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King of the gods

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Indra, the Hindu king of the Devas and Devis

As polytheistic systems evolve, there is a tendency for one deity to achieve preeminence as king of the gods.[citation needed] This tendency can parallel the growth of hierarchical systems of political power in which a monarch eventually comes to assume ultimate authority for human affairs.[citation needed] Other gods come to serve in a Divine Council or pantheon; such subsidiary courtier-deities are usually linked by family ties from the union of a single husband or wife, or else from an androgynous divinity who is responsible for the creation.

Historically, subsequent social events, such as invasions or shifts in power structures, can cause the previous king of the gods to be displaced by a new divinity, who assumes the displaced god's attributes and functions.[citation needed] Frequently the king of the gods has at least one wife who is the queen of the gods.

According to feminist theories of the replacement of original matriarchies by patriarchies, male sky gods tend to supplant female earth goddesses and achieve omnipotence.[1]

There is also a tendency for kings of the gods to assume more and more importance, syncretistically assuming the attributes and functions of lesser divinities, who come to be seen as aspects of the single supreme deity.

King of the gods in different cultures[edit]

Examples of kings of the gods in different cultures include:

List of rulers of pantheons[edit]

The leaders of the various pantheons include:


The following are the characteristics shared by virtually all Kings of the gods:

  • Creation: Most of these gods derive their power from the fact that they created the world, formulated its laws and/or created life forms, notably humans. Examples: Ra, Odin.
  • Dominion over the sky: Many such deities hold control over all aspects of the sky, such as weather, rain, thunderstorms, air, winds and celestial objects like stars. They also control some aspects of Earth like harvest, fertility, plants or mountains. Examples: Zeus, Hadad, Jupiter.
  • Lightning bolts as personal weapons: Commonly seen with sky gods.
  • Divine Wisdom: Some Kings of Gods possess superior wisdom and clairvoyance, compared to most beings. Examples: Ra, Odin.
  • God of the Sun, Daylight or Celestial Fire: Some kings of gods are associated with the Sun, as it is life giving and is a powerful symbol of order. They are said to be in charge of celestial fire, which is purifying by nature. Daylight is also an important phenomenon, as most events take place under its presence. Examples: Ra, Dyaus Pitr.
  • Conquest, Law, Justice, Order, Time and Fate: Most kings of gods have the ability to control the events of battle and grant victory to those who deserve it. They are seen as paragons of law and promote order. They are seen as powerful manifestations of their respective civilizations. Some gods either possess great skill in war or tremendous physical strength. Some of them have some control over time and regulate it with seasons. Others have limited control over the fate of a human. Examples: Zeus, Odin, Ra, Jupiter.
  • Divine authority over other gods: This may be because the concerned head of the pantheon is the father or creator of many gods and goddesses who swear allegiance to him. As a result, the king of the gods makes sure that all deities function properly, punish them for misdeeds, grant or take away immortality from lesser gods etc. Examples: Zeus, Odin, Enlil.
  • Divine rival: In some cases, there may be another god, who is equal in supernatural power and thinks he can do a better job than the current king. This often results in conflict, and in extreme cases, war. Examples: Ra and Apophis; Osiris, Set and Horus; Apollo vs Python ; Mitra and the Daeva; Zeus and Poseidon; Cronos and Uranus; Typhon and Zeus; etc.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Compare: Stookey, Lorena Laura (2004). "Primal Parents". Thematic Guide to World Mythology. Thematic Guides to Literature. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 142–143. ISBN 9780313315053. Retrieved 2018-10-20. Myths from many cultures posit the original existence of [...] primal parents, or world parents, that most commonly take the forms of earth mother and sky father [...]. [...] the association of the father with the sky also signifies the ascendancy of the male that occurs with the emergence of patriarchal culture. [...] As agricultural communities are supplanted by warrior societies, the primal parent known as the sky father is readily transformed into another familiar figure, the omnipotent sky god who can also take the form of the sun god or the god of storms.
  2. ^ "Marduk (God)".
  3. ^ Fee, Christopher R. (2004). Gods, Heroes, & Kings. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0190291702. In The Baile in Scail ("The God's Prophecy") Lugh is seen as a sacred solar king and king of the otherworld, associated with Rosmerta, who is herself a kind of personification of Ireland, sometimes known as "the Sovranty of Ireland." Lugh followed Nuada as king of the gods in Ireland, and was with the mortal Dechtire the father of the great hero Cuchulainn.
  4. ^ Agrawala, Prithvi Kumar (1984). Goddessess [sic] in Ancient India. Abhinav Publications. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-391-02960-6.
  5. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2010-09-30). The Hindus: An Alternative History. OUP Oxford. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-19-959334-7.
  6. ^ "Dravidian folk religion", Wikipedia, 2019-11-15, retrieved 2019-11-28
  7. ^ Campo 2009, p. 34.
  8. ^ Hughes 2013, p. 25.

Works cited[edit]