The Greek Gods | Sunday Observer

The Greek Gods

24 October, 2021

The Greek gods, or the Olympians, are the members of the Greek pantheon, which is the set of gods in this religion. They are called the Olympians because it is believed that they resided on Mount Olympus in Greece. There are twelve Olympians, namely Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.

But in this article, I will be talking about only eight of them. Each of the twelve gods has Roman equivalents and names, since the Roman gods were primarily based on the Greek gods . But the Roman gods are depicted as being more disciplined and violent.

The Greek gods are the children of the Titans. The twelve Titans’ parents are Gaia, the Greek personification of the Earth and Ouranos, the personification of the sky. When the Titans grew up, the youngest brother, Kronos, overthrew Ouranos and took over the world as the Lord of Time. Rhea, the Titaness of Motherhood, had six children from Kronos; the first generation of gods.

But Kronos had previously been given a prophecy that his descendants would depose (overthrow) him as he had done Ouranos. So, he took a rather drastic solution; eating his children alive. Thus, he consumed the first generation of gods; Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon. But Rhea managed to save Zeus by tricking Kronos and giving him a rock wrapped in blankets.

After Zeus grew up, he deposed Kronos and freed his other five siblings. They spent ten years warring against the Titans, or the Titanomachy, and finally the gods emerged victorious. They married other gods and Titans, and brought forward the second generation of gods.

The war against the Titans

Zeus is the god of the sky, kings, law and order, and justice. He is considered the father of all gods and mortals. He is the brother of Hera, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon and Hestia. His Roman form is called Jupiter. He is the consort of Hera. Zeus’s godly children include Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Athena, Hermes, and Dionysus.

Hera is the goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth. She is considered as the queen of the gods. She was mostly known as the matron goddess; but she presided over weddings in ancient Greece. In Rome, she was called Juno

Poseidon is the god of the sea, storms and earthquakes. In ancient Greek mythology, he is considered as the tamer and the father of horses. He is the husband of Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea, and they have three children; Triton, Rhode and Kymopoleia. His Roman form is called Neptune.

A famous story about him is how he and Athena competed for patronship of the city of Attica. Athena won, and so it was called Athens. During this competition, Poseidon invented horses out of sea waves, and Athena invented the olive tree.

Demeter is the goddess of agriculture and harvest. She also presides over the sacred law, as well as the cycle of mortality, or life and death. She was called Ceres in ancient Rome. Persephone, the wife of Hades, is Demeter’s and Zeus’s daughter. Since Hades kidnapped Persephone to be his wife, Demeter caused a famine and wouldn’t relent until Hades allowed Persephone to stay with her for two-thirds of the year.

Apollo is the god of the sun, music, poetry, prophecy and medicine. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, the Titaness of motherhood, and the twin brother of Artemis. He is called the same name in the Roman religion. Leto gave birth to the twins on Delos, a floating island, since Hera forbade her from giving birth on solid ground. He has oracles to deliver prophecies of the future to mortals, some being the oracles of Trophonius, Erythaea, Cumæ and Delphi.

Artemis is the goddess of the moon, wild animals and the hunt. She is the protector and patron of young girls. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Her Roman name is Diana. She is followed by a group of hunters, consisting of mortals, gods, nymphs(female divinities of trees and water). They were made immortal, unless they were slain in battle.

Athena is the goddess of wisdom, and strategic warfare. Her parents are Zeus and the Titaness Metis. Metis was given a prophecy that if she had a son, he would overthrow Zeus. So, Zeus swallowed Metis alive, and Athena was born inside Zeus. Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and fire, cut Zeus’s forehead and Athena came out. Athena was called Minerva in ancient Rome, but Minerva was much less warlike than her Greek form, serving as the goddess of wisdom only. There is a temple in Athens, Greece dedicated to her, called the Parthenon, since Athena was the patron of the city.

Ares is the god of war and courage, and the spirit of battle. He is the son of Zeus and Hera. Ares sometimes personifies sheer brutality and bloodlust. The Roman form of Ares is Mars. However, Mars is given a much better and dignified place in Roman religion than Ares in the Greek religion. There was a statue of him in Sparta, a city in a ncient Greece. It was bound in chains, to signify that the spirit of war and victory should be kept in the city.


Dinara Hettiarachchi

Grade 8,

Ananda College,

Colombo 10