So Zeus is established as head of Olympus. But, y’know, he’s not really a nice guy. In fact, he insists on his way or retribution by thunderbolt. He also gets a free pass. He sleeps around with whomever (and whatever) he wants and mistreats everyone. It’s so bad that Hera forms a conspiracy with some of the other gods. They tie Zeus up, and are ready to depose him, to toss him in with the titans for all eternity.
Fortunately for Zeus, he did make some allies. The Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed ones step in to rescue him and give him back his thunderbolts. Zeus proceeds to open up a can of whoop-ass, flinging thunderbolts at his enemies, teaching them the error of their ways in true summer blockbuster fashion.
No, that didn’t happen. I mean, the rescue happened, but instead of going medieval on everyone, he singles out Hera, hanging her up and whipping her. She was the leader in this little coup, after all. The rest, though, he, well, he forgives on condition that they swear never to do it again.
This is unusual. The Greeks are not big on forgiveness. We saw from the creation that Cronus and Zeus himself were not kind to their predecessors. Zeus manages to survive that attempt to overthrow him, but instead of dealing with the culprits in a decisive, Zeusian fashion, he forgives them with an oath.
We don’t picture Zeus as this benevolent ruler, this all-wise king. He’s a whoop-ass king who strikes with thunder first and asks questions later. Why wouldn’t he just destroy the other gods (or lock them up) and make new ones? It’s not like he’s averse to making new kids; he does it all the time. So why show mercy, now?
It’s for the same reason that he made allies in the first place, he’s breaking the cycle. Uranus and Cronus both acted with impunity and were overthrown. Zeus made allies and was able to triumph over his father. These same allies are responsible for preventing the coup against Zeus. To truly end the cycle of overthrowing and replacing the king of the gods, Zeus must become a better king. He made valuable allies, but he needs to make peace with his enemies.
Asking for an oath shows the rest that he is not the same tyrant as his father and grandfather. He’s different. Even the act of asking for an oath shows that he is willing to be merciful and can remain true to his word. Zeus will still be king and in charge, but they won’t have to worry about him acting despotically.
Zeus breaks the cycle, demonstrating his own wisdom as a ruler, a wisdom that came only through experience. This is a king who is able to learn from his mistakes. Uranus and Cronus were both incapable of this because of their insane pride and jealousy. Zeus has taken steps that no other king of the gods has taken before.
Maybe he’s not a complete Dicktator (sic).