The stories found in Greek mythology are colorful, allegorical and include moral lessons for those who love them and puzzles for those who don’t. They include profound human truths and the fundamentals of Western culture.
The foundations of Greek mythology are the gods and goddesses and their mythical history. Greek mythology tells stories about gods and goddesses, other immortals, demigods, monsters or other mythical creatures, extraordinary heroes and some common people.
Some of the gods and goddesses are called Olympians because they ruled the earth from their thrones on Mount Olympus. There were 12 Olympians in Greek mythology, although several had various names.
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List of Names of the Titans or Greek Gods
Olympic God of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge.
Apollo was the son of Leto and Zeus. He was born on the island of Delos. He and his twin sister Artemis, shared an aptitude for archery. The nine muses were his companions; they were goddesses known to inspire art and music.
Distinguishing Features: Apollo liked to look sexy, He could usually be compared to a movie star, with fashionable clothes, relaxed attitude, bright smile.
Apollo was in everything from music to medicine, probably because he thought he was better at everything than anyone else. When the old sun god, Helios, retired, Apollo also took over the job, although he was mostly considered the god of poetry and music. Apollo did not take criticism well. Once he asked King Midas to judge a competition between him and Pan, and when Midas decided that Pan’s music was better, Apollo gave both of them donkey ears.
Symbol: lyre, laurel crown.
God of war, was the son of Zeus and Hera, both hated him (according to Homer). Eros (better known as Cupid) was the son of Ares and Aphrodite. Ares was called in particular God of war; He represented the unpleasant aspects of the battle.
He represented the physical, violent and indomitable aspect of war. In the past, this son of Zeus and Hera used to be inseparable from his shield and helmet. He fought alongside the Trojans during the Trojan War.
Symbol: A bloody spear, a wild boar
God of vinification and wine, of ritual madness, religious ecstasy and theatre.
Dionysus was known primarily as an Olympic god of vintage. Upon reaching adulthood, Dionysus wandered the earth, teaching men the culture of the vine. Distinguishing features: leopard skin shirt, walking shorts, purple socks and sandals, general pasty behavior of someone who has been partying too late. Dionysus invented wine, which so impressed his father Zeus that he promoted Dionysus to god.
Dionysus spent most of his time celebrating in ancient Greece, but once a crew of sailors tried to kill him, thinking that the god was too incapacitated to defend himself. Dionysus turned them into dolphins and sent them by the side.
Symbol: the leopard, the vine.
God of the dead and riches and the king of the underworld. 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 its wearer invisible. His wife was Persephone, the only daughter of Demetrius, whom he kidnapped and made his queen.
Distinguishing features: evil smile, helm of darkness (which makes it invisible, so you can’t see the evil smile), black tunics sewn from the souls of the damned. He sits on a throne of bones.
Hades is best known for the romantic way he won his wife, Persephone. He kidnapped her. Really.
Symbol: the helm of darkness
God of fire, metallurgy, stone masonry, forges and the art of sculpture. Hephaestus created weapons for the gods and married Aphrodite. He 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.
Distinctive characteristics: ugly face, disheveled beard, powerful and massive hands. He usually wears a mechanic’s uniform with his name embroidered on his pocket so he doesn’t forget who he is.
Poor Hephaestus was ugly from birth, but he didn’t get prettier when his parents threw him down the side of Mount Olympus, making him a cripple forever.
He’s not much to do with it, but he’s smart with his hands. The Olympic athletes had Aphrodite marry him, thinking it would reassure her, but that didn’t work out very well. Hephaestus is a jealous husband, always attentive to that scoundrel Ares and anyone else who wants to flirt with his wife.
Symbol: The anvil and the hammer.
God of commerce, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes and border crossings, guide of the underworld and messenger of the gods. 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.
Distinguishing Features: Hermes used to be depicted as a young man in winged sandals and a wide-brimmed hat with wings. He also carried a cane with two snakes known as caduceus. Hermes began young as a troublemaker. When he was one day old, he slipped out of his crib and stole some cattle from his brother Apollo. Apollo would probably have torn the young man to pieces, but fortunately Hermes appeased him with a new musical instrument he created called the lyre.
Apollo liked it so much that he forgot about the cows. The lyre made Apollo very popular with the ladies, which was more than he could say about cattle.
Symbol: the caduceus
Olympic Greek god of the sea, earthquakes, storms and horses. 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. Poseidon was the God of the sea and the protector of all waters.
Distinguishing Features: Poseidon is often imagined as a man, beyond middle age, but not of advanced age. He often has curly hair, which is sometimes long, a large beard, and is depicted as muscular. Sometimes he has a trident. Poseidon was always a bad-tempered boy. In his good days, he did great things like creating sea foam horses. In his bad days, he caused minor problems like destroying cities with earthquakes or sinking entire fleets of boats.
Symbol: three-pointed trident
Meaning of Zeus
God of heaven, lightning, thunder, law, order, justice, King of gods and the «Father of gods and men». Zeus was the father of the famous Greek hero Hercules. The name Zeus means «brilliant» or «sky». His favorite weapon was lightning, created for him by the Cyclops.
Distinguishing Features: Zeus is commonly shown as an older man, with long white hair and a thick beard. His eyes are typically blue, like the sky, and, like most Greeks, he has white skin and a very large and dangerous beam.
In the old days, Zeus ruled his ungovernable family of Olympian athletes as they argued, fought and became jealous of each other. Zeus always had an eye for beautiful women, which often got him in trouble with his wife, Hera.
As a less than stellar father figure, Zeus once threw Hera’s son, Hephaestus, from the top of Mount Olympus because the baby was too ugly.
God of sleep. Distinguishing Features: Hypnos appears as a gentle young man, usually with wings attached to his temples or shoulders. Sometimes he is seen carrying a torch upside down.
Hypnos could be good or bad in ancient times. He brought rest and dreams, but he could also stalk you and make you fall asleep in the bad times.
Goddess of love and beauty. 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.
Distinguishing Features: She is very, very pretty. It is difficult to be more specific, because Aphrodite can change her appearance to become what is most beautiful. She was represented as a beautiful woman. In classic and fresh sculptures, they usually represented her naked.
She is more beautiful than Helen of Troy. Nor was Aphrodite afraid to use her beauty to get what she wanted, either. She promised Prince Paris the most beautiful mortal woman in the world if she judged Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess in a contest, and Paris agreed.
Symbol: the dove, an apple, a scallop shell and a mirror
Goddess of the moon, hunting and young maidens. Artemis was daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo. 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.
Distinguishing features: Artemis likes to appear as a deadly maiden of about twelve or thirteen years, but don’t let that fool you. Artemis is mortal with her bow, and does not suffer for fools, especially foolish men. Her eyes are silvery like the moon, and she tends to wear white and silver.
Artemis enjoyed hunting with her maidens and basically kept herself unless she was disturbed. Once, a man hunter tried to spy on Artemis while she was bathing. The goddess turned him into a deer and his hunters tracked him down and killed him. Basically, she does not have much sense of humor when it comes to glimpses.
Symbol: the moon, the deer.
Goddess of wisdom, war and useful arts. Athena was the goddess of war, Ares’ female counterpart. She is one of the three virgin goddesses; the other two were Hestia and Artemis. They served as guardians of Athens, where the Parthenon served as her temple.
Distinguishing features: dark hair, eye-catching gray eyes, casual clothing, (except when she goes to battle; so it is a full-body armor). Athena is always accompanied by at least one owl, her sacred animal.
Athena was one of the most active goddesses in human affairs. She helped Odysseus, sponsored the whole city of Athens and made sure that the Greeks won the Trojan War. On the negative side, she is proud and has a great temperament. Just ask Arachne, who became a spider by daring to compare her weaving skills with those of Athena.
Symbol: the owl
Goddess of agriculture. Demetria was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was the goddess of harvest and fertility. Only women attended Tesmoforias, a fertility festival held in Demetria’s honor.
Distinguishing Features: She was a mature woman, who often wore a crown and carried wheat sheaves or a cornucopia (horn of abundance), and a torch.
Demetria was one of the quietest goddesses. As the crops grew and the farmers were happy, Demetria was happy. If you wanted to eat, you had to make sure you kept the good side of Demetria. When Hades stole his daughter Persephone, Demetria stopped the growth of all plants and people started starving.
Symbol: torch, a cornucopia.
Goddess of marriage, mothers and families. Hera was the queen of the Olympic gods. In the story of The Search for the Golden Fleece, Hera was a gracious protector of heroes. Hera had few, if any, redemptive qualities. She never forgot an injury.
Distinguishing Features: Generally, she prefers classic Greek dresses and a simple silver crown, although it can be mixed as needed. Usually appears as a beautiful older woman, and enjoys turning into birds when she needs to hide or spy.
It’s hard to be the goddess of marriage in a family where everyone deceives everyone. Hera has no patience with the demigods, the children of godly affairs. She was the enemy of Heracles and many others, though she had a weakness for mortal heroes, like Jason.
Symbol: pomegranate, cow and peacock
Goddess of the rainbow, messenger of the gods. Distinguishing Features: Iris appears as a beautiful maiden with wings (rainbow, naturally) carrying the symbolic staff of a herald like Hermes.
When she is not running around giving messages, she serves nectar to Zeus and Hera in the throne room on Olympus, which is not so exciting, but lets her rest her wings. Iris was above all Hera’s maiden. She never received much attention in the old myths, but everyone was happy to see her. Like a rainbow, she would appear where you least expected her and then disappear in silence.
Goddess of the good luck of chance, destiny and fortune. Tyche, was the Greek goddess of chance, destiny and fortune. 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.
Distinguishing Features: Tyche may resemble Nemesis, her sister, which means you must be careful. Sometimes good luck can seem bad luck, and vice versa.
Tyche usually has a cornucopia, the horn of abundance, which is full of nuts, berries, fruit cakes, chocolates and all sorts of treats that represent the fortunes he bestows on mankind. The horn of abundance has become a symbol of Thanksgiving in America thanks to Tyche.
It’s also seen with an orb, a ball that can roll in any direction, just as a reminder that good luck doesn’t always turn you around. In the past, Greeks prayed for Tyche’s favor in games of chance, contests and competitions. The curious thing about Tyche, however. She almost never appears when you call. She prefers to surprise you. Unfortunately, her sister Nemesis does too.
What Were the Greek Gods Like ?
In Greek mythology, «in the beginning was chaos,» and nothing else. Chaos was not a god, but an elemental force, a force made of itself and not composed of anything else. It existed from the beginning of the universe.
Chaos generated other elementary forces or principles, such as Love, Earth and Heaven, and in a later generation, the Titans. The gods, like the GREEK GODS of history, have very exaggerated personalities and are plagued with personal defects and negative emotions despite their immortality and superhero powers.
The first generations of forces named in Greek mythology were progressively more like humans: the titans were the sons of Gaia (Ge ‘Earth’) and Uranus (Ouranos ‘Heaven’) – Earth and Heaven. The Olympian gods and goddesses were later born of a specific pair of titans, making them the grandchildren of the Olympian gods and goddesses of Earth and Heaven.
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. Greek religion did not have a standard set of morals, there were no Ten Jewish Commandments. The gods, heroes and humans of Greek mythology had defects.
In addition to Zeus and Hera, there were many other major and minor gods in the Greek religion. At birth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprouted directly from the head of Zeus.
Hermes, who had winged feet, was the messenger of the gods and could fly anywhere with great speed. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was the most beautiful being in the universe. Her brother, Ares, the god of war, was sinister, mean and displeased.
Poseidon ruled the sea from his place under water and Apollo rode his chariot across the sky, bringing the sun with him.
Hades was in charge of the dead in the underworld. Almost everyone went to Hades after they died, whether good or bad. To get there, the dead had to cross the Styx River. Charon was the name of the boatman who transported the souls of the dead across the Styx River to Hades.
Typically, the gods punished those who were evil. For example, Tantalus, who killed his own son and served him to the gods for dinner, was sent to Hades and made him always thirsty and hungry. Although there was a pool of clean, fresh water at his feet, every time Tantalus ducked to drink, the pool dried up and disappeared.
Also, the most delicious fruit hung over his head. However, every time Tantalus reached them, a wind blew them out of reach. The English word «tentalize» derives from the name Tantalus.
How did the Gods or Titans of Greek Mythology Live ?
Their main gods and goddesses lived on top of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, and myths described their lives and actions.
In myths, gods often actively intervene in the daily lives of humans. Myths were used to help explain the unknown and sometimes to teach a lesson. For example, Zeus, the king of the gods, carried his favorite weapon, lightning. When it rained and there was thunder and lightning, the ancient Greeks believed that Zeus was venting his anger.
Many stories about how the Greek gods behaved and how they interacted with humans are found in Homer’s works. He created two epic poems: the Iliad, which recounted the events of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, which detailed the travels of the hero Odysseus. These two poems were transmitted orally over many generations.
How did the Greek Gods Disappear ?
I heard a particular story about how Greek mythology ended. It sounds like a good story, but probably as mystical as the whole mythology.
The collapse of mythology began with one born of Ares. He was born as a war deity, son of Zeus and Hera. There were regions in Greece where every god has to reign and protect, like Athens of Athena and Sparta of Ares.
Athena and Ares were completely different brothers. Athena cares about peace, while Ares is interested in war. Therefore, they were fighting quite a lot. (Athens vs. Sparta). Ares does not like many gods because of his warlike nature, especially his father Zeus.
Although he is a war deity, Ares faces humiliation in many ways. He was put in a jar as a prisoner of war for 13 months, wounded by the deadly Diomedes in the Trojan War, etc. However, he was like a spoiled child, declared wars for no particular reason. He kills someone just because he likes to kill. In all adventures, Ares is saved by 11 other Olympian gods, except Zeus.
After many battles, Ares planned to terrorize the world. He had four companions; Fobos (fear), Deioms (violence), Eris (restlessness) and Enyo. He made massacres in Thrace and three rivers, they were full of blood. Fobos played an important role here and terrorized the whole Olympus. He helped a lot to terrorize all of continental Greece.
The gods of Olympus were not happy and declared war on Ares. However, they lost and Olympus fell. Fear of Fobos was the main source of failure. (Phobos became phobia in the modern world). Although, the gods lost the war; Zeus did not lose his throne on Olympus. It was a day of stagnation. Zeus and Ares had to agree.
Zeus demanded peace, Ares would have given peace on one condition. «From now on, none of the gods will interfere in the world. Zeus had two options; either he would accept or all the gods would be killed.
He accepted it…
Zeus closed all doors to the earth and ended mythology. And the gods would be slowly forgotten in Greek minds.
Studies of Other Mythological Gods in ALPHAPEDIA
Astrology in ALPHAPEDIA
Other Topics of Interest in ALPHAPEDIA
Images, Photos or Drawings of the Greek Gods