Roman name: Jupiter
Zeus is the King of the Gods, Lord of the Skies, bringer of rain and storms, and of law, order and justice. His symbols are the eagle and his lightning bolt. His parents were two Titans – Kronos and Rhea. His siblings are Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter and Hestia.
He is married to his sister Hera, and together that had Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus. He had many consorts and with them, more children including: Athena ( with Metis), the twins – Apollo and Artemis (with Leto), Dionysus (with Semele), Persephone (with Demeter), Hermes (with Maia) and Hercules/Heracles ( with Alcmene).
Kronos, his father, is known for eating his children so that they couldn’t overthrow him. However, when his last child, Zeus, was born, Rhea was fed up and gave Kronos a rock to eat instead.
When Zeus was older his gave his father some poison and Kronos threw up his children. They then cut him up and threw him into Tartarus, the worst part of the underworld.
Roman name: Juno
Hera is the Queen of the Gods, Goddess of marriage, mothers and families. Her symbols are pomegranates, cows (the motherly animal) and peacocks. Her parents were Kronos and Rhea, and her siblings are Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter and Hestia. It is said she had a fiery temper and could hold a grudge for millennia.
The Greek God Hephaestus was the son of Hera and Zeus. When he was born, Hera threw him off Mt. Olympus for being ‘hideously ugly and deformed’, but another version believed that it was Zeus who threw him out when he was defending his mother from Zeus’s anger. The myth says that he landed on an island where he was taught skills of craftsmanship and forgery.
Roman name: Neptune
God of the seas, oceans, horses, hurricanes and earthquakes. His symbols are his signature 3 pointed trident and horses. His parents were Kronos and Rhea. His siblings are Hera, Zeus, Hades, Demeter and Hestia. He was married to Amphitrite and they had 5 children – Triton, Rhode and Benthysicyme – Nymphs; and Otus and Ephialtes – twin giants. He was in control of the oceans and any seafarer was aware that their fate was in their hands, and his mood controlled the seas.
Poseidon and Athena competed against each other to be the patron deity of the Greek city, Athens. They were presented in front of Cecrops, the King of Athens, and were asked to offer a gift that would be useful to the Athenians. Poseidon went first and struck the earth with his trident, creating a water source, but to the dismay of the Athenians, the water was salty. Athena went next, striking the ground with her spear an olive tree sprouted- a sign of peace and prosperity. Cecrops was impressed with Athena gift, and gave her the city, causing Poseidon to have a temper tantrum. They felt his wrath when he cursed the city to never have enough water, a problem that is still relevant today.
Poseidon went first and struck the earth with his trident, creating a water source, but to the dismay of the Athenians, the water was salty. Athena went next, striking the ground with her spear an olive tree sprouted- a sign of peace and prosperity. Cecrops was impressed with Athena gift, and gave her the city, causing Poseidon to have a temper tantrum. They felt his wrath when he cursed the city to never have enough water, a problem that is still relevant today.
Roman name: Pluto, Dis
Hades is the God of the Dead and King of the Underworld. His symbol is his Helm of Darkness – a helmet that makes the wearer invisible, black sheep and the narcissus His parents were Kronos and Rhea. His siblings are Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter and Hestia. Hades was married to his niece Persephone; whose parents were both his siblings. She was forced to live with him for 6 months – Autumn and Winter and went back to live with her mother Demeter in Spring and Summer. Hades is not Death, meaning he isn’t responsible for the deaths of individuals, that job belongs to Thanatos and/or the Fates. His roman name “Pluto” comes from the Latin word for wealth because of all the gems and minerals in the earth.
She was forced to live with him for 6 months – Autumn and Winter and went back to live with her mother Demeter in Spring and Summer. Hades is not Death, meaning he isn’t responsible for the deaths of individuals, that job belongs to Thanatos and/or the Fates. His roman name “Pluto” comes from the Latin word for wealth because of all the gems and minerals in the earth.
When Orpheus came wondering (undead) into the underworld in search of his wife Eurydice (You-rid-a-see). He spoke to Hades himself and played the most beautiful piece of music to him. Hades granted his wish, on one condition, that when he and Eurydice were travelling back to the surface he would walk in front and wouldn’t look back until they reached the surface. Starting to doubt Hades’ promise he looked back, only to see Eurydice being pulled back to the Underworld.
Roman name: Ceres
Demeter was the goddess of agriculture. Her symbol were torches, wheat and corn. Her parents were Kronos and Rhea, and her siblings are Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Hestia. She and her brother Zeus and she had a daughter together – Persephone, and from the start of Autumn to the start of spring Demeter mourns her as Persephone has to live with her husband in the underworld. The word cereal is derived from her Roman name.
One of her other brothers, Poseidon, tried to seduce her, promising prosperous lands. In hope of escaping him, she turned herself into a mare, but Poseidon turned himself into a stallion and kidnapped her. Together they had 2 children – Arion, the god of horses, and Despoena, the goddess of fruit.
Roman name: Vesta
Hestia is the goddess of Hearth and Home, she is also an eternal maiden like her two nieces Athena and Artemis. Her parents were Kronos and Rhea, and her siblings are Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Demeter. She had fewer temples than the rest of the gods but was worshipped most of all. The Greeks honoured her at mealtimes, asking her to bless their homes and protect their homes. There are fires that burn eternally for Hestia. She offered her place on Olympus to Dionysus to keep the peace.
One night when she was sleeping the minor god Priapus tried to rape her. He snuck into her room one night and as soon as he got close to her, a donkey brayed, waking her up, and scaring Priapus off. He ran away in embarrassment.
Roman name: Venus
The goddess of love and beauty. Her symbols are the dove and the swan. She was said to be the daughter of the sea, born from the sea foam. She was married to Hephaestus – the only ugly god. Some sat Zeus forced her into the marriage, but others say she chose to marry him herself.
She started the Trojan war. When Aphrodite promised Prince Paris that he could marry the most beautiful woman in the world if she judged her as the most beautiful goddess. He eagerly accepted and as promised, he was married to Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world.
Roman name: Mars
Ares is the god of war. His sacred symbols are the wild boar, serpents, helm and his spear. His parents are Zeus and Hera, and his siblings are Hebe and Hephaestus. He had many half-siblings including: Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Dionysus, Persephone, Hermes and Hercules/Heracles. There were not any temples in Ancient Greece that were dedicated to Ares. He had an affair with Aphrodite, which gave him the motivation to fight for the Trojans during the Trojan War.
Ares had an affair with Aphrodite, and together they had a son -Eros/Cupid. So when Aphrodite fell in love with a mortal man named Adonis, he was extremely jealous. One day whilst Adonis was out hunting, Ares turned into a wild boar and gorged him to death.
Athena is the goddess of wisdom and battle. Her sacred animal is the owl. She sprung from the head of her father Zeus in full battle armour – a sign of her intelligence. She had many half-siblings including: Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus, Apollo and Artemis, Dionysus, Persephone, Hermes and Hercules/Heracles. She is the leader of the three Virgin goddesses.
Athena helped the hero Perseus to complete his quest by telling him to only look at Medusa through his shiny shield. After he had slain Medusa he gave her the head, and she put it on her shield as a decoration.
Roman name: Vulcan
He is the God of artisans, volcanoes, fire, blacksmith and technology. His symbols is the anvil and hammer. His parents are Zeus and Hera, his siblings are Hebe and Ares. He had many half-siblings including: Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Dionysus, Persephone, Hermes and Hercules/Heracles.
When he was born, Hephaestus was rejected by his mother Hera because he was hideously ugly and lame. She threw him off Mt Olympus. When Hephaestus learned it was his mother who did this, Hephaestus got extremely angry and vowed to get revenge. He decided to create a magic, golden throne and give it to his mother as a special “gift”.
When Hera saw the throne, she was enthralled and, without thinking, she sat on the throne. Suddenly, invisible, unbreakable chains appeared and tied her up. Hera cried for help and all Olympian gods ran for support, but none of them could free her. Soon all gods realised that the only one who could free Hera was Hephaestus himself.
The gods decided to ask Dionysus, the god of wine, to offer wine to Hephaestus in order to intoxicate him. Dionysus agreed, and this way he managed to bring Hephaestus up to Mount Olympus and free Hera from her throne.
As a thank you present the gods offered him Aphrodite, the goddess of love. They were married and had a grand palace built for them on Mount Olympus.
Roman name: (Phoebus) Apollo
Apollo is the god of the sun, music, poetry, prophecy, truth and medicine. His sacred symbols are the lyre and laurel leaf. His parents are Zeus and Leto and he has a twin sister Artemis. He took the job of sun god from Helios once he retired.
Whilst their mother was pregnant Hera sent out a hideous python to try and kill Leto so that her children couldn’t be born. Leto managed to give birth, and when Apollo was just four days old he managed to corner the snake in the cave where it resided – on Mt Parnassus. Just as it was about to lunge at him, he shot it with his bow and arrow. The python’s screech was heard from miles away, and it eventually died. After the python died Apollo took out his lyre and played a song of victory. At that moment, he was made the god of music. He took the pythons carcass down to the bottom of the mountain and buried it, forever creating a temple and oracle, now called “Pythia”.
Roman name: Diana
Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, the moon, protector of maidens and wild animals. Her patron animal is the deer and the moon is another symbol of hers. Her parents are Zeus and Leto and he has a twin brother Apollo. Artemis was born before Apollo, and she helped her mother deliver him. She is one of the third of the eternal virgins.
Artemis loved spending time with the giant Orion. When this came to the attention of Apollo, he challenged her to a shooting competition. They had to shoot at a floating target in the ocean. Artemis’ aim was perfect, but she didn’t realise that the target was the head of Orion.
Roman name: Mercury
Hermes is the messenger god, he is also the god of thieves, travellers, merchants and travellers. His symbol is the caduceus. His parents are Maia and Zeus. He has many half siblings from his father’s side: Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus, Apollo and Artemis, Dionysus, Persephone, Athena and Hercules/Heracles.
On the day that he was born, Hermes snuck out of his cradle and stole several cattle from his half-brother Apollo. To ease Apollo’s anger, Hermes created a lyre from a turtle shell. and Apollo gave him a caduceus. But he did have to return the cattle. Zeus gave Hermes the job of messenger god to keep him occupied and out of mischief.
Roman name: Bacchus
God of wine, parties and patron of theatre. His symbols are the leopard and the grape vine. His father is Zeus and mother is Demeter. He had many other half-siblings: Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus, Apollo and Artemis, Persephone, Hermes, Athena and Hercules/Heracles.
Dionysus got extremely drunk one night on a ship with some sailors. They thought he was so drunk that he couldn’t fight back. It turns out he wasn’t as incapacitated as they thought, and he turned them into dolphins.
Who do you think is the most interesting god? Which Myth do you think is the most interesting?