Greek gods, godesses, and creatures

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Ancient Greek Gods, Goddesses, and Creatures


  • 1. Zeus The Greeks loved to tell stories about themagical family who ruled the heavens. TheGreeks truly believed that their gods couldinterfere in their lives, to help or hinderthem. According to Greek myth, Zeus was theking of all the gods. Zeus had two brothersand three sisters. When their father died,the boys - Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades -divided the world up between themselves.Zeus took all of the heavens, Poseidontook the sea, and Hades took theunderworld. Each was quite content withtheir selection. Zeus had a very jealous wife named Hera.He also had a whole bunch of kids. Zeuswas very fond of all his children. Each ofhis children had special magical powers. Zeus had more powers than anyone. Zeuscould throw his voice, and sound likeanybody. He could shape shift, and looklike anybody. In fact, he was so good atshape shifting that he could shape shiftinto the form of an animal. He could throwlightning bolts. His horse, Pegasus,carried his lightning bolts for him. Zeushad a quick temper, a big sense of humor,and lots of girlfriends. He was not afraid ofanything except Hera, his wife.

2. Poseidon Poseidon was the Lord of the Sea. His brothers were Zeus - the king ofall the gods, and Hades - the king of the underworld. Poseidon was a good looking fellow. He had deep blue eyes andstreaming green hair. He was a restless fellow, always on the move. Poseidon was very powerful. He could raise his hand and a new islandwould appear! The Greeks were terrified of Poseidon. All the Greeks, but especially those who lived in coastal towns, built atemple to honor Poseidon. They brought special gifts to the templeevery day, hoping to keep him happy. Sometimes it worked.Sometimes it didnt. Poseidon was very moody. Poseidon kept a royal residence on Mount Olympus, but he was rarelythere. He only visited when he had to attend a meeting of the council ofgods. He preferred his palace at the bottom of the sea. The exteriorwas made of bright gold. But it was the inside of the palace that wastruly magnificent. Inside, Greek columns supported raised fountains.There were colorful seaweed gardens and paths of white sand andbeds of glittering jewels and pearls and chunks of amber. Colored fishdarted everywhere. At night, the whole palace was softly lit bythousands of glow-worms. It was a magical place. 3. Ares Ares was the son of Zeus andHera. His father was king, hismother was queen. Ares was tall and handsome,and mean and self-centered.His sidekick, Eris, the spirit ofdisagreement, traveledeverywhere with him. Theycarried four spirits along aswell - the spirits of Pain,Panic, Famine, and Oblivion. In Greek mythology, Ares didnot care who won or lost abattle. He just liked to seebloodshed. Most of the othergods stayed as far away fromAres as possible. He onlycaused trouble. 4. Apollo Apollo and Artemis were twins. They were the magical children of Zeus and Leto.The twins - Apollo and his sister, Artemis - adored their mother. Apollo,especially, was very protective of his mother. Apollo is a younger god, the son of Zeus and the nymph Leto, and the twinbrother of Artemis. The Greeks often thought of Apollo as being the same asHelios, the Sun god, or the same as the sun, and so he is one of the sky godswho always beat out the earth gods in Greek myths. Apollos younger brother isHermes. Apollo does not marry or have many children, though sometimes he falls in love.Apollo is a wise god who can tell the future, and his temple at Delphi was afamous oracle, a place where people went to find out what was going to happen.One of his sons is Asclepius, the god of medicine. Apollo is also a musician whoplays the lyre. The Greeks told a story that when Apollo first came to Delphi there was a greatsnake living there, a sort of dragon, the Pythia. Apollo killed the dragon and thatwas how Delphi became his temple. This might mean that there was an earthgoddess who was worshipped at Delphi before the Greeks came with their newgod Apollo. It is a lot like the story of Medusa. 5. Athena Athena was born without amother. Her father was themighty Zeus, king of all thegods. Athena was borndirectly out of Zeus brain. Zeus loved all his children,but if he had to pick a favorite,it would probably have beenAthena, the goddess ofwisdom. Athena was a powerful force,and one of the 12 deities whoheld a seat on MountOlympus. There are many myths aboutAthena in Greek mythology. 6. Athena Athena is one of the younger goddesses; she is the child of Zeus. She hasno mother. The story is that Athena was born, fully grown and armed, out ofthe head of Zeus. One day Zeus complained that he had a headache, andHephaistos came and banged him on the head with an axe and out poppedAthena!Athena has no husband either. She doesnt fall in love and she doesnt havechildren Athena is the goddess of wisdom; her symbol is the owl (the wise bird).Shes the patron goddess of the city of Athens, and her owl appears onAthenian silver coins. She is also a war goddess, which is why she isusually shown fully armed, with her shield and sword. 7. Aphrodite Aphrodite was the exception to the Greek God familytree. Some say her parents were unknown, and that shewas born of sea foam. Others, like the poet Homer, saidshe was a daughter of the mighty Zeus, king of all thegods. No one knows quite where to place her on theGreek God family tree. However she was born, Aphrodite was the goddess oflove and beauty. She was an essential element of manyGreek myths. Legend says that Aphrodite could be kind or merciless.But the truth is that most of the myths about Aphroditeare, well, rather focused on Aphrodite. Not that she wasvain. It was simply a fact. Aphrodite knew that she wasthe fairest in the land. To be fair to Aphrodite, she was not at all like Ares, thegod of war. Ares loved to cause pain and havoc.Aphrodite was only merciless if you did something thattruly angered her. Unfortunately, Aphrodite was easierangered, especially when it came to vanity. For example, if you believe the old myth, it was not aquarrel over land or goods, but was instead Aphroditesvanity that caused the Trojan War. Read the myth:Aphrodite and Queen Helen of Sparta. 8. Aphrodite Aphrodite (a-fro-DIE-tee) was the Greek goddess of love.Naturally she was always falling in love with somebody, orsomebody was falling in love with her. She is one of the oldestgoddesses, the daughter of Ouranos. The most famous storyabout Aphrodite is that she started the Trojan War. Another story is the one about Actaeon. She is supposed tohave had Ares for her boyfriend, and to have been married toHephaistos. Nobody is sure yet what the relationship is between Aphroditeand West Asian love goddesses like Astarte. The Romans thought Aphrodite was like their goddess Venus.And the Germans thought she was like their goddess Freya. Aphrodite is a fertility goddess, like Demeter. But while Demetermakes the earth grow grain, Aphrodite makes women havebabies. Aphrodite herself, however, does not have children 9. Hercules Hercules was half man and half god. His mother was a mortal. But his fatherwas a king - a very special king, the king of all the gods, the mighty Zeus.But Hercules did not know he was part god until he had grown into a man. Right from the beginning, Hera, Zeus wife, was very jealous of Hercules.She tried all kinds of ways to kill him, including sending a couple of bigsnakes into his crib. Hercules crushed those snakes in a flash! Herculeswas incredibly strong, even as a baby! Zeus loved his little son. He figured that sooner or later Hera might actuallyfind a way to kill little Hercules. To keep his small son safe from attack, Zeussent him to live with a mortal family on earth. Hercules grew up loved andnoble. But he didnt fit in on earth. He was too big and too strong. One day,his earth father told him he was a god, well, part god anyway. The rest of the story of Hercules is a bunch of little stories that together tellthe tale of how Hercules earned his way into the heavens, to take his placewith the gods. 10. Hercules Hercules (hrkylz)[key], Heracles, or Herakles both: hrklz, most popular of allGreek heroes, famous for extraordinary strength and courage. Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon,made love to both Zeus and her husband on the same night and bore two sons, Hercules (son ofZeus) and Iphicles (son of Amphitryon). Hercules incurred the everlasting wrath of Hera becausehe was the child of her unfaithful husband. A few months after his birth Hera set two serpents inhis cradle, but the prodigious infant promptly strangled them. When he was a young man, Hercules defended Thebes from the armies of a neighboring city,Orchomenus, and was rewarded with Megara, daughter of King Creon. But Hera later droveHercules insane, and in his madness he killed his wife and children. After he had recovered hissanity, he sought purification at the court of King Eurystheus of Tiryns for 12 years. During thoseyears Hercules performed 12 arduous labors: he killed the Nemean lion and the Hydra; caughtthe Erymanthian boar and the Cerynean hind; drove off the Stymphalian birds; cleaned thestables of Augeas; captured the Cretan bull and the horses of Diomed; made off with the girdle ofthe Amazon queen Hippolyte; killed Geryon; captured Cerberus; and finally took the goldenapples of Hesperides. When his second wife, Deianira, daughter of King Oeneus, was seized by the centaur Nessus,Hercules killed Nessus with arrows dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra. As he died,Nessus told Deianira that blood from his wound would restore Hercules love for her if ever itwere to wane. Later, when Deianira sought to win back her husbands love, she contrived to havehim don a robe smeared with the blood. The robe stuck fast to Hercules skin, burning himunbearably. In agony, he built a huge pyre atop Mt. Oite and had it set afire. His mortal partsburned away, but the rest rose to heaven, where he was finally reconciled with Hera and marriedHebe. Although worshiped as a god, Hercules was properly a hero, frequently appealed to for protectionfrom various evils. In art Hercules was portrayed as a powerful, muscular man wearing a lionsskin and armed with a huge club. Perhaps the most famous statue of him is the FarneseHercules in the National Museum in Naples. He is the hero of plays by Sophocles, Euripides, andSeneca. 11. Pandora Once up a time, a long time ago, Zeus ordered Hephaestus (Aphrodites husband) to make him a daughter. Itwas the first woman made out of clay. Hephaestus made a beautiful woman and named her Pandora. Zeus sent his new daughter, Pandora, down to earth so that she could marry Epimetheus, who was a gentlebut lonely man. Zeus was not being kind. He was getting even. Epimetheus and Prometheus were brothers. Zeus was mad atone of the brothers, Prometheus, for giving people fire without asking Zeus first. Zeus gave Pandora a little box with a big heavy lock on it. He made her promise never to open the box. Hegave the key to Pandoras husband and told him to never open the box. Zeus was sure that Epimetheuscuriosity would get the better of him, and that either Epimetheus or his brother would open the box. Pandora was very curious. She wanted to see what was inside the box, but Epimetheus said no. Better not."You know your father," Epimetheus sighed, referring to Zeus. "Hes a tricky one." One day, when Epimetheus lay sleeping, Pandora stole the key and opened the box. Out flew every kind of disease and sickness, hate and envy, and all the bad things that people had neverexperienced before. Pandora slammed the lid closed, but it was too late. All the bad things were already out ofthe box. They flew away, out into the world. Epimetheus woke up at the sound of her sobbing. I opened the box and all these ugly things flew out, shecried. I tried to catch them, but they all got out. Pandora opened the box to show him how empty it was. Butthe box was not quite empty. One tiny bug flew quickly out before Pandora could slam the lid shut again. Hello, Pandora, said the bug, hovering just out of reach. My name is Hope. With a nod of thanks for beingset free, Hope flew out into the world, a world that now held Envy, Crime, Hate, and Disease and Hope. 12. Theseus Theseus was known for histriumph over numerousmonsters, especially theMinotaur, which lived in alabyrinth on the island ofCrete. Every year the peopleof Athens had been forced tosend fourteen young peoplefor the Minotaur to eat alive.But Theseus, using a ball ofmagic thread from theprincess Ariadne, found hisway in and out of the labyrinthand killed the beast. Theseuswas the son of either Aegeus,king of Athens, or the sea godPoseidon. In later life hebecame king of Athens and afamous warrior. 13. Theseus Theseus (thsys, ss) [key], in Greek mythology, hero of Athens; son ofeither King Aegeus or Poseidon. Before Aegeus left Troezen he placed hissword and sandals beneath a huge rock and told his wife Aethra that when theirson, Theseus, could lift the rock he was to bring the gifts to his kingdom inAthens. At the age of 16 Theseus lifted the rock and began his journey, duringwhich he freed the countryside of various monsters and villains (e.g.,Procrustes). When Theseus arrived at Athens, Medea, then wife of Aegeus,tried to kill him. Aegeus, however, recognized the sword and sandals, savedTheseus, and exiled Medea. Theseus subsequently had numerous adventures.His most famous exploit was against the Minotaur of King Minos of Crete.Theseus insisted on being one of the seven youths and seven maidens ofAthens to be sacrificed to the monster as an annual tribute. He promised hisfather that if he were successful in killing the Minotaur he would on his returnvoyage replace his ships black sails with white ones. Ariadne, daughter of KingMinos, fell in love with Theseus and gave him a magic ball of thread to bedropped at the entrance of the labyrinth; it led Theseus to the Minotaur, whichhe killed, and he then followed the unwound thread back to the entrance. Heleft Crete with Ariadne but abandoned her at Naxos. When Theseus reachedhome he forgot to raise white sails. Aegeus saw black sails, and, thinking hisson dead, the grief-stricken father threw himself into the sea, thereafter calledthe Aegean. As king of Athens, Theseus instituted several reforms, mostnotably the federalization of the scattered Attic communities. 14. Pegasus Pegasus, the flying horse, wasthe son of Poseidon, king of theocean, and Medusa, a horriblemonster with snakes for hai...