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Introduction to the Universe
Instead of the gods creating the universe,
the universe created the gods.
First there was Heaven and the Earth.
Their children were the Titans.
The Titans’ children were the gods who (led
by Zeus) later overthrew them.
Basically Earth and Heaven were first in
existence, their kids were the Titans, and their
grandchildren were the gods.
The Titans
 The Titans ruled the Earth until they were forced from
power by the gods.
 They were of great size and were very strong
 Also referred to as the “Elder Gods”.
 All of the Titans, with the exception of Cronus (Saturn),
were not banished when Zues took charge of the
 The Titans include:
 Cronus (Saturn): Ruled over Titans until Zeus overpowers him.
 Ocean: River that is circles the earth
 Tethys: Ocean’s wife
 Hyperion: Father of the sun, moon, and dawn.
 Mnemosyne: Name means memory
 Themis: Name means justice
 Iapetus: His son ATLAS bore the weight of the world on his
 Premetheus: The savior of mankind
The 12 Great Olympians
The most powerful of the gods were the 12
great Olympians (the main Greek gods).
They lived on Mt. Olympus (hence the name
Olympians) a region far above all the mountains
of the earth, on a plane that existed separately
from Earth and Heaven.
– The entrance was a gate of clouds.
– The Gods would spend all day eating, drinking, and
listening to music played on Apollo’s lyre.
– Olympus was perfect. It was always sunny and there
was no wind, rain, or snow.
12 Great Olympians
 Zeus (Jupiter):
 Lord of the Sky and the leader of all the gods, the rain god, and
cloud gatherer.
 Wore an aegis: used to represent a protective shield
 He was the most powerful, but was not all knowing. He could be
outwitted or deceived.
 His wife was the Goddess Hera, but he had various lovers and
affairs. Some say that this can be explained by his worship at
many towns, where the people would merge the town’s god with
Zeus, making that god’s wife a lover of Zeus’ as well.
 Hera (Juno):
 Zeus’ wife and sister
 The beautiful protector of marriage and married women.
 She was also very jealous and held grudges, and punished many
of Zeus’ mistresses in drastic ways.
 Trojan war would have ended honorably if one Trojan hadn’t
judged another goddess lovelier than herself.
12 Great Olympians
 Poseidon (Neptune):
 Zeus’ brother and the God of the sea.
 Controlled the seas and its waves and storms with his trident.
 Introduced horses to mankind and had a special connection with bulls
and horses.
 Lived under the sea but spent most of his time in Olympus.
 When he drove over sea in his gold carriage the waves would calm
 Was sometimes called the “Earth Shaker”.
 Hades (Pluto):
 3rd brother of Zeus’
 Was in charge of the underworld (the realm of the dead) and the dead
themselves (but not of Death).
 God of wealth and precious metals in the Earth.
 Barely ventured out of the underworld and onto Earth or Olympus (was
not welcome there).
12 Great Olympians
 Athena (Minerva):
 Zeus’ daughter, had no mother, was born from his head.
 The Battle Goddess/Goddess of the City, the protector of
civilized life, handicrafts, and agriculture
 Was fierce, ruthless, and defensive of state.
 Zeus’ favorite child and was trusted with his most valuable
possessions, such as the thunderbolt.
 One of the 3 virgin goddesses.
 Apollo:
 Parents were Zeus and Leto,
 Played beautiful music on his lyre.
 The God of Light and Truth (and always told the truth.)
 Lord of the Silver Bow/Archer God
12 Great Olympians
 Artemis (Diana):
 The twin sister of Apollo
 One of the three main goddesses of Olympus.
 “Lady of Wild Things”
 Huntress Artemis on Earth, and Selene, the moon, in the sky.
 Shows the uncertainty between good and evil.
 Aphrodite (Venus):
 The Goddess of Love and Beauty who loved laughter and was
the most beautiful of things.
 Said to be weak at times and deceiving at other times.
 Daughter of Zeus and Dione, but in some stories is told as being
born from the foam of the ocean.
12 Great Olympians
 Hermes (Mercury):
 Son of Zeus and Maia
 The messenger of the gods, famously known for his winged
shoes and winged hat.
 Was said to be the most shrewd and cunning, and a master thief
and a guide of the dead.
 Ares (Mars):
 Son of Zeus and Hera, but neither parent liked him.
 The God of War
 Thought to have been a bloodstained, murderous coward.
 Hephaestus (Vulcan):
 Sometimes told as the son of Zeus and Hera, and other times to
only Hera.
 God of Fire, and was ugly and lame (crippled),
 Kind and peace loving.
 Wife is Aphrodite
12 Great Olympians
 Hestia (Vesta):
 Zeus’ sister that has no distinct role or personality in myths.
 The Goddess of the Hearth and the symbol of the home.
 Lesser Gods:
 The Graces: 3 women, daughters of Zeus, life of the party
 The Muses: 9 women, daughters of Zeus
 Hebe
 Eros: Cupid, God of Love, usually blindfolded because love is blind.
 Anteros: One who opposes love
 Himeros: name means longing.
 Hymen: God of the wedding feast
 Hebe: The goddess of youth, daughter of Zeus and Hera. Married
to Hercules
 Iris: Goddess of the rainbow. A messenger of the gods.
 Abstract forces
 Themis (Divine justice
 Dike (Human justice)
 Nemesis (Righteous anger/revenge by the gods)
 Aidos (the reverence/shame that holds a person back from doing
some wrong)
The Sea
Ruled by Poseidon
Populated by Nereids, sea nymphs
Triton: Trumpeter of the Sea
Proteus: Shape shifter, Poseidon’s son/attendant
Pontus: God of the Deep Sea
Nereus: God of the Mediterranean
A God for every river
Titan Ocean, lord of the river that encircles the
entire earth
Various entrances, through caverns and beside deep lakes
Ruled by Hades and his queen, Persephone.
Located somewhere underneath the Earth, the realm of the dead.
Guarded by a 3 headed dog, Cerberus. All may enter, none will
 Two sections: Tartarus and Erebus
 Tartarus: Prison of the sons of Earth
 Erebus: Wear the dead pass through as soon as they die.
 Five famous rivers:
Acheron: River of woe
Cocytus: River of lamentation
Phlegethon: River of fire
Styx: River of the Gods’ unbreakable oath
Lethe: River of forgetfulness
 The boatman Charon ferries souls of the dead across the water to
Tartarus. Will only ferry those who were given passage money and
were duly buried.
 Souls go before three judges, Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus,
who determine the souls fate.
 The bad are sentenced to eternal torture in Hades by the Furies.
The Good are allowed into the Elysian Fields, a place of paradise.
 Sleep, Dreams and Death are forces that lurk in Hades.
 She is the All Mother, but not a divinity.
 Main Gods: Demeter and Dionysus.
 Pan: Son of Hermes, leader of the satyrs (goat men), always fell in
love with nymphs but was always rejected due to his unattractiveness.
 Silenus: Either Pan’s brother or son, he was always riding a donkey
because he was too drunk to walk. Teacher of Dionysus (the Wine
 Castor and Pollux: Occasionally spoken of as gods, the brothers were
rewarded for their love for one another. An angry cattle herder kills
Castor, and Pollux begged to be killed as well out of love. They were
allowed to spend half the year in Hades and the other half on Earth.
 Home to:
 The Wind Gods
 Centaurs (half man, half horse) and satrys (fauns/half man, half goat)
 Gorgons: fearsome monsters whose stare would turn a man to stone,
includes Medusa
 Graiae: Three women whom share one eye
 The fates, who are not restricted to the laws of the gods and universe
The Romans
The Romans adopted the Greek gods and
stories into their own cultures, with a few of
their own changes. Despite their deep religious
feelings, they were unable to imagine the unique
personalities of each Greek god. Before they
created the new gods, the existing ones were
combined and referred to as the Numina. They
changed the names of the gods into Roman
names, and adopted the Greek Cronus,
changing his name to Saturn.
Modern Day Allusions
 The 9 planets of our solar system take after the Roman
names of the Greek gods.
 The name of aphrodisiacs (foods/things that stimulate
“desire”) come from Aphrodite.
 Saturn and Mercury (a.k.a. Cronus and Hermes) are cars
named after these gods.
 The Atlas Moving Company is named after the Titan Atlas,
who had to bear the world on his shoulders.
 Venus™ brand razors are named after the Goddess Venus.
 An atlas is a book of maps of the world, and Atlas is the
Titan who had to hold the world on his shoulders as his
 Mars is the Roman name for Ares, god of War; name of
popular candy bar, Mars Bars.
 Gatorade has the lightning bolt symbol that Zeus had.
 The Apollo Theater is named after Apollo.
 Trident gum is taken from the three-pronged spear of
Poseidon, god of the sea.
Higher Level Questions
Identify why the Greeks created so many
Compare and contrast two gods
Do you believe the gods positively or
negatively influenced our culture? Why?