Description of the Greek Gods



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Description of the Greek Gods

Zeus

According to Greek myth, Zeus was the king of all the gods, god of the sky, and thunder. Zeus had two brothers and three sisters. When their father died, the boys - Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades - divided the world up between themselves. Zeus took all of the heavens, Poseidon took the sea, and Hades took the underworld. Each was quite content with their selection. 

Zeus had a very jealous wife named Hera. He also had a whole bunch of kids. Zeus was very fond of all his children. Each of his children had special magical powers.   

Zeus had more powers than anyone. He could throw lightning bolts. His horse, Pegasus, carried his lightning bolts for him.

Zeus had a quick temper, a big sense of humor, and lots of girlfriends. He was not afraid of anything except Hera, his wife.



Hera

Hera was married to Zeus. She was the queen of all the gods, and also the goddess of marriage. 

Hera was very jealous of her famous and powerful husband, Zeus. Hera was rarely nice to the many children Zeus had by other mothers. 

There are many myths about Hera's jealously, anger, and revenge. 

Other myths share stories about Hera's servant, Argus. Argus had 100 bright eyes all over his body. He was a great guard because he never closed more than half his eyes at one time! 




Demeter

Demeter, was the goddess of harvest and fertility; daughter of Kronos and Rhea. She was the mother of Persephone by Zeus. When Pluto kidnapped Persephone, Demeter grieved so much that the earth became barren through her neglect. Demeter's job was very important and if she was upset, the crops could die. Everyone worked hard to keep Demeter happy.

Ares

Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera.  His father was king, his mother was queen. 

Ares was tall and handsome, and  mean and self-centered. His sidekick, Eris, the spirit of disagreement, traveled everywhere with him. They carried four spirits along as well - the spirits of Pain, Panic, Famine, and Oblivion. 

In Greek mythology, Ares did not care who won or lost a battle. He just liked to see bloodshed.  Most of the other gods stayed as far away from Ares as possible. He caused trouble.


Hermes

Zeus was the king of all the gods. And Hermes was Zeus' youngest son. 

Hermes was born mischievous. Even as a baby, Zeus could tell that Hermes was going to be a whole lot of fun to have around. He liked his son Hermes very much. 

Zeus wanted Hermes to have an important job in the world of the Greek gods.  Hermes was fast on his feet and very clever. Zeus decided he would make a wonderful messenger. 

Things were always going on in the mythical world. The job of messenger to the gods allowed Hermes to have the inside scoop on just about everything. It is no wonder that there are probably more myths that include Hermes than any other god. 

The other gods trusted Hermes. Hermes had a true warmth. He was playful enough to be interesting. He was very bright and very loyal.  He was the best negotiator in the world.  He was always cracking deals to get himself and others out of trouble. 


Poseidon

Poseidon was the Lord of the Sea. His brothers were Zeus - the king of all the gods, and Hades - the king of the underworld. 

Poseidon was a good looking fellow. He had deep blue eyes and streaming green hair.  He was a  restless fellow, always on the move. 

Poseidon was very powerful. He could raise his hand and a new island would appear! The Greeks were terrified of Poseidon. 

All the Greeks, but especially those who lived in coastal towns, built a temple to honor Poseidon. They brought special gifts to the temple every day, hoping to keep him happy. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. Poseidon was very moody.

Poseidon had many wives. But his main wife was not jealous, so Poseidon did not have the problems at home that Zeus did. 

Poseidon kept a royal residence on Mount Olympus, but he was rarely there. He only visited when he had to attend a meeting of the council of gods. He preferred his palace at the bottom of the sea. The exterior was made of bright gold. But it was the inside of the palace that was truly magnificent. Inside, Greek columns supported raised fountains. There were colorful seaweed gardens and paths of white sand and beds of glittering jewels and pearls and chunks of amber. Colored fish darted everywhere. At night, the whole palace was softly lit by thousands of glow-worms. It was a magical place. 




Hephaestus

Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Hephaestus was the only Olympian who limped. He was the son of Hera and Zeus. Some say he was born with a limp. Others say Zeus, in a fit of temper, flung him off Mount Olympus when he was just a baby. 

Hephaestus is a master blacksmith and craftsman, he is the god of fire and forge. He made things, like the gods home on Mount Olympus. He married (and was deeply loved) by Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.  

Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create the first woman out of clay. Hephaestus created Pandora. 


Hades

Hades and Zeus were brothers. 

Hades had a home on Mount Olympus, the magical mountain on which all the main gods, the Olympians, lived. But Hades did not live on Mount Olympus. 

When the three sons of Cronos divided up the world, Zeus took the sky, Poseidon took the sea, and Hades took the underworld. Zeus became the king of the gods. Poseidon married happily. Hades was content, living in the Underworld. 

Hades was NOT the lord of death. His job was to run the Underworld. He was a good ruler. Parts of the Underworld were very nice, like the Elysian Fields, where heroes dwelled after they died. Parts were not so nice. Those were for people who were not so nice during their lifetime.  

You might think Hades would be terribly lonely, surrounded by the souls of the dead. But he wasn't lonely. Not at all. His brother Zeus visited, as did his nephews Apollo, Hermes, and Ares. Hades came up to the surface now and then, if he had to be on Mount Olympus for a meeting of the gods or something. The truth was, Hades preferred the Underworld. It was home. 

Hades had everything he needed. He had an invisible helmet, which he liked very much. He had a golden chariot, which was his pride and joy. He had his faithful and deeply loved companion, his three-headed dog, Cerberus. He was perfectly content.




Athena

Athena was born without a mother.  Her father was the mighty Zeus, king of all the gods. Athena was born directly out of Zeus' brain.  

Zeus loved all his children, but if he had to pick a favorite, it would probably have been Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, defense, and strategic warfare.

Athena was a powerful force, and one of the 12 deities who held a seat on Mount Olympus.


Artemis

Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was Apollo's twin sister. 

Artemis was very different from her brother.  It took a lot to get Apollo angry. He was usually pretty gentle and full of warmth. 

But Artemis was nearly always cold and pitiless. The only thing Artemis loved besides her family were her floppy-eared dogs. 

Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the goddess of the moon.  Artemis was one of three goddesses who swore never to marry. (The other two were Hestia and Athena.)  Artemis resented anyone who intruded on her privacy, especially men. 



Eros

Eros was the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. 

When Eros shot his little arrows into an unwary victim, that victim fell in love with the very next person they saw!  

You would not think the gods would need help falling in love, as they seemed to do that all the time. But his arrows worked on mortals as well as deities, which, according to myth, caused the Greeks all kinds of trouble!

It was not until Eros himself fell in love that he finally found happiness. 



Aphrodite

Aphrodite was the Goddess of love, beauty, and desire. She was the exception to the Greek God family tree. Some say her parents were unknown, and that she was born of sea foam. Others, like the poet Homer, said she was a daughter of the mighty Zeus, king of all the gods. No one knows quite where to place her on the Greek God family tree.  Legend says that Aphrodite could be kind or merciless. Aphrodite knew that she was the fairest in the land.   

To be fair to Aphrodite, she was not at all like Ares, the god of war. Ares loved to cause pain and havoc. Aphrodite was only  merciless if you did something that truly angered her. Unfortunately, Aphrodite was easily angered, especially when it came to vanity.  




Apollo

God of light, knowledge, healing, plague and darkness, the arts, music, poetry, prophecy, archery, the sun, manly youth, and beauty. Apollo and Artemis were twins. They were the magical children of Zeus and Leto. The twins - Apollo and his sister, Artemis - adored their mother.  Apollo, especially, was very protective of his mother. 

Hestia

Hestia was the goddess of hearth and home. 

Her sisters were famous. One of her sisters was Hera, wife of Zeus, queen of the gods, and the goddess of marriage. Her other sister was Demeter, goddess of agriculture and the harvest. 

You would think that there would be lots of myths about such an important goddess. But there are not a lot of myths about Hestia. 

But Hestia was deeply honored by the ancient Greek women. Every day, when the women gathered in the central courtyard of their homes, to do their sewing and cooking, they knew that Hestia was keeping watch over them. 

The women of ancient Greece listened to stories about the other gods. But they took comfort from Hestia. To them, Hestia was perhaps the most famous of all. 


Dionysus

God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre.
Some gods were shape shifters. They could change their shape at will. Dionysus was very good at shape shifting. One minute, he could be a fierce animal with sharp claws and razor teeth, and the next - his favorite shape - a handsome young man with glowing garments and expensive jewels. He had a lot of fun shape shifting.  Dionysus was the youngest Olympian, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.

Heracles

Heracles was half man and half god. His mother was a mortal. But his father was a king - a very special king, the king of all the gods, the mighty Zeus. But Heracles s did not know he was part god until he had grown into a man.  

Right from the beginning, Hera, Zeus' wife, was very jealous of Heracles. She tried all kinds of ways to kill him, including sending a couple of big snakes into his crib. Heracles crushed those snakes in a flash! Hercules was incredibly strong, even as a baby! 



Zeus loved his little son. He figured that sooner or later Hera might actually find a way to kill little Heracles. To keep his small son safe from attack, Zeus sent him to live with a mortal family on earth. Heracles grew up loved and noble. But he didn't fit in on earth. He was too big and too strong. One day, his earth father told him he was a god, well, part god anyway. 


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