Greek Mythology In the beginning . . . CHAOS In the beginning, there was only Chaos, who was not quite a god but a shapeless and confused mass of elements. This was all there was for who knows how long. And from Chaos, eventually, Nyx and Erebus was born. Nyx was Night, and Erebus the"unfathomable depth were death dwells." Then, there came a separate force known as Gaea, or Mother Earth, who came from somewhere that is mysterious and unexplained. She was the first of all the gods. In ancient times, she was honored as a prophetess and presided over oaths and marriages. The Greeks believed that because the Earth and Heavens moved and changed the way people did, they must be alive. Indeed they were. Her husband, Uranus, or Father Sky, was also her son. He was born as Gaea slept, and was equal to her in all Together, she and Uranus had their first two sets of children, who were the Hundred-handed Ones and the Cyclopes. They then produced the Titans, who reigned supreme in the universe for untold ages. Uranus was very cruel to his children, and he kept the Hundredhanded Ones locked deep inside the earth. Gaea was very upset over this and plotted with Cronus, her Titan son, to overthrow her husband. She gave him a scythe which he used to castrate his father, and threw his genitals from the heavens. From the drops of blood that fell, the Giants and the Erinnyes were born. And when his genitals reached the ocean, it created a foam, and from this foam Aphrodite was born. Rhea and Cronus had six children: Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hestia, and Zeus. Because it was prophesized that one of his children would dethrone him, as he had done his own father, Cronus swallowed each of his children immediately after they were born. With the sixth child, Rhea tricked him and wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed. Zeus eventually returned to save his brothers and sisters. The twelve great Olympians were supreme among the gods who succeeded to the Titans. They lived on Mt. Olympus where they feasted on ambrosia and nectar. It was a place of perfect blessedness. Mt. Olympus Home of the Olympians Zeus became the supreme ruler. He was Lord of the Sky, the Raingod and the Cloud-gatherer, who wielded the much feared thunderbolt. His power was greater than that of all the other divinities together.-Hamilton, Mythology Zeus - pronounced zoos Stats & Facts Zeus is the God of gods and men, the greatest and most powerful of all Olympians. Other names for Zeus are the Lord of the Sky, the Rain God, and the Cloud Gatherer. Zeus' bird is the eagle, and his tree, the oak. Zeus' Roman name is Jupiter. Master of Disguise There are a number of stories in which Zeus changes his form to get something...usually a lover. In the form of a swan, he seduced Nemesis who bore the egg that was placed in the care of Leda. Danae was locked in an underground room with only a barred window to let in fresh air and light. Zeus became a shower of gold that fell into the little room and impregnated Danae. To get in bed with Alcmene, Heracles' mother, Zeus took the form of her husand, Amphitryon, and lay with her for three dayless nights. Hera - Juno Hera - pronounced hair-uh Stats & Facts • Hera is the protector of marriage and the goddess married women turned to for help. • Hera was often said to be the most beautiful of all the Olympians. • Argos was Hera's favorite city. • Animals sacred to Hera are the cow and the peacock. • Hera's Roman name is Juno. Insanely Jealous Wife Most of the stories about Hera are about her jealousy of Zeus’s many affairs and illegitimate children. Her time seemed to be spent tormenting her husband's lovers and sometimes the children as well. Heracles, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, was the one who annoyed her the most, and she tormented him his entire mortal life. She was tricked into nursing him as an infant. When she discovered that he was Zeus' illigetimate son, she pulled him away, and the milk still flowing from her breast created the Milky Way. The Greek people did not think less of Zeus. On the contrary,they thought he was amusing. People did not hold their gods up as perfect beings. POSEIDON / NEPTUNE - RULER OF THE SEA Poseidon / Neptune “He was ruler of the sea, Zeus’s brother and second only to him in eminence.” (Hamilton 27) He gave the first horse to man. He was commonly called the Earth-Shaker and was always shown carrying his trident, a three-pronged spear, with which he would shake and shatter whatever he pleased. (Hamilton 28) Demeter - Ceres Born by the Titans Demeter was the sister of Zeus and the other children of Cronus and Rhea. Demeter: Her name means "barleymother" or "mother earth" and goddess of fertility. She is also known as Ceres (Roman) and sometimes Deo. Demeter is often seen holding a stalk of grain or corn, sometimes a torch, crown, or scepter. Sacred to her are livestock and agricultural products (with the emphasis on corn), poppy, narcissus and the crane. Hades - Pluto Hades - Pluto Following the defeat of the Titans by the Jovian gods, Pluto obtained the kingdom of the underworld. Dead souls were escorted to the shores of the River Styx by Mercury, where they were received by the boatman Charon, who rowed them across the River Styx to Pluto's kingdom. Drawing by Rei Inamoto. The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Persephone and the Seasons When Persephone was out tending her flowers one day, Hades was struck by one of Aphrodite's arrows and fell in love with her. He went to Zeus and requested permission to marry her. Zeus gave permission and Hades waited for the right moment to get his bride. He chose a day when she was out gathering flowers again. When she reached over to pick a beautiful purple blossom, the ground split open and out came Hades, kidnapping her and taking her to the Underworld with him. Hades would not let her return to the world of the living. Soon, Demeter found out what happened to her beloved daughter and went straight to Mt. Olympus, and plead Zeus to get her daughter out of the Underworld. Zeus refused, for he had already been bribed by Hades, and Demeter left Mt. Olympus threatening that Zeus would be sorry. Demeter promptly put a horrible drought over all the crops in the world and there was no food for mankind to eat. Seeing the famine and hardship below, Zeus reconsidered and said that Persephone could come back as long as she had not eaten any food in the Underworld. As it turns out, Persephone ate six seeds, so from then on, Persephone had to spend six months out of the year with Hades in the Underworld. Demeter was upset that Persephone couldn't stay with her all year round, so she made all of the plants stop growing for the six months that Persephone is gone. These six months are now called the season of winter. The Abduction of Persephone Hades and Persephone Hades and Persephone Return of Persephone www.geocities.com Artemis - Diana Artemis - Diana pronounced are-tuh-miss Stats & Facts Artemis is the goddess of all wild things, the protectress of youth, and the patroness of hunters, childbirth, fisherman, and unmarried girls. All wild animals, especially deer are sacred to Artemis. Artemis' tree is the cypress. Artemis' Roman name is Diana. Birth Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and is the twin sister of Apollo. They were born on the island of Delos, and in some myths, the nine-day-old Artemis is said to have assisted in the delivery of her brother. Both of them were very protective of their mother. Thrill of the Hunt Artemis carried with her a quiver of silver arrows. Women who died during childbirth or quick and painless deaths were said to have been shot by one of her arrows. Because of her love of hunting, she became friends with Orion. Apollo was jealous of this friendship and tricked his sister into killing Orion. She later set his image among the stars, known as Orion’s Belt. Lovers & Children Artemis never took a lover, therefore, she never had any children. She is one of the three virgin goddesses and she required perfect chastity of her companions, who were mostly nymphs. In one myth, she turned her companion, Callisto, into a bear as punishment for being seduced by Zeus. In another myth, she and her companions are bathing when they are spied by Actaeon who is out hunting. Artemis, who detested the love or attention of any man, turned him into a stag. His own hunting dogs chased him down and tore him to pieces. Athena - Minerva Stats & Facts Athena is the Goddess of War and Wisdom. Gray-eyed is the word most often used to describe Athena. Athena's tree, which she created, is the olive tree. Athena's bird is the owl. Athena's Roman name is Minerva. Birth Athena is the daughter of Zeus and Metis. After hearing a prophesy that any son born to their union would dethrone him, Zeus swallowed Metis. Shortly after, he had a headache so Hermes went to get Hephaestus, who returned and breached Zeus’s skull. Athena sprang from his head in full armor and was born. She was the only one Zeus trusted enough to carry his thunderbolt. Minerva was the goddess of arts and crafts. She was particularly good at weaving. Once a woman named Arachne wove a beautiful picture. Minerva tried to find something wrong with it. When she couldn't, she tore it up and turned Arachne into a spider. The spider still weaves beautiful webs. Ares - Mars Ares (Mars) Ares, the God of War, was the son of Zeus and Hera. He was detested by both of them. His sister was Eris, which means Discord, and her son was Strife. Ares (Mars) Walking beside Ares on the battlefield was a band of companions. They included The Goddess of War, Enyo, and Terror, Trembling, and Panic. He was said to have come from Thrace, where the rudest and most fierce people of Greece were found. His bird was the vulture, and the dog, his animal. The Romans wrote of him as being magnificent and invincible in his splendid armor. They wrote how men rejoiced to die on the battlefield of Ares. The Greeks were not as favorable towards Mars. They thought him to be ruthless, murderous and hateful. They called him a coward who ran away with the slightest wound. Men were more often to rejoice after escaping the fury of Ares. Hephaestus - Vulcan Hephaestus is the son of Hera alone, but it is said that he could have been fathered by Zeus. When Hera saw that Hephaestus was born deformed, she was disgusted and threw him from the heavens. He landed in the sea and was rescued by Thetis and Eurynome, who raised him. He became a master craftsman. One day, Hera was admiring a brooch that Thetis was wearing, and learned that Hephaestus had made it. She brought him back up to Olympus and gave him the finest equipment and materials. Apollo Apollo pronounced uh-paul-low Stats & Facts Apollo was considered "the most Greek of all the Gods." He was also known as the Archergod, the Healer, the God of Light, and the God of Truth. The dolphin and crow were just two of many animals sacred to Apollo. His tree is the laurel tree. Apollo's Roman name is the same. Apollo is the sun god and also the god of music and songs which are heard during times when light triumphs over darkness. He is associated with youth and strength. Apollo is also known as Helios or Hyperion. www.entrenet.com Apollo is portrayed throwing a discus in this stamp issued in March 1906 celebrating the tenth anniversary of the modern Olympic Games. Apollo is best known for his interest in music, and received a lyre from Hermes as compensation for cows Hermes had stolen from him. Hermes also gave him a musical pipe in exchange for a golden staff. Apollo was also a healer. He taught people about medicine and often cured the afflicted. Those who lived in cities that he didn't like weren't as lucky. He was known to bring plagues upon entire communities. Apollo was also the God of Truth and Prophecy. False words never passed through his lips. His oracle at Delphi was the place people went to find out true answers to their questions. Apollo spoke through a priestess at the temple, who would sit in a threelegged chair over a vapor rising from the Earth. She would go into a trance and utter things which were translated by priests. Hermes - Mercury keryxsoft.hpl.hp.com/images/herm es.jpg www.arts.ubc.ca/cnrs/ conf/conf.htm www.panhealth.com/hermes.jpg Hermes was the messenger of Zeus, and wore a winged cap and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two serpents, called the caduceus. www.capitalmag.com/ capitalmedia.cfm?category=31 www.artrenewal.org/.../p/Parrish_Maxfield/ large/Hermes.jpg "Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia. He presided over commerce, wrestling, and other gymnastic exercises, even over thieving, and everything that required skill and dexterity. sutherland-studios.com.au/ harps/lyres.html www.harpofdavid.com / Hermes is said to have invented the lyre. He found a tortoise shell one day. He made holes in the opposite edges of it, and drew cords of linen through them, and the instrument was complete. There were nine cords, in honor of the nine Muses. Hermes gave the lyre to Apollo, and received from him in exchange the caduceus." from Bulfinch's Mythology http://www.loggia.com/myth/hermes.html Dionysus - Bacchus Dionysus is the God of the Vine. He was the Greek god of wine and intoxication. Dionysus' name means "twice born" or "child of the double door." Many ancient city-states outlawed the wild, orgiastic rites of Dionysus.