Greek Gods, Godesses, and Creatures
The Greek gods are probably the ones you are most familiar with. There is Zues, Ares, and Athena, but there are many, many others. Click on the names below to find out about each of the gods and goddesses.
APHRODITE ( Roman
name Venus) was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.
The Trojan prince Paris chose Aphrodite as the most beatutiful over Hera and Athena. The other two was going to bribe him with power and victory in battle, but Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.
Aphrodite was married to the craftsman god Hephaestus. She was unfaithful to him with Ares, and in the book Odyssey, Hephaestus had his revenge.
APOLLO ( Roman
name Apollo) was the god of prophesy, music and healing.
Apollo is often depicted playing the lyre since he is the god of music. He did not invent the instrument, but Hermes gave it to him as a reward. He won many musical contests playing the lyre.
ARES ( Roman name
Mars) was the god of war, but he himself was not to great a warrior. He
was bested by Hercules in battle and was almost killed when stuffed into
a jar by two giants. When another person wounded him during the Trojan
War, he received little sympathy from Zeus.
The Roman god Mars, with whom Ares was identified, was the father of Romulus and Remus, the mythological founders of Rome. Thus he was more important to the Romans than his Greek counterpart. He was also more dignified.
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ARTEMIS ( Roman
name Diana) was the virgin goddess of the hunt. She helped women in childbirth
but also brought sudden death with her arrows.
When Apollo noticed that Artemis was spending a great deal of time hunting with the giant Orion, he put an end to the relationship with a challenge Artemis couldn't refuse. He challenged Artemis to prove her skill at archery by shooting at an object floating far out at sea. Her shot was perfect and the target was the head of Orion.
Artemis is usually thought of as a young woman clad in buckskins, carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. She is often accompanied by wild creatures such as a stag or a female bear.
ATHENA ( Roman name Minerva)
was the goddess of crafts and the domestic arts and also those of war.
Her symbol was the owl.
So Zeus swallowed Metis. In time he was overcome with a splitting headache and summoned help from the craftsman god Hephaestus. Hephaestus cut open Zeus's forehead with an ax, and Athena came out fully armed.
Athena also helped Perseus
in his quest to kill Medusa because she wanted the Gorgon's head to decorate
DEMETER ( Roman name Ceres)
was the goddess of farming. Demeter was the sister of Zeus and the mother
At length Hades was persuaded to surrender Persephone for one half of every year, the spring and summer seasons when flowers bloom and the earth bears fruit once more. The half year that Persephone spends in the Underworld as Hades' queen coincides with the barren season.
When seen in art, Demeter is often shown carrying a sheaf of grain.
HEPHAESTUS ( Roman name Vulcan)
was the lame god of fire and crafts. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and
Hera. He limped because he was born lame, which caused his mother to throw
him off Mount Olympus.
Hephaestus also created the
first woman, Pandora, at the command of Zeus, in retaliation for the various
tricks by which the Titan Prometheus had benefited mortal men at the expense
of the gods. Pandora was given to the Titan's brother, Epimetheus, as
his wife. For her dowry she brought a jar filled with evils from which
she removed the lid, thereby afflicting men for the first time with hard
work and sickness. Only hope remained inside the jar.
HERA ( Roman name
Juno) was the goddess of marriage. Hera was the wife of Zeus and Queen
of the Olympians.
HERMES ( Roman
name Mercury) was the messenger of the gods and guide of dead souls to
the Underworld. He was a prankster and was a genius at inventing things.
His symbol was a crooked
Hermes was known for his helpfulness to mankind. When Perseus set out to face the Gorgon Medusa, Hermes aided him in the quest. He loaned the hero his own magic sandals, which gave the wearer the ability to fly. He also let Perseus use his helmet to make him invisible.
It was Hermes' job to convey dead souls to the Underworld. Hermes was known to the Romans as Mercury. His most famous depiction, a statue by Bellini, shows him alight on one foot, wings at his heels, the staff in hand and, on his head, a rather stylized combination helmet-of-darkness and sun hat.
POSEIDON ( Roman name Neptune) was the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses. Although he was officially one of the supreme gods of Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in his watery domain. Poseidon was brother to Zeus and Hades.
Although there were various rivers personified as gods, these would have been technically under Poseidon's rule. Similarly, Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea, wasn't really considered on a par with Poseidon, who was known to drive his chariot through the waves in unquestioned dominance. Poseidon married Nereus's daughter, the sea-nymph Amphitrite.
ZEUS ( Roman
name Jupiter) was the ruler of all the gods of Olympia. He was the father
of the heroes Perseus and Hercules, and Hercules once wrestled him to
Pegasus was Bellerophon's winged horse. Pegasus came into being when Perseus cut of Medusa's head. Bellerophon was able to capture and tame Pegasus with a golden bridle given to him by Athena. One time Bellerophon killed the chimera while riding on Pegasus.
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