KROC: you'll have to double space it yourself.
Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago. These are the words that begin Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Mythology is what men explained as what caused things to happen. It is kind of like science today.
Many great poets recorded Greek and Roman myths. By far to me Homer had to be the greatest poet of the Greeks. Homer told many famous poems such as the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer was blind, so he actually sung the poems and they were passed down to other generations until someone wrote these poems down. Other great poets included the Latin poet Ovid and Hesiod who wrote the Theogony.
The Greeks were the first people to create their gods in their own image. Of course, this was unusual at the time of the early Greeks, since most of the gods during this period were some sort of creature with twelve eyes, a dragon tail, one goat's horn, the wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion. The Greeks seemed to be more civilized. They did not agree with human sacrifice and seemed to be more organized also.
The Olympians consisted of twelve main Greek gods. Their leader was Zeus or Jupiter in Latin. He had two brothers Poseidon (Neptune), ruler of the sea and Hades (Pluto), the ruler of the underworld. Zeus's wife, Hera (Juno) (also his sister) was the protector of marriage. Zeus's daughter Athena (Minerva) was born from her father's head. She was the goddess of arts, crafts, and war. Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. He was the god of prophecy, medicine, and archery. His twin sister, Artemis (Diana) was the goddess of the hunt and one of the virgin goddesses. Aphrodite (Venus) was born form the foam of the sea. She was the goddess of love and beauty. Hermes (Mercury), the son of Zeus and Maia was the god of thieves and merchants. He was also the messenger to the gods. Ares (Mars) was the god of war and a coward. He was the son of Zeus and Hera. Hephaestus (Vulcan) was so ugly when he was born, Hera threw him off Mount Olympus. He was the god of fire and surprisingly married to Aphrodite. Hestia (Vesta) was the goddess of the hearth. She was also a virgin goddess.
There were other gods on Olympus besides the twelve great Olympians. Eros (Cupid) was the god of love and son of Aphrodite. Hebe was the goddess of youth. The goddess of the rainbow and another messenger to the gods was Iris. The three Graces were Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. They were the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. The Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They are known for the music of their song, which brought joy to any who heard it. There are nine Muses, each with her own specialty: Clio (History), Urania (Astronomy), Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), Polyhymnia (Songs to the Gods), Euterpe (Lyric Poetry).
Poseidon ruled the gods of the water. Ocean, a Titan, was the lord of the river Ocean, a great river encircling the earth. Pontus, which means the deep sea, was a son of Mother Earth and the father of Nereus, a sea god far more important than he was. Nereus was married to Doris. Together they had fifty daughters, the nymphs of the sea, called the Nereids. Triton was the trumpeter of the sea. Proteus was the son of Poseidon and foretold the future.
Hades and Persephone ruled the underworld. It was divided into two regions: Tartarus and Erebus. Charon was the boatman, who ferried the souls of the dead across the rivers of fire. One of the most feared rivers was the River Styx. The Erinyes were the vigilantes of Hades. Sleep and Death ascended dreams from the underworld.
There were many lesser gods of earth, but these are only a handful. Pan was a Satyr (half man-half goat), who was the chief of the gods of earth. He was a famous musician that played the pipes. Castor and Pollux, who were never separated, were the sons of Zeus and Leda. The Sileni were creatures that were part man and part horse. The Gorgons were dragonlike creatures, whose look turned men to stone. The Sirens lived on an island in the sea. They had enchanting voices and their singing lured sailors to their death.
Demeter (Ceres) and Dionysus (Bacchus) were two great gods of earth. Demeter was the god of grain. Her daughter became the wife of Hades in an unusual way. While Persephone (Proserpine) was out in a field, Hades came from the underworld in a chariot and took her back to his palace. Demeter begged Zeus to bring her back, and he did. Although Persephone saw her mother, she had to return to Hades’ palace because she had eaten a pomegranate seed. Now Persephone could only see her mother for eight months out of the year. Dionysus was the god of wine. He was basically a drunk in my opinion. His followers were the Maenads or Bacchantes and the Satyrs.
This is a brief summary of how the Greeks thought the universe was created. In the beginning there was Chaos. Then Chaos bore Night and Erebus. From darkness and from death love was born. Love then created Light. Out of nowhere Earth and Heaven appeared. Their children were large, hideous creatures. Three of them had one hundred heads and fifty hands. Their other children were three Cyclopes and a number of Titans.
Heaven was a poor father. The Titan Cronus didn't like the way he was treated and rebelled. From Heaven's blood the giants and the Erinyes were born. Rhea and Cronus had six children. Cronus was scared that he would be dethroned, so he ate all his children except Zeus, whom Rhea saved by giving Cronus a rock, Omphalos , the navelstone of the world, instead of Zeus. Zeus stayed on Delphi until he was old enough to defeat his father. He took care of Cronus, saved his brothers and sisters, and became the supreme ruler.
Supposedly the Titan Prometheus created man. He made mankind a superior to animals. Then Prometheus went to heaven, to the sun, lit a torch and brought man fire. This was a great protection for man. Zeus was angry with Prometheus for giving fire to man and bound him to a mountaintop, where an eagle would pick at his liver all day long. Hercules later saved him.
Zeus's anger with Prometheus was great. Zeus punished man for Prometheus’s wrongs, too. He gave man woman. The woman Pandora was given a box filled with all the awful things anyone could ever imagine. The gods plainly told her not to open it. Since Pandora was so curious what was inside, she opened the box. All evil and hate spread throughout the world. The only thing left inside the box was hope.
As Odysseus was on his way back from the Trojan War, he came across the island of the Cyclopes. Being hungry, Odysseus ventured around the island in search of food. He found a cave and went inside of it. This was the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. When Polyphemus returned, he saw his little guests and ate several of them. The Cyclops left the next day to herd his sheep to a grassy meadow. While he was gone, Odysseus and his men devised a plan. That night they took a heated stake and poked out the eye of Polyphemus. Odysseus and the crew escaped the cave by hiding under the fleeces of Polyphemus’ sheep and exiting the cave of terror.
There once was beautiful lad named Narcissus, who would not except any girl that loved him. The fairest of the nymphs, Echo was in love with him. Hera suspected she was in love with Zeus and punished her by making her repeat the words of others. Narcissus met Echo in the woods, but he ditched her. She went into a cave and "echoed" the words that anyone would say. As Narcissus continued on, he stopped by a pool of water. He saw his reflection and fell in love with himself. He felt sorry for all the disappointed girls and committed suicide. Along the stream a flower sprouted, called a narcissus.
Another flower, the hyacinth gets its name from the death of Hyacinthus. He and Apollo competed in a discus throw. Apollo accidentally struck Hyacinthus on the head. This was the cause of his death and the hyacinth sprouted from the bloodstained grass.
Psyche, the youngest daughter of a king and queen, had such an extraordinary beauty that the people in the kingdom began to pay tribute to her in the manner reserved only for the gods and goddesses. Venus especially took offense at the homage given to this mortal girl and called upon her son, the mischievous Cupid, to remedy the situation by teaching Psyche a lesson. Venus’s plan backfired and Cupid struck himself with one of his own arrows. He fell in love with her immediately.
Psyche’s parents took her to the oracle of Apollo and were told that she was destined to marry a mortal man. Her future husband awaited her on the top of the mountain that neither god nor man could resist. Psyche, resigned to her fate, went to the mountain, fully expecting the gods to put an end to her life. Instead, she found a magnificent palace run by unseen servants. Her every wish became a reality. The man to whom she became wedded was a tender and loving husband, but she was never permitted to see him. He came in darkness and left in darkness. Psyche was so curious that she broke her promise to her husband and sought to see what his appearance actually was. Instead of a monster lying in her bed, she saw Cupid, who awakened and was angered by Psyche's duplicity. He left her alone, vowing never to see her again.
In vain, Psyche sought to regain her husband. Finally she went to Venus, hoping to regain the Goddess’s favor and thus the love of Cupid. Venus issued impossible tasks for Psyche to accomplish, which with the secret help of Cupid completed them successfully. But even with the missions done, it took Cupid pleading his case to Jupiter to fulfill his desire for Psyche to be his immortal mate.
Pyramus and Thisbe were two lovers who were dearly in love. Their parents did not consent marriage to them. They decided to meet in the open country, since their parents forbade them to see each other. This turned out to be a bad idea. They both ended up killing themselves. This story can be compared to Romeo and Juliet.
Orpheus, a very talented musician married Eurydice. On their wedding day Eurydice was bit by a snake and died. Orpheus was greatly disappointed and decided to go down to the underworld and bring Eurydice back. Orpheus used his voice to talk Hades into letting his late wife return. She could have returned if her husband had not looked back to see if she was out of the cavern to the underworld. Orpheus was sadden even more. His wish finally came true when a band of Maenads came upon him and tore him into pieces.
There once was a gifted young sculptor, named Pygmalion, who was a women-hater. He made a statue of a beautiful young lady. He fell in love with it. Pygmalion treated her like a girl would treat a doll. He asked Venus to find him a maiden as beautiful as his statue. She did, but the statue became the maiden. Pygmalion named her Galatea, and they had a son, Paphos.
Jupiter and Mercury decided to test the kindness of the people of a town. No one would offer them any hospitality except for the elder couple Baucis and Philemon. Jupiter gave the couple a wish. Being wise they asked to become priests at one of Jupiter’s temples. Their wish was granted and they lived happily ever after.
Daphne was a young huntress loved by Apollo. She resisted his love and fled. They came to her father’s river, where she called out, "Help me! Father, help me!" With those words she was changed into a laurel tree. Therefore a laurel became sacred to Apollo.
The Golden Fleece had originally belonged to the ram, which had saved the children of Athamas, Phrixos and Helle from being sacrificed to Zeus at the command of their wicked stepmother Ino. Aeetes, the king at where the ram stopped, received Phrixos kindly, and when the boy had sacrificed the ram to Zeus, he gave its miraculous fleece to the king. Aeetes dedicated the fleece to Ares and hung it in a grove sacred to the war-god, where it was guarded by a fearsome serpent.
Jason had heard about the Golden Fleece and wanted it. He loaded up his ship, the Argo and began his adventure to Kolchis. The Argo sped through the narrow channel, suffering only slight damage to her stern timbers. The Argonauts arrived safely at Kolchis. When Jason explained why he had come, King Aeetes stipulated that before Jason could remove the Golden Fleece he must first yoke two bronze-footed, fire-breathing bulls to a plow. Then he must sow some of the teeth of the dragon Kadmos had slain in Thebes, and when armed men sprang up he must destroy them. Medea, who first made Jason promise that he would take her back to Iolkos as his wife, gave him a magic ointment to rub over his body. Jason was successful at the tasks. Aeetes, somewhat surprised at his visitor's prowess, was still reluctant to hand over the Fleece, and even attempted to set fire to the Argo and kill her crew. So while Medea drugged the guardian serpent, Jason quickly removed the Golden Fleece from the sacred grove, and with the rest of the Argonauts they slipped quietly away to sea.
All of Phaethon’s life he had heard that the Sun was his father. One day Phaethon went to the palace of the Sun to if this was true. Everyone was right about his father. The Sun was so happy, he gave his son a wish and swore by the River Styx. Phaethon wanted to drive the Sun chariot. This was a very bad choice that cost Phaethon his life.
Bellerophon was the son of King Glaucus. Athena gave him a bridle to catch the winged horse Pegasus. Bellerophon and Pegasus killed the Chimera and defeated the Amazons. After these feats Bellerophon tried to fly to Mount Olympus, but Pegasus threw him off of his back. The horse became the deliver of thunder and lightning to Zeus, and Bellerophon became a wanderer staying away from humanity.
Otus and Ephialtes were Giants and also twins. They were the sons of Poseidon. The Giants thought they were greater than the gods were. They once captured Ares and tried to capture Artemis, but she had another plan. While out hunting her, Artemis made them strike themselves with their own arrows.
Daedalus was a great inventor. He created a great maze called the Labyrinth for King Minos, the saw, and flight. Minos was angry with him and put he and his son, Icarus, in the Labyrinth. They escaped easily by building wings and flying out of the great maze. Not listening to his father, Icarus flew too high and his wings melted. He plunged onto the rocks and died. Later King Minos made Daedalus thread a shell. He did it successfully by tying a string to ant and sending it down the shell.
Perseus was famous for killing Medusa. Medusa was a Gorgon, a creature with snakes for hair and wings whose look changed men to stone. Perseus by no means slew this beast himself. He had the help of Hermes’ winged shoes and hat, an indestructible sword, an expandable wallet, and a reflecting shield. Perseus beheaded Medusa when she was asleep and easily brought back her head.
Theseus’ father, King Aegeus left him as a child to rule the city of Athens. Theseus went to Athens when he was strong enough to roll over the stone his father put on top of a sword and some shoes. On his way he murdered the bad that would steal from travelers. His father did not notice him when he reached Athens. Aegeus would have killed his son, if he had not told him. At the time King Minos demanded seven maidens and seven youths for his Minotaur, which dwelled in the Labyrinth. Immediately Theseus volunteered. His intentions were to kill the beast, not to be killed by the beast. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, helped Theseus. She told him the way out of the Labyrinth. While inside Theseus killed the Minotaur and saved his peers. On the way back to Athens, Theseus forgot to raise the sail that meant he was alive. His father saw this and killed himself.
Hercules had a very bad temper. He was born in Thebes and the son of Zeus. As a child Hercules killed two snakes that Hera had sent to terminate him. He did not like his music teacher and killed him, too. Hercules wore a lion skin of a lion that he slew. One time Hera made Hercules go crazy and he murdered his wife and children. To clear these wrongs Hercules did these twelve labors:
Kill the lion of Nemea
Go to Lerna and kill the Hydra
Bring back the stag with golden horns
Capture the great boar
Clean the Augean stables in one day
Drive away the Stymphalian birds
Fetch Poseidon’s savage bull
Get the man-eating mare of Diomedes
Bring back the griddle of Hippolyta
Bring back the cattle of Geryon
Get the Golden Apples of Hesperides
Bring back Cerberus the three-headed dog
Hercules completed all twelve labors and was then cleared. He suffered great pain by his second wife Deianira and Hera. His wife sprinkled the blood of the Centaur Nessus on him and for the rest of his life he suffered with pain. The pain became so great Hercules burnt himself to death. The gods felt so sorry for him he was made a god.
Atalanta was a notable hunter. She participated in the Calydonian boar hunt and was the first to strike the boar down. Meleager really killed the boar, but he gave all of the credit to Atalanta. Later in her life she raced Hippomenes, a smart lad, for marriage. Hippomenes won the race. He dropped golden apples along the way and Atalanta stopped and picked up each one.
The origin of the Trojan War began when a golden apple, inscribed "for the fairest" was thrown by Eris, goddess of discord, among the heavenly guests at the wedding of Peleus, the ruler of Myrmidons, and Thetis, one of the Nereids. The award of the apple went to Aphrodite, whom Paris chose. She gave Paris the favor of herself and the love of the beautiful Helen of Troy, wife of Menelaus, the king of Sparta. Helen went with Paris to Troy, and an expedition to avenge the injury to Menelaus was placed under the command of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. Agamemnon's force included many famous Greek heroes, the most noted of whom were Achilles, Patroclus, the two Ajaxes, Teucer, Nestor, Odysseus, and Diomedes.
After the Trojans refused to restore Helen to Menelaus, the Greek warriors assembled at the Bay of Aulis and proceeded to Troy. The siege lasted ten years, the first nine of which were uneventful. In the tenth year, Achilles withdrew from battle because of his anger with Agamemnon. To avenge the death of his friend Patroclus, Achilles returned to battle and killed Hector, the principal Trojan warrior. The city of Troy was captured at last by treachery. A force of Greek warriors gained entrance to the city by hiding inside of a large wooden horse. Subsequently the Greeks sacked and burned the city. Only a few Trojans escaped, the most famous being Aeneas.
It took Odysseus ten years to get home after the Trojan War. For a long time he was held a virtual prisoner on an island ruled by the nymph Calypso. The gods started to feel sorry for him, and Zeus sent Hermes to his rescue. Calypso let Odysseus leave the island on a large raft. Eighteen days later he landed in a country of the Phaeacians. There King Alcinoò s helped him return to Ithaca by means of a ship and crew. When Odysseus finally returned home there were many men at his house wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. He and his son, Telemachus killed them and the family lived happily ever after.
After the Trojan War the Trojan Aeneas was looking for a place to settle. A bad storm beached the ship in Africa. Juno didn’t want Aeneas to reach Italy, so she cast a spell upon Dido, the widow ruler of Carthage, but Venus, Aeneas’ mother counteracted to the spell. When Aeneas left, Dido killed herself. To get to Italy Aeneas had to visit the underworld for some information. He met his father, Anchises and Dido. Aeneas then found Italy and defeated King Latinus.
There were three great families of mythology. The first was the House of Arteus. This family was really messed up. Tantalus served his son, Pelops to the gods. They punished him by sending him to Hades. Clytemnestra killed her husband, Agamemnon. Her son, Orestes killed his mother.
Another family was the House of Thebes. Acteon was hunter, who stumbled upon Artemis bathing. She changed him into a stag and his dogs chased him down and tore him into tiny pieces. Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx to save the city of Thebes. He killed his father on accident because he did not know who he was.
The last family was the House of Athens. Cecrops was the first king of Attica. He was half dragon and half human. Procne was changed into a nightingale, Tereus was changed into a hawk, and Philomela was changed into a swallow. Apollo had a child with Creusa. She abandoned the baby in a cave. Creusa fell in love with Xuthus. They had no children, but wanted to have one or two of their own. They went to the oracle and Apollo gave them Ion, Creusa’s real son.
Midas, king of Phyrgia, was a stubborn person. Bacchus gave him one wish and he asked for the "golden touch." After one day Midas begged Bacchus to take back his wish, and he did. Midas was asked to choose the better musician: Pan or Apollo. Stubborn Midas chose Pan. Apollo changed Midas’s ears into ass ears.
Mythology was an integral part of the lives of all ancient peoples. The myths of Ancient Greece are the most familiar to us, for they are deeply entrenched in the consciousness of Western civilization.
The myths were accounts of the lives of the deities whom the Greeks worshipped. The Greeks had many deities, including 12 principal ones, who lived on Mt. Olympus. The myths are all things to all people – a rollicking good yarn, expressions of deep psychological insights, words of spine-tingling poetic beauty and food for the imagination. They serve a timeless universal need, and have inspired great literature, art and music, providing archetypes through which we can learn much about the deeper motives of human behavior.
No-one has the definitive answer as to why or how the myths came into being, nut many are allegorical accounts of historical facts.
The Olympian family were a desperate lot despite being related. The next time you have a bowl of corn flakes give thanks to Demeter the goddess of vegetation. The English word "cereal" for products of corn or edible grain derives from the goddess’ Roman name, Ceres. In Greek the word for such products is demetriaka. Demeter was worshipped as the goddess of earth and fertility.
Zeus was the king and leader of the 12. His symbol was the thunder and in many of his statues he appears holding one.
Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes, was most at home in the depths of the Aegean where he lived in a sumptuous golden palace. When he became angry (which was often) he would use his trident to create massive waves and floods. Ever intent upon expanding his domain, he challenged Dionysos for Naxos, Hera for Argos and Athena for Athens.
Ares, god of war, was a nasty piece of work – fiery tempered, bloodthirsty, brutal and violent. In contrast Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, symbol of security, happiness and hospitality, was as pure as driven snow. She spurned disputes and wars and swore to be a virgin forever.
Hera was not a principal deity; her job was a subservient one – she was Zeus’ cupbearer.
Athena, the powerful goddess of wisdom and patron of Athens, is said to have been born (complete with helmet, armor and spear) from Zeus’ head, with Hephaestus acting as midwife. Unlike Ares, she derived no pleasure from fighting, but preferred settling disputes peacefully using her wisdom; however, if need be she went valiantly into battle.
Hephaestus was worshipped for his matchless skills as a craftsman. When Zeus decided to punish men he asked Hephaestus to make a woman. So Hephaestus made Pandora from clay and water, and, as everyone knows, she had a box, from which sprang all the evils afflicting humankind.
Apart fro one misdemeanor, Hephaestus’ character seems to have been exemplary. During the Trojan War Athena asked the god to make her a new suit of armor. Poseidon, on hearing this, teased Hephaestus by saying that when Athena came to his forge she would expect him to make mad passionate love to her. As Athena wrested herself from the eager Hephaestus, he ejaculated against her thigh. She removed his seed with wool and threw it away, and Gaea, who happened to pass by, was inadvertently fertilized. When Gaea’s unwanted offspring was born, Athena brought him up, and he eventually became King Erichthonius of Athens.
Apollo, god of the sun, and Artemis, goddess of the moon, were the twins of Leto and Zeus. Many qualities were attributed to Apollo, for the Ancient Greeks believed that the sun not only gave physical light, but that its light was symbolic of mental illumination. Apollo was also worshipped as the god of music and song, which the ancients believed were only heard where there was light and security. Artemis was worshipped as the goddess of childbirth and protector of children; yet, paradoxically, she asked Zeus if he would grant her eternal virginity. She was also the protector of suckling animals, but loved to hunt stags!
Hermes was born of Maia, daughter of Atlas and one of Zeus’ paramours. He had an upwardly mobile career. His first job was as protector of the animal kingdom. As the chief source of wealth was cattle, he therefore became the god of wealth. However, as civilization advanced, trade replaced cattle as the main source of wealth, so Hermes became god of trade. However, a prerequisite for good trade was good commerce, so he became the god of commerce. To progress in commerce a merchant needed to be shrewd, so this attribute was assigned to Hermes. Later it was realized that to excel in commerce one needed to use the art of persuasion, so Hermes was promoted to god of oratory.
Last but not least of the 12 principal deities was the beautiful Aphrodite, goddess of love, who rose naked out of the sea. Her tour de force was her magic girdle which made everyone fall in love with its wearer. The girdle meant she was constantly pursued by both gods and goddesses because they wanted to borrow the girdle. Zeus became so fed up with her promiscuity that he married her off to Hephaestus, the ugliest of the gods.
Hades never made it to Mt. Olympus, but his job was nevertheless an important one. Hades’ dominion was the vast and mysterious underworld (Tartarus). He was the benevolent god who gave fertility to vegetation and who yielded precious stones and metals. But he was also the feared guardian of a dark realm, from which no-one, having once journeyed, ever returned.
A number of the countless lesser gods were powerful but never made it to Zeus’ inner circle. Pan, the son of Hermes, was born with horns, beard, tail and goat legs. His ugliness so amused the other gods that eventually he escaped to Arcadia where he danced, played his shepherd’s pipe and watched over the pastures, shepherds and herds. Dionysos, son of Hera and Zeus, was even more hideous at birth – horned and crowned with serpents. His parents boiled him in a cauldron, but he was rescued by Rhea, and banished to Mt. Nysa in Libya where he invented wine. He eventually returned to Greece where he organized drunken revelries and married Ariadne, daughter of King Minos.
In addition to the gods the Ancient Greeks revered many beings who had probably once been mortal, such as King Minos, Theseus and Erichthonious. Intermediaries between gods and humans, such as the satyrs, also appear in the myths. The satyrs lived in woods and had goat horns and tails; they worshipped the god Dionysos, so, appropriately, they spent much of their time drinking and dancing. Nymphs lived in secluded valleys and grottoes and occupied themselves with spinning, weaving, bathing, singing and dancing. Pan found them irresistible. The Muses, of which there were nine, were nymphs of the mountain springs; they were believed to inspire poets, artists and musicians.
Finally, mention should be made of the three crones Tisiphone, Aledo and Megara – sometimes called the Furies – whose job it was to deal with grievances from mortals, and punish wrongdoers. They had dogs’ heads, snakes’ hair, bloodshot eyes, coal black bodies and bats’ wings and carried brass-studded scourges. It was considered unlucky to call them by name – they had to be called Eumenides – the kindly ones!
Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty and the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Although there has been some debate as to the reality of this. One myth describes her as being created from the foam of the sea this making her a possible daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite. In addition to her mysterious creation, there has been some question as to her lovers. The Ancient Greek writer Homer writes about she being married to Hephaestus. Some legends say she eventually married her long time lover, Ares.
A famous myth about Aphrodite concerns her being a major cause of the Trojan War. At the wedding of King Peleus and Thetis, a sea nymph, a golden apple appeared in the banquet hall with "for the fairest" written on it. The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, who all claimed to be the fairest, tried to get Zeus to judge. Refusing to, Zeus appointed Paris, the prince of Troy, to judge. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each offering bribes attempted to persuade Paris to vote for them. Aphrodite, offering the prize of the fairest mortal woman in the world, was chosen as the fairest. Paris's prize was the beautiful Helen, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. This abduction of Helen started the Trojan War.
Apollo was the god of music, the sun, and prophecy. He was the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of his sister Artemis. Of his many aspects, Apollo was mainly the god of prophecy, according to the Ancient Greek writer and poet Homer. His most popular oracle was at Delphi, which is a popular tourist site today. Occasionally, he bestowed his great gift of prophecy on mortals.
He was a gifted musician, who masterfully performed on the lyre for the Olympian gods. He acquired the lyre from his younger brother Hermes for his Caduceus. Apollo was fabled to be the first victor of the first Olympic games, due to his blazing speed and his superior archery skills.
Principally, Apollo was the god of the aforementioned music, sun, and prophecy, but his godly duties entailed him to various other tasks. His sister was the goddess of young women, so he was the god of young men. He was also known as the shepherd god because the was the protector of cattle.
Ares was the god of war and the son of Zeus and Hera (one of Zeus's few children in wedlock). Ares was described as violent, aggresive, evil, and an egotist, he personified the brutal nature of war. He was one of the most despised of gods even among warriors who gave praise. In later legends he is the husband of Aphrodite. He also had affairs with Deimos, goddess of fear, and Phobos, goddess of rout. Despite his tough exterior, Ares, was actually quite weak. He was in no means invincible, even against mortals.
The worship of Ares, is believed to have originated in Thrace, due to the warlike nature of the natives. Throughout the rest of Greece, the worship of Ares was frowned upon, sometimes resulting in death.
Artemis was the goddess of the moon, her parents were Zeus and Leto. Artemis's was the twin sister of Apollo. Their godly duties complemented each other. While Apollo was the god of the sun, sheep, and the protector of young men, Artemis was the goddess of the moon, wild animals, and the protector of young women. Artemis was sometimes depicted as the goddess of the hunt, contradicting the thought of her being the goddess of wild animals.
Ancient myths often showed Artemis as being evil and cruel. It is fabled that she was willing to help the Greeks in the Trojan War after they sacrificed a young maiden to her. After the sacrifice, she and her mighty bow led the Greeks to victory over the Trojans. Skill with the bow was a talent also help by her brother Apollo.
Athena was the goddess of handicrafts, wisdon, battle, goddess of the city, and protector of civilized life. Her real parents are unknown, but Zeus liked to claim that she was his daughter and to prevent argument she would keep quiet. She seldom entered into battle, but when she was forced to fight she always won.
Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and of corn. She was the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, one of her brothers is Zeus. Demeter gave birth to Persephone, who was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld, to rule with him as his queen. Demeter grew upset with the other gods unwillingness to intervene, so she brought famine to the mortals by not allowing plants to grow. Once Zeus saw what was happening to the people of earth, he demanded Hades to give back Persephone. Hades agreed, but before Persephone had left, she ate six pomegranate seeds which allowed her to return to Hades in the underworld for six months every year. For the time Persephone is with Hades, Demeter would allow nothing to grow, these six months are the months of winter and fall.
Zeus's son by a mortal woman, Dionysus became the god of wine. One day Zeus told the council that his son had invented wine, and must become a god. Because with his entrance the council would have 13 people, an unlucky number, Hestia offered to resign her post to prevent an argument. From then on the council had 7 gods and 5 goddesses, a quite unfair number as whenever matters of woman came up the gods always won.
Hades was the god of the dead and of the underworld. He was the son of the Cronus and Rhea and the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. Hades received his share of the world when he and his brothers divided everything into three parts. Although Hades was stern and merciless, he was not evil. Actually, he was known as the god of riches, because crop fields and precious metals are both based underground which supposedly was his doing. In his dark and gloomy life, he had one bright spot, his wife, Persephone, who he captured from the above world for himself. His land was divided into three parts, Erebus, the place the dead pass when they die; Tartarus, the deeper, hell-like region, where the evil remained; and the Alysian Fields, the heaven-like place where the poets, writers, actors, and wise and just people spent eternity. The Erebus and Tartarus regions were guarded by Hades' three-headed dog, Cerberus. Charon, the grim reaper-like boatsman took the dead across the River Styx to eternity.
Hephaestus was the god of fire and metalwork and the son of Zeus and his wife Hera. Hephaestus was very odd at birth, and his awkwardness continued as he matured. Hera, who was nauseated by his deformity, cast him out of Olympus. For unknown reasons, he was honored again and restored to his duties atop Mt. Olympus. He was married for a short time to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, which was odd due to her beauty and his ugliness. Later, when Aphrodite began having various affairs, namely with Ares, the god of war, Hephaestus married Aglaia, one of the Graces.
Since Hephaestus was the metalworker and carpenter, he made many supplies for the gods, like their armor, weapons, and jewelry. Atop Mt. Olympus, he constructed magnificent thrones for each god which were highly detailed. Hephaestus carved his symbol into his chair which was the swastika. This was later misconstrued and used for a sign of hate by the Nazi Party.
Hera, was the queen of all gods, and the husband of Zeus. In addition to being Zeus's wife, Hera was also his sister, from their Titan parents Cronus and Rhea. She had four children with Zeus: Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe, and Ilithyia. Her godly job included protecting married women. Hera was an extremely jealous wife. She hated all of Zeus's eight goddess mistresses and his fourteen mortal mistresses. One of his human mistresses, Alcmene, bore him Heracles. Hera spent much of her time trying to harm either Heracles or Alcmene for Zeus being unfaithful to her. Semele, another mistress of Zeus, bore him Dionysus, the god of wine. Zeus wanted Dionysus to join the council of major gods at Mount Olympus, but Hera was against this. In Homer's classic novel, The Illiad, Hera shows her vindictive powers when Paris, the prince of the Trojans, prefered Aphrodite over her. For revenge, Hera aided the Greeks in defeating the Trojan forces and destroying the city of Troy.
Hermes was the messenger of the gods and the son of Zeus and Maia. Although he was the messenger of all the gods, he was the special servant and courier of Zeus. To aid him in his deliveries, Hades used winged sandals and a winged hat. He directed the souls of the dead to the underworld at the time of death. Hermes was also said to be the "dream god" as he supposedly had special powers over the dreams of mortals and gods alike. Another of his duties was to protect traders and merchants as the god of commerce. He was also the god of athletes, he looked over gymnasiums and stadiums while being in charge of changing the tide of a competition by handing out good luck.
Hermes, the trickster of the gods, stole his brother Apollo's cattle. To "cover" his tracks, Hermes craftily made the cattle walk backwards to throw off any followers. When Apollo confronted his younger brother, Hermes finally admitted the theft. As a token of his sincerity, Hermes gave Apollo his newly invented lyre. Apollo, being so overwhelmed by the gift, gave Hermes his Caduceus, a magic wand entwined with snakes and decorated with wings, in return.
Hestia was the goddess of the hearth and the goddess and protector of virgins. She was the oldest daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hestia was also known as the sacrificial goddess. She was believed to have presided over all fires held at sacrifices. Although she appears in very few myths, most cities throughout Ancient Greece had a common hearth where her fire burned. Commonly, before and after meals, prayers were offered to her. Being the oldest of the Olympian gods, she was also the most mature. Whenever war was emminent, she always did her best to help avoid it. She hated all the argument between the Olypian gods and goddesses. When Zeus declaired Dionysus a god, she resigned her post to prevent a fight about who would leave.
Poseidon was the god of the sea and the son of Cronus and Rhea. Among his siblings were Zeus and Hades. Poseidon's wife, Amphitriite was the queen of the ocean, with her, Poseidon had a son, Triton. Among Poseidon's symbols are the three pronged trident and the dolphin. His physical appearance has him wearing a long gray beard with scraggly, wind-swept hair.
Like his younger brother, Zeus also had numerous affairs. Mostly with nymphs, he fathered seven children known for their cruelty towards others and nature. Poseidon once had an affair with Medusa which produced the winged horse.
Among some of the myths that have famed Poseidon include his attempt to take control of Athens from Athena. When Poseidon teamed with Apollo to help Laomedon, king of Troy, to help rebuild his wall he was cheated of his wages. In return, Poseidon sent a horrible sea monster to ravage the city of Troy. He also aided the Greeks in beating the Trojans during the Trojan War.
Zeus, being the king, presided over all gods at Mount Olympus. He was the youngest son of the Titans, Cronus and Rhea, in addition to being the brother of Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera. According to one of the ancient myths, Zeus's father Cronus ate his children fearing that they would overthrow him. One by one, Cronus ate each of his children when they were born. When Zeus was born, Rhea wrapped a stone in a blanket and gave that to Cronus. Thinking that was his child, Cronus swallowed the entire bundle. Meanwhile, Zeus hid safely on the island of Crete. On Crete, Zeus was raised by the nymphs while being fed on the milk of the goat named Amalthaea. When Zeus became mature he returned to Mount Olympus and forced his father to regurgitate his brother and sisters. With the aid of his siblings, Zeus was able to defeat Cronus and the Titans who sided with his father. Upon their defeat, Cronus and the Titans were banished to Tartarus to spend the rest of eternity. Zeus and his brother Poseidon and Hades drew lots to decide who would rule which places. Zeus received the sky, Poseidon obtained the sea, and Hades was left with the underworld. The earth was left to be ruled by all three.
Zeus, and his wife, Hera, had four children: fellow Olympian gods Ares, the god of war, and Hephaestus, the god of fire, and lesser gods Hebe, the goddess of youth, and Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth.
Zeus was extremely unfaithful to Hera, having affairs with eight different goddesses. With these women, he received over twenty children, including five Olympian gods. Apollo, god of music, archery, and the stars; Hermes, the messenger of the gods; Aphrodite, goddess of beauty; Artemis, goddess of archery and the moon; and Athena, goddess of knowledge and war.
In addition to his godly affairs, he also had many affairs with mortal humans, bearing him twenty-two different half-god, half-mortal children from fourteen different women. Among these children were Dionysus, the god of wine, and Heracles (commonly known as Hercules).