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Who was Zeus fav son?

In Greek mythology, Zeus was the king of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus. He was the god of the sky and thunder. As the most powerful god, Zeus had many divine and mortal lovers. He fathered many children, but not all of them were his favorite. Determining Zeus’ most favored son is complicated because different myths emphasize different sons. However, the best candidates for Zeus’ favorite appear to be Apollo and Heracles.

Zeus’ Divine Children

As the king of the Greek gods, Zeus had many relationships with goddesses which resulted in divine children. Some of Zeus’ divine sons included:


Apollo was the god of many things including music, poetry, light, prophecy, and medicine. His mother was Leto, a daughter of the Titans. Apollo was born on the island of Delos along with his twin sister Artemis. He was known for being very handsome and talented. Many myths show Zeus favoring Apollo.


Ares was the god of war. He represented the raw, violent, and untamed aspect of battle. His mother was Hera, Zeus’ wife. However, Hera bore Ares alone since she was jealous over Zeus giving birth to Athena.


Hephaestus was the god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, and volcanoes. He was skilled at metalworking and made weapons and armor for the gods. His mother was Hera. In some versions, Hera bore Hephaestus alone to spite Zeus. In others, Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera. He was born lame and cast from Mount Olympus by one or both parents.


Hermes was the messenger of the gods and guide to the Underworld. He was associated with travelers, hospitality, commerce, and thieves. His mother was the nymph Maia. Hermes was clever, witty, and inventive. He invented the lyre which pleased Apollo.

Zeus’ Demigod Children

In addition to divine children, Zeus had many demigod offspring born from mortal women. These included:


Perseus was a famous demigod hero in Greek mythology. He beheaded the gorgon Medusa and rescued the princess Andromeda from a sea monster. His mother was Danaë, daughter of the king of Argos. Zeus impregnated Danaë in the form of a golden shower after her father locked her away.

Helen of Troy

Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world whose abduction triggered the Trojan War. Her mother was Leda, wife of the king of Sparta. Zeus transformed into a swan to seduce Leda. Helen hatched from one of the eggs Leda laid.


Minos was the king of Crete who commissioned the labyrinth to contain the Minotaur. His mother was Europa, a Phoenician princess. Zeus transformed into a majestic white bull and carried Europa away to Crete where he revealed his true form.


Heracles, or Hercules, was the mightiest hero in Greek myth. He completed the famous twelve labors. His mother was Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon. Zeus disguised himself as Amphitryon to consort with Alcmene and sire Heracles.

Why Apollo and Heracles Were Likely Zeus’ Favorites

While Zeus sired many sons, Apollo and Heracles stand out as probable favorites based on several key points:


– Zeus specifically protected Apollo’s mother Leto and aided in Apollo’s birth. This showed he cared deeply about this son.

– Myths describe Apollo as the most beloved son of Zeus.

– Apollo did not challenge Zeus’ authority. He served on Mount Olympus unlike some other sons Zeus banished.

– Apollo’s talents pleased Zeus. His music soothed tensions on Olympus.

– Zeus granted Apollo the prestigious oracle at Delphi and trusted him to communicate prophecies.


– Zeus actively interfered in Heracles’ life to ensure he survived Hera’s jealousy. This included sending Hermes to make Heracles immune to a serpent Hera sent.

– Heracles spread Zeus’ glory through his famous twelve labors. His unmatched strength reflected on Zeus.

– Zeus immortalized Heracles by allowing him into Mount Olympus after his human body died. This honor was not given to all of Zeus’ sons.

– Heracles was the epitome of a mighty hero which pleased Zeus. His courage and determination reflected Zeus’ own power.


While definitively determining Zeus’ single favorite son is impossible in Greek mythology, Apollo and Heracles are leading candidates. Apollo’s favor stemmed from his good character, talents, and loyalty to Zeus. Heracles earned Zeus’ affection for his mighty deeds which spread the king of the gods’ glory. Other sons were more problematic for Zeus due to challenging his authority or lacking abilities to benefit Olympus. In the end, Apollo and Heracles appeared to please Zeus the most, making them liable to be called his favorite sons.

Zeus’ Son Mother Domain
Apollo Leto Music, poetry, light, prophecy, medicine
Ares Hera War
Hephaestus Hera Blacksmiths, craftsmen, volcanoes
Hermes Maia Messengers, travel, commerce, thieves
Perseus Danaë Hero who slew Medusa
Helen of Troy Leda Most beautiful woman in the world
Minos Europa King of Crete
Heracles Alcmene Greatest hero, completed 12 labors

Other Notable Points

Zeus’ wife Hera was often jealous of Zeus’ affairs

As the goddess of marriage, Hera was displeased with Zeus’ constant infidelity. She often persecuted her husband’s lovers and offspring. For example, Hera famously tormented Heracles throughout his life starting with sending snakes to kill him as a baby.

Zeus sometimes used trickery in his seduction

Zeus employed his abilities as a shapeshifter to deceive and seduce women. Some examples include appearing as a swan, golden rain, or the woman’s own husband. This allowed Zeus to bypass obstacles to consort with mortal women.

Genealogy was important in Greek myths

Ancient Greeks put great emphasis on noble birth and divine parentage. Heroes and kings were proud to claim Zeus or other gods among their ancestors. Divine parentage signified great potential and favor.

Zeus had many more children not listed here

This article provides just a sampling of Zeus’ notable sons. He fathered dozens of other children including many daughters like Helen and nymphs. However, sons played a more prominent role in Greek myths.

Other gods also had famous offspring

While Zeus sired the most famous demigods, other gods like Poseidon and Ares also fathered many renowned mythological heroes. For example, Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur, was the son of Poseidon.