Thunder and lightning are some of Zeus’ most powerful weapons, and are symbolic of his total command over both the realm of the gods and the human world. Hesiod emphasizes that “his is the thunder and the smoking bolt” because of Zeus’ continued dominance as the king of the gods; even the epithet “loud-thundering” reveals Zeus’ towering power and supremacy. This power was given to Zeus by the Cyclopes, and Zeus uses it to maintain control over his subjects. In particular, he utilizes thunder and lightning to defeat Typhoeus before he can pose a threat to his rule.
Like the sickle, thunder and lightning also symbolize the intimate link between the natural and divine worlds. Thunder and lightning accompany rain, which is essential and life-giving. At the same time, however, lightning can wreak terrible destruction upon the Earth, as it does when Zeus battles the Titans as well as when he destroys Typhoeus. Both thunder and lightning are terrifying in their effect, and difficult to oppose, and as such they are fitting weapons for Zeus as the king of the gods. Ultimately, thunder and lightning are symbolic of divine power as well as the divine’s intimate connection to the natural and human world.
Thunder and Lightning Quotes in Theogony
The Olympian Lightner called all the immortal gods to long Olympus, and said that whoever of the gods would fight the Titans with him, he would not smite any of them down from his privileges, but each one would keep the honour he had had before among the immortal gods. And he said that whoever was unhonoured by Kronos and unprivileged, he would set him in the path of honour and privileges, as is right and proper.
Great Olympus quaked under the immortal feet of the lord as he went forth, and the earth groaned beneath him. A conflagration held the violet-dark sea in its grip, both from the thunder and lightning and from the fire of the monster, from the tornado winds and the flaming bolt. All the land was seething, and sky, and sea; long waves raged to and fro about the headlands from the onrush of the immortals, and an uncontrollable quaking arose. Hades was trembling, lord of the dead below, and so were the Titans down in Tartarus with Kronos in their midst, at the incessant clamour and the fearful fighting.