Roman and Greek Mythology Names: Gods, Planets, Astrology

Roman & Greek Mythology Names: Gods, Planets

This page will give the Roman and Greek mythology names of gods after whom planets were named, and will explain how those planets came to be named after them. It will also give pictures of these gods, and tell their stories. By extension, these gods’ planets, in the minds of the ancients, influenced the personality traits of people born at various times of the year. Thus, the connection between gods, planets, and astrology.

Hesiod and Theognis (Penguin Classics): Theogony, Works and Days, and Elegies
Hesiod and Theognis (Penguin Classics): Theogony, Works and Days, and Elegies

Greek poet Hesiod's "Theogony" (and other works). The foundational ancient text of Greek mythology, which gave the origin of the different Greek gods and goddesses. English translation.

 

In the Beginning Was Chaos

The ancients perceived that although most stars maintained a relatively fixed position, some of them seemed to move. Five such “wandering stars”--the word “planet” comes from a Greek word meaning “to wander or stray”--were obvious to the naked eye. These were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In fact, it is thought that both the seven-day week and the overall sacredness of the number seven within many mystical/religious traditions may have begun with the observation of seven heavenly bodies which moved: the five visible planets, the sun, and the moon. Each of these seven heavenly bodies is associated with a particular day of the week.

According to Greek mythology, the first god was Chaos. While the word Chaos brings certain images of mayhem and disorderliness to the English-speaking mind, the Greek god Chaos was just a big, empty, black, Nothing. Chaos was Nothingness, the Void, or empty space. After Chaos came the goddess Earth, who was known to the Greeks as Ge (or Gaia), and to the Romans as Terra. Earth appeared out of nothing according to Greek mythology: "Chaos was first of all, but next appeared broad-bosomed Earth" (Hesiod, Theogony). To the ancients, of course, earth was not perceived as a planet, as it was not perceived to “wander” or move at all.

Greek god Ouranos (Sky). Roman name: Uranus
Greek god Ouranos (Sky). Roman name: Uranus | Source

The Virgin Birth of Heaven

Ge (Earth) was a virgin when she gave birth to her firstborn son, Ouranos, which means “Sky” in Greek. “Ouranos” is the Greek word which, in English translations of the Christian New Testament, is translated as “heaven”. Although the Roman name for the god Sky was Caelus, the Latin spelling of the Greek name Ouranos was “Uranus”. From this, we get the name of a modern planet. I call Uranus a “modern” planet because, being unseen by the naked eye, this planet was unknown to the ancients. The planet Uranus is so named because it is adjacent to Saturn. Saturn was the son of Uranus, as I will explain next. In astrology, Uranus is associated in modern times (though not originally) with the zodiac sign Aquarius. Since Uranus is not one of the seven moving heavenly bodies that are visible to the naked eye, it is not associated with any of the seven days of the week.

Brief Aside

At this point, it should be noted that although, in this article, I’ll treat the Greek gods and their Roman counterparts as identical, these gods had differing mythologies in the Greek and Latin traditions, respectively. These differing mythologies were eventually blended in many ways, as the Roman empire attempted to blend Hellenistic (Greek) culture with their own rule, but in other ways they remained distinct.

Also, I will use the word “Latin” and the word “Roman” interchangeably, as Latin was the language of the ancient Romans.

Kronos (Roman name: Saturn), eating one of his children. Ironically, although Kronos castrated his father for doing weird things to his kids (stuffing them back in their mother), Kronos wasn't an ideal father himself.
Kronos (Roman name: Saturn), eating one of his children. Ironically, although Kronos castrated his father for doing weird things to his kids (stuffing them back in their mother), Kronos wasn't an ideal father himself. | Source

The Golden Age of Mankind

Although Ge gave birth to Ouranos via virgin birth, she gave birth to Kronos (Latin: Saturn) the traditional way: by copulating with her son Ouranos. Kronos was the last of the original Titans (children of Ge and her son, Ouranos), and should not be confused with Chronos (Time). When Ouranos angered Ge by stuffing some of her children back inside her, her son Kronos--Saturn--helped her by castrating his father, Ouranos, with a sickle. By this act, Kronos effectively became the supreme god for a long season. During his rule, mankind was a “golden race”, which, like gods, “lived with happy hearts . . . untouched by work or sorrow. Vile old age never appeared . . . At peace, they lived with every want supplied” (Hesiod, Works and Days). Eventually, Kronos/Saturn was associated with harvest, agriculture, and a Golden Age for mankind. Considering Saturn's association with a Golden Age, I think it is fitting that Saturn was the original ruling planet of the sign Aquarius, since the so-called "Age of Aquarius" is, in the collective psyche, now associated with a sort of New Age. The association with agriculture leads to an ironic depiction of Saturn/Kronos as carrying a sickle (his tool for castrating his father) for harvesting.

Saturday is ruled by Saturn, for which the day got its name. It is fitting then, that Saturday was the traditional Jewish day of rest, since it was during the rule of Saturn that mankind was said to have lived in perpetual rest.

If you're enjoying my writing in this article, please take a moment to look at some of my short poems: click here. This opens in a new window, so you won't lose the article you're currently reading.

The beautiful planet Venus. The brightest object in the night sky, besides the moon. Named after Venus/Aphrodite, the goddess (pictured below) of love and beauty.
The beautiful planet Venus. The brightest object in the night sky, besides the moon. Named after Venus/Aphrodite, the goddess (pictured below) of love and beauty. | Source

A Story of Beauty

While our modern sentiments may find it disturbing that Saturn was born of an incestuous relationship between Ge and her son, Ouranos, we may find the origin of our next god even more disturbing. After Saturn/Kronos castrated his father, his father’s genitals fell into the sea, where “white foam surrounded the immortal flesh” (Hesiod, Theogony). This white foam grew into a beautiful girl: Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. In fact, Hesiod links the very name “Aphrodite” to this disturbing origin, saying that the name came from the word “aphros”, the Greek word for “foam/froth”. This is probably a false etymology for the name, but it certainly is memorable.

The Roman name for Aphrodite is Venus. The planet Venus is named after the goddess of beauty because, besides the moon, it is the brightest thing in the night sky, and is indeed beautiful. In astrology, the planet Venus rules Libra and Taurus. Venus also rules Friday, which is why, in Spanish, Friday is “Viernes”.

Aphrodite/Venus, goddess of love and beauty, with Ares/Mars, god of war. Sitting enthroned in the middle is Zeus/Jupiter, king of the gods.
Aphrodite/Venus, goddess of love and beauty, with Ares/Mars, god of war. Sitting enthroned in the middle is Zeus/Jupiter, king of the gods. | Source
The planet Mars, named after the god of war because of its reddish (bloody) color.
The planet Mars, named after the god of war because of its reddish (bloody) color. | Source

All's Fair in Love and War

Aphrodite’s lover, Ares (a son of Zeus), was the Greek god of war, masculinity, and courage. His Roman name was Mars. Symbolically, this partnered the ideals of love/beauty with war/destruction. The Romans saw war as the mechanism for preserving peace and order, the “Pax Romana”. Thus, Mars was one of the most important gods for the Romans. The Greeks didn’t give Ares/Mars the same glorification, and sometimes showed a bit of disdain towards him. I would say that the connection between love and war also expresses a truth present in other spiritual traditions: destruction is a form of creation. Destruction clears the old out of the way and paves the way for something new and beautiful. Thus, the Hindu god Shiva, while embodying the principle of destruction, is not thereby a malevolent god, but a god whose nature intimates the possibility of new beginnings.

A more modern connection between love and war can be found in Sigmund Freud’s concept of the id, which embodies basic drives, such as sex and aggression. Perhaps love and war were linked in the myths of the ancients because this partnership mirrors a partnership of drives within our "reptilian" consciousness.

An even more modern connection is found in the title of the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Mars/Ares representing aggression and valor (renown for one’s accomplishments), and Venus/Aphrodite representing beauty and love (fulfillment in interpersonal relationship).

The planet Mars is named after the god of war because it is reddish in color, reminiscent of bloodshed. Not surprisingly, Mars (that is, Ares) rules the astrological sign Aries. He co-rules Scorpio. He also rules Tuesday (literally: Tiw’s Day, Tiw being a Germanic god of war) and the month of March. The term “martial”, as in “martial arts”, is derived from his name.

Zeus/Jupiter: Olympian king of the gods
Zeus/Jupiter: Olympian king of the gods | Source

The Father of Gods and of Men

Let’s return to our story of Kronos (Saturn), who castrated his father, Ouranos/Uranus (Sky). Because of this violent act, his parents prophesied that Kronos would some day be overthrown by a son of his own. To prevent this from happening, Kronos began eating his kids once they were born. He fathered several children with his wife, Rhea (Roman name: Ops), including Hades, Poseidon, and Hera. He ate them all immediately. But Rhea, who didn’t much like having her children eaten by her husband, after giving birth to Zeus, devised a trick to prevent Kronos from eating Zeus. She wrapped a big rock in baby clothes, and apparently, Kronos couldn’t tell the difference. He ate the rock. Rhea whisked Zeus away to safety, hiding him until he was grown. When he was grown, Zeus served his father a potion which caused him to vomit up the children he had swallowed (Zeus’ siblings). Then Zeus and his siblings waged a cataclysmic war against Kronos and his siblings (the Titans), eventually defeating them and imprisoning them deep in the gloomy underworld, called Tartarus. With the Titans out of the way, Zeus was free to rule as king over all, both gods and men. Settling on Mt. Olympus with his siblings and children (the so-called “Olympian gods”), Zeus became all-powerful and all-knowing; no one could prevent his will.

The Roman name for Zeus is Jupiter. The planet Jupiter is named after the king of the gods because it is the largest planet. Jupiter also rules over Thursday. English, being a Germanic language, renamed Jupiter’s day “Thor’s Day”, after a Germanic (Norse) god who bore many similarities to Jupiter. In Romance languages, which were derived directly from Latin, the name of Jupiter is retained. In Spanish, for example, Thursday is “Jueves”, after an alternate form of the name Jupiter: Jovis.

Zeus/Jupiter was known by many different epithets. He was called Father of Gods and Men; even the gods who weren’t his literal children called him father. He was called the Thunderer, as he was the one who held the thunder and the lightning-bolt. He was called The All-Wise, or Counselor, as he knew all, and was the source of wisdom and counsel for gods and men alike. These are just a few of his names.

Jupiter used to rule over the astrological sign, Pisces, but now rules the sign Sagittarius. Since I myself am a Sagittarius, the planet ruling my sign is associated with the All-Powerful, All-Wise King and Father of Gods and Men. How cool does that make me?



Jupiter, named after the King of the gods because it is the largest of the planets.
Jupiter, named after the King of the gods because it is the largest of the planets. | Source

When I set out to write this article (Greek Mythology Names: Gods, Planets, Astrology), I had no idea that I would have so much to write on the subject of gods and planets. To prevent this page from dragging on so long as to become monotonous, I will go through the rest of the planets in a second article, which may be read by clicking here.

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Comments 14 comments

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

very informative and interesting. i love greek and roman mythology so this was a fun read for me. thanks so much! :)


japtaker profile image

japtaker 5 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, kitty!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

And of course Spanish for Saturday is Sabado (Sabbath).

Aphrodite from sea foam may not be a false etymology if, as I suspect, some of the Greek gods and goddesses were associated with the Atlantis story. The story of Athena's birth has several parallels with the Atlantis story. Could Aphrodite have been named also for a matriarchal society borne out of the sea?

I remember reading recently that Mars was originally a god of agriculture. I guess the Romans believed in beating their plow shears into swords.

Nice observation about creation and destruction. The founder of Christianity once said that the truth will set you free. In my research into the mechanics of creation, I found that any "creation" is initially timeless. Turning one's back on (or "ignoring") a creation allows that creation to gain the added dimension of time. If one wants to erase a problem (a creation), one needs only look at the truth of its creation to take the time dimension out of it. One moment later, one is free of it. Scientology spiritual counseling used this to great effect. This is what both Scientology and Buddhism referred to as viewing "as-is." Viewing the "as it isness" of an object seems to go beyond even Heinlein's "grok" on the scale of knowingness. So indeed, creation and destruction are part and parcel to the same act.

And thanks for the insights on the Spanish days of the week. Very cool stuff.

I look forward to the next installment.


japtaker profile image

japtaker 5 years ago from United States Author

lone77star,

Thank you for your very thought provoking contribution. I haven't really researched the Atlantis thing much. I remember back when I was skimming through some of Edgar Cayce's books I saw that he believed in it. Do you know anything about it from his angle?

Sadly enough, I know very little about Scientology. I had a friend in rehab, however, who spent several months in NARCONON (a Scientology-based rehab program), and he had a lot of fascinating (to say the least) things to say about it. He mentioned that the tech books--I'm pretty sure he called them tech books--of Scientology are numbered with the same numbers used in Aleister Crowley's "The Book of the Law". Do you know anything about it? I remember reading that Hubbard and Crowley were pretty tight. It would be interesting to know the connections between Scientology and Thelema.

Anyways, thanks for the comment. I hope to have the next installment out soon.


anonymos 5 years ago

I used this for a science project


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Japtaker,

Sorry for the long delay in answering. Sometimes I have too much fun and time flies (rockets?)!

On Cayce's books, I've read some. I'm intrigued by what he had to say, but uncertain how much we can take as valid. Certainly, Cayce had a gift for helping people -- helping to heal those on whom medical science had given up.

My own research has turned up "proof" on the subject of Atlantis. Not direct proof, but at least substantial proof of an Atlantis-like event occurring exactly when Plato said the island was swallowed by the sea.

I had heard about Hubbard studying Crowley's work. And yes, I remember hearing that they were close. Perhaps there is a connection. All great thinkers build on the works of others. Scientology has a powerful set of tools for opening a window on our spiritual half. One thing they seemed to overlook, though, is the danger of ego. I think Tom Cruise and a few others found that out the hard way. Perhaps they still haven't fully realized what ego is.

Carl


Lenny 5 years ago

If you want to know what ego is? perhaps Minds and its Function literature (Lo-Rig; Tibetan) could be useful. It is said that mind consist of 51 mental factor and there wre 23 non-associated composite factors which combine all together to create phemomena of "I"/Ego and surroundings. Hopefully this will be useful. Cheers...


unknown 4 years ago

hi

this was cool

i really liked it


pablo 4 years ago

is very interesting, but you are a beach!!!


mellissa 3 years ago

This is really scary!


Fatima 3 years ago

I like it I think you should write more stories about greek mythology and i really help on my project to so thanks


tyler haskins 3 years ago

your website is inttersting


Lindsey Nobles profile image

Lindsey Nobles 2 years ago from Western New York

I found this piece facinating. I have very strong ties with all of it.

If you want some other tidbits about this I have this. The symbol for saturn is a black cube. This symbolism is used today to represent certain groups of people. Saturn is said to of been the ruler of Hell and the Illuminati (Iluumi-nati an interesting play on words, basically saying to not illuminate or keep what should be illuminated hidden) also have ties with Saturn because...as you referenced we was a cruel screwed up guy.

On another note, I know more about Atlantis than I think anyone could find in a book. I am not sure if you believe in someone having a "past life" though I don't really consider it that because I have never died. (The energy inside of me is what I'm referring to, obviously I don't have the same physical body.) One of my very first incarnations on this planet was in Atlantis. I have memories of what happened there and how it fell. Some of the stuff I'm going to say is out there for you to research if you want, some will be just "speculation" at best as you'll either think I'm nuts or you'll at least entertain that what I'm saying might have been true.

Atlantis had three phases. There was the first phase which was when the Earth was in the 5th dimension. When you are in the 5th Dimension you can manifest just about anything instantaneously. The 5th Dimension survives at a much higher vibration than the 3rd/4th Dimension we are experiencing now. So, if you want to think of it scientifically in vibrational waveform the physical denseness of the human body was very light and filled with Light as that is what we all are. (a combination of electromagnetic/electrotonal energy..which is light and sound) This was considered a magical time. The beings that were here were very connected to the Divine and the Oneness of Creation. They could travel anywhere as Atlantis is depicted as being a circular island with many outwardly radiating channels, but this isn't the only location of the Atlantean civilizaion. They used active teleportation portals to start civilizations on other parts of the planet. I also feel there was a civilization that was under the water.

When Atlantis got into it's second phase, the Earth's vibration was starting to lower into the 4th Dimension. The beings were starting to connect with and yearn for more material wealth and riches over this connection to the Divine. This wasn't everyone, but it was a good number of people, especially during the transition into the 3rd phase.

When Atlantis was born, the Earth was ruled by the Goddess energy. There were certain Goddesses who had the light codes of this energy and showed people how to connect to and stay connected to this beautiful and prosperous source of energy. Men and women had a balance of the God/Goddess energy, but males did have to lovingly submit to the loving/nurturing of the Goddess energy. It wasn't a power struggle for the Goddess energy, that's just how it works. Over time, the men got tired of their God energies taking a second seat to this Goddess energy being at the forefront of their creation, so many men went after these Goddesses to kill them and snuff out these light codes from ruling the Earth. They succeeded.

That's right about the time the Earth went into the 3rd Dimension (basically where we are today) and everything went to a dense particle phsyical form and the magic was not as awe inspiring as it once was. Atlantis was ruled by greed, selfishness, and malice. Which is why it fell. It could not sustain this level of irresponsiblity.

Myth or Ledgend...or perhaps the truth is there? :)


taniawebmaster profile image

taniawebmaster 2 years ago from Mohali in Punjab

Very informative and interesting but a little scary also..Well done and keep it up :)

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