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Thunder and Lightning Symbol Analysis

Thunder and Lightning Symbol Icon

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 Theogony quotes below all refer to the symbol of Thunder and Lightning. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Theogony published in 2009.
Theogony Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos
Related Symbols: Thunder and Lightning
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Related Characters: Zeus, Kronos, Tartarus
Related Symbols: Thunder and Lightning
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
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Thunder and Lightning Symbol Timeline in Theogony

The timeline below shows where the symbol Thunder and Lightning appears in Theogony. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Cycles of Succession Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...and Gyges, whom he frees from their bondage. In thanks, they gift Zeus with “ thunder and lightning and the smoking bolt, which mighty Earth had kept hidden up to then.” After the... (full context)