Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were the three sons of Kronos. Kronos retired and the boys divided the world between them. Zeus took the sky, Poseidon took the sea, and Hades ruled Tartarus, the home of the dead. But slowly, Zeus started to get bored. He thought about what he could do for fun. He could visit his brother Poseidon as an octopus under the sea, but he decided not to. He could visit Hades in Tartarus, but it was such a dark place. He could hurl thunderbolts to Earth, but he needed a target. He could try to catch other gods but generally all the other gods were terrified of him because he had a terrible temper, especially when someone lied to him. As the gods often lied, most of them avoided him. He could call for his wife, Hera, but she was scary. He thought about finding himself another women but Hera was very very jealous, so in the end Zeus flew down to Earth to find something to do.
He saw two ordinary men walking along a road. Zeus spoke with an echoing voice which sounded like one of the men.
“Hey stupid,” he yelled, hoping to start a fight. The other man turned around angrily.
“What did you say?” In an instant, the men were fighting each other. Zeus found that very amusing and chuckled to himself. Suddenly, Zeus spotted the beautiful River Nymph, Io, sitting by the river.
“What a lovely young woman,” Zeus thought and instantly fell in love. To make sure Hera wouldn’t see him, he quickly covered the world with thick grey clouds. Then he flew over to speak to the pretty Nymph. But Hera however was not stupid. The thick coat of clouds made her suspicious straight away. Zeus looked up.
“It’s Hera!” he gulped. Quickly, Zeus changed Io into a cow. When Hera landed, all she found was an innocent looking Zeus standing next to a little white cow.
“This little white cow appeared out of nowhere,” he told his wife, acting innocently. Hera was not taken in.
“What a beautiful little white cow,” she gushed. “May I have it as a present?” Not knowing what else to do, Zeus had to agree, and Hera immediately imprisoned the cow. Later, Zeus tried to organise Io’s rescue. He sent his son Apollo to sing her guards to sleep. When the guards closed their eyes, Io ran away! On hearing about her escape, a furious Hera sent a gadfly after Io. A gadfly is a fly that bites.
“Moo moo,” Io screamed, when the gadfly found her. Io swam across a sea, hoping the gadfly would drown on the trip. No such luck. Feeling very sorry for herself, a dispirited Io travelled to Egypt. It was only then that Hera decided that Io had suffered enough. First, she made Zeus promise that he would never see Io again and then she changed Io back into a human and left her in Egypt. Io was never really happy there. Hera did name the sea between Greece and Rome after Io – calling it the Ionian Sea.
Back in Greece, Zeus gave a big sigh. Surely there was something he could do ….