Ancient Greece is known for its mythical lore. Many well-known legends and stories originate from that distant time period. The myths center on creatures, magical artifacts, mighty heroes, and numerous gods and goddesses. The Greek gods played a vital role in Greek culture, everything from art to politics. Tales of the gods were wide and unlike the Christian God, they were not always benign. Greek gods were not perfect. They had faults such as selfishness, greed, or vanity.
The gods sat on top of Mount Olympus and followed their own lives and agendas, putting themselves before those that worshipped them. Each god represented a certain aspect or ideal such as Love, Health, War, or the Sun. Here is a list of some of the more well-known gods from Ancient Greece.
The Acient Gods of Greece
Aphrodite – The Greek goddess of Love and Beauty, she was also connected to death and rebirth of humans such as child birth. She was the most beautiful goddess on Olympus. She was also one of the more jealous and spiteful of the gods. Aphrodite was created when the titan Cronos slew his father, Ouranos, and threw his body into the waters of the Paphos in Cyprus. The foam from the waves formed Aphrodite. Aphrodite had many love affairs and for a time was married to the crippled god Hephaestus, the blacksmith.
Ares – The Greek god of War, Ares was the perfect warrior and lived for battle and violence. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and his throne on Olympus was draped in human skin. Ares was not a popular god because of what he represented. He was also frequently accompanied by Hades, god of the Underworld, and his sister Eris, goddess of Discord. Because of all of thes, few cities wanted him as their patron. His half-sister was Athena, who also represented war but where she was interested in justices, Ares was only interested in bloodshed.
Artemis – The greek goddess of the Hunt and the Wild, Childbirth, and the Moon. She is the daughter of Zeus and sister to Apollo, who represents the sun. Zeus asked Artemis to remain a virgin so she eventually became one of the Three Virgin Goddesses in Greek mythology. This who worshipped her believed that she brought fertility so she was especially popular with farmers and those hoping to conceive a child. She was often depicted carrying a bow with arrows.
Athena – Half-sister to Ares, Athena represented Wisdom, Justice, and War. Unlike Ares, Athena fought only for the right cause and never for the love of battle. Athena was born during Zeus’ battle with the giants and her mother Metis had kept all of the world’s wisdom inside her, which was bestowed on Athena. She was the patron deity of Athens and the famous Pantheon was built in her honor. Athena is most often depicted wearing armor.
Dionysus – He was the Greek god of Wine, Merriment, Theatre, Agriculture, and Peace. The son of Zeus and the mortal princess Semele, Dionysus spent most of his time traveling the world in search of secrets and methods to winemaking. The patron deity of parties and festivities, he was popular with both his fellow gods and mortals. Dionysus is represented as a man with a wreath of ivy on his head and carrying a staff with leaves.
Hades – The Greek ruler of the Underworld where souls went after death. He was the son of the titans Cronos and Rhea. His wife was Persephone whom he kidnapped and took down to the Underworld to live with him. Hades was not a widely popular god and he never left his domain. The Underworld resided across the river Styxx and souls were ferried across by Hade’s cloaked helper Charon.
Hephaestus – He was the Greek god of Blacksmithing and was renown for the wonderful artifacts that he crafted. The son of Zeus and Hera, he was an ugly and crippled god. When his mother saw him for the first time, she threw him from Mount Olympus in disgust. Hephaestus lived for years among the Nereids and his forge lay under the volcano Aetna. He gained Aphrodite as a wife for his services to his father but she was never faithful to him.
Hera – The Mother Goddess and wife of Zeus. Hera represented Married Women and Families. The daughter of Cronos and Rhea, Hera was also the sister of Zeus. A faithful wife, she was also very jealous of her husband who gave her plenty of affairs to be jealous about. She was constantly causing problems for Zeus’s many mistresses and other children. She was especially resentful of the demi-mortal hero Heracles (Hercules) who was fathered by Zeus with a mortal woman. Hera was also considered one of the Three Virgin Goddesses. She is depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a gold crown.
Hermes – The Messenger of the Greek gods, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the nymph Maea. He was a known thief and thus worshipped by mortal thieves, swindlers, and cheating gamblers. Hermes wore a pair of sandals with wings which made his the fastest of all the gods. Because of this, Zeus gave his the task of being the gods messenger and deliverer of souls to the Underworld.
Poseidon – The Greek god of Oceans, Earthquakes, and Horses, Poseidon had a temper as changing as the seas. He was considered the greediest of all the gods and the hardest to appease. Many storms were thought to have been caused due to his fury. Even though he had a palace on Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in his palace under the ocean. He is often depicted with wavy hair and carrying a trident.
Zeus – The Father of the Gods and the Supreme Greek God, Zeus was the ruling god in ancient Greece and the one all of the other gods followed. He sat on a golden throne on Mount Olympus and gave out punishments and judgments on gods and mortals alike who broke their oaths or lied. His wife was Hera but Zeus pursued many affairs of infidelity. Zeus was known for controlling the weather and, when in a bad mood, for throwing thunderbolts during storms. Zeus is depicted as a tall man with a full beard and flowing robes.