What is a myth?
• Is a set of beliefs, myths and religions
hosted by Greek civilization
• Uses the supernatural to interpret natural
• Explains the culture’s view of the universe
and the nature of humanity
In the beginning...
• …was Chaos (shapeless nothingness)
• Chaos had two children:
– Night (darkness)
– Erebus (death)
• “All was black, empty, silent, endless.”
• Mysteriously, Love was born of darkness
• When Love was born, order and beauty
began to flourish.
• Love created Light and Day.
• Earth was created.
– She was the solid ground, but also a
• The Earth bore Heaven to cover her and be
a home for the gods.
The First Parents
• Mother Earth = Gaea (Gaia)
• Father Heaven = Ouranos (Uranus)
• They had three kinds of children:
– Three monsters with 100 hands and 50 heads
– Three Cyclopes (Giant of the giants of
– The titans
• These were the first characters that had the appearance of life,
although it was unlike any life known to man.
The Titans (The Elder Gods)
• There were many of them.
• Enormous size, incredible strength
• Cronos (Saturn): Ruler of the titans
• Rhea: Wife of Cronos
• Ocean: River that encircled the world
• Iapetus: Father of Prometheus,
Epimetheus, and Atlas (also titans)
The Principal Gods
• Cronos and Rhea were
– Zeus (Jupiter, Jove)
– Poseidon (Neptune)
– Hades (Pluto)
– Hera (Juno)
– Hestia (Vesta)
– Demeter (Ceres)
• Other Olympians include
– Athena (Minerva)
– Ares (Mars)
– Hebe (Juventas)
– Hephaestus (Vulcan)
– Apollo (Apollo)
– Artemis (Diana)
– Hermes (Mercury)
– Aphrodite (Venus)
– Dionysus (Bacchus)
– Persephone (Proserpina)
The 12 Gods of Olympus
The Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans. All the
Olympians are related in some way. They are named from their dwelling, Mount Olympus.
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Mount Olympus (Greek : Όλυμπος; also transliterated as Ólympos, and on Greek maps,
Óros Ólimbos) is the highest mountain in Greece at 2,919 meters high (9,570 feet).
Since its base is located at sea level, it is one of the highest mountains in Europe in terms of
topographic prominence, the relative altitude from base to top. It is situated at 40ο
21’Ε, in mainland Greece. It is located about 100 km away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second
largest city. Mount Olympus is noted for its very rich flora with several endemic species.
The highest peak on Mount Olympus is Mitikas at 2,919 metres high (9,570 feet),
which in Greek means "nose" (an alternative transliterated spelling of this name is "Mytikas").
Mitikas is the highest peak in Greece, the second highest being Skolio (2912 m).
Any climb to Mount Olympus starts from the town of Litochoro, which took the name
City of Gods because of its location on the roots of the mountain.
Mount Olympus & Litochoro Mitikas, the highest peak
The 12 Gods of Olympus represented a single concept: nature, in all it’s phases and each god
or goddess was associated with one or more of the powers of nature.
Their role was not so much that of creating the world as of maintaining order and harmony in it.
To the Greek mind, the gods were immortal and magnificent. They could control all mortal beings
in every sphere of their lives, determining their fortunes, their relationships, and when they came
into the world and left it.
The gods were not inaccessible beings. Man could approach them easily, seeing them, hearing them
and even touching them. As contradictory and mutually complimentary beings, they constituted
the incarnation of the perfect human, but a human who was free of the deprivations and
prohibitions of life, who could take pleasure in whatever presented itself to him, who could injure
himself without suffering pain or death, could fall in love without being subject to the barriers
applicable to mankind, who could experience anger or jealousy without having to suppress his
feelings, who could carouse and get drunk, who could live and enjoy himself with his creatures as
if he were both creator and creation.
The ancient Greeks assigned to their gods all the properties that they themselves would have liked
to possess, but which their human nature prevented them from obtaining.
This is the light in which we have to view the anthropomorphism of the ancient Greek gods.
The twelve gods of Olympus, formed a special category of their own. Six male and six female, were
divided in accordance with their properties and activities into six couples united by bonds of
friendship or kinship.
Zeus overthrew his Father
Cronus and then drew lots
with his brothers Poseidon
and Hades. Zeus won the
draw and became the
supreme ruler of the gods.
He is lord of the sky, and the
rain. His weapon is a
thunderbolt, which he hurls
at those who displease him.
He is married to Hera but is
famous for his many affairs.
He is also known as the god
that punishes those that lie
or break oaths.
Hera is Zeus wife and sister. She is the
protector of marriage and takes special
care of married women. Hera's
marriage was founded in strife with
Zeus and continued in strife.
Zeus courted her unsuccessfully.
Then he changed himself into
dishevelled cuckoo. Hera feeling sorry
for the bird held it to her breast to
warm it. Zeus then transformed in his
normal form and took advantage of the
opportunity he gained, and raped her.
Then she married him to cover her
sacred animals are the cow and the
peacock. Her favourite city is Argos.
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France
Hera Hera & Zeus
Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. After
the overthrow of their Father Cronus he
drew lots with Zeus and Hades, another
brother, to share the power of the world.
His prize was to become lord of the sea.
He was widely worshipped by seamen. He
married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of
the Titan Oceanus. He desired Demeter,
who asked him to make the most beautiful
animal that the world had ever seen, just
to put him off. So, Poseidon created the
first horse. I n some accounts, his first
attempts were unsuccessful, he created a
variety of animals in his quest and then
created the first horse. His weapon is a
trident, which can shake the earth, and
shatter any object. He is the most
powerful Olympian god, after Zeus.
National Archaeological Museum,
Copenhagen Port Poseidon – Milos
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She is
fierce and brave in battle but only fights to
protect the state and home from outside
enemies. She is the goddess of the city,
handicrafts, and agriculture. She has
invented the bridle, which permits man to
tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the
pot, the rake, the yoke, the ship, and the
chariot. She is the embodiment of
wisdom, reason, and purity.
She is Zeus's favourite child
and she is allowed to use his weapons
including his thunderbolt.
Her favourite city is Athens.
Her tree is the olive and the owl is her bird.
She is a virgin goddess.
Varvakeion Athena Parthenos ,
National Archaelogical Museum, Athens, Greece
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His
twin sister is Artemis.
He is the god of music, playing a golden
lyre, of light and truth, who can not tell a
lie. One of Apollo's more important daily
tasks is to harness his chariot with four
horses and drive the sun across the sky.
He is famous
for his oracle at Delphi and people use to
travel to it from all over the Greek world
to divine the future.
His tree is the laurel, his bird is the crow
and his animal is the dolphin.
Temple of Apollo at Delphi Fokidos, Greece
Apollo - west pediment of Zeus‘ temple at Olympia, Greece,
British Museum, London, UK
Son of Zeus. God
god of light.
He is associated
with the sun.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus
and Leto. Her twin brother is
Apollo. She is the huntsman of the
gods. She is the protector of the
young. Like Apollo she hunts with
silver arrows. She is a virgin
goddess, and the goddess of
chastity. She also presides over
childbirth, which may seem odd for
a virgin, but goes back to cause
Leto no pain when she was born.
She became associated with
Hecate. The cypress is her tree. All
wild animals are scared to her and
especially the deer. Musee Du Louvre, Paris, FranceArtemis – Face
Apollo’s twin sister.
Goddess of hunting
and of wild things.
She is associated with
the moon. She is
A virgin goddess.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia.
He is Zeus’s messenger. He is the
fastest of the gods. He wears winged
sandals, a winged hat, and carries a
magic wand. He is the god of thieves
and commerce. He is the guide for the
dead to go to the underworld. He
invented the lyre, the pipes, the musical
scale, astronomy, weights and
measures, boxing, gymnastics, and the
care of olive trees.
Hermes of Praxitelis
Archaeological Museum of Olympia, GreeceHermes of Lysippos
Hermes - statue
Demeter is the Greek earth goddess par excellence,
who brings forth the fruits of the earth, particularly
the various grains. She taught mankind the art of
sowing and ploughing so they could end their nomadic
existence. As such, Demeter was also the goddess of
planned society. She was very popular with the rural
population. In systematized theology, Demeter is a
daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister of Zeus by
whom she became the mother of Persephone. When
Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the
underworld, Demeter wandered the earth in search of
her lost child. During this time the earth brought
forth no grain. Finally Zeus sent Hermes to the
underworld, ordering Hades to restore Persephone to
her mother. Only when her daughter is with her,
Demeter lets things grow (summer). The dying and
blossoming of nature was thus connected with
Museo Pio-Clementino, Musei Vaticani,
Vatican City, Italy
Zeus’ sister. Demeter
is the very
of grain and
agriculture. She is a
kind of bond
between heaven and
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. Both
parents disliked him. He is the god of war
and he is considered murderous and
bloodstained but, also a coward. When he
was caught in an act of adultery with
Aphrodite, her husband Hephaestus
publicly ridiculed him. His bird is the
vulture. His animal is the dog.
Palazzo Altemps, Museo Romano Nazionale,
Head of Ares, copy ca. 150–
160 CE, after a votive statue
of Alcamenes in the temple of
Ares in Athens
Aphrodite is the goddess of
love, desire and beauty. In
addition to her natural gifts she
has a magical girdle that compels
anyone she wishes to desire her.
There are two
accounts of her birth. One says
she is the daughter of Zeus and
Dione. The other goes back to
when Cronus castrated Uranus
and tossed his severed genitals
into the sea. Aphrodite then
arose from the sea foam on a
giant scallop and walked to
shore in Cyprus. She is the wife
The myrtle is her tree,
the dove, the swan, and the
sparrow are her birds.
Aphrodite, Eros & Pan National
Aphrodite of Milos
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France
The wife of
Hephaestus, she is
the goddess of
love and beauty.
She is said to have
been born of the
Hephaestus is the son of Zeus and Hera.
Sometimes it is said that Hera alone produced
him and that he has no father. He is the only
god who is physically ugly and lame. Accounts
as how he became lame vary. Some say that
Hera, upset by having an ugly child, flung him
from Mount Olympus into the sea, breaking
his legs. Others that he took Hera's side in an
argument with Zeus and Zeus flung him off
Mount Olympus. He is the god of fire and the
forge. He is the smith and armourer of the
gods. He uses a volcano as his forge. He is
the patron god of both smiths and weavers.
He is kind and peace loving. His wife is
Aphrodite. Sometimes his wife is identified as
Hephaestus, God of fire and the forge
Hephaestus - draw
Son of Zeus and
Hera; the lame
Hestia is Zeus sister. She is a virgin
goddess. She does not have a distinct
personality. She plays no part in myths.
She is the Goddess of the Hearth, the
symbol of the house around which a
newborn child is carried before it is
received into the family. Each city had a
public hearth sacred to Hestia, where the
fire was never allowed to go out.
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, which housed
the magnificent gold and ivory statue of Zeus by
Phidias, one of the seven wonders of the ancient
Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Attica,
Greece. The temple is of Doric style and was built in
the 5th Century BC, supposedly on the location of an
even older temple.
The Temple of Hephaistos in central ancient
Athens-Greece, is the best-preserved ancient Greek
temple in the world, but is far less well-known than its
illustrious neighbour, the Parthenon. The temple is also
known as the Hephaisteum or Hephaisteion. It is
sometimes called the Theseion, due to a belief current in
Byzantine times that the bones of the legendary Greek
hero Theseus were buried there; in fact the bones alleged
to be those of Theseus were buried in the 5th century BC
at another site nearer to the Acropolis
Temple of Apollo at Delphi Fokidos, Greece.
Central among the number of imposing ruins that are
interspersed on the Southern slopes of Parnassos
mountain is the temple of Apollo. It is an imposing
temple of the Doric order whose existence was woven
through the turbulent history of the site, and endured
numerous incarnations before it settled to the ruinous
state we find it today, and which dates back to the
4th c. B.C.
The Temple of Athena Nike ("Victorius Athena") in
Athens, Greece, was the earliest Ionic building to be built
on the Acropolis. The temple was begun around 427 BC
and completed during the unrest of the Peloponnesian war.
The temple of Hera, at Olympia,
is one of the oldest monumental
temples in Greece, stands in the
north-west corner of the sacred
precinct of the Altis, on the south
slopes of Kronios hill, protected by a
powerful terrace wall.
The site of the temple of Artemis Agrotera
(the Huntress) is one of the most important
historical and archeological sites that have
survived in the center of Athens. It is situated on
Ardittou St, (Mets area) a few meters from the
Panathenian Stadium and the hill of Ardittos,
facing the Acropolis, the temple of Olympian
Zeus and the Lycabetos.
The building of the Temple of Olympian Zeus
actually began in the 6th Century by Peisistratos but
work was stopped either because of a lack of money or
because Pisistratus's son, Hippias, was overthrown in
510 BC. The temple was not finished until the
Emperor Hadrian completed in 131 AD, seven
hundred years later.
The recently restored Temple of Demeter in Naxos,
Greece. Until recently, the 6th-century BC Temple of
Demeter was in a state of complete ruin. It had been
partially dismantled in the 6th century AD to build a
chapel on the site, and what was left was plundered
repeatedly over the years.
The Temple of Ares stood in the northern part of the
Agora in Athens; originally built on another site around
440 B.C., it was moved to its present position in the
Augustan period. Although only scanty remains have
survived, there is sufficient evidence to establish that
this temple resembled the Temple of Hephaistos and was
probably built by the same architect. At the outside of
the temple is the altar.
Samos - Temple of Hermes and
Aphrodite was built in the beginning of the
Temple of Aphrodite at Rhodes , Greece is
situated opposite the Gate of Freedom ; This temple
was built in the beginning of the 3rd century BC, and
is one of the few ancient remains to be found in the
Old Town of Rhodes