The Greek gods had human characteristics, both in their defects and in their virtues. In addition, they constantly interacted with humans, took sides in their wars, supported their favorites, and acted against those with whom they fell out.
The group of divinities that made up the Greek pantheon was very numerous. Among them were twelve, known as “the Olympian gods”, who were the most important. These gods lived in a palace on the top of Mount Olympus where they held parties, held their councils, and were cared for by lesser deities.
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The 12 Greek gods
The 12 most important gods of Greek mythology, the so-called Olympian gods, are the following:
Zeus was the god of the sky . He was the king of the gods and the father god. He controlled thunder, rain, and lightning.
His symbols were the thunderbolt and the eagle. He was married to Hera, but had children with numerous women both goddesses and mortals. To acquire that position in the pantheon of the gods, he had defeated his father, Cronos, and the Titans.
She was the sister and at the same time wife of Zeus with whom she had three children: Ares, Hebe and Ilithia. She was also the mother of Hephaestus, but according to some authors, she had had him without the intervention of any god.
She was the queen of all gods and the goddess of the home, marriage, and family . Their emblems were the cow, the peacock and the lion.
He was the brother of Zeus and the god of the seas and rivers . His weapon was a trident. It used to be represented with a mermaid’s tail.
Although he lived on Mount Olympus, he had a palace in the sea, near the island of Euboea.
She was the goddess of fruits, herbs, and crops . Its emblem was the poppy. Her daughter Persephone had been kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld and since then, the plants only flourished and bore fruit once a year, when Persephone visited her.
He was the son of Hera, and the god of metalworking, builders, and carpenters. He made the weapons of the gods . He was represented with the work tools. His emblems were the anvil, the hammer and his animal, the quail.
Hephaestus was characterized by his ugliness. As a child he had broken his leg and that is why he limped. He was married to Aphrodite.
His attributes were the owl and the olive tree.
Son of Hera and Zeus, he was the god of violence and war. He had great physical beauty, but he was quarrelsome and unpleasant.
His emblems were the boar and a bloody spear. She was Aphrodite’s lover, even though she was married to her brother Hephaestus.
She was the goddess of beauty and erotic love . She was born from the sea, although the authors do not agree on who her parents were and she was represented by a dove.
She had a magic belt that provoked the love of those who saw her when she was wearing it.
He was the god of music, poetry and medicine and the protector of single men. One of his duties was to drive the chariot of the sun. Its symbol was the mouse.
At Delphi, there was an oracle where the god was supposed to manifest through a fortune teller.
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Twin sister of Apollo, she was the goddess of hunting and wildlife .
She roamed the woods with her fellow nymphs carrying a bow and a quiver full of arrows. She was a virgin goddess, who avoided contact with men and rejected marriage.
He was the god of commerce, bankers, and thieves. He was the messenger of the gods.
Hermes was believed to have invented the alphabet. He wore sandals, a helmet with wings and carried a hazelnut stick in his hand.
She was a latecomer to the pantheon and replaced the goddess Hestia. He was the god of parties and excesses . It was believed that he was the one who had invented the wine. He is represented as young, cheerful, with a bouquet of grapes and a glass of wine in his hand. Fauns and nymphs accompanied him. His emblem was the tiger.
Another important god, even though he did not inhabit Mount Olympus was Hades. This was the god of the underworld and hell . He ruled the underworld.
Equivalence between Greek and Roman gods
Starting from the Greek influence, the Romans incorporated the Greek gods into their religion. In that process, they superimposed some of them on their previous divinities. In this way an equivalence can be established between the Greek and Roman gods.
|Greek god||Roman god||Characteristics|
|Zeus||Jupiter||Chief god and king of all gods.|
|Hera||Juno||Goddess of marriage and queen of the gods.|
|Poseidon||Neptune||God of the sea and ocean.|
|Demeter||Ceres||Goddess of agriculture.|
|Hephaestus||Vulcan||God smith and craftsman.|
|Athena||Minerva||Goddess of wisdom.|
|Ares||Mars||God of War.|
|Aphrodite||Venus||Goddess of beauty and love.|
|Apollo||Phoebus||God of beauty and music.|
|Sagebrush||Diana||Goddess of hunting and animals.|
|Hermes||Mercury||God of commerce and messenger of the gods.|
|Dionisio||Bacchus||God of wine and party.|
|Hades||Pluto||God of the underworld.|