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Gods and Goddesses

The Olympians

The Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthow of the Titans. All the Olympians are related in some way. They are named after their dwelling place Mount Olympus.

Zeus
Poseidon
Hades
Hestia
Hera
Ares
Athena
Apollo
Aphrodite
Hermes
Artemis
Hephaestus

Zeus

Zeus overthew 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, ironically enough.

Zeus' classic "god" look was the basis for many Christian paintings of God. When Christians were converting Greeks, the Greeks asked what God looked like, and the Christians at that time decided to use the image of Zeus, the greatest of the Greek gods, to help covert them.

Poseidon

Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. After the overthow 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 Titon 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 varity 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. He lost the city of Athena to Athens.

Hades

Hades is the brother of Zeus. After the overthow 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 calling increase the number of dead are seen favorably. The Erinnyes 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. His wife is Persephone, whom Hades abducted. He is the King of the dead, but death itself is another god, Thanatos.

His symbols are coins (he is also the god of mining and wealth), skulls, and dogs.

Hestia

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 out.

Hera

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

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

Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She sprang full grown in armour from his forehead, thus has no mother. She is fierce and brave in battle but, only wars to defined 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

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 an 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.

Aphrodite

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 says that Aphrodite 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

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

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

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 arguement with Zeus and Zeus flung him off Mount Olympus. He is the god of fire and the forge. He is the smith and armorer of 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.

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