At the center of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. From their position, they ruled all aspects of human life.
Olympic gods and goddesses looked like men and women (although they could be transformed into animals and other things) and were, as many myths related, vulnerable to human weaknesses and passions. In the ancient Greek world, the twelve great gods and goddesses of the Greeks were known as the Olympic gods, or the twelve Olympians. The name of this powerful group of gods comes from Mount Olympus, where the council of 12 met to discuss matters.
HESTIA used to be one of the Olympic athletes, but the struggle and constant fights between the gods bothered her and she finally gave up her seat to the god of wine, DIONYSUS. Even though she left the council, Hestia still had a house on Mount Olympus.
APHRODITE was on the council, but, in most Greek mythological stories, her husband HEPHAESTUS was not. In the famous Parthenon temple in Greece, there is a statue of each of the 12 Olympic gods. Hades does not have a statue, but Hephaestus does.
Click on any of the images and discover the history of your favorite deity from the Greek Olympus
List of Names of the Gods of Olympus and their Meaning
Zeus was the father of the famous Greek hero Hercules. «. His preferred weapon was lightning, He was the King of the gods, Zeus killed his father Chronos. He is also the god of thunder.
Meaning: The name Zeus means «bright» or «sky
Aphrodite was the goddess of fertility, love and beauty. During the Trojan War, Aphrodite fought on the side of Paris. Aphrodite and her son Eros (Cupid) joined together to make Zeus fall in love with a human named Europe.
As expected, for a goddess of love, she is said to have emerged from the foam generated when her father’s cut testicles, Uranus, were thrown into the sea by his son, Titan Chronos.
Meaning: Aphrodite was the goddess of love, sex and beauty.
Apollo was the son of Leto and Zeus. He was born on the island of Delos. He and his twin sister Artemis, also Olympic, shared an aptitude for archery. His nine muses were his companions; they were goddesses known to inspire art and music.
Meaning: God of sun, music and art.
He was the son of Zeus and Hera, both of whom hated him (according to Homer). Eros (better known as Cupid) was the son of Ares and Aphrodite. He represented the unpleasant aspects of the battle.
Meaning: God of blood thirst, God of war
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and Apollo’s twin sister. She was mainly a virgin hunter, goddess of wildlife and patron saint of hunters. She was an important goddess in women’s lives, especially when it came to marriage and young creatures.
Meaning: Artemis was the goddess of hunting.
Athena was the goddess of war, Ares’ female counterpart. She is one of the three virgin goddesses; the other two were Hestia and Artemis. Athena served as the guardian of Athens, where the Parthenon served as its temple.
She famously jumped completely formed from the forehead of Zeus. An important figure in the Odyssey, in which she instructed Odysseus, also guided Perseus and Heracles through their trials.
Meaning: Athena was the goddess of reason, wisdom and war.
Demeter was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Only women attended Tesmoforia, a fertility festival held in honor of Demeter.
Meaning: Goddess of harvest and fertility.
When Dionysus reached adulthood, Dionysus wandered the Earth, teaching men the culture of the vine. Dionysus was the last god to enter Olympus.
Meaning: God of the Vine
He was also called the God of Wealth or «the rich man» because he possessed the precious metals of the earth. Hades had a cap or helmet that made his wearer invisible. His wife was Persephone, Demeter’s only daughter, whom he kidnapped and made his queen.
Meaning: God of the Underworld and God of Wealth
Hephaestus was the only ugly god among perfectly beautiful immortals. He was the worker of the immortals: he made their homes, furniture and weapons. Frost was known as the God of Fire.
Meaning: The God of the forge.
Hera was the queen of the Olympic gods. In the history of The Search for the Golden Fleece, Hera was a gracious protector of heroes. Hera had few, if any, redeeming qualities. She never forgot an injury.
Meaning: The goddess of fertility.
Hermes was considered a «cheat» because of his astute and intelligent personality. He served primarily as the herald or messenger of the gods. Hermes was born in a cave on a mountain in Arcadia; he was conceived and born in the course of a day.
Meaning: The messenger god.
Although Hestia appeared in some stories, it was not very significant in Greek mythology. She was sister of Demeter, Hades, Poseidon, Hera and Zeus. Hestia is completely omitted in the works of Homer, author of the Iliad and Odyssey.
Meaning: Greek goddess of home and domestic life
Poseidon was assigned his dominion after the fall of the titans. He handled the trident or three-pointed spear, and this image of him is reflected in art.
Meaning: God of the sea and protector of all waters
She represented not only the positive aspects of these characteristics but also the negative ones.
The ancient Greeks thought she was the reason for unexpected events in their lives, good and evil. For example, if someone was very successful in life.
Meaning: Greek goddess of chance, destiny and fortune.
How were the Gods of Olympus and their Meaning ?
The thrones of Zeus and Hera were at the other end of the council hall. Their thrones were also the only two that faced the gates. If you entered through the door of the council hall, you would see Zeus’ throne on the left and Hera’s throne on the right.
All the male Olympic thrones were all on the left front to the right and the female Olympic thrones were all on the right front to the left.
Zeus, the king of the Olympic gods, sat on an Egyptian marble throne, inlaid with gold. A purple sheep’s wool cushioned the seat. Queen Hera’s throne was ivory.
A full moon hung over her. Next to Hera sat Ares, the god of war. His burnished bronze throne had a cushion covered with human skin. The throne room, or council room, was in the middle of a sumptuous palace, built for Olympic athletes by the giant one-eyed Cyclops.
Place where the Nine Muses lived
These gods looked a bit like humans, but they lived forever and were much more powerful. They felt human emotions, such as love, anger and jealousy, and they did not always behave.
The Greeks created gods in the image of humans; that is, their gods had many human qualities even though they were gods.
The gods constantly fought each other, behaved irrationally and unfairly, and were often jealous of each other. Zeus, the king of the gods, was rarely faithful to his wife Hera. Hera conspired against Zeus and punished his lovers.
The Greek gods were very emotional and behaved inconsistently and sometimes immorally. Some more specific facts that were written about the gods where they described them
Zeus: His temperament affected the weather, and he threw rays when he wasn’t happy.
Hermes wears a winged helmet and winged sandals.
Artemis often depicted in painting and sculpture with a deer or a hunting dog. She hunted with silver arrows and loved all wild animals.
Hera: Many myths tell how she sought revenge when Zeus betrayed her with his lovers.
Hephestos: It was said that he was very ugly and was also crippled
Poseidon was the most powerful god, He lived in a beautiful palace under the sea and caused earthquakes when he was in a bad mood.
Ares Aamenudo He was cruel and cowardly.
Hestia: She was the most gentle of the gods.
Hermes was a cheat and a friend of the thieves. The fastest of them all, he wore winged sandals and a winged hat and wore a magic wand.
How Did the Gods of Olympus Live ?
All 12 Olympic athletes had a home on Mount Olympus and that is where they met most often. HADES, the god of the underworld, preferred to live there, and POSEIDON often chose to stay in his palace under the sea.
Most other Olympic athletes would be on Mount Olympus year-round unless they were traveling.
Myths say that the 12 gods lived in the gorges at the top of the mountain, each with its opulent palace with magnificent marble columns and gold furniture.
The most important of the gods on Mount Olympus was Zeus, god of heaven, whose wife Hera was the goddess of marriage.
It is said that Zeus lived in the largest and best palace on Mount Olympus, after overthrowing his father. It is said that Zeus’ palace offered a panoramic view of the world, allowing the gods to see events on earth; it could obscure the view with clouds as needed.
His son Hephaestus (god of fire and forge) also eventually lived there after being banished, married Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty).
Poseidon, god of the sea, lived there, but often preferred to dwell in the ocean, and Hades, god of the underworld, lived in a dark palace beneath the earth and was important in mythology, although in reality he was not considered an Olympian.
They were also joined by Athena (the goddess of wisdom), Apollo (the god of music) and Artemis (goddess of hunting), Hestia (goddess of home), Hermes (the god messenger) and Ares (god of war).
It was essentially an ancient acropolis, a fortified complex on top of a hill and a palace, located just below the peaks of Mount Olympos.
The golden gates of the heavenly fortress were guarded by the three Horai (Horae) and contained the palace of Zeus, minor palaces for the other gods and stables for the immortal horses.
The buildings were built in stone with bronze foundations and were surrounded by enclosed courtyards with gilded pavements.
The main structure was the palace of Zeus. It had a fairly simple design, as was typical of ancient Greek palaces, with a central hall, private rooms and storage rooms.
The golden-floor hall served as a council and festival hall for the Olympic gods and provided them with a broad view of the lower world, allowing them to observe humanity from above.
The Greeks built temples for their gods and goddesses. Some temples were small, while others were very large and beautiful with amazing decorations.
Every city in Greece had a god or a ‘patron’ goddess. People believed that the patron gods protected them from harm.
When people needed help from the gods, they went to the temple to pray. They could go if they felt sick, on a trip or worried about the harvest on the farm.
How Did the Gods of Olympus Disappear ?
The Greek gods are immortal. They cannot really ‘die’. To ‘kill’ the gods, you must destroy the meaning of their domains.
For example, if Zeus has to ‘die’, his dominion; heaven and lightning must have no meaning. That means that when heaven and lightning are no longer recognized and worshipped by people, only then can Zeus die.
Similar is the case of Poseidon.
For Poseidon; the God of oceans and seas, earthquakes and horses, to die, people must no longer recognize these bodies.
In fact, it is said that only two gods have truly died.
One is Bread; the god of nature, the savage and the shepherds.
It is said that Pan died when people stopped worshipping nature and the wild. People stopped worshipping nature spirits, Naiads, nymphs, etc.
In fact, it is almost widely accepted that Pan’s death marked the advent of theology and Christianity. It is said that Christ was born as soon as Pan died (it is not clear whether Christ was born after Pan died or Pan died after Christ was born).
People stopped worshipping nature and began to worship Christ. As a result, nature was not recognized and Bread «died».
The other god is Asclepius; God of medicine, healing and rejuvenation.
His myth is very different. Asclepius is said to have been killed by Zeus, since Asclepius had returned Hippolytus from death in exchange for gold. This angers Hades, who asks Zeus to kill him. Zeus kills him with his lightning bolt.
It is said that Zeus then brings him back and orders him not to bring anyone from the dead without his permission.
What Festivals did you dedicate to the Olympic Gods ?
Athens was the place to go in ancient Greece for culture. Every four years, Athens held the Pan-Athenic Games. Thousands of people paraded through the city to worship the god Athena. There were athletics contests, poetry reading and music. The Games ended with a huge banquet all night.
Athens was the place to go and play too. The city organized a theater festival called Dionysus in honor of the god Dionysus. He was the god of theatre and wine. The festival was a bit like a competition. Judges gave awards for their favorite tragedy and comedy performances.
Pythian games were held in Delphi for the god Apollo. They looked a bit like the Olympic Games, but there were competitions of music, painting, acting and dancing, as well as athletics.
Studies of Other Mythological Gods in ALPHAPEDIA
Astrology in ALPHAPEDIA
Other Topics of Interest in ALPHAPEDIA
Image of Gods of Olympus