The Titans (Greek)
Gaea is the Earth goddess. She mated with her son Uranus to produce the remaining Titans. Gaea seems to have
started as a neolithic earth-mother worshipped before the Indo-European invasion that eventually lead to the
Uranus is the sky god and first ruler. He is the son of Gaea, who created him without help. He then became the
husband of Gaea and together they had many offspring, including twelve of the Titans.
His rule ended when when Cronus, encouraged by Gaea, castrated him. He either died from the wound or
withdrew from earth.
Cronus was the ruling Titan who came to power by castrating his Father Uranus. His wife was Rhea. There
offspring were the first of the Olympians. To insure his safety Cronus ate each of the children as they were born.
This worked until Rhea, unhappy at the loss of her children, tricked Cronus into swallowing a rock, instead of
Zeus. When he grew up Zeus would revolt against Cronus and the other Titans, defeat them, and banish them to
Tartarus in the underworld.
Cronus managed to escape to Italy, where he ruled as Saturn. The period of his rule was said to be a golden age on
earth, honored by the Saturnalia feast.
Saturn was an ancient Italian corn god, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Cronos, though he had more in
common with goddess Demeter. He was believed to have ruled the earth during a lost Golden Age. His festival,
the Saturnalia, was celebrated in Rome over seven days and was held at the end of December.
Rhea was the wife of Cronus. Cronus made it a practice to swallow their children. To avoid this, Rhea tricked
Cronus into swallowing a rock, saving her son Zeus.
Oceanus is the unending stream of water encircling the world. Together with his wife Tethys produced the rivers
and the three thousand ocean nymphs.
Tethys is the wife of Oceanus. Together they produced the rivers and the three thousand ocean nymphs.
Hyperion is the Titan of light, the father of the sun, the moon, and the dawn.
Mnemosyne was the Titan of memory and the mother of Muses
Themis was the Titan of justice and order. She was the mother of the Fates and the Seasons.
Iapetus was the father of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Atlas.
Titan of Intelligence. Father of Leto.
A Titan, married Eurbia. Had 3 children: Astraios, Perses, Pallas. Was grandfather of (Astraios married Eos):
Zephyros/Zephyrus (West Wind), Boreas (North Wind), Notos/Notus (South Wind), Eosphoros/Eurus (East
Wind), and all the quot;starsquot;. Was also grandfather of (Pallas married Styx): Zelos, Nike, Kratos, Bia.
Titan of the Moon. Mother of Leto.
The wife of her brother Hyperion, Theia gave birth to Helios (sun), Eos (dawn), and Selene (moon). She is the
goddess from whom light emanates and considered especially beautiful.
Prometheus was the wisest Titan. His name means quot;forethoughtquot; and he was able to foretell the future. He was the
son of Iapetus. When Zeus revolted against Cronus Prometheus deserted the other Titans and fought on Zeus side.
By some accounts he and his brother Epimetheus were delagated by Zeus to create man. In all accounts,
Prometheus is known as the protector and benifactor of man. He gave mankind a number of gifts including fire.
He also tricked Zeus into allowing man to keep the best part of the animals scarificed to the gods and to give the
gods the worst parts.
For this Zeus punished Prometheus by having him chained to a rock with an eagle tearing at his liver. He was to
be left there for all eternity or until he agreed to disclose to Zeus which of Zeus children would try to replace him.
He was eventually rescued by Hercules without giving in to Zeus
Epimetheus was a stupid Titan, whose name means quot;afterthoughtquot;. He was the son of Iapetus. In some accounts
he is delegated, along with his brother Prometheus by Zeus to create mankind. He also accepted the gift of
Pandora from Zeus, which lead to the introduction of evil into the world.
Atlas was the son of Iapetus. Unlike his brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus, Atlas fought with the other Titans
supporting Cronus against Zeus. Due to Cronus's advance age Atlas lead the Titan's in battle. As a result he was
singled out by Zeus for a special punishment and made to hold up the world on his back.
Metis was the Titaness of the forth day and the planet Mercury. She presided over all wisdom and knowledge. In
some mythology, she is the mother of Athena, who was swallowed by Zeus, giving him his vast wisdom and
allowing Athena to spring from Zeus’ head.
The Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthow of the Titans. All the Olympians are related
in some way. They are named after their dwelling place Mount Olympus.
Roman and Greek God Comparisons
The Olympian Gods and Goddesses
In Greek mythology, twelve gods and goddesses ruled the universe from atop Greece's Mount Olympus. These
Olympians had come to power after their leader, Zeus, overthrew his father, Kronos, leader of the Titans. All the
Olympians are related to one another. The Romans adopted most of these Greek gods and goddesses, but with
Zeus (Roman name: Jupiter)
The most powerful of all, Zeus was god of the sky and the king of Olympus. His temper affected the weather, and
he threw thunderbolts when he was unhappy. He was married to Hera but had many other lovers. His symbols
include the oak and the thunderbolt.
Jupiter was the Roman sky god, the equivalent of the Greek god Zeus. The cult of the Jupiter Optimus Maximus
(quot;the best and greatestquot;) began under the Etrucan kings, who were expelled from Rome around 507 BC. At first,
Jupiter was associated with the elements, especially storms, and lightning, but he later became the protector of the
Roman people and was their powerful ally in war. The games held in the Circus in Rome were dedicated to him.
Hera (Roman name: Juno)
Hera was goddess of marriage and the queen of Olympus. She was Zeus's wife and sister; many myths tell of how
she sought revenge when Zeus betrayed her with his lovers. Her symbols include the peacock and the cow.
Juno was the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Hera and was considered the Roman supreme goddess,
married to the ruling god, Jupiter. She is believed to watch and protect all women and was called by the Romans
quot;the one who makes the child see the light of dayquot;. Every year, on the first of March, women hold a festival in
honor of Juno called the Matronalia. To this day, many people consider the month of June, which is named after
the goddess who is the patroness of marriage, to be the most favorable time to marry. Juno's own warlike aspect is
apparent in her attire. She often appears armed and wearing a goatskin cloak, which was the garment favoured by
Roman soldiers on campaign. In Rome she was worshipped on the Capital hill along with Jupiter and Minerva,
goddess of wisdom and the arts.
Poseidon (Roman name: Neptune)
Poseidon was god of the sea. He was the most powerful god except for his brother, Zeus. He lived in a beautiful
palace under the sea and caused earthquakes when he was in a temper. His symbols include the horse and the
trident (a three-pronged pitchfork).
Neptune was an ancient Italian water god whom the Romans identified with Poseidon. Compared to Poseidon,
however, Neptune plays a minor role in Roman mythology.
Hades (Roman name: Pluto)
Hades was king of the dead. He lived in the underworld, the heavily guarded land where he ruled over the dead.
He was the brother of Zeus and the husband of Persephone, Demeter's daughter, whom he kidnapped.
Aphrodite (Roman name: Venus)
Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, and the protector of sailors. She may have been the daughter of
Zeus and the Titan Dione, or she may have risen from the sea on a shell. Her symbols include the myrtle tree and
Venus was the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, the Greek love goddess. Venus was the daughter of Jupiter and
Dione, although sometimes portayed as being created by Uranus from the foam of the sea at the moment of his
death. As the goddess of love, she is the quot;queen of pleasurequot; and mother of the Roman people. She was married to
Vulcan, the lame god of the forge, and mother of Cupid, Hymen, Priapus and Aeneas. It was Venus who
recovered her son Aeneas'spear during his fight with the Italian champion Tumus, thus saving his life. Venus is
also associated with her lover, Mars the god of war. Considered a nature goddess, associated with the arrival of
spring. Venus is the bringer of joy to gods and humans.
Cupid was the Roman god of love and the son of the love goddess Venus. He was depicted as a beautiful
but wanton boy, armed with a quiver full of ärrowed desiresquot;. Some of the arrows, however, would turn
people away from those who fell in love with them.
According to one myth, Venus was jealous of Psysve (quot;the soulquot;) and told Cupid to make her love the
ugliest man alive. But Cupid fell in love with Psyche and, invisible, visited her every night. He told her not
to try to see him, but, overcome by curiosity, she did try and he left her. Psyshe searched the world for
him, until the sky god Jupiter granted he immortality so that she could be Cupid's constant companion.
The couple's daughter was named Voluptas (quot;pleasurequot;).
Apollo was the god of music and healing. He was also an archer, and hunted with a silver bow. Apollo was the
son of Zeus and the Titan Leto, and the twin of Artemis. His symbols include the laurel tree, the crow, and the
Ares (Roman name: Mars)
Ares was the god of war. He was both cruel and a coward. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, but neither of his
parents liked him. His symbols include the vulture and the dog, and he often carried a bloody spear.
Mars was the son of Juno and a magical flower and initially was the Roman god of fertility and vegetation but
later became associated with battle. As the god of spring, when his major festivals were held, he presided over
agriculture in general. In his warlike aspect, Mars was offered sacrifices before combat and was said to appear on
the battlefield accompanied by Bellona, a warrior goddess variously identified as his wife, sister or daughter. Mars
unlike his Greek counterpart, Ares, was more widely worshipped than any of the other Roman gods, probably
because his sons Romulus and Remus were said to have founded Rome. As the consort of Rhea Sylvia and father
of Romulus and Remus, Mars was considered the father of the Roman people.
Artemis (Roman name: Diana)
Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the protector of women in childbirth. She hunted with silver arrows and
loved all wild animals. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin of Apollo. Her symbols include
the cypress tree and the deer.
Diana is the mother of wild animals and forests, and a moon goddess. Oak groves are especially sacred to her.
She is praised for her strength, athletic grace, beauty and her hunting skills. With two other deities she made up a
trinity: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.
Athena (Roman name: Minerva)
Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was also skilled in the art of war, and helped heroes such as Odysseus
and Hercules. Athena sprang full-grown from the forehead of Zeus, and became his favorite child. Her symbols
include the owl and the olive tree.
Minerva (whose name may have originally meant quot;thoughtquot;) was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno. Considered to
be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and inventor of music. She was
the equivalent of the Greek goddess Athena. Ovid called her the quot;goddess of a thousand works.quot; Minerva was
worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did she take on a warlike character. Minerva is usually
depicted wearing a coat of mail and a helment, and carrying a spear. The Romans celebrated her worship from
March 19 to 23 during the Quinquatrus, the artisans' holiday.
Hephaestus (Roman name: Vulcan)
Hephaestus was the god of fire and the forge (a furnace in which metal is heated). Although he made armor and
weapons for the gods, he loved peace. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and married Aphrodite. His symbols
include the anvil and the forge.
Vulcan the son of Jupiter and Juno. Husband of Maia and Venus. God of fire and volcanoes, and the
manufacturer of art, arms and armor for gods and heroes. His smithy was believed to be situated underneath
Mount Aetna in Sicily. At the Vulcanalia festival, which was held on 23 August, fish and small animals were
thrown into a fire.
Hestia (Roman name: Vesta)
Hestia was the goddess of the hearth (a fireplace at the center of the home). She was the most gentle of the gods,
and does not play a role in many myths. Hestia was the sister of Zeus and the oldest of the Olympians. Fire is
among her symbols.
Vesta was the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Hesta, who was the goddess of the hearth. Vesta,
however, was worshipped both as the guardian of the domestic hearth and also as the personification of the
ceremonial flame. Ceremonies in her honour were conducted by the vestal virgins, who were young girls from
noble families who took vows of chastity for the thirty years during which they served her. Vesta's chief festival,
the Vestalia, was held on 7 June.
Hermes (Roman name: Mercury)
Hermes was the messenger god, a trickster, and a friend to thieves. He was said to have invented boxing and
gymnastics. He was the son of Zeus and the constellation Maia. The speediest of all, he wore winged sandals and
a winged hat and carried a magic wand.
Mercury was the Roman messenger god, and was also the deity who watched over trade and coomerce, as his
name suggests. He was associated with peace and prosperity. He was apparently imported from Greece around the
fifth century BC. Mercury is usually depicted in the same way as his Greelk counterpart Hermes, with a winged
...also sometimes included:
hat and staff.
Demeter (Roman name: Ceres)
Demeter was the goddess of the harvest. The word quot;cerealquot; comes from her Roman name. She was the sister of
Zeus. Her daughter, Persephone, is forced to live with Hades each winter; at this time Demeter lets no crops grow.
Her symbols include wheat.
Persephone (Roman name: Proserpina)
Persephone is the counterpart of the Greek goddess, Proserpina. She is the daughter of Demeter, was
kidnapped by Pluto and taken to his underworld. He tricked her into eating a pomegranate, making her
queen of the dead. Persephone lives with Pluto for 6 months of the year while her mother mourns, giving
the Earth winter.
Dionysus (Roman name: Bacchus)
Dionysus was the god of wine, which he invented. In ancient Greece Dionysus was honored with springtime
festivals that centered on theater. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal. His symbols include ivy,
the snake, and grapes.
Pan (Roman name: Faunus)
Faunus was the Roman god of the countryside and identified with the Greek Pan, god of the mountainside.
Faunus was said to be the grandson of Saturn and was credited with prophetic powers, which on occasion inspired
the Romans to renew efforts on the battlefield in the face of defeat. Perhaps this is the reason for Faunus
sometimes being seen as a descendant of the war god Mars. His mortal son, Latinus, was the king of the Latin
people at the time of Aeneas'arrival in Italy after the long voyage from Troy.
Janus was very old Italian god who the Romans associated with beginnings. The month of January - a time for
people to look backwards and forwards - was sacred to Janus. There are few myths concerning him, although his
extra eyes did on one occasion enable him to catch the nymph Carna, with whom he had a son.
Heroes in Greek Mythology
Achilles was the strongest and most fearless warrior in the Greek war against the Trojans. As an infant his mother
dipped him into the River Styx, which made him invulnerable everywhere but the heel by which she held him. For
ten years Achilles was a great hero in the Trojan War. But in the end Paris, son of the Trojan king, fatally
wounded Achilles in the heel. Today, the tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone is called the
Achilles tendon, and a small but dangerous weakness is known as an quot;Achilles heel.quot;
Brave and powerful Hercules is perhaps the most loved of all Greek heroes. The son of Zeus and Alcmene (a
granddaughter of Perseus), Heracles grew up to become a famed warrior. But Zeus's jealous wife, Hera, made him
temporarily insane, and he killed his wife and children. As punishment Heracles performed twelve seemingly
impossible labors (see the next article), which have been the subject of countless works of art and drama. Heracles
is often depicted wearing a lion skin and wielding a club.
The Twelve Labors of Hercules
Hercules performed twelve labors given him by King Eurystheus of Tiryns. For twelve years, he traveled all
over to complete these incredible tasks. NOTE: Because different ancient poets gave their own accounts of
Hercules's labors, some details may vary.
♦ One: Kill the Nemean Lion
This monster of a lion had a hide was so tough that no arrow could pierce it. Hercules stunned the beast with
his olive-wood club and then strangled it with his bare hands. It is said that he skinned the lion, using the
lion's sharp claws, and ever after wore its hide.
♦ Two: Kill the Lernean Hydra
The evil, snakelike Hydra had nine heads. If one got hurt, two would grow in its place. But Hercules quickly
sliced off the heads, while his charioteer, Iolaus, sealed the wounds with a torch. Hercules made his arrows
poisonous by dipping them in the Hydra's blood.
♦ Three: Capture the Cerynian Hind
The goddess Artemis loved and protected this stubborn little deer, which had gold horns. Hercules found it a
challenge to capture the delicate hind without hurting it (and making Artemis angry). After following the hind
for an entire year, he safely carried it away.
♦ Four: Capture the Erymanthian Boar
The people of Mount Erymanthus lived in fear of this deadly animal. Hercules chased the wild boar up the
mountain and into a snowdrift. He then took it in a net and brought it to King Eurystheus, who was so
frightened of the beast that he hid in a huge bronze jar.
♦ Five: Clean the Augean Stables
Thousands of cows lived in these stables belonging to King Augeas. They had not been cleaned in 30 years,
but Hercules was told to clean them completely in a single day. To do so he made two rivers bend so that they
flowed into the stables, sweeping out the filth.
♦ Six: Kill the Stymphalian Birds
These murderous birds lived around Lake Stymphalos. Their claws and beaks were sharp as metal and their
feathers flew like darts. Hercules scared them out of their nests with a rattle and then killed them with the
poison arrows he had made from the Hydra's blood.
♦ Seven: Capture the Cretan Bull
This savage bull, kept by King Minos of Crete, was said to be insane and breathe fire. Hercules wrestled the
mad beast to the ground and brought it back to King Eurystheus. Unfortunately, the king set it free, and it
roamed Greece, causing terror wherever it went.
♦ Eight: Capture the Horses of Diomedes
King Diomedes, leader of the Bistones, fed his bloodthirsty horses on human flesh. Hercules and his men
fought and killed King Diomedes and fed the king to his horses. This made the horses tame, so that Hercules
was able to lead them to King Eurystheus.
♦ Nine: Take the Girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyte
Hercules went to the land of the Amazons, where the queen welcomed him and agreed to give him her girdle
for Eurystheus's daughter. But Hera spread the rumor that Hercules came as an enemy. In the end he had to
conquer the Amazons and steal the golden belt.
♦ Ten: Capture the Cattle of Geryon
Geryon, a winged monster with three human bodies, had a herd of beautiful red cattle. He guarded his prized
herd with the help of a giant and a vicious two-headed dog. Hercules killed Geryon, the giant, and the dog
and brought the cattle to King Eurystheus.
♦ Eleven: Take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides
The Hesperides were nymphs. In their garden grew golden apples protected by Ladon, a dragon with a
hundred heads. Hercules struck a bargain with Atlas, who held up the earth. Hercules shouldered the earth
while Atlas, the nymphs' father, fetched the apples.
♦ Twelve: Capture Cerberus
Hercules was ordered to capture Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the underworld, without using
weapons. Hercules wrestled down the dog's wild heads, and it agreed to go with him to King Eurystheus.
Cerberus was soon returned unharmed to the underworld.
Jason was the leader of the Argonauts, the 50 heroes who sailed in search of the Golden Fleece. Jason's uncle,
Pelias, had stolen the kingdom that should belong to Jason. He promised to return it only if Jason would bring
home the Golden Fleece-the wool from the magical winged ram that became the constellation Aries. On their
journey Jason and the Argonauts faced down such dangers as the deadly singing Sirens. They ultimately captured
the fleece with the help of the sorceress Medea, who became Jason's wife.
King of Ithaca and a celebrated warrior, Odysseus helped the Greeks triumph in the Trojan War. Afterward he
journeyed nearly ten years to return home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope. Along the way Odysseus's courage and
cleverness saved him and his men from such monsters as the Cyclops Polyphemus, the Sirens, and Scylla and
Charybdis. Back in Ithaca, Odysseus proved his identity to Penelope and once again ruled his homeland. These
adventures are told in Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey.
The son of Zeus and Danae, Perseus completed dangerous feats with his quick thinking and talents as a warrior.
Most famous was his slaying of the Gorgon Medusa. Because looking directly at the monstrous Medusa would
turn a man to stone, Perseus killed her while watching her reflection in a mirror. After beheading the Gorgon with
his sword he kept her head in his satchel. Later, to save the princess Andromeda from being eaten by a sea
monster, Perseus pulled out Medusa's head and turned the creature to stone.
Theseus was known for his triumph over numerous monsters, especially the Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth
on the island of Crete. Every year the people of Athens had been forced to send fourteen young people for the
Minotaur to eat alive. But Theseus, using a ball of magic thread from the princess Ariadne, found his way in and
out of the labyrinth and killed the beast. Theseus was the son of either Aegeus, king of Athens, or the sea god
Poseidon. In later life he became king of Athens and a famous warrior.
Monsters in Greek Mythology
Argus may have had as many as one hundred eyes, which were located all over his body. Hera employed him as a
guard. He was killed by Hermes. Afterward, Hera put Argus's eyes in the tail of the peacock, her favorite bird.
Cerberus was a huge and powerful three-headed dog. He was owned by Hades, god of the dead, who used the
fearsome hound to guard the entrance to the underworld. In his final labor, Hercules went to the underworld and
Each of the Cyclopes was gigantic and had a single eye in the middle of its forehead. The Cyclopes made
lightning and thunderbolts for Zeus to use. The brutal Polyphemus, a Cyclops and a son of Poseidon, lived on an
island, where he was blinded by Odysseus.
The Gorgons were horrifyingly ugly monsters who lived at the edge of the world. Their hair was made of serpents,
and one look from a Gorgon's eyes would turn a man to stone. Perseus killed the Gorgon Medusa by beheading
her while looking only at her reflection.
The Hydra was a massive and poisonous serpent with nine heads. Every time one head was injured, another two
grew in its place. Hercules sought out the monster in its dark marsh and succeeded in destroying it.
The Minotaur was a man-eating monster with the head of a bull. King Minos kept it hidden in a labyrinth (a maze)
in Knossos, on the island of Crete, where he used it to frighten his enemies. Theseus killed the Minotaur.
Scylla and Charybdis
The powerful monsters Scylla and Charybdis lived together in a sea cave. Scylla had many fierce dog heads and
ate sailors alive; Charybdis created whirlpools by sucking in and spitting out seawater. Both Jason and Odysseus
safely traveled by these monsters.
The Sirens were giant, winged creatures with the heads of women. They lived on rocks on the sea, where their
beautiful singing lured sailors to shipwreck. Odysseus filled his sailors' ears with wax so that they might sail
safely past the Sirens.
The Nine Muses
The Nine Muses were Greek goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those
subjects. They were the daughters of Zeus, lord of all gods, and Mnemosyne, who represented memory. Memory
was important for the Muses because in ancient times, when there were no books, poets had to carry their work in
Calliope was the muse of epic poetry.
Clio was the muse of history.
Erato was the muse of love poetry.
Euterpe was the muse of music.
Melpomene was the muse of tragedy.
Polyhymnia was the muse of sacred poetry.
Terpsichore was the muse of dance.
Thalia was the muse of comedy.
Urania was the muse of astronomy.