The Greek Deities
March 4, 2021
Who doesn’t love some good ol’ mythology? From Percy Jackson as a child, to deep discussions with Mr. Chennells, learning about Greek mythology can be entertaining and insightful. Do you know all twelve Olympians thoroughly, though? This article is strictly an informational text about the twelve deities of Greece: Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hades, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, and Zeus. Throughout the article, I discuss their physical complexion and symbols through art. I have left links to websites for each Greek Olympian, in case you are interested in learning more about them. Enjoy!
Sea foam. Beauty. Pearl. Seduction. Aphrodite is unlike any other Greek goddess. While every Greek deity has a
purpose, and all of them have their own talents, gifts, and symbols, Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, love, desire, and attraction. She could hypnotize men with her mere physical appearance, and have affairs with as many people as she wanted. Quite literally, the world is her oyster. Aphrodite is in countless tales and myths throughout Greek mythology.
Aphrodite was born from a mix of sea foam and the castration of Cronus. Her symbols include myrtles, sparrows, swans, doves, and roses. Some more information on Aphrodite can be found here.
Apollo, found in both Greek and Roman mythology, has the most stories out of any deity. He is the god of music and poetry, knowledge, prophecy, the sun and the light it casts, healing, plagues, beauty, order, and agriculture. Although I have not looked up to him like I have with other goddesses, I relate to him in an uncanny way. I spend so much time crafting poetry and performing music, and always find myself looking for more knowledge. In my honest opinion, everyone should take a lesson from Apollo, or at least take a moment to bask in his beautiful soul, both physically and internally.
Apollo’s birth is unusual, just like other deities; in this case, he was born nine days after his twin, Artemis. Hera was the only deity not to attend his birth, as she was extremely jealous of his mother, Leto. Apollo is known to have a lyre or a bow and arrow in his hands, and symbolic animals include the wolf, the dolphin, the python, the mouse, the deer, and the swan. A link for more information about Apollo.
Did you know that Ares is one of the least tolerated gods of Greek mythology? While you are probably less familiar with Ares, he is the male counterpart of Athena. He was widely disliked because of his quick temper and aggression, but who doesn’t get mad? He liked drama, so much that he seduced Aphrodite and tried to fight Hercules. Ares famously fights in the Trojan War in Homer’s Iliad. Technically, he is the god of the spirit of battle, which could perhaps explain why he is so quick-tempered in his myths. Ares is known to be extremely handsome, despite his affinity for brutality.
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. His symbols include a spear and a helmet, a dog, and a vulture. This link provides more insight on Ares and his myths.
The twin sister to Apollo, Artemis has a more nature-like outlook on her gifts and mythology. She is the goddess of the wilderness, hunting, and chastity. Even from a young age, Artemis was extremely wise, as she asked her father for all the same things her brother had plus a little more, because she knew Zeus had the power to give it to her. Artemis has a deep connection with the forest and with the animals the forest contains. Artemis’s temple is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Artemis, like most other deities, is beautiful both on the outside and on the inside. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto and is technically nine days older than Apollo, her twin. Her symbols include the moon, the bow and arrow, a quiver, a deer, and even a hunting dog. More information on Artemis can be found here:
Athena is a Greek goddess that I have looked up to from a young age. I remember reading the Percy Jackson series and wishing that I could be like her daughter Annabeth. Athena is one of my favorites out of the dozen.
Athena is the female counterpart of Ares. Luckily for her, though, she is much more enjoyed than Ares. It does not seem like this could be possible for someone so wise, but Athena was born out of Zeus’s forehead. There are two myths to this: one states that she came out of Zeus’s forehead after Zeus had a terrible headache, and the other states that Zeus swallowed Athena’s mother (Metis) in hopes that a child would not be born.
Athena is the goddess of war, wisdom, crafts, and reason, and she is known to be an urban goddess. Her symbols include the owl, a golden helmet, the olive tree, a spear, and a shield. She is the goddess who turned Arachne into a spider. She has a whole city named after her! I quite fancy Athena. Here’s a link if you would like more information:
Demeter is the goddess of harvest and the fertility of the earth. You may not recognize her name at first, but Demeter is Persephone’s mother. Her grief of the loss of
her daughter was so severe that the crops became bare and the fruit brought by the earth died. Thankfully, when Persephone returns from the Underworld, life grows back on the ground.
Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her symbols include wheat, the cornucopia, bread, and a torch. More information about Demeter can be found here.
Dionysus is the Greek god of wine, theater, and merriment. Additionally, he was the most colorful of the deities, as he was the most mischievous. Out of the twelve Olympians, he was the last to arrive. In some depictions, he has a feminine, hairless male body and is seen semi- or fully naked. Technically, Dionysus was born twice, leaving him to be known as the “twice-born” god. This means that he crossed the boundary between life and death, and traveled through the known and unknown. While he brought fruit and wine and theater, he also brought chaos and protected misfits.
Similar to Athena, Dionysus was born out of Zeus, through his thigh. Semele was his mother. Due to Hera’s wrath and jealousy of Zeus having relations with another woman, Dionysus had to hide until she could calm down. His symbols include the grapevine, the bull, theatre masks, the goat, the chalice, and the snake. More information about Dionysus can be found here.
The Underworld. It sounds so dark, so terrible and brutal, but the Greek Underworld was a collection of different levels and rooms. Hades is the King of the Underworld. He is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. He is most notably known for having a three-headed dog, and for kidnapping and marrying Persephone. In an attempt to keep Persephone in the Underworld with him, he gave her a pomegranate. The amount of seeds that she consumed represent the months she is spent away from her mother, Demeter.
Hades is the son of Cronus and Rhea. His symbols include keys, pomegranates, serpents, dogs, sheep, cattle, horse, and chariots. You can find more information about Hades here.
The god of crafts, fire, and forgery. He has been through more trouble than a considerable amount of the other deities. While his crafts and his personality were beautiful, his physical attraction did not meet the standards of Ancient Greece. He is well known for catching his wife Aphrodite red- handed in an affair with another Olympian- Ares. The invisible chains captured Aphrodite and Ares in the act, and the rest of the twelve deities witnessed their affair. After laughing and ridiculing them, Ares and Aphrodite fled their separate ways.
An interesting note about Hephaestus is that he has no father. He was born from Hera, Zeus’s wife. His symbols include the hammer, the anvil, and tongs. More information about Hephaestus can be found by clicking on his name.
Hera is the queen of the Greek Gods. She is the goddess of marriage and family. Despite her title and abilities, she got quite jealous of
her husband’s illicit affairs several times.; she would strike her revenge time and time again. She is well-known for throwing her son Hephaestus off of Mount Olympus for his physical complexion. She also cursed any land that Leto traveled to, and was famously trapped in a throne until she granted Aphrodite’s hand in marriage.
Hera is the daughter of Rhea and Cronus. Her symbols include the peacock, cattle, the lion, pomegranate, a diadem, and a scepter. More information on Hera can be found by clicking on her name.
Hermes is the messenger of Greek mythology; he is the god of trade, wealth, language, sleep, fertility, animal
husbandry, and travel. Like Dionysus, he is extremely mischievous. Hermes is incredibly clever as well. He invented musical instruments, including the lyre, as well as fire and the alphabet. The most notable feature of Hermes might be his winged sandals.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia. His symbols include his winged sandals, his staff, the tortoise, the lyre, the rooster, and Hermes’s winged helmet. Here is more information about Hermes.
When you see the name Poseidon: think water. He rules the oceans, rivers, storms, floods, and earthquakes. He is the brother of Zeus and Hades. He traveled mostly by horse and chariot. Did you know that
Poseidon had a palace of coral and gems on the ocean floor? Poseidon was described as masculine and manly. The ruler of the oceans was also known to have a temper.
Poseidon is the brother of Zeus and Hades, so his parents are Cronus and Rhea. His symbol is most famously his trident. More information about Poseidon can be found here.
The king of the skies! Zeus was the father to many, many children. His power allowed him to seduce and impregnate several women over the span of Greek Mythology. He is notably the father of Apollo and Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, and Hermes. Zeus is married to Hera, although he has definitely been unfaithful to her. As the ruler of Mount Olympus, he oversees the Greek deities and shares brotherhood with Poseidon and Hades.
He is the son of Cronus and Rhea. His symbols include the lightning bolt, the bull, the eagle, and oak. Here is more information about Zeus.