You can’t have a knowledge of Greek culture without Greek mythology. While modern day Greeks don’t worship the pagan gods and goddesses anymore, they are a vital part of Greek culture.
Works like “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” have a strong emphasis of the Greek mythology. Even places in Greece, such as the Parthenon and Delphi have mythology tied to their history.
While there are thousands of Greek gods and goddesses, let’s take a look at the Twelve Olympians, the 12 most well-known gods and goddesses from Greek mythology.
Zeus is the king and ruler of Mt. Olympus, the home of the gods. He is the god of sky, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice. Zeus is the brother to Hera (also his wife), Poseidon, Hades, Demeter and Hestia. Zeus also had many lovers.
Hera is known as the queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and family. She is the wife of Zeus, and with her being the god of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus’ lovers and their children.
Poseidon is the god of the seas, earthquakes and tidal waves. He is the brother of Zeus and Hades. He is married to the Nereid Amphitrite and like many of the Greek gods, had many lovers.
Demeter is the goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons.
Athena is the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, reason, intellect, literature, handicrafts, science, defense and strategic warfare. She is the daughter of Zeus, and also whom Athens is named after.
Apollo is the god of light, prophecy, philosophy, inspiration, poetry, music and arts, medicine and healing. She is the son of Zeus and twin brother of Artemis. He is also the patron god of Delphi.
Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon and all animals. She is the daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo.
Ares is the god of war, violence and bloodshed. He is the son of Zeus and Hera and all other gods despised him.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty and desire. She is the daughter of Zeus and married to Hephaestus. She had many adulterous affairs, most notably with Ares.
Hephaestus is the master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods. He is the god of fire and forges. He is the son of Hera and married to Aphrodite.
Hermes is the messenger of the gods and the god of commerce, communication, borders, eloquence, diplomacy, thieves and games. He is the son of Zeus and the second-youngest Olympian, only to Dionysus.
Hestia is the goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family. She was born into the first Olympian generation of one of the original 12 Olympians. She is the eldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera and Zeus. Some favor Dionysus over her to be considered in the Twelve Olympians.
Dionysus is the god of wine, celebrations and ecstasy. He is the patron god of theater. He is the son of Zeus, married to Ariadne. He is the youngest Olympian god, and the only one to have a mortal mother.
If you didn’t already know about the Twelve Olympians, now you do. For more Greek culture, check out the Denver Greek Festival, June 16-18, 2017.