Greek Mythology

First Generation of Gods (children of the Titans)
The Olympians: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hades, Hestia

Zeus. Ruler of Heaven.

Zeus' main attribute is the Thunderbolt, which he received from the Cyclopes. The Eagle is Zeus' bird. An Eagle was seen by Zeus as an omen for attacking the Titans, and an Eagle snatched Ganymedes. Zeus approached Aegina in the form of an Eagle. An Eagle punished Prometheus who defied Zeus, and an Eagle brings back the Thunderbolts which Zeus has flung. This is why an Eagle is often depicted at his feet. Zeus' Aegis, which was made by Hephaestus, is indestructible, and when he shakes it a storm and thunder ensues.


Goddess of family and marriage.

Hera is most often represented holding a scepter, and opening her veil before Zeus. The Peacock was held to be the bird sacred to Hera, and the Pomegranate also has appeared as an attribute of Hera The Cuckoo is also a bird sacred to Hera because when Zeus was in love with Hera he changed himself into a Cuckoo, and she caught it to be her pet.




Poseidon. Ruler of the seas.

The Trident, which he received from the Cyclops, is Poseidon's usual attribute. Poseidon lost the contest with Athena for the city of Athens, since he promised its citizens rule of the seas, but Athena promised them the fruits of the olive tree. Poseidon is associated with Horses, which were first tamed by him, and also to Bulls.



Demeter. Goddess of fertility.

Demeter has been represented holding branches of Corn, or Poppies. The symbols relate to Demeter's nature as a goddess of fertility and divinity of the earth. She is often shown together with her daughter Persephone.



Hades. Ruler of the Underworld.

Hades is known to own a Helmet which makes him invisible, and therefore when we see the Helmet we cannot see Hades, who is only visible when he does not wear it. He is also seen holding a two-pronged staff. He abducted Persephone to the Underworld, and in revenge Demeter caused the crops to wither and die until Persephone rejoined her for half of each year.



Hestia. Goddess of the hearth.

Hestia has few distinguishing attributes, but she is always included with the Twelve Olympians

Second Generation of Gods (children of the First Gods)
More Olympians: Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hermes

Athena. Goddess of war, crafts, and wisdom.

The Aegis, usually a goat skin, is an attribute of both Athena and Zeus. Athena's Aegis is surrounded by Fear, Strife, Force and Pursuit or sometimes by snakes, and in the center there is the head of Medusa. The Owl is Athena's bird, but sometimes she has been depicted with a Cock on her helmet and it has been assumed that the Cock might have been considered as sacred to her. The Olive is her tree.





Aphrodite. Goddess of Love.

The Dove is Aphrodite's bird. Doves sat on a wonderful egg which had fallen into the Euphrates River, and when the egg was heated it hatched out Aphrodite. Aeneas, Aphrodite's son, recognised his mother's help in the Doves which showed him the place where a certain Golden Bough, a key to the Underworld, was hidden. Since ancient times Aphrodite has been depicted as coming out from a Shell. Aphrodite is often seen holding an Apple, the prize of beauty she won in the Judgement of Paris.




Apollo. God of Prophecy and healing.

The Bow and the Quiver are the attributes of this god who strikes from afar, and also the Lyre, which some say was invented by Hermes. Since Daphne when pursued by Apollo, changed into a Laurel tree, the god is associated with the Laurel because he broke a branch from the tree and placed it on his head.





Artemis. Goddess of hunters.

Artemis is often represented with the Bow and Quiver of the huntress and with emblems representing the Moon and the Stars. She is often seen in the company of a Hind or a Dog.






Ares. God of war.

Ares is always shown as a Greek hoplite warrior, with helmet, shield and spear.





Hermes. Messenger of Zeus.

The Petasus, which is a round winged hat and the Winged Sandals are two well known attributes of Hermes. Another one is the Caduceus, which is a winged staff entwined with two serpents (the medical emblem resembles this, but it is not the same). According to some Hermes received the Caduceus, which is a golden staff or wand, from Apollo who used it while he herded cattle, in exchange for a flute that Hermes had invented. The Caduceus is a splendid staff of riches and wealth, which keeps Hermes scatheless.




Dionysos. God of Wine

The Thyrsus, a staff that is crowned with ivy, is sacred to Dionysos and an emblem of his worship. Also Vine Leaves and Bunches of Grapes are associated with him





Hephaestos. The smith of Heaven.

This god, who tames fire and was once called to chain Prometheus, the thief of that same element, is mostly seen with oval cap and the hammer and tongs of the smith.




Persephone. Queen of the Underworld.

The Pomegranate is associated with Persephone. Because of having eaten a seed or seeds of the Pomegranate, Persephone became for ever bound to Hades.





Return to SIIAS@CSI Home Page