Greek Gods and Goddesses 101

A quick primer on a few key players in Greek Mythology.

Athena: bright-eyed goddess, virgin goddess, gray-eyed goddess

Goddess of:

  • Wisdom, wise counsel
  • Courage
  • Inspiration
  • Civilization, the defense of towns, Goddess of the City, the protectress of civilized life
  • Law and justice
  • Just warfare, war, ferocious and implacable fight
  • Strength, strategy, heroic endeavor, mathematics
  • Skill and household arts and crafts: weaving of textiles, spinning, pottery

Daughter of Zeus and Metis

Bird: Owl     Tree: Olive tree

Interesting Facts: Favorite child of Zeus. Companion of Heroes. Credited with inventing the flute, the plow and the ox-yoke, the horse bridle (or horse bit) and the chariot and the olive tree. Born as an adult from the head of her father. In poetry she is the incarnation of Wisdom, Reason and Purity. Exhibited both masculine and feminine traits.

Zeus

God of:

  • The Sky
  • Weather God
  • Cloud-gatherer
  • Zeus the Thunderer
  • Ruler of Olympian gods
  • Supreme Ruler of Mount Olympus: upheld the law, justice and morals
  • The Rain God (weapon was the thunderbolt)

Bird: Eagle     Tree: Oak

Son of Cronus and Rhea, brother of Poseidon and Hades. Father of heroes Perseus and Heracles.

Interesting Facts: Caused his father to vomit up his siblings allowing the Olympians to overthrow the Titans.

Apollo

God of:

  • Music (lyre, choir of the Muses)
  • Prophecy and oracles
  • Colonization
  • Medicine
  • Archery
  • Poetry
  • Dance
  • Intellectual inquiry
  • Light, illumination
  • Plague and disease
  • Destroyer of rats and locust

Son of Zeus and Leto, twin of Artemis.

Bird: Raven     Tree: Laurel

Interesting Facts: Slayed the Python guarding the Oracle of Delphi, slayed the giant Tityos. Sometimes considered to be synonymous with Helios.  Always portrayed as handsome and without a beard. Usually with curly hair.

Artemis: virgin goddess

Goddess of:

  • The hunt
  • Night
  • Protector of young women
  • Watcher over streets and harbors
  • Queen of the Animals
  • Mistress of the whole of Wild Nature
  • The Wilderness
  • Fertility and Childbirth

Daughter of Zeus and Leto, twin of Apollo

Bird: Guinea Fowl     Tree: Cypress

Identified with Selene, much like her brother, Apollo, was identified with Helios. Armed with bow and arrow made by Hephaestus and the Cyclopes. Protected her hunters, the nymphs, traveling with her. Asked Zeus for eternal virginity. All of her companions were also virgins. Turned the hunter Actaeon into a stag after he saw her bathing.

Who are your favorite mythological characters?

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