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Olympians


Zeus - {Day, Bright Sky} [Jupiter or Jove] -
Zeus is the youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea (see the Titans). He is the chief god in Greek Mythology. He is an Olympian and the king of them. His brothers and sisters were Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, and Hera, who was also his queen. Zeus was a sky and weather god, he ruled the sky and had control over the winds, the clouds, rain, thunder and lightning. Zeus also was associated with battle, any kind of game, and protection. He is sometimes the father of gods and men. He was a very unfaithful god, which makes me think he should be the god of fertility too. He had hundreds of children, including Herakles(Heracles), Perseus, and Helen as mortals or demi-gods and all of the Olympian gods that werenít descended from Cronus and Rhea. His most famous sanctuary is at Dodona. Zeus is often pictured as wearing a crown of oak leaves (which belonged to his tree), he had a sceptre in one hand and a thunder bolt(attribute) in the other. Most of the time he wore hsi shield, the Aegis and had an eagle(his sacred bird) at his feet.

Zeus, king of gods and men.

Hera - {Lady} [Juno] -
Hera is youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea and older than her brother Zeus, who was also her husband. She is an Olympian. She was the mother of Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus, Eileithya(Illithiya) and and sometimes Eris. She was the goddess of marriage and was always concerned about the wellbeing of women and children, unless they were Zeusí and not hers. Hera is a very ancient goddess, her cult goes farther back than Zeusí and was so strong that the newcomers from the north had to absorb it into their own religion. She was sort of a jealous woman, you could say, she would endlessly chase the consorts of Zeus almost to death, in the case of Semele, mother of Dionysus, she did, actually she tricked her so Zeus would kill her but it still counts. Another case would be Io. See the myth page and the Marriage of Zeus and Hera for the wedding. Her animals are the cow and peacock.

Poseidon - [Neptune] -
Poseidon was the middle son of Cronus and Rhea and older than Hera. He was an Olympian. He drew the sea for his lot when the three brothers picked lots for kingdoms. He took the sea from Nereus who willingly retired. He married one of The Old Man of the Seaís, which Nereus is sometimes called, fifty daughters, this Nereid was Amphitrite and bore her husband her only son Triton, who was a merman and blew in his conch shell. Poseidon, as Hera, pre-dates Zeus. By the very ancient people he was a fertility god and a patron of herdsmen. His emblem is the trident or three pronged spear which could cause typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes. This made him a god of all three of these disasters too. Like Zeus who he was very similar to, Poseidon had numerous wives and children which include Polyphemus the Cyclops in the Odyssey, and Pegasus by Medusa. Poseidon was also swallowed by his father like all his siblings except Zeus. His animal is the horse.


Poseidon on an ancient Greek coin.

Demeter - [Ceres] -
Demeter was the middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea and older than Poseidon, Hera and Zeus. She was an Olympian. Her daughter by Zeus was Persephone who was abducted by Demeterís oldest brother Hades. Persephone was the joy of Demeterís life. Demeter was the goddess of the Earth, even though there was about a hundred before her including Gaea, Rhea... She was also the goddess of the harvest which she supervised every fall, she was especially asociated with corn. It was ritual that the first loaf of bread was sacrificed to Demeter. Demeter had many suitors, including Zeus, Apollo and Poseidon. Poseidon pursued Demeter and trapped her between to rocks where he demanded she marry him. She said if he could make the most beautiful animal in the world she would be his. She thought she had tricked him because he was always making ugly serpents and monsters. Anyway Poseidon created the horse for her, but he was so intrigued by it that he forgot about Demeter and spent his time with his horses. Demeter doesnít have a sacred bird or animal Iím aware of but she probably does.


Demeter, goddess of the harvest.

Hades - {Death} [Pluto, Orcus, Dis] -
Hades was the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea but younger than Hestia. He is the ruler of the Underworld which is also named Hades. The Underworld that he rules is divided into two sections, Elysian Fields where good people go and to the palace of the Erinyes or Furies where sinners go. Most people think of Hades as Satan and his palace as Hell, which is definately not true, he didnít want people to sin or kill or anything. He was just the ruler and wasnít demon like. His Queen was Persephone and his niece who he abducted from his sister Demeter. He drew the lot when he and his brothers picked for spots in the universe, when he got what no one else wanted he sunk into his barren palace and stayed there, which is why he isnít counted as an Olympian. His attribute was the Cap of Invisibility. He was called the rich one and indeed he was, all the minerals and jewels in the ground belonged to him. In some stories they tell of his palace covered in diamonds and emeralds and every kind of valuble jewel. His sacred flowers were the cypress and narcissus(see myth page, Echo and Narcissus).

Hestia - {Hearth} [Vesta] -
Hestia was the oldest child of Cronus and Rhea. She was the goddess of the hearth and fire. Hestia was a very gentle and loving goddess and gave up her throne to Dionysus just so her siblings and nieces and nephews wouldnít fight. When she gave up her bare throne she gave up her title as an Olympian and therefore in later myths isnít, but in the first ones, before Dionysus she is an Olympian. Her altar was in the center of a city in the hearth or town fire. She was also honoured in the home in the personal hearth. She was a virgin goddess because she refused her brothers and Apollo for husbands. Not too many myths survive about Hestia but she is still an important goddess.

Athena - (Pallas Athene, Athene, Athene Nike) [Minerva] -
Athena is the daughter of Zeus and a Titanís daughter, Metis. Athena was the favorite child of Zeus and also wore the shield of her father the Aegis. Athena was the goddess of Wisdom, war with reason, weaving (Arachne made her mad in this department), peace and compassion and had many other jobs to do. Athena was the guardian of the city of Athens, capital of Athens (see myth page and Battle for Athens). The Athenians dedicated the Parthenon to her, the Parthenon is the biggest temple in the Acropolis. Athena had an extremely strong cult and was a virgin goddess. Athena has to be the most famous god or goddess in Greek Mythology next to Zeus. She is very active in Homerís The Odyssey (see the Odyssey) and helps the royal family of Ithaca. Athena is credited with making (the) Medusa ugly. It so happened that Medusa was a very beautiful young girl who was in one of Athenaís temples. She was seduced by Poseidon in the temple which made Athena so ugly she made her and her two immortal sisters ugly and banished all three of them to an island off the coast of Libya. Her bird was the owl, she was often pictured with the scales of justice, and her shield and spear. She was an Olympian.


Athena.

Ares - [Mars] -
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera and the most hated god by his father. Ares was the god of war and since most Greeks didnít go to war without reason he was unpopular. He is depicted wearing a golden helmet with an enormus spear covered in blood. The crowd that followed him werenít what youíd call morally correct. His worshippers, who were few, were mean and vicious. Among the crowd were Pain, Panic, Famine, and Oblivion; his sons, Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror), got his chariot ready. The horrors of war were now symbolized. He was identified with the Roman god Mars, which only his title was carried over. Mars was a noble and respected god, because war was considered morally correct for the vulgar Romans. Ares was also the father of Tantalus. Ares had one Olympian lover, Aphrodite, who didnít care about personality, she was kinda a bimbo anyway and not very steady. In The Odyssey there is a tale about Hephaestus catching Aphrodite, his faithless wife and his brother in his bed. In The Iliad it is said that his father, Zeus hates his son because of his perpetual violence and agression. Ares might have looked good but if he was every injured in battle heíd stop the soldiers with his crying and bawling. Aresí animalís were the dog and the vulture which suited him excellently. Unfortunately, he was an Olympian.


A vase of Ares, the god of War.

Hephaestus - (Hephastios) [Vulcan] -
Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera, but sometimes only Hera. He is the god of fire, craftsmen and especially smiths. He was called ďthe divine artificerĒ. Hephaestus was paralyzed in his legs and was definately not handsome. Apparently Zeus flung the ugly god off Olympus because he took his motherís side (she never appreciated him anyway because he was ugly), he flew for an entire day before landing on an Island. Other myths say that Hera threw him off Olympus as a child because he was ugly. The nymphs of the ocean raised him and heíd craft beautiful jewelry from coral and stuff under water, his mother then reclaimed him and he became an Olympian. He built two golden robots to help him move around since he was paralyzed, he also crafted the twelve thrones of Olympus. His constant helpers were the Cyclopes. Since he was a very steady god Zeus gave Aphrodite to him, though in other myths his wife is Aglaia, one of the three Graces. Hephaestus helped with the birth of Athena when he cut his fatherís head open to let her out. His religion probably originated in Asia Minor, and was thought to be very kind and peace loving, that depiction is carried into all myths, him being a very nice steady god who was as nice as his brother Ares was cruel. Hephaestusí smoky and flaming workshop was situated inside Mount Etna, the volcano in Sicily, the Romanís placed him there. He was an Olympian.

Apollo - [Apollo] -
Apollo was the son of Zeus and a Titanís daughter, Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. He fathered many children including Aristaeus and Asclepius. Apollo was the god of many things too; poetry, music, archery, prophecy, light, and the art of healing. He is the subject of many statues and paintings because of his exceptional beauty. Apollo was a very popular Olympian and all the gods respected him, his half brother Hermes was the only god who dared play a trick on him, this happened just as Hermes was born and stole Apolloís cows. His Oracle and temple at Delphi are very important to mythology, it could only speak the truth like Apollo himself. Because of Apolloís persistent truth he was a big influence on law and justice.

Artemis - [Diana] -
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She is the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of hunt, and childbirth. Although she helped and protected mothers bearing children she was a virgin goddess and was also a goddess of chastity. Artemisí origins are very old, and may have begun on Crete as an earth goddess. This Olympian was armed with a bow and quiver made of silver by Hephaestus, these arrows brought a painless death. She had many sides to her nature, she could cause disease in animals, kill a baby or she could be helpful with Illithya, the goddess of chilbirth. Her and her divine brother were different as night and day, she was a moon goddess and him a sun god. But no matter how different they were, they loved each other dearly and loved their mother. A good story of this is the twins and Niobe who boasted that she had 14 children and Leto had two, the twins killed all of Niobes children so she wouldnít brag senslessy any more. While she wouldnít marry, she did almost change her mind because of Orion, a giant son of Poseidon who was also a hunter, Apollo got jealous and killed Orion. Her sacred animal was the hind.

Hermes - [Mercury] -
Hermes was the son of Zeus and a Titanís daughter Maia. He wore winged shoes and sometimes a winged hat. He was the messenger of the gods, and brought the dead down to Hades, he was the god of flocks, roads, trading, thieves (even though he never stole)and merchants, he was sometimes a fertility god too. Hermes was the merriest Olympian and was loved by all the gods. He invented the lyre which he gave to Apollo to ease his anger for stealing his cows right after his birth. Hermes fathered many children including Autolycus, Daphnis, Hermaphroditus, Pan, and sometimes Eros. In archaic art the god is pictured as a bearded man wearing a broad brimmed hat and winged sandals, and carrying a heraldís staff. From the 5th century B.C. on, he was depicted as a nude and beardless young man, typical of an accomplished athlete. Hermesí earliest cult was Arcadia where he was represented with erect phallic images called hermae.


Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

Aphrodite - {Foam Born} [Venus] -
She was the daughter of Zeus and Dione but in some myths she just rose out of the sea because the blood of Uranus that fell into the sea after he was castrated by Cronus caused the goddess to be born. In this myth she rides in a scallop shell and washes up on the shore of Cythera. She had many children and barely any of them had the same father. She was a faithless wife to Hephaestus. Aphrodite was an ancient goddess, an earth-mother whose domain embraced all creation, vegetable, animal and human. She represented sacred love and marriage as well as sensuality and desire. She has been identified with the Eastern goddessís Astarte and Ishtar. She was the Olympian mother of Eros by Hermes or Ares, Phobos and Deimos by Ares, Harmonia (Peace or Concord), and Priapus by Zeus. Those are only a few of her almost hundred children. Aphrodite was the cause of the Trojan War because she promised Helen to Paris even though she was married to Menelaus. In short she was a very beautiful but very faithless and vengeful goddess.

Dionysus - {Dionysos} [Bacchus] -
Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele who was mortal. He, like Athena was born in a very peculiar way, it happened that Hera found out about Zeusí fling with Semele and had to have revenge. She told Semele that if Zeus was really her husband that he should show himslef in all his splendor. Semele asked for a promise from her husband, he promised by the River Styx. She asked to see him in all his splendor. Zeus begged her change her mind, but she was persistent. The king of all gods gathered the smallest clouds he could find and picked his smallest lightning bolt, but it was no use, he accidentally killed her. He saved his unborn son and sewed him into his leg. When he was born, Zeus sent him in the care of the Maenads. There he learned how to make an alcoholic drink from the many grapes that hung around his home. Dionysus was therefore the god of wine and was said to be the cause of many orgiastic rituals. His constant companions were the Maenads, centaurs, satyrs and Sileni who were almost alway drunk or having sex. Dionysus is depicted as a semi - nude youthful god but kind of chubby. His head was crowned with vine leaves and grapes and carried a goblet of wine in one hand and a thysrus staff headed with a pine cone in the other. He then went up to Olympus to claim his throne. Hera was pretty cheesed about a son of a mortal being an Olympian but Zeus shut her up. Hestia gave up her throne to avoid conflict. He had a shrine at Delphi. His plant was obviously the grape vine and ivy plant.


Dionysus, the god of wine.

Persephone - [Proserpina] -
Persephone wasnít an Olympian but since her mother was Demeter and her father Zeus, I thought Iíd put her on. She was abducted by her uncle Hades. Persephone was also the cause of the naming of the mint plant. Hades was fond of the girl Minthe but cold Persephone was jealous and stomped the girl to death. Hades turned her into the mint plant. Persephon was a jolly and cheerful goddess, her mother would always take her to earth with her from their home on Olympus. Persephone turned into a mean cold ice queen because she ate 4-6 pommegranate seeds, the food of the dead. She was banished to stay for 4-6 months in Hades with her uncle and the other she could stay up on Olympus.


Persephone, and the fateful pomegranate.


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