People often think that Jupiter, King of
Roman Gods, and Zeus,
King of the Greek Gods, are the same god.
But the truth is that Jupiter was as
different from Zeus as the ancient Romans were from the ancient Greeks.
The Romans worshiped thousands of gods.
As they expanded their empire, they discovered new gods from the
people they conquered. When they ran
into a god (or goddess) they liked, they adopted him (or her.) When they
heard about the
Greek gods, they adopted nearly all of them.
They gave the Greek gods Roman names, and
acted as if they had been Roman gods all along.
But they did more than that. The
ancient Romans changed some of the Greek myths to better reflect Roman beliefs. They changed
some of the Greek gods' personalities to better reflect the Roman way of
life. This did not happen overnight.
In Roman mythology, for example, Jupiter rarely,
if ever, came down to earth. He ruled from the heavens above, and his
word was final. (The Greek God Zeus, on the other hand, was forever showing up on
earth in disguise, and had a great time doing it. He was terrified of
his wife Hera, and somewhat ruled himself by the Fates.)
the Queen of all the Roman Gods, was motherly. Her job was to watch
over the women of Rome. When she wasn't doing that, she was busy with her own children
and her own household. (Hera, the Queen of all the Greek gods, was
jealous and petty. When she wasn't keeping an eagle eye on Zeus, she
was plotting against any god or mortal who had angered
The truth about myths
is that they change with the storyteller, the civilization, the
times, and the translation.
the Greek myths were so wonderful that the ancient Roman storytellers
and poets and writers might change some them, to bring them closer to
the Roman way of life, but overall, they left
quite a few of them very close to the way they found them, and treated
the ancient Greek myths as great stories, which indeed they are!