Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Goddesses and Gods of the Ancient Greeks

Getting to know the Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses

In the past, the ancient Greeks interpreted and understood the world through their myths.  In order to come up with a set of supreme beings to worship, the Greeks combined the moral concepts with their mythological tradition.
The life of these gods laid out the foundations for the understanding of how to live a virtuous life. These myths were passed down through their society’s storytellers like Homer, who wrote the epic poems the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.” These works of art are the source of much of our knowledge of the Greek gods, and the beliefs surrounding them.
The twelve Olympian gods (they are named after their dwelling place, Mount Olympus) were the best known gods. They ruled after the overthrow of the Titans. 
The relationship between the ancient Greeks and their gods was based on a simple concept: if men worshiped and made sacrifices to the gods, then the gods would look favorably upon them in return.

The Olympians:

  • Aphrodite - Goddess of love and beauty. Her son was Eros, the god of love. She is also believed to have kept a watchful eye over sailors.
  • Apollo - Beautiful god of the light, medicine and music. Apollo represents order, harmony, and civilization
  • Ares - God of war. He had an affair with Aphrodite, and was father to many children.
  • Artemis - Goddess moon, forest, childbirth and the hunt. Although she was associated with childbirth and children, Artemis was a virgin.
  • Athena - (Athene) Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom and war and the patron goddess of Athens. Like Artemis, she was a virgin goddess too.
  • Hades - God of the Underworld.
  • Hephaestus - God of fire and the forge. Mated to Aphrodite.
  • Hera - Queen of the Gods, wife of Zeus, protector of marriage.
  • Hermes - The messenger of the gods, god of business. He was a very smart child, inventing the lyre by using a tortoise’s shell when he was only a newborn baby.
  • Hestia - Goddess of home, symbolized by the hearth which holds the ever-burning flame.
  • Poseidon - God of the sea and earthquakes. As god of the seas Poseidon held great power, and could calm the waves or create terrible storms. He had an unreliable temper, and used his powers to generate fear and punishment on people as revenge.
  • Zeus - King of the Gods, god of the sky, symbolized by the thunderbolt. As the ruler of the Olympian gods, Zeus held enormous power and almost absolute authority. His role was primarily to watch over the activities of the other gods, and make sure they weren’t exceeding their powers.

The Titans, also known as the elder gods, ruled the earth before the Olympians overthrew them. 

The ruler of the Titans was Cronus who was de-throned by his son Zeus.
  • Prometheus - He stole the sacred fire from Zeus and the gods.
  • Atlas - Zeus punished him to forever bear the heavens upon his shoulders.
  • Dione - The mother of Aphrodite.
  • Gaea - was the Earth goddess. She mated with her son Uranus and gave birth to the remaining Titans. Often misspelled “Ghea.”
  • Uranus - was the sky god and first ruler, the son of Ghea.
  • Cronus - Son of Uranus. His wife was Rhea (his sister). He was the father of Zeus.
  • Rhea - was the wife of Cronus.
  • Oceanus - is the unending stream of water encircling the world.
  • Mnemosyne - was the goddess of memory and the inventor of words.
  • Tethys - was the wife of Oceanus.
  • Themis - was the god of justice and order.
  • Iapetus - was the father of Epimetheus, Menoetius, Prometheus and Atlas.
  • Coeus - was the Titan of Intelligence.
  • Phoebe - the Titan of the Moon.
  • Crius - He represented the tremendous power of the sea.
  • Hyperion - means “he who goes before the sun.”
  • Thea - Hyperion’s wife and sister.
  • Epimetheus - means “afterthought” is the opposite of his brother Prometheus (“forethought”).
  • Metis - was the first wife of Zeus. She ruled over all wisdom and knowledge.

Other gods

Asclepius, Dionysus, Eros, Demeter, Persephone, Hebe, Eris, Helius, Thanatos, Pan, The Muses, The Erinyes, The Fates, Nemesis, The Graces

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