Greek Gods of Mt. Olympus
Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled
after the overthrow of the Titans. All the Olympians are
related in some way. They are named after their dwelling
place, Mount Olympus.
- Homer Odyssey, 6, p. 103.
Homer describes Mt. Olympus. "Shaken by no wind,
drenched by no showers and invaded by no snows, it is
set in a cloudless sea of limpid air with a white radiance
playing over all. There the happy gods spend their delightful
- Homer Iliad,
1, p. 34-5. Priests pray and offer sacrifice to Apollo,
hoping he would end his plague on the Greeks.
- Homer Iliad, 6, p. 129-30.
Hector reassures his wife and tells her not to worry,
but reminds her that the will of the gods (namely Fate)
is inescapable. He says, "No one is going to send
me down to Hades before my proper time. But Fate is a
thing that no man born of woman, coward or hero, can
- Homer Odyssey, 1, p. 26.
The plight of Odysseus offers another example. Odysseus
is trapped on an island by the sea nymph Calypso who
wants to marry him, while Odysseus' wife Penelope is
still at Ithaca, waiting for Odysseus and being harassed
by suitors who demand that she choose a new husband since
Odysseus has been gone so long. Athena says to her father,
Zeus, "It is for Odysseus that my heart is wrung
- the wise but unlucky Odysseus, who has been parted
so long from all his friends and is pining on a lonely
island far away in the middle of the seas... Why so much
bitterness against him, Zeus?"
- Herodotus Histories, 1.53,
p. 21. King Croesus of Lydia consults the oracle of Delphi
when contemplating an attack on the Persians. The oracle
responded that Croesus' attack would "destroy a
great empire." Unfortunately for Croesus, the
great empire that was destroyed was his own empire of Lydia.
Zeus overthrew his Father Cronus. He then
drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Zeus won
the draw and became the supreme ruler of the gods. He is
lord of the sky, the rain god. His weapon is a thunderbolt
which he hurls at those who displease him. He is married
to Hera but, is famous for his many affairs. He is also known
to punish those that lie or break oaths.
Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. After the
overthrow of their Father Cronus he drew lots with Zeus and
Hades, another brother, for shares of the world. His prize
was to become lord of the sea. He was widely worshiped by
seamen. He married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titan
Oceanus. At one point he desired Demeter. To put him off
Demeter asked him to make the most beautiful animal that
the world had ever seen. So to impress her Poseidon created
the first horse. In some accounts his first attempts were
unsuccessful and created a variety of other animals in his
quest. By the time the horse was created his passion for
Demeter had cooled. His weapon is a trident, which can shake
the earth, and shatter any object. He is second only to Zeus
in power amongst the gods. He has a difficult quarrelsome
personality. He was greedy. He had a series of disputes with
other gods when he tried to take over their cities.
Hades is the brother of Zeus. After the overthrow
of their Father Cronus he drew lots with Zeus and Poseidon,
another brother, for shares of the world. He had the worst
draw and was made lord of the underworld, ruling over the
dead. He is a greedy god who is greatly concerned with increasing
his subjects. Those whose callings increase the number of
dead are seen favorably. The Erinyes are welcomed guests.
He is exceedingly disinclined to allow any of his subjects
leave. He is also the god of wealth, due to the precious
metals mined from the earth. He has a helmet that makes him
invisible. He rarely leaves the underworld. He is unpitying
and terrible, but not capricious. His wife is Persephone
whom Hades abducted. He is the King of the dead but, death
itself is another god, Thanatos.
Hestia is Zeus sister. She is a virgin goddess.
She does not have a distinct personality. She plays no part
in myths. She is the Goddess of the Hearth, the symbol of
the house around which a new born child is carried before
it is received into the family. Each city had a public hearth
sacred to Hestia, where the fire was never allowed to go
Hera is Zeus wife and sister. She was raised
by the Titans Ocean and Tethys. She is the protector of marriage
and takes special care of married women. Hera's marriage
was founded in strife with Zeus and continued in strife.
Zeus courted her unsuccessfully. He then turned to trickery,
changing himself into disheveled cuckoo. Hera feeling sorry
for the bird held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then
resumed his normal form and taking advantage of the surprise
he gained, raped her. She then married him to cover her shame.
Once when Zeus was being particularly overbearing to the
other gods, Hera convinced them to join in a revolt. Her
part in the revolt was to drug Zeus, and in this she was
successful. The gods then bound the sleeping Zeus to a couch
taking care to tie many knots. This done they began to quarrel
over the next step. Briareus overheard the arguments. Still
full of gratitude to Zeus, Briareus slipped in and was able
to quickly untie the many knots. Zeus sprang from the couch
and grabbed up his thunderbolt. The gods fell to their knees
begging and pleading for mercy. He seized Hera and hung her
from the sky with gold chains. She wept in pain all night
but, none of the others dared to interfere. Her weeping kept
Zeus up and the next morning he agreed to release her if
she would swear never to rebel again. She had little choice
but, to agree. While she never again rebelled, she often
intrigued against Zeus's plans and she was often able to
outwit him. Most stories concerning Hera have to do with
her jealous revenge for Zeus's infidelities. Her sacred animals
are the cow and the peacock. Her favorite city is Argos .
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. He was
disliked by both parents. He is the god of war. He is considered
murderous and bloodstained but, also a coward. When caught
in an act of adultery with Aphrodite her husband Hephaestus
is able publicly ridicule him. His bird is the vulture. His
animal is the dog.
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She sprang
full grown in armor from his forehead, thus has no mother.
She is fierce and brave in battle but, only fights to protect
the state and home from outside enemies. She is the goddess
of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She invented the
bridle, which permitted man to tame horses, the trumpet,
the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship,
and the chariot. She is the embodiment of wisdom, reason,
and purity. She was Zeus's favorite child and was allowed
to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. Her favorite
city is Athens . Her tree is the olive. The owl is her bird.
She is a virgin goddess.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin
sister is Artemis. He is the god of music, playing a golden
lyre. The Archer, far shooting with a silver bow. The god
of healing who taught man medicine. The god of light. The
god of truth, who can not speak a lie. One of Apollo's more
important daily tasks is to harness his chariot with four
horses and drive the Sun across the sky. He is famous for
his oracle at Delphi . People traveled to it from all over
the Greek world to divine the future. His tree was the laurel.
The crow his bird. The dolphin his animal.
Charioteer of Delphi
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, desire,
and beauty. In addition to her natural gifts she has a magical
girdle that compels anyone she wishes to desire her. There
are two accounts of her birth. One says she is the daughter
of Zeus and Dione. The other goes back to when Cronus castrated
Uranus and tossed his severed genitals into the sea. Aphrodite
then arose from the sea foam on a giant scallop and walked
to shore in Cyprus . She is the wife of Hephaestus. The myrtle
is her tree. The dove, the swan, and the sparrow her birds.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is
Zeus messenger. He is the fastest of the gods. He wears winged
sandals, a winged hat, and carries a magic wand. He is the
god of thieves and god of commerce. He is the guide for the
dead to go to the underworld. He invented the lyre, the pipes,
the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing,
gymnastics, and the care of olive trees.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto.
Her twin brother is Apollo. She is the lady of the wild things.
She is the huntsman of the gods. She is the protector of
the young. Like Apollo she hunts with silver arrows. She
became associated with the moon. She is a virgin goddess,
and the goddess of chastity. She also presides over childbirth,
which may seem odd for a virgin, but goes back to causing
Leto no pain when she was born. She became associated with
Hecate. The cypress is her tree. All wild animals are scared
to her, especially the deer.
Hephaestus is the son of Zeus and Hera. Sometimes
it is said that Hera alone produced him and that he has no
father. He is the only god to be physically ugly. He is also
lame. Accounts as to how he became lame vary. Some say that
Hera, upset by having an ugly child, flung him from Mount
Olympus into the sea, breaking his legs. Others that he took
Hera's side in an argument with Zeus and Zeus flung him off
Mount Olympus . He is the god of fire and the forge. He is
the smith and the one who armors the gods. He uses a volcano
as his forge. He is the patron god of both smiths and weavers.
He is kind and peace loving. His wife is Aphrodite. Sometimes
his wife is identified as Aglaia.