Greek mythology is one of the most popular in Western culture. It has inspired many writers and filmmakers. The Greek gods, are therefore of universal knowledge .
Although Greek mythology does not strictly represent a religion, it is based on a collection of myths and stories from the ancient Greeks, which tell how the origin of the universe would have been, as a result of the power of the Gods of Olympus.
The Greek gods and their mythology have been spread especially by word of mouth, although the epic stories of their heroes have also been made known through prose.
The Most Important Greek Gods
In this article we will know the most relevant Greek gods of mythology and we will see some of their characteristics. These deities are associated with the elements and feelings .
1. Zeus: god of heaven and ruler of Olympus
Besides being the God of Lightning, Zeus is also the supreme father of all deities and mortals who inhabit the earth. He originates from the island of Crete , where at birth he was rescued from the jaws of his father, Cronus.
Had it not been for the timely intervention of Rhea (his mother), Zeus would have been devoured by his father, as well as the rest of his siblings.
Rhea hid and raised Zeus until he became the ultimate reference of the Greek gods.
2. Poseidon: god of the seas and oceans
This deity has the power to control the fury of the waters, apart from causing earthquakes at will . He is a native of the city of Rhodes, where he was raised by the Telchines (hybrid sea-terrestrial creatures).
The legend of the god Poseidon is very similar to that of his brother Zeus, he was hidden by his mother in a flock of lambs to prevent his father, Cronus, from devouring him.
Poseidon joins forces with Zeus to defeat Cronus, and that is how he receives his famous trident , as well as custody of the seas and oceans.
3. Hades: god of the underworld
Hades was the eldest of the male children of the titan Cronus . He was devoured by his father, although he would later be rescued from death by Zeus. By joining forces with his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, they managed to defeat Cronus.
Together they take possession of the universe and divide it among themselves, Hades was given the underworld , being relegated to a terrible solitude, which led him to take the maiden Persephone (daughter of Zeus) into captivity, to force her to marry him.
It is often associated with evil, but Hades can be seen as a noble god who always, however confusing it may seem, sought to maintain in the world a proper balance between good and evil .
4. Hermes: the messenger of the Gods
Hermes is the son of the God Zeus, by his eloquence and charisma he earned the title of protector of thieves and God of borders. Born on Olympus, just like his father he had informal relationships with a large number of women, thus leaving a vast offspring.
His greatest feat is that of having gone to the underworld, on behalf of Zeus, to negotiate with his uncle (Hades himself), so that he could free his sister Persephone , which he achieved thanks to his divine rhetoric.
5. Hera: Queen of the Gods
This deity was the elder sister of the almighty Zeus, and at the same time his wife. She is given the responsibility of overseeing the marriage and births , as well as providing special protection for all women.
He was always of noble personality and very human, in spite of his divinity. In honor of the Goddess Hera, there are celebrations called “Matronalia”, which take place on the first of March.
6. Hephaestus: Hero of the Gods
The craftsmen had their protector, Hephaestus . The God of fire and the works of forging. He is the son of the goddess Hera and the almighty Zeus, although this is not very clear. There are versions that indicate that he is only the son of Hera.
Hephaestus, except for the rest of the deities was born without physical beauty, his appearance was so unpleasant at birth that his mother threw him from Olympus, and he was left lame after the fall.
He was rescued from the sea by the Goddess Thetis (mother of Achilles) and raised by her on the island of Lemons.
7. Dionysus: god of wine and life
In the strict sense of the word, Dionysus turns out to be a demigod. Born of Zeus with a mortal named Semele, this Greek god is also known as the ruler of agriculture .
The legend of Dionysus tells that he was born twice, the first time in a mortal form and the second time thanks to the divinity of his father.
Zeus once took his true form, and the lightning bolts that fell killed Semele and Dionysus. The almighty god took the child, and placed him on one of his thighs and brought him back to life.
8. Athena: goddess of wisdom
She is one of the main and most influential Goddesses of Olympus. The stories tell that she was born directly from the head of Zeus, once he swallowed his mother, Athena emerged with the help of Hephaestus, who opened Zeus’ head; hence her great skills in science and strategy , skills that served her also on the battlefield, where she was a relentless warrior.
The Goddess Athena, in contrast to her brother Ares, represents the just causes.
9. Apollo: god of the Sun
In Greek mythological accounts, the god Apollo represents perfection and beauty . Of Zeus’ sons, Apollo was the most influential of them all.
He was not only the God of the Sun, but also of diseases and healing, of plagues and of antidotes to them. This Deity is the perfect balance between the healthy and the unhealthy.
Apollo played a transcendental role during the Trojan War , when the King of this city denied the Gods the promised offerings, it was he who released a deadly plague on Troy.
But his greatest feat, without a doubt, is to have directed the arrow of Prince Paris towards the Achilles’ heel, causing his death.
10. Artemis: goddess of the hunt
Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister. This goddess represents relief for women during childbirth. Like her brother Apollo they are disowned by the goddess Hera, as both come from the infidelity of Zeus .
As a child, among other cravings, she asked her father to grant her the gift of eternal virginity, which was fulfilled. For this reason, Artemis is a Goddess without any sexual desire.
Many fellow hunters, including the deadly Orion, tried to steal her virginity. All of them, including Orion, ended up dead at the hands of the goddess.
11. Ares: god of war
Ares is the counterpart of his sister, the goddess Athena. This deity represents the purest and most visceral instinct of war , is violence at its best. He is the founder of the city of Thebes, where the Spartans live.
Despite being the God of war, Ares was defeated several times by his sister Athena. The story is also known of when he was wounded by the hero Diomedes and had to return to Olympus to heal, leaving the Trojans without his help during the war.
12. Aphrodite: goddess of beauty and love
Lustful and full of passion, such is the Goddess Aphrodite. This deity governs everything related with sex and reproduction. She is born from the sperm of the Greek titan Uranus, whose testicles were cut off by Chronos.
Emerges from the sea directly as an adult , being desired by many men from the first moment.
For fear of a conflict on Olympus, Zeus decides to let Hephaestus stay with Aphrodite, but the Goddess never wanted to be with him, and it would be Ares who would calm down the intense sexual desires of Aphrodite.
Hephaestus, after the anger and disgrace represented by the adultery committed by Aphrodite, complained to the Gods of Olympus, but they ignored his claims, and were envious of Ares.
- Burkert, W. (1985). Greek Religion. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishers.
- Lowell, E. (1990), Approaches to Greek Myth, Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.