Zeus: Casanova of the Gods?
If Zeus had a online dating profile, he’d list his relationship status as, “It’s complicated.” He married his sister, Hera, after he killed Cronus, their father. After that unconventional start to his love life, he went on to make a conquest of just about any female that caught his eye.
Ultimately, mortal Greeks were held responsible for their own fates and actions, even when their downfalls were caused by outside forces they couldn’t control. Zeus’s many indiscretions were just one aspect of his capricious presence in Greek mythology, but they were certainly destructive to the women he became involved with.
Zeus pursued numerous beautiful women, nymphs, and goddesses, and there were a lot of demigods running around as a result of his poor impulse control. Among them were Hercules, who had to survive the wrath of Hera, and Helen of Troy, who caused some trouble of her own.
One of Zeus’s favored tactics was to turn into an animal to fool the maiden he was after. He turned himself into a swan to seduce Leda (yes, as a swan), and a white bull to do the same to Europa (ditto). He used similar tactics to try to hide his affairs from his wife, like when he turned poor Io into a cow to try to hide her from Hera.
Remarkably, Hera would punish the woman instead of putting blame where it belonged. Zeus did wield the thunderbolt and rule the gods, so she may have had no option to punish the god himself, but she also showed no compassion towards his victims or their offspring. At the same time, Zeus did little to save his mistresses from Hera’s wrath.
Overall, Zeus was the kind of god a girl hoped to avoid. If he was after a woman, nothing would stop him – including the woman saying no. It seems women were held responsible for being victims, even when their ravisher was none other than the king of the gods. One wonders what they were supposed to do when an amorous god had them in their sights.