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Twelve Olympians


In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: Δωδεκάθεον from δώδεκα,dōdeka, "twelve" and θεοί, theoi, "gods"), were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, said to reside atop Mount Olympus. The Olympians gained their supremacy in a ten-year-long war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over their predecessor gods, the Titans.

The concept of the "Twelve Gods" is older than any extant Greek or Roman source. The gods meet in council in the Homeric epics, but the first ancient reference to religious ceremonies for the Olympians collectively is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The Greek cult of the Twelve Olympians can be traced to 6th-century BC Athens and probably has no precedent in the Mycenaean period. The Altar of the Twelve Gods at Athens is usually dated to the archonship of the younger Pesistratos, in 522/521 BC.


Greek name Roman name Image Functions and attributes
Zeus Jupiter Jupiter Smyrna Louvre Ma13.jpg King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, justice. Youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, scepter, and scales. Brother and husband of Hera, although he had many lovers, also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.
Hera Juno Hera Campana Louvre Ma2283.jpg Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage and family. Symbols include the peacock, cuckoo, and cow. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. Being the goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus' lovers and their children.
Poseidon Neptune 0036MAN Poseidon.jpg God of the seas, earthquakes, and tidal wave. Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin, and trident. Middle son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the Nereid Amphitrite, although, like most male Greek Gods, he had many lovers.
Demeter Ceres Demeter Altemps Inv8546.jpg Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. Symbols include the poppy, wheat, torch, cornucopia, and pig. Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea.
Athena Minerva Mattei Athena Louvre Ma530 n2.jpg Goddess of wisdom, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts and science, defense and strategic warfare. Symbols include the owl and the olive tree. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Metis, she rose from her father's head fully grown and in full battle armor.
Apollo Apollo Apollo of the Belvedere.jpg God of light, prophecy, inspiration, poetry, music and arts, medicine and healing. Son of Zeus and Leto. Symbols include the sun, lyre, swan, and mouse. Twin brother of Artemis.
Artemis Diana Diane de Versailles Leochares.jpg Goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals. Symbols include the moon, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree, and bow and arrow. Daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo.
Ares Mars Ares Canope Villa Adriana b.jpg God of war, violence, and bloodshed. Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear, and shield. Son of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods despised him. His Latin name, Mars, gave us the word "."
Aphrodite Venus NAMA Aphrodite Syracuse.jpg Goddess of love, beauty, and desire. Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, myrtle, and rose. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea foam after Uranus' semen dripped into the sea after being castrated by his youngest son, Cronus, who then threw his father's genitals into the sea. Married to Hephaestus, although she had many adulterous affairs, most notably with Ares. Her name gave us the word "aphrodisiac", while her Latin name, Venus, gave us the word "venereal".
Hephaestus Vulcan Vulcan Coustou Louvre MR1814.jpg Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Symbols include fire, anvil, axe, donkey, hammer, tongs, and quail. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. Married to Aphrodite, though unlike most divine husbands, he was rarely ever licentious. His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word "volcano."
Hermes Mercury Hermes Ingenui Pio-Clementino Inv544.jpg Messenger of the gods; god of commerce, communication, borders, eloquence, diplomacy, thieves and games. Symbols include the caduceus (staff entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork, and tortoise (whose shell he used to invent the lyre). Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just older than Dionysus.
Hestia Vesta Hestia - Wellesley College - DSC09634.JPG Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family; she was born into the first Olympian generation and was one of the original twelve Olympians. Some lists of the Twelve Olympians omit her in favor of Dionysus, but the speculation that she gave her throne to him in order to keep the peace seems to be modern invention. She is the first child of Cronus and Rhea, eldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.
Dionysus (or
Bacchus)
Bacchus Dionysos Louvre Ma87 n2.jpg God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre. Symbols include the grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin, goat, and pinecone. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess Semele. Married to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.
Greek name Roman names Image Functions and Attributes
Hades (or
Pluto)
Orcus (or
Dis Pater)
Hades-et-Cerberus-III.jpg God of the Underworld, dead and the riches under the Earth; he was born into the first Olympian generation, the elder brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, and Demeter, and younger brother of Hestia, but as he lives in the Underworld rather than on Mount Olympus, he is typically not included amongst the twelve Olympians.
Heracles Hercules Hercules Farnese 3637104088 9c95d7fe3c b.jpg A divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters.
Persephone (or Kore) Proserpina AMI - Isis-Persephone.jpg Queen of the Underworld and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Also goddess of spring time. She became the consort of Hades, the god of the underworld, when he kidnapped her. Demeter, driven to distraction by the disappearance of her daughter, neglected all of the earth so that nothing would grow. Zeus eventually ordered Hades to allow Persephone to leave the underworld and rejoin her mother. Hades did this, but because Persephone had eaten six of the twelve pomegranate seeds in the underworld when Hades first kidnapped her, she had to spend six months in the underworld each year. This created the seasons when for six months everything grows and flourishes then for the other six months everything wilts and dies. Her symbols include the pomegranate, willow tree, waterfalls, rivers and springs.
Asclepius Vejovis Asklepios - Epidauros.jpg The god of medicine and healing. He represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Health"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). He is the son of Apollo and Coronis.
Eros Cupid (or Amor) Eros Farnese MAN Napoli 6353.jpg The god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity, son of Aphrodite and Ares. He was depicted often as carrying a lyre or bow and arrow. He is often accompanied by dolphins, roses, and torches.
Hebe Juventas Canova-Hebe 30 degree view.jpg She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles. She is the goddess of youth.

Notes
  • Aeolus – King of the winds, keeper of the Anemoi, master of the seasonal winds.
  • Alpheus – God of the River Alpheus.
  • Amphitrite – Queen of the Sea, mother of Triton and wife of Poseidon.
  • Anemoi – The personifications of the four wind directions (North, South, East and West).
  • Angelos – An underworld goddess, a daughter of Zeus and Hera.
  • Aura – Goddess of cool breezes and fresh air.
  • Bia – Personification of force.
  • Circe – Minor goddess of magic, not to be confused with Hecate.
  • Deimos – God of terror, son of Ares and brother of Phobos.
  • Dione – Oceanid; mother of Aphrodite by Zeus in Homer's version.
  • Eileithyia – Goddess of childbirth; daughter of Hera and Zeus.
  • Enyo – A goddess of warfare, companion of Ares. She was also the sister of Ares in some cases. In those cases, her parents are Zeus and Hera.
  • Eos – Personification of dawn.
  • Eris – Goddess of discord and strife.
  • Ganymede – Cupbearer of the gods' palace at Olympus.
  • Graces – Goddesses of beauty and attendants of Aphrodite and Hera.
  • Harmonia – Goddess of concord and harmony, opposite of Eris, daughter of Aphrodite.
  • Hecate – Goddess associated with magic, witches and crossroads.
  • Helios – Titan; personification of the sun.
  • Horae – Wardens of Olympus.
  • Hypnos – God of sleep, father of Morpheus and son of Nyx.
  • Iris – Personification of the Rainbow, also the messenger of Olympus along with Hermes.
  • Kratos – Personification of power.
  • Leto – Titaness of the unseen; mother of Apollo and Artemis.
  • Metis – Oceanid; mother of Athena.
  • Moirai – The 'Fates'. Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the allotter) and Atropos (the unturnable).
  • Momus – God of satire, mockery, satires, and poets.
  • Morpheus – God of dreams.
  • Muses – Nine goddesses of science and arts. Their names are Calliope, Urania, Clio, Polyhymnia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Thalia, Euterpe, and Erato.
  • Nemesis – Greek goddess of retribution and revenge, daughter of Nyx.
  • Nike – Goddess of victory.
  • Nyx – Goddess of night.
  • Paean – Physician of the gods.
  • Pan – God of the wild, shepherds and flocks.
  • Perseus – Son of Zeus and Danae, slayer of Medusa, the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty.
  • Phantasos – God of surreal dreams.
  • Phobos – God of fear, son of Ares and brother of Deimos.
  • Selene – Titaness; personification of the moon.
  • Styx – Goddess of the River Styx, the river where gods swear oaths on.
  • Thanatos – God of Death, sometimes a personification of Death.
  • Theseus – Son of Poseidon, first Hero of Athens and slayer of the Minotaur.
  • Triton – Messenger of the Seas, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He holds a twisted conch shell.
  • Tyche – Goddess of Luck.
  • Zelus – Personification of Emulation.
  • Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 1991. .
  • Chadwick, John, The Mycenaean World, Cambridge University Press, 1976. .
  • Dowden, Ken, "Olympian Gods, Olympian Pantheon", in A Companion to Greek Religion, Daniel Ogden editor, John Wiley & Sons, 2010. .
  • Gantz, Timothy, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, Two volumes: (Vol. 1), (Vol. 2).
  • Hansen, William, William F. Hansen, Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans, Oxford University Press, 2005. .
  • Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Homer, The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Homer; The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
  • Long, Charlotte R., The Twelve Gods of Greece and Rome, Brill Archive, Jan 1, 1987. Google Books
  • Morford, Mark P. O., Robert J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology, Eighth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2007. .
  • Müller, Karl Otfried, Ancient Art and Its Remains: Or, A Manual of the Archaeology of Art, translated by John Leitch, B. Quaritch, 1852.
  • Ogden, Daniel "Introduction" to A Companion to Greek Religion, Daniel Ogden editor, John Wiley & Sons, 2010. .
  • Pache, Corinne Ondine, "Gods, Greek" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Volume 3, Oxford University Press. 2010. .
  • Pindar, Odes, Diane Arnson Svarlien. 1990.
  • Rutherford, Ian, "Canonizing the Pantheon: the Dodekatheon in Greek Religion and its Origins" in The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations, editors Jan N. Bremmer, Andrew Erskine, Edinburgh University Press 2010. . Online version
  • Smith, Tyler Jo, Dimitris Plantzos, A Companion to Greek Art, editors Tyler Jo Smith, Dimitris Plantzos, John Wiley & Sons, 2012. .
  • Thomas, Edmund, "From the pantheon of the gods to the Pantheon of Rome" in Pantheons: Transformations of a Monumental Idea, editors Richard Wrigley, Matthew Craske, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004. .
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