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Athena (Minerva)
Symbol: owl
Father-Zeus. Zeus had mated with Metis [ME tis], goddess of wisdom. When Metis told
of pregnancy, was concerned child would take over as per prophecy. Zeus ate Metis.
Zeus developed headache, asked Hephaestus to break open his head. Athena sprang from
Zeus’ head, fully grown and in armed, ready for battle.
Goddess of arts and crafts. Protector of heroes in battle. Responsible for Arachne story.
Protected the Greeks during the Trojan War.
Virgin–best loved by the Greeks.
***When sitting, is peaceful. When standing, at war***(Statues, art). She
Apollo (Apollo)
Symbol: Bow and arrow
God of light, music, poetry. Master of prophecy. Most beautiful of all gods. PERFECT
Twin of Artemis. Son of Zeus and Leto. Hera wouldn’t allow Leto anywhere to give
birth. Poseidon, after 9 days/nights, brought island up out sea, for Leto to give birth.
Hestia refused him, vowing perpetual virginity. The ones he loved, did not love him–one
minor goddess claimed virginity, jumped in ocean and drowned. No happy endings.
Numerous children from affairs.
Ares (Mars)
Symbol: spear
God of War. Boastful/cruel. Often changed sides. Affair with Aphrodite.
Artemis (Diana)
Symbol: bow, deer
Twin of Apollo. Goddess of hunting and unmarried children. Never married. Took care
of mothers and little children. Girls would leave her a gift of a lock of hair or a favorite
toy before marriage–(symbolizes girls from childhood to adulthood).
Demeter (Ceres)
Signs: wheat,
Goddess of harvest. Daughter-Persephone. Daughter kidnaped by Hades. Demeter only
happy when Persephone is visiting. Persephone visits once a year.
Looked for Persephone for 7 (or 1 depending on version) years. During hunt, nothing
grew. Explains droughts. (Compare 7 years to Hebrew stories).
Zeus and Poseidon wanted her. She refused both. Zeus became bull and “ravaged” her.
Result was Persephone.
Kidnaped by Hades and taken to the underworld. Persephone refused to eat. Zeus
convinces Hades to allow her to leave. Hades tricks Persephone to eat pomegranate. If
she eats any food in Hades, then she must stay. Compromise. If she ate 3 seeds, then she
returns to Hades for 3 months. (Amount of seeds depends on how long the winter
months are).
Cronus and Rhea
Strongest of the Titans
Cronus swallowed children. Rhea fooled Cronus–eat stone. Gave Zeus to Mother Earth
to hide. Hid in cave on island of Crete.
Zeus returned, gave Cronus herb that made him vomit children.
Hermes (Mercury)
Symbol: caduceus; winged boots
Son of Zeus and Maia. God of shepherds, merchants, travelers and thieves.
Zeus’ messenger. Guided souls to river Styx.
Son: Pan
God for just about everything. Human fertility. Special god of young men.
Affair with Aphrodite–Hermaphrodites.
Immediately after birth, left cradle and put strings on tortoise and invents lyre [LI r]
That evening, he stole Apollo’s cows, then returned to cradle. Apollo, due to his power
of divination, knew it was Hermes. Hermes charmed Apollo and Zeus and let him off the
Father of astronomy, math, laws, weights and measures. Humans love Hermes–most
human like characteristics.
Hera (Juno)
Symbol: peacock
Wife and sister of Zeus. To win her, Zeus changed himself to a bird. Hera held the bird
tightly and Zeus “ravaged” her.
Jealous. Goddess of marriage and protector of women.
Every year took a bath in Spring of Canathos and became a virgin again.
Hera only one to oppose Zeus. When he was angry, only one who could calm him.
Three children, but main ones are Ares and Hephaestus.
Hephaestus (Vulcan)
Symbol: ax
God of fire. Son of Zeus and Hera. Ugly. Both thought he was undesirable, threw him
off Mt. Olympus. He is peace-loving and popular. God of craftsmen, blacksmith.
Wife: Aphrodite. He and Aphrodite are opposites. He is ugly outside but beautiful inside.
Hades (Pluton)
Symbol: two pronged staff
God of underworld. Doesn’t live on Mt. Olympus. Rarely leaves the gloomy underworld.
God of wealth (owns all the minerals and precious metals). Terrible but not evil.
River Styx-crossed the river to get to the underworld. Had to pay ferryman Charon [KER
on]. Reason–coin in mouth–to pay for toll.
Stole/raped Persephone.
Gates of Hades guarded by 3 headed dog, Cerberus [SER buh rus].
Dionysus (Bacchus)
Symbol: grape vine
Son of Zeus and Semele [SEM uh lee]. Hera finds out about affair and pregnancy, sent
Semele to Hades. Zeus saves baby before Semele burns. (Some stories have her turning
immortal). Dionysus god of wine. One story: On ship, sailors are pirates. Tie up
Dionysus up but ropes won’t hold. All but one sailor do not believe he is a god.
Dionysus turns the pirates, except one, into dolphins. Reason dolphin are “playful”.
Oracle said he would kill his father and marry his mother. Parents gave him to shepherd
to kill. Shepherd couldn’t, gave to childless King and Queen. One day, while on road,
killed what he thought were robbers. Met Sphinx-answered riddle-what walks on four in
the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening. Destroys sphinx. Widow
queen marries him. Later told it is his mother–he had killed his father. Wife/mother kills
herself. He tears his eyes out. Had 4 children, one is Antigone.
Beautiful woman. Made Athena mad, turned into a gorgon (hideous female
creatures who turned anyone who looked at them to stone). Her hair is snakes.
Perseus cuts off her head.
Zeus disguises himself and sleeps with Heracles’ mother. She gives birth to twins,
one is Heracles–very strong, the other normal. Hera hates him. Sends snake and
Heracles kills the snake when he is minutes old–parents then know he is child of a god.
As an adult, Hera makes him crazy-kills children. To atone for the dead, must do 12
labors. Eventually becomes immortal.
Prometheus and Epimetheus
Prometheus is forward thinking. Epimetheus is afterthought. Gods that developed man–
gave man fire. Zeus angry. Has Hephaestus make beautiful woman-but give her all the
evils of the world. Opens jar (not box–Greeks didn’t have boxes). Allows all the evil into
the world.
Pandora’s box story. All that is left in the jar is “hope”.
One of the many affairs of Zeus. Hera sees dark cloud on sunny day and suspects that
Zeus is having an affair. Zeus disguises Io as a white cow. Hera knows Zeus is lying.
Asks that the cow be given to her as a gift. She also gives gadfly to drive Io crazy.
Narcissus and Echo
Echo is in love with him. Not kind to her. Gods make him fall in love with himself. He
wastes away staring at his reflection in a pond.
Son of muse, Calliope. Musician–loves wife, Eurydice. She dies of snake bite and dies.
Gods allow him to go to Hades to retrieve her. Hades makes one condition–he can not
look back until they are out. He hears a noise, turns around, sees Eurydice return to
Kills Medusa to win his love, Andromeda
Daedalus [DED u lus] and Icarus [IK uh rus]
Built labyrinth to hide Minotaur. Gods mad, put him and son in tower. Made
wings, put on Icarus to escape. Icarus flow to close to the sun.
Poseidon (Neptune)
Symbol: Trident, dolphin
God of Sea. Sea storms due to striking sea with trident. Calmed by riding chariot.
Gave man horse. Sometimes has wife: Wife-Amphitrite-sea nymph.
Poseidon had numerous affairs. Amphitrite was not normally jealous, but on one
occasion she was. Turned Scylla [SIL uh]-a beautiful nymph-into a 6 headed
monster-dog feet-eats pirates. Major story in Odyssey.
Poseidon’s children, other than Triton, were cruel, including the Cyclopes that Odysseus
blinds, causing the Odyssey. The children of Poseidon caused the suffering of humans on
journeys between Athens and Corinth. When angry, Poseidon caused earthquakes.
Hestia (Vesta)
Symbol: fire/hearth
Goddess of hearth and home. Only job is to keep fire burning.
Zeus (Jupiter)
Symbol: eagles, thunderbolts
Mother hid on island Crete, in cave. Grew up with shepherds and nymphs.
Made father vomit brothers and sisters.
War with father, Cronus/Titans
Cyclopes gave Zeus thunderbolts
” Hades helmet of darkness
” Poseidon trident
Huge battle that almost destroyed the world. Zeus won. Made Atlas carry the world on
his shoulders. Atlas was Titan’s leader.