The Olympians Greek gods:
The “Olympians” are called the twelve great gods who generally resided on Olympus but they also had privileged places on earth where they loved to come and where their main temples were located. The gods were immortal and kept an eternal youth by feeding on ragweed and nectar.
In this list, Dionysus (Bacchus) replaced Hestia (Vesta), the goddess of the home, who had given up her place.
Hades (Pluto) does not appear because he never came to Olympus.
Demeter is not always on this list.
Under the Roman Empire, Helios was also added, which had taken an important place.
These twelve Greek gods form a kind of council (the Romans will call them Consent Dii, the “gods who are together”) and govern the various aspects of mortal life with the help of secondary divinities. In return, they asked for sacrifices and libations and the poor mortals who would escape them were severely punished.
General characteristics of the Greek gods
- The gods represent the forces of nature (lightning, wind, fire…), or human characteristics (beauty, jealousy…);
- The gods are immortal but have a birth and a genealogy;
- The gods have the physical appearance, character traits and behavioral forms of humans (anthropomorphism);
- The gods live hidden from humans (a large part of them live in Olympus (located on Mount Olympus in Greece) whose summit is very often covered with clouds);
- The gods intervene in the lives of humans. Much of their worship is aimed at obtaining a beneficial action from the gods or spreading their anger.
The Greeks gave their gods multiple adventures. These stories form Greek mythology. The Romans will draw much inspiration from this mythology to found their own mythology.
The twelve Olympian gods of Olympus
Aphrodite (in ancient Greek “Αφροδιτη”) is the goddess of beauty, love, pleasure, and procreation, seduction but also fertility in the Greek religion. The attributes of Aphrodite are the shell, the mirror, the rose, the apple, the poppy, and the myrtle and its associated animals: the dove, the ram, the goat, the hare, the swan, the turtledove and the irresistibility belt.
Apollo, in Greek mythology, is the god of solar clarity, reason, the arts and more precisely music and poetry. He is also the god of purification and healing but can bring the plague with his bow. He is also the god of light, harmony, Oracle… He was also worshipped by the Romans, under the name of Phoebus, but he was above all the god of Medicine.
Ares is a deity of the ancient Greek religion. For the Greeks, he was the god of war. The Romans identified it with Mars.
He owned the Thracian Dog, a vulture helmet, and many weapons.
Artemis is a goddess of the ancient Greek religion that the Romans identified with Diana.
Diane is the Goddess of hunting and nature. His symbols: Arcadia, Delphus Doe Crescent moon, bow
Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, war strategy, justice, and combat, but also the protective goddess of artisans and the city of Athens. It was assimilated to Minerva by the Romans
Demeter in Greek mythology (or Ceres in Roman mythology), is the goddess of cultivated land, fertile land, agriculture, and harvests. It can be identified by the following attributes: The wheat ear, poppy, pig, ram, goat, crane, turtledove, torch, cornucopia, snake and sickle.
Hephaestus or Hephaistus (in ancient Greek Ἥφαιστος / Hếphaistos) is, according to Greek mythology, the god of fire, metallurgy, and volcanoes. The Romans identified him with their Vulcan god. Hephaestus, the divine blacksmith helped by the cyclopses in the volcanic depths of the Earth, is busy creating magical weapons (such as the Achilles armor).
Hera in Greek mythology (or Juno in Roman mythology) is the goddess of marriage and life and also of the family. She holds a scepter surmounted by a cuckoo in her hand or a pomegranate which is the symbol of fertility. She is dressed in a veil that is the symbol of marriage.
Hermes is the messenger of the gods, giver of luck, inventor of weights and measures, guardian of roads and crossroads, god of travelers, traders, thieves, speakers, and prostitutes. He leads souls to the underworld1. His Latin equivalent is Mercury.
Dionysus or Bacchus is the god of wine, celebration, and vines. It is his Roman name and is called Dionysus in Greek. Its attributes are thyrse, peg, donkey, ivy, vine and grape bunch and goatee.
Poseidon: He rides a chariot harnessed to half-horse and half-dolphin creatures and can cause earthquakes by driving his trident into the ground. He is also symbolized by the bull and especially the horse. Poseidon is often referred to as the god of the oceans.
Zeus is the god of lightning, of the universe but above all the king of the Greek deities. His symbols: the eagle, the lightning bolt, the throne, and the oak
Genealogy of Greek gods
The parents of the Greek god:
Originally, there was only Chaos. Then came out 5 primordial deities: Gaia (Mother Earth), Tartarus (The Infernos), Erebe (the darkness that covers the Infernos), Night or Nyx (the darkness that covers the Earth) and Eros (Love). Gaia then begat alone:
- Ouranos (Heaven)
- Pontus (the Sea Fleet)
- Ourea (Mountains)
Then she joined her son Ouranos (it is quite common in the genealogy of the gods to observe incest) and they gave birth to Titans and Titanides:
- Oceanus (Sea Titan)
- Tethys (Sister and wife of Oceanos)
- Hyperion (Titan of the Sun)
- Theia (Sister and wife of Hyperion)
- Themis (Titanide of Justice)
- Rhea (an Earth Titanide)
- Mnemosyne (Memory Titanide)
- Iapetos (Father of Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus)
- Coeos (Titan)
- Phoebe (Titanid)
- Crios (Titan)
- Cronus (Father of the first 6 Olympians)
When the Titans were born, Ouranos (who hated his children) sent them back to Tartarus, but Gaia did not like it at all. So she plotted with her last child, Cronos, to attack Ouranos. She gave him a stone sickle, and Cronos attacked his father Ouranos and emasculated him (= cut off his genitals). The blood that flowed fertilized with the Flots and gave birth to the Giants, the Furies and Aphrodite (it emerged from the foam and landed on the island of Kythera, then Cyprus).
The Titans and Titanids were then liberated from Tartarus, Cronus became king with his wife and sister Rhea, and this was the golden age. According to the myth, Men were created during this period.
As you will see, stories are often repeated in Greek mythology. Indeed, once Cronus took power from his father Ouranos, he married his sister Rhea and they began to have children. Unfortunately, Cronos hated them (Ouranos had warned him that one of his children would dethrone him) and every time a child was born, he would swallow it.
Rhea didn’t like it at all, and when her 6th child was born, she hid it and gave a stone in a sheet instead to Cronos (on the advice of her mother Gaia), who swallowed it directly. This child’s name was Zeus.