In ancient Greece, stories about gods and goddesses were an important part of everyday life. People relied on them for almost everything, from religious rituals to the weather. The pantheon of deities is the center of Greek mythology, said to live on the highest mountain in Greece on Mount Olympus. All of them ruled every aspect of human life. Through the ages, the 12 Olympians have inspired countless works of art and literature. Let’s get to know some of them.
|The mighty Zeus / Photo by: Owlcation|
Zeus: The King of All Gods and the God of Weather, Law, and Fate
Zeus is considered the most powerful among the deities. He threw thunderbolts when he was upset and his temper affected the weather. According to an article by Owlcation a site created by educators and experts on topics related to education, Zeus gets particularly mad about murder between family members, ill-treatment of guests, and breaking oaths. He is also known to morph into different animals to trick and gain access to those who took his fancy. His symbols include the oak and the thunderbolt.
|Zeus' wife Hera / Photo by: Owlcation|
Hera: Wife of Zeus, Queen of the Gods, and Goddess of Women and Marriage
Hera is often portrayed as a tall and beautiful matron. Although she is the goddess of marriage, her own married life is not perfect. It was believed that Zeus was constantly unfaithful to her and she was cruel and vengeful to the women whom her husband favored. Her symbols include the peacock and the cow.
|Poseidon, the god of the sea / Photo by: Greek Mythology Tours|
Poseidon: God of the Sea, Horses, and of Earthquakes
Poseidon lived in a beautiful palace under the sea and caused earthquakes when he was upset. His weapon is a trident, which can shake the earth and shatter any object. He is known for being greedy, having a quarrelsome personality, and having a series of disputes with other gods when he tried to take over their cities. Except for Zeus, Poseidon is the most powerful Olympian.
|Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty / Photo by: dimitrisvetsikas1969 via Pixabay|
Aphrodite: Goddess of Beauty and Love
Aphrodite is often depicted as a beautiful woman accompanied by the winged godling Eros. Her attributes included a dove, apple, scallop shell, and mirror. She has a magical power that compels anyone to follow her desires. It was believed that Aphrodite was conceived when Zeus overthrew his father Kronos and castrated him with a sickle, throwing his genitals into the sea.
|Ares, the god of war / Photo by: Owlcation|
Ares: God of War
Ares is an unpopular deity because he represents violence, war, bloodshed, masculinity, and manly virtues. He was also despised by all the other gods. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, but neither of his parents liked him. He often carried a bloody spear; his symbols are the vulture and the dog.
|The Parthenon in Athens / Photo by: Greek Mythology Tours|
Athena: Goddess of Wisdom and Defense
It was believed that Athena was born of Zeus’s head and came out as a fully-grown woman in full armor and ready for battle. According to an article by Greek Mythology Tours, an online site which aims to provide guests with unique experiences in Greece based on a Greek Mythology theme, she represents knowledge, wisdom, reason, intelligence, science, literature, handicrafts, defense, and strategic warfare. Unlike other deities, Athena combines traditionally masculine and feminine characteristics.
|Artemis, the goddess of childbirth and hunting / Photo by: Needpix|
Artemis: Goddess of Hunting, Animals, and Childbirth
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin of Apollo. She is known to hunt with silver arrows, as huntsman of the gods, and as the protector of the young. She is often portrayed as a young girl accompanied by dogs and loved by wild animals. Like her brother, Artemis can be cruel and ruthless. Her symbols included the moon, horses, deer, hound, snake, the cypress tree, she-bear, as well as a bow and arrow.
|Hades, the god of the underworld / Photo by: Cobija via Wikimedia Commons|
Hades: God of the Underworld
Hades, another brother of Zeus, was king of the dead. Although he is part of the first generation of Greek deities, he is often not considered an Olympian because he lived in the underworld, a land that was believed to be heavily guarded and out of reach of mortals before death. He abducted Persephone, queen of the dead, when she was young, and married her.