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All About The 12 Olympians
The Ancient Greek’s believed in many different gods and because of this they were considered to be polytheists. The ancient Greek’ mythology and religion consisted mainly of 12 gods, known as The Twelve Olympians. Mankind created the idea of the twelve gods to explain the reasons behind everything. They needed a way to describe the way things works and how life they know it began.
The twelve Olympians were: Aphrodite ( the goddess of love), Apollo (the god of the sun, communication, and music), Ares (the god of war), Artemis (the goddess of all wild things and hunt), Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, Hephaestus (the god of forge, crafts, and fire), Hera (the goddess of marriage), Hermes (the god of travel), Hestia (the goddess of the hearth, family , and home), Poseidon (the god of the sea), and Zeus (the god of the sky and king of all the gods).
Even though the Greeks were considered to be polytheists, each city would devote themselves and their time of worship to one god that they found to be most helpful and worthy. The city of Athens devoted their whole city to honor Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Athens chose Athena because it is said that she gave the city the gift of the olive tree, which is considered very useful to the Greeks.
When the Ancient Greeks would describe their gods they would almost make them sound like humans. The gods were said to have the same type of emotions, social life, and appearances of the average people of Greece. It seemed as though the only difference between the Ancient Greeks and their gods is that the gods were immortal and holy and the Greek’s were not.
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty. She appeared to be an eternally young, gorgeous woman, with a body everyone would fall in love with. Being the goddess of love, her symbols were; her body, seashells, the mirror, and a dove. She often used her body as a weapon to distract the other gods to get whatever she wants but her main weakness as a god was that she was very self-absorbed and stuck on herself. She was married to the lame smith god, Hephaestus, but she was known for her many affairs with his brother, Ares.
She is the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Dione, the mother goddess. In Ancient Greek the name Aphrodite means “arisen from the foam” that is because it is believed that she was born of the foam in the sea off of the island of Cyprus around the destroyed body of Ouranos when Kronos killed him.
Apollo was the Greek god of the sun, communication, and music. He was a short young man with curly, wild golden hair and bright blue eyes. He is usually seen with his lyre or driving his sun chariot that he borrowed from the pre-sun god, Heios. Apollo was known to always be happy but it seemed as though he was too happy. He could never be taken seriously and because of this he never settled down and got married. He did have children, the two gods of hearing, Orpheus and Asklepios.
Apollo’s parents were Zeus and Leto, a nymph. At the time Zeus was currently married to his sister Hera but Zeus would often disappear on earth for months at a time for his numerous affairs. One affair that he had was with Leto. Later on Leto became pregnant with Zeus’s children and Hera was furious and forbid the birth of the children on earth. Leto took refuge on the island of Delos and gave birth to the twin gods, Apollo, the god of sun, and Artemis, the goddess of hunt and wild things.
Ares was the Greek god of war. He was often described as a tall, broad, bearded middle aged man. His symbols were the spear, vultures, dogs, his helmet, and the planet mars. Being the god of war he was known for being very decisive, determined and fearless. But because he was so fearless, most of the other gods tried to avoid him because he always wanted to fight, not caring about the consequences.
Ares never married but it was believed that he had a lifelong affair with his brother’s wife, Aphrodite. With the ongoing affair Ares fathered seven different children with Aphrodite. Like most of the other gods, Ares own parents, Zeus and Hera, didn’t like him very much because of his blood thirsty temper.
Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunt and all wild things, and the guardian of women in childbirth. She was a young blond woman with bright blues eyes and often wore short robes that allowed her to move her legs freely throughout the forest. She was always pictured with her two symbols, her bow and arrows, and her hunting hounds. Since birth Artemis has been the guardian of women in childbirth. When her mother went into labor with Artemis and her twin brother, Artemis was born first and assisted her mother in the birth of her younger twin brother Apollo.
She was never married so her only family was her parents, Zeus and Leto, and her twin brother Apollo. Since she had no family to care for she often just spent her free time roaming the wilderness with her fellow huntresses.
Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. She was a young woman with grey eyes, always wore a helmet and was often holding a shield. It is believed that the owl of wisdom often followed the goddess on her many journeys. Out of all the goddess’s on mount Olympus Athena seemed to have been the strongest and most stable. She was very rational, intelligent, showed little emotion, and even for a female she was a powerful defender in any reasonable war.
Athena’s father Zeus was told that his next child would over throw him from his place on Mount Olympus, so to stop this from happening; Zeus swallowed his currently pregnant wife Metis. Months later Zeus became very weak from the pain of a horrible headache, so trying to help Hephaistos, the smith god, smashed open Zeus head. The second his head spilt open, a young women covered in full body armor sprung out of Zeus’s skull with a scream. This woman was Zeus’s daughter Athena, (who never once tried to overthrow him).
Demeter was the Greek goddess of agriculture. She was always described as a middle aged woman that was very modest and always kept her body completely covered and was usually carrying food. She was very powerful and one of the main sources of life on earth. She was the one who gave fertility to everything on earth and without her powers earth would have no growth or life.
The Greek goddess Demeter is usually known for always being accompanied by her young daughter, Persephone. One day Demeter goes searching for her daughter but finds that she has gone missing. While asking the other gods for help Demeter figures out that her brother Zeus gave Hades, the god of the underworld, permission to take young Persephone as his wife. Hades took Zeus very literally and kidnapped Persephone. Demeter was furious with her brothers. As punishment Demeter stopped all life on earth from growing until a compromise was made. Eventually Zeus gave in and made it so Demeter would get to spend six months out of the year with her daughter and Hades would get to keep Persephone the other six months as his queen of the underworld.
Hephaestus was the Greek god of the forge, crafts, and fire. He could be described as a ugly, short, stubby, lame middle aged man with very dark hair. His symbols were forgery, fire, and axe, and a chisel. He usually spent most of his time alone working on some sort of craft., because he was alone so much he was considered to be very sneaky and a little crazy.
Being the only lame god Hephaestus often felt left out and alone. Feeling rejected by his popular mother and father, Hephaestus, using his sneaky crafty skills made a gorgeous throne for a gift for his parents. When his mother, Hera, sat in the throne she realized that she could no longer stand up. The other gods tried to praise and bribe the smith god but nothing worked. Hephaestus made a deal that he would release his mother if he gets to marry any of the goddesses of his choosing. Enchanted by her beauty Hephaestus married Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
Hera was the Greek goddess of marriage. Besides Aphrodite, Hera was the most beautiful of all the goddess. Her symbols were the veil and the peacock. Hera was very emotional and her greatest weakness was being very strict about monogamy. It was believed that she was the defender of the victims and the punished the cheaters.
Even though she was the goddess of marriage and defender of monogamy, Hera married her brother Zeus. Throughout their marriage Zeus had hundreds of affairs. The beautiful marriage goddess did not take these affairs so well. In her spare time Hera was either trying to impress her husband with her powers and her beauty or she was torturing her husband’s mistresses and any of Zeus other offspring.
Hermes was the Greek god of travel. He was a slim handsome young man that wore winged hats and shoes. He was always seen carrying a staff that was wrapped with two snakes. His strengths were that he was a very brave young man, he was determined and knew how to use his magic well and loved charming creatures with his flute.
It is said that he showed no weakness and had no spouse. He did have three children; Pan, the god of the wild, Hermaphroditus, half-man half-women, and Abderus.
Hestia was the Greek goddess of the hearth, family, and the home. She was the fair looking, modest young woman. Her symbols were the house, and the fire that burns in the home. Her strengths were that she was always calm and supportive about anything family related.
Even though she was the goddess of the family she never got married or had any children. She was best known to be the most respectful of all the gods because she loved her home and loved the sacred Mount Olympus. She also never caused any feuds or participated in any of the famous wars.
Poseidon was the Greek god of the sea and all the sea creatures inside it. He was a very tall, bearded old man with bluish hair, and is always carrying his tall, three prong trident. In some myth he is even described as a merman. He was one of the other very creative but also very moody gods, and he liked to cause many unneeded wars.
He ruled the waters with his wife, Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea. Together they had many children but most of Poseidon’s children were either animals or part animal. His most famous children are; Triton (who was half fish), Pegasus (the well known famous flying horse), and a horse named Arron.
Zeus was the Greek god of weather, fate, and law and order. Zeus was a very charming, handsome older man who was described as being the largest of all the gods. He was the king of all the gods and was the one who was in charge of making all the decisions on Mount Olympus. His symbols were the eagle, the oak tree, his thunder bolt, the clouds, and the bull. His strengths were his charm, his power as the ruler and he was very persuasive.
Being the ruler Zeus thought he could do whatever he wanted and in every marriage he was always having some sort of affair. He was married 6 different times and it is believed that he had over 60 immortal children and a little over 50 mortal children.
The Ancient Greeks used their religion everyday in their lives; they all worshipped, sacrificed, and gave gifts to their god of choice in hope of something in return. Besides the Romans, the way the Ancient Greeks practiced their religion was a little different than any other religions practiced. The Greeks did not have a designated place of worship or any holidays in favor of their gods. They worshipped when they wanted and however they wanted and respected how everyone worships differently.