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WHO WERE THE OLYMPIAN GODS AND GODDESSES?

Olympian Family Tree

 

The Major Olympians were the twelve (and as many as fourteen) most important ruling gods and goddesses who lived high above the clouds on majestic Mount Olympus, interfering in the affairs of humans, partying hearty and plotting lurid intrigues.

Among these children of Cronus and Rhea, foremost was Zeus, King of the Olympians, who ruled the Heavens. His brother Hades presided over the Underworld, and the other brother, Poseidon, had dominion over the Seas. Hera, sister and wife to Zeus, along with Demeter and Hestia, were the rest of the original six siblings.

The offspring of Zeus made up the bulk of the Olympians. These consisted of the goddess of Wisdom, Athena, who had sprung full-grown from his forehead; Apollo, god of Prophecy and Healing, and his twin sister Artemis, goddess of the Hunt; Hermes, the clever and mischievous Messenger god; and eventually Dionysus, the ever-popular god of Wine.

(In some accounts, Aphrodite was said to be the daughter of Zeus and Dione, but the more widely accepted version of her birth was that she was born when Cronus severed his father Uranus' genitals, and tossed them into the sea, where Aphrodite was born from the foam. Both accounts can be considered accurate.)


With his wife Hera, Zeus fathered Ares, the despised god of War; and Hephaestus, industrious god of the Forge.

Even though Hades and Poseidon had splendid palaces of their own in their domains, they visited Mount Olympus when summoned by Zeus...or when they heard there was a particularly raucous party planned!

When Dionysus was admitted into Olympus, supposedly Hestia, goddess of the Home and Hearth, gave up her place for him and took up residence on earth, because thirteen was an unlucky number. Similarly, Demeter, goddess of the Harvest, abandoned Olympus in disgust when she found out that Hades had kidnapped her daughter, Persephone, and Zeus had done nothing about it.

That's why the Olympians are often said to number either twelve or fourteen. It's important to note that the ancient poet Homer did not include Dionysus among the major Olympians, instead describing him as simply the god who teaches men the preparation of wine.


There were other residents of grand Mount Olympus, but they were minor in relation to the "Big Fourteen". Persephone was one such character, as were Hebe and Ganymede,  cup-bearers to the gods. Others close to the Olympians included Bia (Force); the Charites (Graces), who were in the train of Aphrodite; Cratos (Power, along with Bia able assistants to Zeus); and Dione, aforementioned mother of Aphrodite.

Eos (Dawn) was a card-carrying member of 'Club Olympus', as was Eros (Love); Helios (The Sun); The Horae (Seasons, Hours, vigilant Wardens of the gates of Heaven); Ilithyia (Goddess of childbirth); Iris (Heavenly messenger); and the Titaness Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis.

The Nine Muses were never far from the throne of Zeus, and neither was Nike, goddess of Victory.

Nemesis (Retribution, divine vengeance); Selene (The Moon); the Titaness Themis (Justice, the Laws); and Zelos (Emulation) were also among the full-time Olympus free-loaders.

Naturally, there were many more 'party animals' - Heracles (Hercules) eventually got his membership in the elite Olympian Club, and we can't forget Pegasus, the splendid flying horse, who would retrieve Zeus' thrown thunderbolts. Always at the side of Zeus was his ferocious eagle, keeping an eye out for his master.

Let me tell you, getting an invitation to hang with the Olympians was the bomb! It meant you had arrived! There was a rave or feast going on all the time, most often accompanied by the sweet sounds of Apollo's lyre and the singing of the Muses.

It was the best ticket in town - You were treated like a god, and the nectar and ambrosia Hebe and Ganymede served were absolutely heavenly!

The Olympians - their exploits and stories will amuse and amaze you!


The Olympians
Rubens - Council of Gods

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