μέγα,
ἔργον δ’ ὅσον Ζεὺς μόνος ἐπίσταται θεῶν

zeus20with20thunderbolt_1The Zeus I know doesn’t seem all that self-aware…

(Ion’s the dude from Chios)

The Death of Odysseus by Feces: Aeschylus, fragment (275 R; 478a1-5)

According  to Aeschylus’ fragmentary Psychagogoi, Teiresias prophesied to Odysseus that his death would come from the sea in an avarian fecal format:

         <ΤΕΙΡΕΣ.> ‘ἐρρω<ι>διὸς γὰρ ὑψόθεν ποτώμενος

         ὄνθω<ι> σε πλήξε<ι>, νηδύιος χειλώμασιν.

         ἐκ τοῦ δ’ ἄκανθα ποντίου βοσκήματος

         σήψει παλαιὸν δέρμα καὶ τριχορρυές’.


“As a heron flies on high, he will strike you with shit from his stomach’s end.

And the thorns from that watery food will rot your old and balding skin.”


This may correspond to the Odyssey‘s cryptic note that “death will come from the sea”. For a great discussion, see Timothy Gantz. Early Greek Myth. 1993. 711-712.


(If only there were a vase painting.)

Aeschylus, Fragment 400b (Philoctetes)


“Where the wind allows you neither to stay nor to escape.”



‘ἔνθ’ οὔτε μίμνειν ἄνεμος οὔτ’ ἐ<κ>πλεῖν ἐᾶι’.

A remnant of Aeschylus’ version of Philoctetes. The phrase refers to the title figure’s lonely island.

Aeschylus, Fragment 288.3 (Judgment of the Arms)


“True words are simple ones.”


‘ἁπλᾶ γάρ ἐστι τῆς ἀληθείας ἔπη’.


This is from the fragmentary lost play Judgment of the Arms which covers some of the same ground as Sophocles’ Ajax. The line, it seems, is posed against the trickier and more devious language of Odysseus. Simple words, as many know, can merely be a different rhetorical ploy…