GREEK GODS & GODDESSES THE MAJOR DEITIES OF ANCIENT GREEK RELIGION Pilar Torres INS Narcís Monturiol Barcelona
ZEUS (Ζεύς) / Jupiter Son of Cronos and Rhea. God of storm and daylight, justice and authority. He is the supreme god of Greek pantheon. His attributes are the lightning bolt, the aegis, the sceptre and the throne. His sacred animal and plant are the eagle and the oak. His main sanctuary is located at Olympia (Peloponnese, Greece), where the Olympian Games took place each forth year.
HERA (Ἥρα) / Juno Daughter of Cronos and Rhea. Zeus’ sister and wife. Goddess of marriage and married women. Queen of the gods. Her attributes are the crown, the sceptre and the throne. Her sacred animal and plant were the peacock and the lily. Among many others places in Greece, she was worshipped at Olympia, along with Zeus.
Hera’s iconography Crown Throne Terracotta representing Hera seating on a throne. British Museum, London
POSEIDON (Ποζειδῶν) / Neptune Son of Cronos and Rhea. Brother of Zeus. Married to Amphitrite. God of the sea, springs and earthquakes. His attributes are the trident and the chariot. Sea creatures were sacred to him, as well as horses and bulls. His main sanctuaries were at Cape Sunion (near Athens) and at Isthmia (near Corinth), where athletic competitions took place to honour him.
DEMETER (Δημήηηρ)/ Ceres Daughter of Cronos and Rhea. Sister of Zeus and Persephone’s mother (by Zeus). Goddess of agriculture and corn (especially of wheat). She also represents the community laws. Her attributes are the crown, the wheatears the poppies and the torches. Her sacred animal is the piglet. Her main sanctuary was at Eleusis (near Athens), where she was worshipped along with her daughter Persephone and Hades (aka Pluto).
Demeter’s iconography Torch CrownPoppy fruitWheatear Throne Dish representing Demeter, Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
HADES (Ἅιδης)/ Pluto Son of Cronos and Rhea. Brother of Zeus. Married to Persephone, Demeter’s daughter. They had no children. God of the underworld and dead, he also represented the wealth that came from the ground. His attribute was the horn of plenty (cornucopia) and the two pointed fork. Dogs were related to him. His main sanctuary was at Eleusis, where he was worshipped along with Demeter and his wife Persephone.
Hades’s iconography Demeter Horn of plenty Plough Hades Red figure Attic vase, Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
ATHENA (Ἀθηνᾶ)/ Minerva Daughter of Zeus (by Metis). Virgin goddess of wisdom, arts and crafts and war (strategy). Her attributes were the helmet, the spear, the shield and the aegis. Her sacred animal and plant were the owl and the olive tree. She was especially worshipped in Athens, called so after the goddess. The Parthenon, her main temple, was at the Acropolis.
Athena’s iconography Helmet Spear Owl Olive tree branch Shield Statue of Athena, Archaeological Museum of Tripoli, Libya
APOLLO (Ἀπόλλων) Son of Zeus and Leto. Twin brother of Artemis. God of prophecy and oracles, music, poetry, healing, purification and measure. His attributes are the bow and arrows and the lyre. the laurel tree was his sacred plant and the crow his animal. His main sanctuary was at Delphi, where Greeks went to ask his oracle for advice. Athletic games and poetical contests were carried there each seventh year to honour him.
ARTEMIS (Ἄρηεμις)/ Diana Daughter of Zeus and Leto. Twin sister of Apollo. Goddess of wilderness, wild animals, hunting and youngsters. Her attributes were the bow and the arrows. Wild animals were sacred to her, specially deer and bears, as well as hunting dogs. She was worshipped at Brauron, near Athens, among other places.
Artemis’ iconography Arrows in a quiver Deer Statue of Artemis, Musée du Louvre. Paris, France
HERMES (Ἑρμής)/ Mercury Son of Zeus and Maia. God of shepherds, travellers, tradesmen and thieves. He guides the souls to the underworld. He also represents cunning and persuasive speech. His attributes were the traveller’s hat, the caduceus (a sort of magic wand), the winged sandals and a pouch to carry money. His sacred animals were cattle, sheep and rams. He was worshipped all around Greece, specially at public places (at the agora and the gymnasia).
Hermes’ Iconography Winged hat Caduceus Pouch of money Winged sandals Bronze statuette representingHermes, Archaeological museum of Trieste, Italy
APHRODITE (Ἀθροδίηη)/ Venus According to Hesiod, she was born from the sea foam after the castration of Uranus. According to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Goddess of sex, love, seduction and beauty. Her attributes were the scallop shell, the mirror and nakedness. Her sacred animals and plant were the dove, the sparrow and the rose. She was worshipped all around Greece, and especially in Cyprus.
Aphrodite’s icongraphyScallop shell Terracotta representing Aphrodite’s birth. Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece.
ARES (Ἄρης) / Mars Son of Zeus and Hera. God of brutal war and bloodlust. He was represented like a warrior, wearing a complete armour: helmet, shield, spear, cuirass and greaves. He was not much worshipped among the Greeks, who preferred Athena as goddess of war.
Ares’ iconography Helmet Spear Cuirass Shield Greaves Black figure Attic vase with fighting scene. Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece
HEPHESTUS (Ἥθαιζηος) / Vulcan Son of Zeus and Hera or of Hera alone. Married to Aphrodite, she cheated him with Ares. God of fire and blacksmithing. His attributes were the axe, the smart, the anvil and the tongs. He was especially worshipped in Athens, where there was a temple dedicated to him in the agora, the Hephesteon.
Hephestus’ iconography Cup Dionysus Hephestusriding a donkey Tongs Hephestus and Dionysus riding on donkies. Goulandris collection, Athens, Greece.
DIONYSUS (Διόνσζος) / Bacchus Son of Zeus and Semele (a mortal woman, princess of Thebes). God of the vine and wine, theatre, madness and irrationality. His attributes are the vine or ivy wreath, the drinking cup, the panther hide and the thyrsus. He is usually represented along with satyrs and maenads and wild cats. His sacred animal and plant are the panther and the vine. He was especially worshipped in Athens, where theatrical contests of tragedies and comedies were carried to honour him.
Dionysus’ iconography Satyr MaenadThyrsusPanther’s hideDionysusPanther Relief showing Dionysus with a satyr and a maenad. British Museum, London
VOCABULARY Aegis: Goat hide, fringed with snakes and Medusa’s head in the middle, worn by Zeus and Athena as means of protection.