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Greek Mythology - The 12 Olympians

Updated on January 25, 2012

The Olympians

The Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans. We won't get into the Titans here, however, I do intend to create another hub with them on it. Here I have wrote the 'abc' approach of the Greek mythology, not paragraph after paragraph. So i'm going to keep it simple with bullet points.

  • All 12 of the Olympian gods are related in some way.
  • They are named after their dwelling place, Mount Olympus.
  • Greeks believed the gods were very much like people. They had supernatural powers and human weaknesses such as love, anger, jealousy, as well as the ability to trick and steal off each other.

A statue of Zeus, with an eagle by his side
A statue of Zeus, with an eagle by his side

The Gods

Zeus


  • Lord of the sky, the rain god.
  • Overthrew his father Cronus.
  • After the overthrow, Zeus drew lots with his two brothers Poseidon and Hades.
  • Zeus won the draw, and became supreme ruler of the gods.
  • He hurls his lightening bolt at those who displease him. He punishes those who lie or break oaths. Note I've wrote lightening bolt, not thunderbolt. Lightening is a cause - what you see and what does damage, thunder is the affect - what you hear.
  • He is married to the goddess Hera, but is well known for his many affairs.
  • He is known as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punisher of the wicked.
  • Zeus' symbols were the lightening bolt, the eagle, and the oak tree.
  • He was armed with lightening bolt and a shield. With every shake of his shield, thunderstorms ravage mankind.



A sculpture of Poseidon in the port of Copenhagen
A sculpture of Poseidon in the port of Copenhagen

Poseidon


  • God of the sea, protector all waters.
  • Second to Zeus in power among the gods.
  • Brother of Zeus and Hades.
  • After drawing lots with Zeus and Hades, Poseidon's prize was to become ruler of the sea.
  • Widely worshiped by seamen.
  • He married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titan Oceanus.
  • He first desired Demeter, a non-Olympian god. To put him off, Demeter asked him to make her the most beautiful animal the world has ever seen. Poseidon set to make the first horse. Some accounts suggest that Poseidon created several other animals in his attempts to create a horse. By the time he had created the horse, his passion for Demeter had cooled.
  • His weapon is the trident which can shake the earth, and shatter any object.
  • He is said to be difficult , quarrelsome and greedy at times.
  • He had a series of disputes with other gods when he tried to take over their cities.



Hades with Cerberus
Hades with Cerberus

Hades


  • Brother of Zeus and Poseidon.
  • Lord of the underworld, ruling over the dead and the god of wealth.
  • Thought to have got the worst shares of the world.
  • Ruler over the dead, but not death itself, that's another god, Thanatos.
  • A greedy god concerned mainly with increasing the number of his subjects.
  • Those who increase the number of the dead are seen favorably by Hades.
  • Hades is the god of wealth due to the precious metals mined from the earth in which he lives.
  • He has a helmet that makes him invisible, though he rarely leaves the underworld.
  • Seen as unpitying and terrible.
  • His wife is Persephone whom he abducted.
  • Has a three headed guard dog, Cerberus whom guards the entrance to the underworld.



Further Reads on The Olympians and Greek Mythology

A Statue of Hestia
A Statue of Hestia

Hestia


  • The sister of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.
  • A virgin goddess.
  • She's the goddess of the hearth, the symbol of the house of which a newborn child is carried by before received into the family.
  • Each Olympic city had a hearth sacred to Hestia, where the fire was never allowed to go out unless it was ritually extinguished and ritually renewed.
  • Hestia has no distinctive personality however, she was seen the mildest, the most upright and most charitable Olympian.
  • She plays no part in myths.



Hera

[Just a side note; sorry about the length of Hera's facts. However, I feel them necessary as they help greatly to paint a picture of how the Olympians interacted and the powerful stance Zeus had over the other gods. Also I find them quite interesting!]

  • Hera is Zeus' wife and sister.
  • She was raised by the Titans Oceanus and Tethys.
  • Hera is the goddess and protector of marriages and childbirth, and takes special care of married women.
  • Her marriage to Zeus was founded in strife and continued so. After unsuccessfully courting Hera, Zeus turned to trickery and transformed himself into a disheveled cuckoo. When Hera held the 'cuckoo' to her breast, Zeus transformed back and raped her. To hide her shame, Hera agreed to the marriage.
  • Hera once set out, along with other gods to overthrow Zeus. Her part in the plan was to drug Zeus, and she was successful in this. The gods then tied Zeus to a couch, taking care to tie many knots. After this, arguments broke out over the next step, during which time the god Briareus loosened the knots and Zeus then escaped grasping his lightening bolt. The other gods trembled in fear and begged for mercy. Zeus seized Hera and hung her from the skies in gold chains. She wept in pain all night, but none of the gods dared to interfere. Her weeping kept Zeus awake all night and the next morning he agreed to release her if she would swear never to rebel again. She never did rebel again, but did outwit him on many occasions.
  • Most stories concerning Hera are to do with her jealous revenge for Zeus' many infidelities.
  • Her sacred animals are the cow and the peacock.
  • Her favourite city is Argos.



A Marble Statue of Ares
A Marble Statue of Ares

Ares


  • You may in your searches have found confusion of the name Ares. Ares is the Greek god's name. However it is also seen written as Aris. Ares' planet is Mars, the zodiac sign for this is Aries. It is thought this is where confusion over the name began, with different writings showing either Ares or Aris as the origin of the signs name.
  • Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera.
  • He is the god of war.
  • He is seen as murderous and bloodstained, however he is also seen as cowardly.
  • Ares uses a spear as his weapon when in battle.
  • Animals sacred to him are all birds and consist of; the barn owl, woodpecker, eagle owl, and especially in the south, the vulture.
  • There are accounts that Ares had a son named Cycnus, of Macedonia, who was so murderous that he attempted to build a temple made from the bones of travelers. Upon hearing of this, Heracles slaughtered Cycnus and in doing so enraged Ares. They fought and Ares was wounded.



Here Is A Brilliantly Made and Informative Video Describing The 12 Olympians

A Statue of Athena in the Louvre
A Statue of Athena in the Louvre

Athena


  • The goddess of reason, intelligent activity, handicrafts, agriculture, arts and literature.
  • She is the daughter of Zeus. It is said that she sprang from his forehead in full armour, and thus, has no mother.
  • Athena is fierce and brave in battle, but only battles when necessary. Mainly to defend her state and home from enemies.
  • Her weapon is a spear and she also carries a shield.
  • She invented many items, including the bridle allowing man to tame horses. Her other inventions were; the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plough, the yoke (a wooden beam attaching to animals, usually oxen, to pull a load, for instance, a plough), the ship, and the chariot.
  • Athena was Zeus' favourite child and was allowed to use his weapons, even his lightening bolt.
  • Her tree is the olive tree and her bird is the owl.
  • Her favourite city is Athens.



A statue of Apollo with his lyra
A statue of Apollo with his lyra

Apollo


  • The god of music, healing, light, truth, plague, poetry and more.
  • He plays a golden lyre, he taught man medicine and he can speak no lie.
  • Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto.
  • He has a twin sister called Artemis.
  • Each day Apollo has the important daily task of harnessesing four horses to his chariot and driving the sun across the sky.
  • He is famous for his oracles (speeches) at Delphi. People traveled to Delphi from all over the Greek world to hear the wise words, counsel, and future predictions.
  • His tree is the Laurel, his bird the crow, and his animal the dolphin.



A statue of Aphrodite
A statue of Aphrodite

Aphrodite


  • The goddess of love, desire and beauty.
  • She is said to be either the daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid*, Dione, or born from the sea foam after Uranus' blood dripped down to Earth when he was defeated by his youngest son Cronus. Cronus is said to have castrated Uranus, and tossed his severed genitals into the sea.
  • Aphrodite is married to Hephaestus, although she's had many adulterous affairs, most notably, with Ares.
  • Her name gave us the word aphrodisiac, a substance that increases sexual desire.
  • Her birds of the dove, swan and sparrow.
  • The myrtle is her tree.

*The Oceanids are the three thousand daughters of the Titans, Oceanus and Tethys.




A statue of Hermes with his winged cap and staff
A statue of Hermes with his winged cap and staff

Hermes


  • The god of theives and commerce.
  • Hermes is the herald, or messenger of the gods to humans, along with Iris.
  • He is the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia.
  • He is the fastest of all the Olympians and as so is Zeus' messenger.
  • Hermes guides the dead to the underworld.
  • For the gods, Hermes invented divine worship and sacrifice.
  • He invented many things; the lyre, the pipes, the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics, and care for olive tree.
  • His symbols include the caduceus (a staff entwined with two snake heads), winged sandals, winged cap, the stork and the tortoise. The tortoise who's shell he used to create the lyre.
  • Dryope is his wife, and their son Pan became the god of nature, lord of the Satyrs and inventor of the panpipes.



A statue of Artemis alongside a deer
A statue of Artemis alongside a deer

Artemis

  • The eldest child and daughter of Zeus and Leto.
  • Apollo is her twin brother.
  • She is the virgin goddess, the goddess of chastity of the hunt, virginity, childbirth, archery and all animals.
  • Her symbols include the moon, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree, and bow and arrow.
  • She is the protector of the young and, like her brother Apollo, she hunts with silver arrows.
  • Being the goddess of childbirth may seem odd being as she is a virgin goddess. It goes back to when her mother Leto gave birth; Artemis caused her no pain.
  • The cypress is her tree.



A statue of Hephaestus
A statue of Hephaestus

Hephaestus

  • The son of Zeus and Hera, Zeus' wife. Although it is sometimes said that Hera produced Hephaestus alone and that he has no father.
  • He is the only god ever to be physically described as ugly.
  • Hephaestus was also lame, though accounts as to how this came to be this way vary. Some say that Hera, upset with having an ugly child, threw him off mount Olympus into the sea, breaking his legs. Whilst others say that he sided with Hera in an argument between Hera and Zeus, and Zeus flung him off mount Olympus.
  • He is the god of fire and the forge. He is the smith and armorer of the gods.
  • He uses a volcano as a forge, and his name in Latin, Vulcan, gave us the word volcano.
  • He is the patron god of smiths and weavers.
  • Hephaestus is kind and peace loving, and his wife is Aphrodite. Unlike other gods, he was rarely adulterous, when he was, it was to Aglaia, who is also the daughter of Zeus.

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      Lucky 

      3 years ago

      Aarggggh, as my soulmate is off patnyirg while I'm doing homework and stuff, I keep reaching over to my side, and he isn't there! Darn you, Zeus!` This is all reminding me of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. OMG... have you seen? Poor Hedwig! (And the angry inch he has left!)

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