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Twelve Olympians

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The Olympians
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The Twelve Olympians were the chief deities of Ancient Greek mythology.

Original Twelve Olympians

These gods and goddesses held a place in the Council on Mount Olympus and were considered to be the chief deities in Ancient Greece. from their birth and onwards they have been the image of their realm or sphere of power.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite was the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Her Roman equivalent is Venus. By some accounts she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, and by others she was born of the foam on the waves when Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his genitals into the sea. She is married to Hephaestus, god of the forge. and had countless affairs with other men and had countless children as the result but her most notable lover was Ares, the god of war. She is a rival of the dawn goddess, Eos. Her symbols include the dolphin, mirror, rose, scallop shell, myrtle, swa, girdle and dove.

Apollo

Apollo was the Greek god of music, poetry, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge. Other than Helios, he drove the sun through the sky everyday. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. He is notably the father of Asclepius, another god of healing. His symbols are the lyre, laurel wreath, raven, python, bow and arrow.

Ares

Ares, also known as Mars in Roman Mythology, is the ancient Greek god of war. He is the one of the sons of Zeus, the father god, and Hera, the queen of the gods. He is unwed, yet he had multiple affairs with the goddess Aphrodite. Their children are Deimos 'Terror' and Phobos 'Fear', who accompany Ares in battle. He is disliked by most of the gods, including his parents, for his brutality and violent ways, Eris, the goddess of discord, who likes to start conflicts between gods and men (the Trojan War is a key example), and is also another companion of his and sometimes considered his sister. His symbols are the chariot, spear, dog, boar and helmet.

Artemis

Artemis, known as Diana to the Romans, was the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, moon (along with Selene), and guardian of women in childbirth. She has a twin brother Apollo and is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Artemis swore to forever remain a maiden, holding a hatred for men; calling for them to be ripped apart if found spying on her bathing. Her symbols are the hounds that she hunts with, her bow, jasmine, a stag and the lunar crescent she wears on her brow.

Athena

Athena was the ancient Greek goddess of crafts/weaving, wisdom, and to a point- war stragity. She was born from the head of Zeus, seen as a headache in different interpretations of the original myth. Her mother was Metis, titaness of wisdom, who was the first wife of Zeus. A prophecy foretold any son born of Metis would be greater than his father. Zeus swallowed the pregnant Metis in fear and "gave birth" to Athena. She is the "right-hand" of Zeus, being his favorite child, and is often turned to for advice. She and Poseidon once competed to be named the patron of Athens, Poseidon giving the gift of a salt-water spring or a horse (different interpretation - different gift), and she gave an olive tree. The Athenians enjoyed her gift more, and the city was named after her.Her symbols include the owl, shield (notably the Aegis, formerly her father's), olive tree and snake. Her Roman equivalent is Minerva.

Demeter

One of the two Earth gods or godesses. Demeter was the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, Agriculture, Harvest, and Forests. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rheia and the sibling of Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Zeus. Her symbols include a sheaf of wheat and a chariot. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Dionysus

Dionysus replaced Hestia as an Olympian. Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of Wine, Theatre, and Ecstasy. His parents were Zeus and Semele. His symbols were the grapevine, leopard and thrysus (his fennel staff, topped with a pinecone). His Roman equivalent is Bacchus/Liber. 

Hephaestus

Hephaestus was the ancient Greek god of fire/forging. He is the son of Hera. He created all of the tools for the rest of the Olympians. He was married to Aphrodite, but she had many affairs. His mother Hera pushed him off Mount Olympus when he was born because she was a perfectionist; Hephaestus was not beautiful as most of the gods were characterized. He was also permanently disfigured from the fall and cannot walk without limping. His symbols are the hammer, tongs, anvil and the quail. His Roman equivalent is Vulcan.

Hera

Hera was the wife of the god Zeus. Hera was the Queen of the Heavens and was cruel to any child of Zeus' that wasn't her own. She was worshiped as the goddess of marriage and monogamy. Her children are Hephaestus, Hebe, and Ares. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She is usually tolerant of Zeus' affairs and knows about most of them, however, sometimes she takes a jealous revenge on his lovers. Her symbols are the peacock, pomegranate, cow, lily and diadem. Her Roman counterpart is Juno.

Hermes

Hermes was the god of shepherds, thieves, travelers, literature, poets, athletics and sports. His symbols are the caduceus, talaria (his winged sandals), tortoise, snake, rooster and lyre. He is the herald god of the Olympians. He is the son of Zeus and Maia. His Roman counterpart is Mercury.

Poseidon

Poseidon, known as Neptune in Roman myths, was the Ancient Greek god of the oceans, seas, and earthquakes. He has a bad temper and gets revenge by causing, floods, droughts, and earthquakes in cities. It is said he made horses from the foam of the sea. He is the son of Cronus and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera. He played a key role in the overthrow of his father. His symbols are a trident, the source of his powers, a fish, dolhpin, horse or bull. He is the father of Pegasus, and is possibly the father of Theseus.

Zeus

Zeus is the chief of the Greek gods after the downfall of Cronus. He is the brother of Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia and Hades and is the father of Apollo, Aphrodite, Athena, Ares, Hermes, Dionysus, Hephaestus and Artemis among the other Olympians. He is also the father of many other gods and heroes such as Heracles and Hebe and the Muses. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, oak and bull. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter/Jove.

Former Olympians

Hestia

Hestia is the only former Olympian, who gave up her seat in favour of her nephew Dionysus. She is the goddess of the home and the hearth and decided to give up her seat on Olympus to live closer to man and away from the bickering and argumentative gods. She is the sister of Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, Zeus and Hades. Her Roman counterpart is Vesta.

Other Major Deities

These gods and goddesses, among many others, held a major role in their domains over Ancient Greece, but do not hold a place among the twelve chief Olympians. They include (in alphabetical order): Eros, Heracles, Hebe, Helios, HadesPan and Persephone.

Notes

  • Hades is considered an important god, but is not counted in the Twelve Olympians because he dwells in the Underworld.
  • Hestia was once a Olympian but gave up her postion for Dionysus.

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