In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus. They were called Olympians because, according to tradition, they resided on Mount Olympus.
Although Hades was a major ancient Greek god, and was the brother of the first generation of Olympians (Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia), he resided in the underworld, far from Olympus, and thus was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians.
Besides the twelve Olympians, there were many other cultic groupings of twelve gods.
The Olympians were a race of deities, primarily consisting of a third and fourth generation of immortal beings, worshipped as the principal gods of the Greek pantheon and so named because of their residency atop Mount Olympus. They gained their supremacy in a ten-year-long war of gods, in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over the previous generation of ruling gods, the Titans. They were a family of gods, the most important consisting of the first generation of Olympians, offspring of the Titans Cronus and Rhea: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter and Hestia, along with the principal offspring of Zeus: Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and Dionysus. Although Hades was a major deity in the Greek pantheon, and was the brother of Zeus and the other first generation of Olympians, his realm was far away from Olympus in the underworld, and thus he was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians. Olympic gods can be contrasted to chthonic gods including Hades, by mode of sacrifice, the latter receiving sacrifices in a bothros (βόθρος, "pit") or megaron (μέγαρον, "sunken chamber") rather than at an altar.
The canonical number of Olympian gods was twelve, but besides the (thirteen) principal Olympians listed above, there were many other residents of Olympus, who thus might be called Olympians. Heracles became a resident of Olympus after his apotheosis and married another Olympian resident Hebe. Some others who might be considered Olympians, include the Muses, the Graces, Iris, Dione, Eileithyia, the Horae, and Ganymede.
Besides the twelve Olympians, there were many other various cultic groupings of twelve gods throughout ancient Greece. The earliest evidence of Greek religious practice involving twelve gods (Greek: δωδεκάθεον, dodekatheon, from δώδεκα dōdeka, "twelve" and θεοί theoi, "gods") comes no earlier than the late sixth century BC. According to Thucydides, an altar of the twelve gods was established in the agora of Athens by the archon Pisistratus (son of Hippias, and the grandson of the tyrant Pisistratus), in c. 522 BC. The altar became the central point from which distances from Athens were measured and a place of supplication and refuge.
Olympia apparently also had an early tradition of twelve gods. The Homeric Hymn to Hermes (c. 500 BC) has the god Hermes divide a sacrifice of two cows he has stolen from Apollo, into twelve parts, on the banks of the river Alpheius (presumably at Olympia):
Another of Pindar's Olympian odes mentions "six double altars". Herodorus of Heraclea (c. 400 BC) also has Heracles founding a shrine at Olympia, with six pairs of gods, each pair sharing a single altar.
Many other places had cults of the twelve gods, including Delos, Chalcedon, Magnesia on the Maeander, and Leontinoi in Sicily. As with the twelve Olympians, although the number of gods was fixed at twelve, the membership varied. While the majority of the gods included as members of these other cults of twelve gods were Olympians, non-Olympians were also sometimes included. For example, Herodorus of Heraclea identified the six pairs of gods at Olympia as: Zeus and Poseidon, Hera and Athena, Hermes and Apollo, the Graces and Dionysus, Artemis and Alpheus, and Cronus and Rhea. Thus while this list includes the eight Olympians: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus, it also contains three clear non-Olympians: the Titan parents of the first generation of Olympians, Cronus and Rhea, and the river god Alpheius, with the status of the Graces (here apparently counted as one god) being unclear.
The Roman poet Ennius gives the Roman equivalents (the Dii Consentes) as six male-female complements, preserving the place of Vesta (Greek Hestia), who played a crucial role in Roman religion as a state goddess maintained by the Vestals.
There is no single canonical list of the twelve Olympian gods. The thirteen gods and goddesses most commonly considered to be one of the twelve Olympians are listed below.
|Greek||Roman||Image||Functions and attributes|
|Zeus||Jupiter||King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice. Youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, lion, scepter, and scales. Brother and husband of Hera, although he had many lovers, also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.|
|Hera||Juno||Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage, women, childbirth and family. Symbols include the peacock, cuckoo, and cow. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. Being the goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus' lovers and their children.|
|Poseidon||Neptune||God of the seas, water, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and horses. Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin, and trident. Middle son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the Nereid Amphitrite, although, like most male Greek gods, he had many lovers.|
|Demeter||Ceres||Goddess of the harvest, fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons. She presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Symbols include the poppy, wheat, torch, cornucopia, and pig. Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Also the lover of Zeus and Poseidon, and the mother of Persephone.|
|Athena||Minerva||Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts, science, defense and strategic warfare. Symbols include the owl and the olive tree. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Metis, she rose from her father's head fully grown and in full battle armor.|
|Apollo[A]||God of light, the sun, prophecy, philosophy, truth, inspiration, poetry, music, arts, medicine, healing, and plague. Symbols include the sun, bow and arrow, lyre, swan, and mouse. Son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother of Artemis.|
|Artemis||Diana||Goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, virginity, the moon, archery, childbirth, protection and plague. Symbols include the moon, horse, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree, and bow and arrow. Daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo.|
|Ares||Mars||God of war, violence, bloodshed and manly virtues. Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear, and shield. Son of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods despised him. His Latin name, Mars, gave us the word "martial."|
|Aphrodite||Venus||Goddess of love, pleasure, passion, procreation, fertility, beauty and desire. Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, myrtle, and rose. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea foam after Uranus' semen dripped into the sea after being castrated by his youngest son, Cronus, who then threw his father's genitals into the sea. Married to Hephaestus, although she had many adulterous affairs, most notably with Ares. Her name gave us the word "aphrodisiac", while her Latin name, Venus, gave us the word "venereal".[B]|
|Hephaestus||Vulcan||Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of the forge, craftsmanship, invention, fire and volcanoes. Symbols include fire, anvil, axe, donkey, hammer, tongs, and quail. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. Married to Aphrodite, though unlike most divine husbands, he was rarely ever licentious. His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word "volcano."|
|Hermes||Mercury||Messenger of the gods; god of travel, commerce, communication, borders, eloquence, diplomacy, thieves and games. Symbols include the caduceus (staff entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork, and tortoise (whose shell he used to invent the lyre). Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just older than Dionysus.|
Most listings include either one or the other of the following deities as one of the twelve Olympians.
|Greek||Roman||Image||Functions and attributes|
|Hestia||Vesta||Goddess of the hearth, fire and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family; she was born into the first Olympian generation and was one of the original twelve Olympians. Some lists of the Twelve Olympians omit her in favor of Dionysus, but the speculation that she gave her throne to him in order to keep the peace seems to be modern invention. She is the first child of Cronus and Rhea, eldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.|
|Bacchus||God of wine, the grape vine, fertility, festivity, ecstasy, madness and resurrection. Patron god of the art of theatre. Symbols include the grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin, goat, and pinecone. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess Semele. Married to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.|
Ares (; Ancient Greek: Ἄρης, Áres [árɛːs]) is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, "overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering." His sons Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) and his lover, or sister, Enyo (Discord) accompanied him on his war chariot. In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality. His value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favoured the triumphant Greeks.Ares plays a relatively limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous love affairs and abundant offspring are often alluded to. When Ares does appear in myths, he typically faces humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband's device.The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity. During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures later became virtually indistinguishable.Barbara Graziosi
Barbara Graziosi is an Italian classicist and academic. She is Professor of Classics at Princeton University. Her interests lie in ancient Greek literature, and the way in which readers make it their own. She has written extensively on the subject of Homeric literature, in particular the Iliad, and more generally on the transition of the Twelve Olympians from antiquity to the Renaissance. Her most recent research was a project entitled 'Living Poets: A New Approach to Ancient Poetry, which was funded by the European Research Council.Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres (; Latin: Cerēs [ˈkɛreːs]) was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres". Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales (Ceres' games). She was also honoured in the May lustratio of the fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites.
Ceres is the only one of Rome's many agricultural deities to be listed among the Dii Consentes, Rome's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.Chthonic
Chthonic (, UK also ; from Ancient Greek: χθόνιος, translit. khthónios [kʰtʰónios], "in, under, or beneath the earth", from χθών khthōn "earth") literally means "subterranean", but the word in English describes deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in Ancient Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to that which is under the earth, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia or Ge does), or the land as territory (as khora χώρα does).Crius
In Greek mythology, Crius (; Ancient Greek: Κρεῖος or Κριός, Kreios/Krios) was one of the Titans, children of Uranus and Gaia.As the least individualized among the Titans, he was overthrown in the Titanomachy. M. L. West has suggested how Hesiod filled out the complement of Titans from the core group—adding three figures from the archaic tradition of Delphi, Coeus, and Phoibe, whose name Apollo assumed with the oracle, and Themis. Among possible further interpolations among the Titans was Crius, whose interest for Hesiod was as the father of Perses and grandfather of Hecate, for whom Hesiod was, according to West, an "enthusiastic evangelist".Dii Consentes
The Dii Consentes, also as Di or Dei Consentes (once Dii Complices), was a list of twelve major deities, six gods and six goddesses, in the pantheon of Ancient Rome. Their gilt statues stood in the Forum, later apparently in the Porticus Deorum Consentium.The gods were listed by the poet Ennius in the late 3rd century BC in a paraphrase of an unknown Greek poet:
Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus,
Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune, Vulcan, ApolloLivy arranges them in six male-female pairs: Jupiter-Juno, Neptune-Minerva, Mars-Venus, Apollo-Diana, Vulcan-Vesta and Mercury-Ceres. Three of the Dii Consentes formed the Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.Estia
Estia (Greek: Ἑστία) means "home" in Greek. It has also lent its name to a Greek national daily broadsheet newspaper published in Athens, Greece. It was founded in 1876 as a literary magazine and then in 1894 has been transformed into a newspaper, making it Greece’s oldest daily newspaper still in circulation. It is named after the ancient Greek goddess Hestia, one of the Twelve Olympians. Estia is widely regarded as right wing in terms of political alignment and most often referred to as “conservative” and “nationalist” and is readily distinguishable as the only Greek newspaper still employing the old-fashioned polytonic system of accentuation. An “opinion newspaper” with a writing style acknowledged to be “incisive” and with a loyal readership also described as “exclusive”, Estia is often treated not merely as a newspaper but as “an institution of bourgeois Athens”. On the 120th anniversary of its publication (March 12, 2014), the President of Greece Karolos Papoulias issued a congratulatory note crediting the contribution of Estia to public life. Run as a family business for more than a century (1898–2015) and successively managed by the descendants of Adonis Kyrou, Estia is currently owned, through “Estia Newspaper S.A.”, by Ioannis Filippakis.Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece (Greek: χρυσόμαλλον δέρας khrusómallon dérās) is the fleece of the golden-woolled, winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.
It figures in the tale of the hero Jason and his crew of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly. Through the help of Medea, they acquire the Golden Fleece. The story is of great antiquity and was current in the time of Homer (eighth century BC). It survives in various forms, among which the details vary.Hellenism (religion)
Hellenism (Greek: Ἑλληνισμός, Ἑllēnismós), the Hellenic ethnic religion (Ἑλληνικὴ ἐθνική θρησκεία), also commonly known as Hellenismos, Hellenic Polytheism, Dodekatheism (Δωδεκαθεϊσμός), or Olympianism (Ὀλυμπιανισμός), refers to various religious movements that revive or reconstruct ancient Greek religious practices, which have publicly emerged since the 1990s.
The Hellenic religion is a traditional religion and way of life, revolving around the Greek Gods, primarily focused on the Twelve Olympians, and embracing ancient Hellenic values and virtues.
In 2017, Hellenism was legally recognized as a "known religion" in Greece, granting it certain religious freedoms in that country, including the freedom to open houses of worship and for clergy to officiate weddings.Hera
Hera (; Greek: Ἥρᾱ, Hērā; Ἥρη, Hērē in Ionic and Homeric Greek) is the goddess of women, marriage, family, and childbirth in ancient Greek religion and myth, one of the Twelve Olympians and the sister-wife of Zeus. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera rules over Mount Olympus as queen of the gods. A matronly figure, Hera served as both the patroness and protectress of married women, presiding over weddings and blessing marital unions. One of Hera's defining characteristics is her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus' numerous lovers and illegitimate offspring, as well as the mortals who cross her.
Hera is commonly seen with the animals she considers sacred including the cow, lion and the peacock. Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may hold a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. Scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos."Her Roman counterpart is Juno.List of fictional humanoid species in comics
This is a list of fictional humanoid species in comics, and is subsidiary to the list of fictional humanoid species. It is a collection of various notable humanoid species that are featured in comics, including weekly or daily comic strips, comic book publications or manga.List of films based on Greco-Roman mythology
This is a list of movies based on Greek and Roman mythology.List of mythological places
This is a list of mythological places which appear in mythological tales, folklore, and varying religious texts.Olympia, Greece
Olympia (Greek: Ὀλυμπία; Ancient Greek: [olympía]; Modern Greek: [oli(m)ˈbia] Olymbía), is a small town in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, famous for the nearby archaeological site of the same name, which was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient Olympic Games were held. The site was primarily dedicated to Zeus and drew visitors from all over the Greek world as one of a group of such "Panhellenic" centres which helped to build the identity of the ancient Greeks as a nation. Despite the name, it is nowhere near Mount Olympus in northern Greece, where the Twelve Olympians, the major deities of Ancient Greek religion, were believed to live.
The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive, although the main Temple of Zeus survives only as stones on the ground. The site is a major tourist attraction, and has two museums, one devoted to the ancient and modern games.Olympians (Marvel Comics)
The Olympians are a fictional species appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. These characters are based loosely on the Twelve Olympians and other deities of Greek mythology. During the beginning of the 1960s, the exploits of the Asgardians Thor and his evil brother Loki demonstrated that an updating of ancient myths could again win readers. In 1965, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the Olympians in Journey into Mystery Annual #1.Poseidon
Poseidon (; Greek: Ποσειδῶν, pronounced [pose͜edɔ́͜ɔn]) was one of the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was god of the Sea and other waters; of earthquakes; and of horses. In pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, he was venerated as a chief deity at Pylos and Thebes. His Roman equivalent is Neptune.
Poseidon was protector of seafarers, and of many Hellenic cities and colonies. In Homer's Iliad, Poseidon supports the Greeks against the Trojans during the Trojan War. In the Odyssey, during the sea-voyage from Troy back home to Ithaca, the Greek hero Odysseus provokes Poseidon's fury by blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, resulting in Poseidon punishing him with storms, the complete loss of his ship and companions, and a ten-year delay. Poseidon is also the subject of a Homeric hymn. In Plato's Timaeus and Critias, the island of Atlantis was Poseidon's domain.Throne
A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary, especially the seat occupied by a sovereign on state occasions; or the seat occupied by a pope or bishop on ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the throne". The expression "ascend (mount) the throne" takes its meaning from the steps leading up to the dais or platform, on which the throne is placed, being formerly comprised in the word's significance.When used in a political or governmental sense, throne typically refers to a civilization, nation, tribe, or other politically designated group that is organized or governed under an authoritarian system. Throughout much of human history societies have been governed under authoritarian systems, in particular dictatorial or autocratic systems, resulting in a wide variety of thrones that have been used by given heads of state. These have ranged from stools in places such as a Africa to ornate chairs and bench-like designs in Europe and Asia, respectively. Often, but not always, a throne is tied to a philosophical or religious ideology held by the nation or people in question, which serves a dual role in unifying the people under the reigning monarch and connecting the monarch upon the throne to his or her predecessors, who sat upon the throne previously. Accordingly, many thrones are typically held to have been constructed or fabricated out of rare or hard to find materials that may be valuable or important to the land in question. Depending on the size of the throne in question it may be large and ornately designed as an emplaced instrument of a nation's power, or it may be a symbolic chair with little or no precious materials incorporated into the design.
When used in a religious sense, throne can refer to one of two distinct uses. The first use derives from the practice in churches of having a bishop or higher-ranking religious official (archbishop, Pope, etc.) sit on a special chair which in church referred to by written sources as a "throne", and is intended to allow such high-ranking religious officials a place to sit in their place of worship. The other use for throne refers to a belief among many of the world's monotheistic and polytheistic religions that the deity or deities that they worship are seated on a throne. Such beliefs go back to ancient times, and can be seen in surviving artwork and texts which discuss the idea of ancient gods (such as the Twelve Olympians) seated on thrones. In the major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Throne of God is attested to in religious scriptures and teachings, although the origin, nature, and idea of the Throne of God in these religions differs according to the given religious ideology practiced.
In the west, a throne is most identified as the seat upon which a person holding the title King, Queen, Emperor, or Empress sits in a nation using a monarchy political system, although there are a few exceptions, notably with regards to religious officials such as the Pope and bishops of various sects of the Christian faith. Changing geo-political tides have resulted in the collapse of several dictatorial and autocratic governments, which in turn have left a number of throne chairs empty, however the significance of a throne chair is such that many of these thrones - such as China's Dragon Throne - survive today as historic examples of nation's previous government.Triptolemus
In Greek mythology, Triptolemus (Greek: Τριπτόλεμος, Triptólemos, lit. "threefold warrior"; also known as Buzyges) is a figure connected with the goddess Demeter of the Eleusinian Mysteries. He was either a mortal prince, the eldest son of King Celeus of Eleusis, or, according to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca (I.V.2), the son of Gaia and Oceanus.
|Major Olympians' family tree |
|Classical religious forms|
and sacred mysteries
|Rites and practices|
|Modern offshoot religions|
|Modern popular culture|
Ancient Greek deities by affiliation
Greek deities series