There were many heroes and titans of Mythology. On top of that there are also a huge number of gods of whom I have includes a list of the most known ones. The Greeks seem to have encountered a large number of monsters, however since none are still around the Greeks must have managed to kill them all off.
Zeus is responsible for many of the heroes being father to many of them. He was father to Hercules; he was also father to Perseus who killed Madusa the Gorgan. I have a list of Zeus' seduction of women and his production of divine and mortal children.Divine Unions.
|Hera||Ares, Eileithyia, Hebe, Hephaestus|
|Themis||Horae (Seasons), Moirae (Fates)|
|Electra||Dardanus, Harmonia, Iasion|
|Europa||Minos, Rhadamanthys, Sarpedon|
|Leda||Castor, Pollux, Clytemnestra, Helen|
Beliefs and worship.
The Greeks believed to gods controlled every aspect of nature and of their lives and so their lively hood depended on the good will of the gods. If the gods chose something then they could do little about it. Most of the time the Greeks had friendship with the gods but it was known that a lot of the time they were supposed to be petty and cruel. They punished men for things such as indulgent pride, extreme ambition, or even excessive prosperity. There is one story where this is told. It is called Pride comes before a brawl and the gods sent down their worker Nemesis to kill one person who showed too much pride among other things. How ever he managed to prove he didn't have too much pride but showing that he was going to shoot a piece of fruit from on top of his friends head blind folded from ten paces away. However he didn't actually shoot he was just testing that his friend meant what he said when he said, "he would trust him with his life."
Greek mythology was interwoven into Greek life. The god controlled every aspect and so some cities were devoted to a god or group of gods. They built temples, which were known as houses of the gods, and the worship took place in an open aired altar. One town was so devoted to Dionysus and at the festival the king found he was going to die was didn't complain one bit since he thought it was the will of Dionysus. How ever when he found it wasn't the will of Dionysus he changed his mind about dying. A the festival and gathering poets would recite poems, songs or legends and that was the way most Greeks learnt about the gods.
The other place where Greeks would hear about the gods was at home from word of mouth. Different rooms of the house would often be devoted to a different god. Hestia for example was usually honoured at the hearth but Zeus would have an altar placed in the courtyard. Then people would at regular times offer prayer to those gods.
There were many holy places that the Greeks would honour. On was Delphi, which was usually devoted to Apollo the god of the sun. At Delphi they had an oracle who was also known as a prophet who would tell people about the future and was often questioned by brave travellers. However many people found that you didn't hear what you would want from the oracle. Example of this are found in the story of Pursues and the Gorgon and in Jason and the Argonauths. The oracle would live in a temple that was built at Delphi. In addition there would be priests who represented the holy sites. The priests interpreted the word of the gods however they didn't have any special knowledge or power. Another way to worship their gods was a sacrifice, which was usually a domestic animal such as a goat.
Origans and changes.
The Greek beliefs developed and changed slightly as Alexander the Great conquered many countries and the influence of other religions began to change the Greek religion somewhat however the Greeks gods and their legends remained mostly unchanged. The other thing, which changed the Greek beliefs, was new philosophies.
The Greek beliefs are thought to have emerged from the Minion civilisation in Crete however there are other possibilities. It could be as mentioned by a Euhemerus, a mythographer, in the 4th century BC that the Greek myths are distortions of history and the gods are heroes who have been glorified over time. In the 5th century BC the philosopher Prodicus of Ceos thought that the gods were natural phenomena that had been personified. Also in the same century a historian known as Herodotus believed that the Greeks inherited their ritual from the Egyptians. It is also a possibility, as mentioned in Star Trek in the episode Who Mourns For Adonais, where the Enterprise met the god Apollo, that the Gods were aliens.
"Life" after death.
The Greeks believed that when they died they would go to Hades the underworld. Hades is not the same as the Christian Hell because who ever died whether good or bad would go there. Cerberus, the three headed, dragon-tailed dog guarded Hades. Then there was a river that separated you. Charon would ferry you to the other side. Usually the ferry fare was one Dinar and when people died they would usually have one Dinar placed between their teeth. Erebus was where the dead souls would pass to too. Tartarus was the deeper region where the titans would end up. The bad souls would end up in the infernal regions of Hades while the good people and heroes would go to the Elysian Fields.
The Greeks have a long story that says where their gods came from. Here is the story in brief. Gaea, the Earth and her son Uranus, the heaven gave birth to a motley bunch of creatures that included the Titans. Continuing the theme, Cronus the king Titan, married his sister Rhea and they produced six Olympian gods, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera. But, Cronus didn't want his kids stealing his kingdom, so rather than letting them live; he ate them, or at least most of them. Rhea rescued Zeus by ingeniously substituting a chunk of granite wrapped in swaddling clothes. Zeus then somehow made his father "chuck" his siblings, and together they all overthrew the Titans and stole the universe.
Exemplifying a male-dominated society, they boys split the goods between them, shutting out the girls. Poseidon took the seas, Hades the underworld, and Zeus the skies. Olympus was to be home for them all, and earth was their chemistry set and playpen.
Now the fun starts...
Zeus was incapable of keeping his toga closed. Hera was his wife, but she wasn't his first, and she certainly didn't keep him happy. His first wife was Metis but in a recurring theme he ate her just before she gave birth to Athena. To save his precious daughter, Zeus had his head cut open and out jumped baby Athena in full battle-drag. Four move wives produced a host of mini-gods including the Fates, 3 Graces, 9 Muses, Persephone, and major gods: Atemis and Apollo. Zeus was nothing if not prolific.
Zeus finally got horny for his sister Hera and in the equivalent of getting his date drunk, tricked her and date-raped her. To cover her shame, she married him. Hera gave birth to four kids - including two major gods: Ares and Hephaestus.
However, Zeus just kept spreading it around. Hera couldn't do anything to him except bitch because, after all, he was the king of the gods. But she could take it out on the "bimbos", and she did - she came to define the term shrew: murder bondage and hardcore discipline.
There was a slew of other one-nighters and some produced major gods: Hermes, Aphrodite Dionysus. Others produced major heroes like Perseus, Castor and Hercules.
Zeus was the god of the sky and ruled the gods of Mount Olympus. Her was also the father to the gods and the mortals. He didn't create them her was just the father. He was the rain god. He would gather clouds and wielded a thunderbolt, which is mentioned in several stories. His breastplate was the aegis (the mythical shield of both Zeus and Athena), bird the eagle, his tree the oak. His principal shrines were at Dodona, which is his most ancient shrine is and is also land of the oak trees and also at Olympia where every fourth year the Olympic games were held in his honour. Also in Nemus the Nemean games were held in his honour.
It is said that while Zeus was growing to maturity to over throw his father his was concealed in Crete and fed the milk of Amalthaea a goat while being reared by Nymphs. It is said that when Zeus'
brothers and sister were rescued there was a war between the gods and Cronus who had the titans on his side. When the god won the war the Universe was divided between Zeus' brothers and the Earth was to be ruled in common by all three.
Zeus is represented in two ways. One of these is as the god who had many liaisons with women and these were explained so that mortals would be able to trace their families back to Zeus. The other way in which he is represented is as the god of justice and mercy who punishes the wicked and protects the weak. And to his wife Hera the father to Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus and Eileithyia.
Hera was the queen god and "protectress" of women. She was known as jealous and took it out on Zeus' mistresses and their children. She also helped the Greeks in the Trojan War, being angry with the Trojan prince Paris for preferring Aphrodite to her and was not happy until Troy was destroyed.
Athena was the goddess of war and wisdom. She was one of the most important goddesses in Greek Mythology. She was known to be Zeus' favorite child. He Entrusted her with his shield that had the head of Medusa the Gorgon on it, his buckler and his principle weapon, the thunder bolt. Being a virgin goddess she was called Parthenos, which means the maiden and the major temple, the Parthenon, in Athens was hers as a gift after she gave an olive tree as a gift to the Athenian people.
Originally Athena was the goddess of Greek cities, industry and arts. She was the greatest helper to the Greeks in the Trojan war but when afterwards the Greeks failed to respect the sanctity one her alters where the Trojan prophet Cassandra sought shelter she requested that Poseidon would send storms and destroyed most of the returning Greek ships.
Athena was a patron the agricultural arts and craft of women including especially weaving and spinning. She gave many gifts to men including the inventions of the plough, flute and the arts of taming animals, building ships and making shoes. She was associated very often with birds in particular, the owl.
Apollo was the god of beauty, the sun, healing, plagues and prophecy. Apollo was sometimes called Delian after Delos his place of birth. Another name was Pythian after killing Python a serpant that guarded the shrine on the mountains Parnassus. It's victory over the Python was in Delphi and his most important oracle was there. To the people he loved her would grant prophesy and these people included the Trojan princess Cassandra.
Apollo was a gifted musician (playing the Lyre), a master of Archery and a fleet footed Athlete. He was the fist winner of the Olympic games.
Artemis was his twin sister who was the protector young women while Apollo was the protector of young men. He was also the god of agriculture and cattle, and of the light and truth. He also taught humans the art of healing.
Some tales say Apollo was cruel and pitiless. It is said that he shot fiery pestilence carrying arrows into a Greek army to release Chryses' daughter from the Greeks when he prayed to him. He also abducted and ravished the Greek princess Creusa before abandoning her and her child.
He was supposed to be good looking and that is possibly why he is represented in Greek art more than any other deity.
Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty, love and fertility. In one Greek tales she is said to be the daughter of Zeus and Dione however in another she is said to have sprung from sea foam, her name may mean foam risen. In some mythology she is said to be the wife to the god of fire Hephaestus however one of her lovers was Ares the god of war who was later known to be her wife. The queen of the underworld Persephone was Aphrodite's rival for the love of the beautiful Greek Adonis.
It is said that Aphrodite is the reason for the Trojan War. When Eris was not invited to the wedding of King Peleus and Thetis he tosses in a golden apple that had written on it "for the fairest". Zeus was asked to judge a beauty contest between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Zeus refused to judge so Paris was asked to do so. He gave the apple to Aphrodite since she had offered him the most beautiful woman in the world is she won. Hera had offered that he would become a great ruler while Athena had offered him great military fame. Paris chose the wife of King Menelaus; Helen of Troy and the Greeks fought the war in an attempt to get her back.
Near Eastern origin Aphrodite was known under a number of titles including Aphrodite Urania, queen of the heavens, and Aphrodite Pandemos, goddess of the whole people. She was also identified there with the early Greek belief of the Phoenician goddess Astarte.
Artemis was the goddess of the moon and the hunt. She was the chief hunter to the gods and goddesses of hunting and wild animals. One animal in particular was the bear. Being the moon goddess she was often identified with the goddesses Hecate and Selene. As well as being the goddess of the hunt and the moon she was also the goddess of childbirth and the harvest.
Artemis prevented the Greeks from sailing to Troy until they sacrificed a maiden to her although she is in tradition a protector and friend to the youth, in particular young women. However just before the sacrifice she is said in some accounts to have rescued Iphigenia, the victim. She is said to give swift and painless death to women who died in childbirth and is praised for this. Like Apollo she is said to have a bow and arrows and to punish mortals who angered her.
Demeter was the goddess of agriculture. Demeter was the mother of Persephone. When Persephone was abducted by Hades her grief was such, that famine devastated the land when no plant would grow because she neglected the land. Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone to her mother but before Hades released her he made her eat some pomegranate seeds that would mean she would return to the underworld for four months each year. With the happiness of being reunited with her daughter Demeter brought fourth abundant fruit and grain along with bright spring flowers and then her grief returned in the Autumn when Persephone had to leave again and so the land was left dead in the winter season.
Hermes was the god of trickery and commerce. Hermes was most commonly known however as the messenger to the gods with his winged sandals and winged hat. He is the son of Zeus and Maia who was the daughter of Atlas. Hermes was often known to have a golden magic wand, or caduceus entwined with snakes. Hermes was believed to posses magical powers over sleep and dreams and would guide soles to the underworld. Hermes would protect gymnasium and stadiums being a deity to athletes and was also thought to bring both luck and wealth. Being the god of commerce meant he was the protector of traders and herds. Although he had these characteristics, being a trickster meant he was also a dangerous foe and a thief. In fact this was right from the day of his birth where he stole some cattle from his brother Apollo and was able to hide their trail by making them walk backwards. Hermes denied it when he was confronted by Apollo but gave Apollo his newly invented lyre in order to reconcile. Early Greek art represented him
as a bearded mature man, however the classic art represents him as a beardless athletic youth.
Dionysus was the god of wine, song and drama. He was sometimes as important as Zeus. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and showed mortals how to cultivate vines and make wine. There were two ways in which he was usually characterized. One was as the god of vegetation that was mainly the fruit of trees. He eventually became the god of wine and cheer. The other way was as a deity whose mysteries inspired ecstatic, orgiastic worship. A group of females who wore fawn skins and had left their homes to devote their lives to Dionysus were called the maenads, or bacchantes. They were believed to have occult powers. Dionysus was good and gentle to those who honour him but brought madness and destruction on those spurned him or his rituals.
Dionysus was supposed to die each winter and was reborn again each spring. His being reborn was accompanied by the fruit of the earth and was a promise of resurrection from the dead. The yearly rites of honor in Dionysus gradually grew into a drama and at important festivals held for the god the dramatic competitions were conducted. The most important festival was held in Athens for five days in the spring and was called the Greater Dionysia where the Greek dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote their great tragedies.
By the 5th century BC Dionysus was known as Bacchus, which was the names of the cries, that he was worshiped with at the Orgia, or Dionysiac mysteries. These festivals probably originated in the spring and nature festivals and were for intoxication and licentiousness.
In the 2nd century BC this type of worship became extremely popular in Roman Italy where the Dionysiac mysteries were called the Bacchanalia. The indulgence became increasingly extreme and was prohibited by the Roman Senate in 186 BC. In the 1st century AD however, the Dionysiac mysteries were still popular, as representations of them on Greek sarcophagi testify.
Poseidon was the god of the sea. He was the bother of Zeus and Hades and the father of Triton while his wife was Amphitrite. Poseidon had numerous other love affairs and was father to many children. Some of these were Orion the giant and Polyphemus the Cyclops. Also Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa were parents to Pegasus the famous wing horse.
Poseidon has a large part in Greek myths and legends. He is said to have tried to control Athens by unsuccessfully competing with Athena. When he helped the king of Troy build wall around the city the king, Laomedon, cheated him and Apollo of their wages and so Poseidon's revenge was boundless. He sent a sea monster to ravage the land and help the Greeks in the Trojan war.
At Corinth horse and chariot races called the Isthmian Games we held every two years in his honour. Poseidon is often represented in art and a bearded figure with a trident often accompanied by a dolphin.
Hades was the god of the underworld. Hades abducted Persephone from the world above and rules the dead in the underworld. Hades was a very important god but was considered an Olympian for the reason that he was the only main god that didn't actually live on Mount Olympus but in Hades. Although he was grim and pitiless unappeased by either prayer or sacrifice her was not evil and would judge the dead fairly.
Ares was the god of war. Ares was aggressive and sanguine and would personify the brutal nature of war. His consorts were Aphrodite and Phobos (Rout) and Deimos (Fear) who accompanied him into battle. Ares was fierce and war-like but was not invincible even to mortals. Thrace is where the worship is thought to originate and was not extensive in Greece when it did, lacking moral and social significance. Ares was an ancestral deity of Thebes and had a temple at Athens, at the foot of the Areopagus, or Hill of Ares.
Haphaestus was the god of fire and metal work and although he was son to Zeus and Hera it is said by some that he is son to Hera alone. Haphaestus was lame and awkward and some tales say that Hera cast him out of Mount Olympus because of his deformity, and some say it was by Zeus because Hephaestus sided with Hera against him. He was soon hounded again in most legends and married to either Aglaia, one of the three graces, or to Aphrodite the goddess of love. As an artisan among the god he was thought to have a workshop under mount Etna in Sicily where her would make jewellery, amour and weapons.
Hestia was the goddess of the hearth. Prayers were offered to her before and after meals and she was believed to preside over all sacrificial altar fires. There is usually a common hearth in most cities where her sacred fire is burned although she appears in very few myths. In Rome, Hestia was worshipped as Vesta, and six virgin priestesses known as vestal virgins attended her fire.
|GREEK NAME||ROMAN NAME||ROLE IN MYTHOLOGY|
|Aphrodite||Venus||Goddess of beauty and sexual desire (Roman mythology: goddess of gardens and fields)|
|Apollo||Apollo||God of prophecy, medicine, and archery (late Greek/Roman mythology: god of sun)|
|Ares||Mars||God of war|
|Artemis||Diana||Goddess of the hunt(late Greek/Roman mythology: goddess of moon)|
|Asclepius||Aesculapius||God of medicine|
|Athena||Minerva||Goddess of arts and crafts, and war; helper of heroes (late Greek/Roman mythology: goddess of wisdom)|
|Cronus||Saturn||God of the sky; ruler of the Titans (Roman mythology: god of agriculture)|
|Demeter||Ceres||Goddess of grain|
|Dionysus||Bacchus||God of wine and vegetation|
|Eros||Cupid||God of love|
|Hades||Pluto||God of the underworld; lord of the dead|
|Hephaestus||Vulcan||God of fire; blacksmith of the gods|
|Hera||Juno||Goddess of marriage and childbirth; protector of married women; |
queen of the gods
|Hermes||Mercury||Messenger of the gods; protector of travellers, thieves, and merchants|
|Hestia||Vesta||Guardian of the home|
|Hypnos||Somnus||God of sleep|
|Poseidon||Neptune||God of the sea and earthquakes|
|Rhea||Ops||Wife of Cronus/Saturn; Mother Goddess|
|Uranus||Uranus||God of the sky; father of the Titans|
|Zeus||Jupiter||Ruler of the Gods|