The Greek gods have been around since ancient times. Stories about gods were an important part of everyday life in ancient Greece. If the Greeks wanted to explain the inexplicable, the gods were there to give significance to everything. From religious rituals to the weather, the gods gave meaning to the world people saw around them. The Greek gods had an extensive influence on Western civilization as well. They’ve been an inspiration for the planet’s names, scientific terms, places, arts, and literature. Why were they so inspirational and influential? Let’s go through these interesting facts about the Greek gods and find out…
The origin of the Greek mythology
The Iliad and the Odyssey
In Greek mythology, there is no single original text that presents all of the myths’ characters and stories. Instead, the initial Greek myths were part of an oral tradition that began in the Bronze Age, which slowly spread out in the written literature. In the 8th century BC, Homer’s epics the Iliad and the Odyssey, tells the story of the mythical Trojan War as a divine conflict as well as a human one.
The poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written origin story of Greek mythology around 700 BC. The Theogony explains the universe’s journey from chaos to being, and an elaborate family tree of elements, gods, and goddesses.
The Pantheon of gods
The pantheon of gods on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece is at the centre of Greek mythology. On Mount Olympus, there were 12 Greek gods with thrones ruling every aspect of human life. Olympian gods and goddesses were vulnerable to human foibles and passions.
Gods and their divine characteristics
In the 5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus stated that Homer and Hesiod gave to the Olympian gods their well-known characteristics. In fact, few people today would accept this literally, because, in the first book of the Iliad, it’s expected the audience to know the myths that preceded their literary version.
The Greeks couldn’t agree on who exactly those twelve gods were
The gods Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Athena, Demeter, Ares, Hephaestus, and Aphrodite are on the list of Olympians but the last throne is divided between either Hestia or Dionysus.
Zeus was the father of the Greek gods. Even though Zeus was married to Hera, he had many children with gods, nymphs, titans, and mortals. Zeus was the father of the legendary Greek hero Hercules. The name Zeus means “bright” or “sky.” He is known for his thunderbolt, made by the Cyclops.
Hera was the Queen of Olympian gods. She was a gracious protector of the heroes in the story of the Quest of the Golden Fleece.
After the fall of the Titans, Poseidon assigned his dominion. He wielded the trident and this particular image of Poseidon is displayed in many art forms. He was the God of the sea and the protector of all waters.
Apollo was born on the island of Delos as the son of Leto and Zeus. Apollo and his twin sister Artemis shared talent for archery. Apollo’s companions were the nine Muses, goddesses known for inspiring art and music.
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo. Primarily, she was a virgin huntress, goddess of wildlife, and patroness of hunters. Artemis was a significant goddess in the lives of women, especially when it came to marriage.
Due to his cunning and clever personality, Hermes was considered a “trickster”. Hermes initially served as a messenger of the gods. Interestingly, he was conceived and born in one day, in a cave on a mountain in Arcadia.
The Goddess of War was Athena, the female equivalent to Ares, born from the head of Zeus after he swallowed his pregnant wife, Metis. Athena was born fully grown ready for war, dressed in full armour. She is one of the three virgin goddesses serving as a guardian of Athens, and her temple was the Parthenon.
Demeter was the daughter of Cronos and Rhea. She was the goddess of harvest and fertility. The Thesmophoria was a fertility festival held in honour of Demeter.
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera. Ares was the God of War and he represented the horrid aspects of the battle. According to Homer Zeus and Hera hated him.
Among the perfectly beautiful immortals, Hephaestus was the only ugly god. He was the workman of the immortals and he was also well-known as the God of Fire.
The goddess of fertility, love, and beauty who fought on the side of Paris during the Trojan War! She was amazing in making people fall in love! In fact, Aphrodite and her son Eros-Cupid made Zeus fall in love with Europa, a human being and a mortal.
Hestia appeared in a few stories, and she wasn’t too significant in Greek mythology. She was a sibling to Demeter, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus and another interesting fact is that she was completely omitted from the works of Homer.
Dionysus was the God of the Vine. He roamed the Earth, teaching men the culture of the vine. Dionysus was the last god to enter Olympus.
Sometimes regarded as Olympians
Hades was also known as the God of Wealth because he possessed the precious metals of Earth. Hades had a helmet that made its wearer invisible. Persephone was Hades’ wife, Demeter’s only daughter, whom he kidnapped and made his queen.
Eros or Cupid, the winged god of love was the child of Ares (according to some) and Aphrodite. Others believe that she was born pregnant with the child.
Other Greek gods and goddesses
Eos was the Goddess of Dawn. She abducted Ganymede and Tithonus from the royal house of Troy to be her companions. While she begged immortality for Tithonus from Zeus, she forgot to ask for eternal youth.
The goddess Gaia, also spelled Gaea was a personification of Earth. Zeus needed a reference to become the Gods’ king. On Gaia’s advice, the Olympians chose Zeus as their ruler.
Are you up for a game of chance? Then you need Tyche, the Greek goddess of chance, fate, and fortune on your side! She signified the positive and negative aspects of these characteristics. The ancient Greeks thought Tyche was the reason for the unexpected events in their lives.
Feeling victorious already? Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. Today, when we hear the name Nike, we mostly envision Nike’s symbol with the famous slogan “Just Do It”!
Do you know any interesting facts about the Greek Gods? Share them in the comments below!
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