The Olympians:
God and Goddesses
of Ancient Greece
Greeks and their gods
Heaven and Earth were the parents of the first gods, the Titans.
The Titans possessed enormous strength and were also
physically enormous. Cronus ruled the Titans, until his son Zeus
dethroned him.**
Zeus became the leader of the Olympian gods, who resided at
Mount Olympus. Mt. Olympus was a place not quite on earth, but
not exactly heaven. It was untouched by weather, and its
protected by the Seasons.
However, unlike many belief systems, the Greek gods have
many faults: they are prone to fits of jealousy, vanity and temper
Zeus – The Sky:
Roman name: Jupiter
Symbols: Thunderbolt, eagle,
and oak tree.
Family: Zeus is married to
Hera, his sister. Zeus rules
the Sky, clouds, thunderbolts
and has more power than all
other gods combined. Zeus
has numerous famous
children including many of
the Olympians, but he is also
the father of Perseus and
The Notorious : He is
infamous for his many love
affairs and bad temper.
Hera – Marriage:
Roman Name: Juno
Symbols: Cow and Peacock
Family: Hera is married to Zeus. Her
children are Ares, Hebe and
Hephaestus and a daughter, Ilithyia.
Woman Scorned: Hera is the
protector of marriage, particularly
married women. Hera was used to an
unfaithful husband and her jealousy
was well known throughout Greece.
She would torment Zeus’s other
women, many of whom were
unaware they had wronged Hera
Aphrodite - Love and
Roman name: Venus
Symbols: dove and swan
Family: Aphrodite is said to have been
born from the foam of the sea. Cupid is
her son.
Legend has it: That Aphrodite’s beauty
awe-struck all men, no matter how wise.
Although often depicted in art for her
beauty and charm, she was also known to
be manipulative. She was married to
Hephaestus, but it was rumored to have
had an affair with her husband’s brother,
Ares - War
Roman Name: Mars
Symbols: The vulture and dog
Family: He is definitely the son of
Hera, and Zeus is his father; Zeus
and Hera did not like Ares. Ares
has a tendency to be very easily
angered and immature. Often he
is the laughingstock of the gods,
especially when he and Aphrodite
were caught together.
On a planet of his own: Ares does
not have the glorious tales of the
other Gods and Goddesses. He is
more a symbol of war than
anything else.
Athena - Wisdom
Roman Name: Minerva
Symbols: The olive tree and owl
Family: Some say she was born of Zeus
alone, others that her mother was Metis,
the wife Zeus had to swallow. Either
way, she was born fully grown and in
armor from her father’s head. Athena
never married and had no children.
Where in Greece? Athens was named
after Athena. She was in competition
with Poseidon, her uncle, for claim of
the city. Each presented the people with
a gift and Athena gave the beautiful,
practical gift of the olive tree. Needless
to say, she won and Athens is hers.
Dionysus: the Vine
and Revelry
Roman Name: Bacchus
Symbol: the grape vine, wine
Family: The son of Zeus and the
mortal princess Semele Dionysus is
the youngest of the Gods. Hera
discovered this affair of Zeus’s and
tricked the sweet princess into her
own death. Zeus was able to rescue
his son and sewed him into his thigh
until he was ready to be born.
Party Time: Dionysus liked to party,
especially in the woodlands with
forest nymphs and satyrs.
Artemis - the Hunt
and the Moon
Roman name: Diane
Symbols: Cypress tree and deer.
Family: The twin sister of Apollo.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and
Leto – a goddess.
Arrow’d? If you died a quick and
painless death it was probably a silver
arrow shot by this Goddess. Artemis
was known for hiding in the
woodlands with nymphs, remaining
chaste and shooting hunters if they
happened to spot her.
Apollo –Truth, The Sun,
and the Arts
Roman Name: Apollo
Symbols: Laurel and lyre
Family: Apollo is Artemis’s twin
brother and son of Zeus and Leto.
The Greekiest Greek of them all:
Apollo is a prominent figure in the
arts including poetry and music. He
has a golden lyre which he plays to
entertain the gods. Apollo also
never told a lie and is the master of
the 9 Muses.
Hermes: Messenger
of the Gods
Roman Name: Mercury
Symbols: Winged sandals and
Caduceus (his wand).
Family: Hermes is the son of Zeus and
Maia, Atlas’s daughter.
It’s Getting’ Hot in Here: One of his
chief duties was to guide people to
the underworld. He was also a
master thief and stole many of
Apollo’s cows when only one day
old! No surprise, he is the god of
cleverness and knowledge.
Poseidon - the Sea
Roman Name: Neptune
Symbols: The trident, bulls, and horses.
Family: Poseidon is second in power to
his brother Zeus. Poseidon has many
kids, most of which are sea monsters.
Something smells fishy: Poseidon had
a beautiful palace beneath the sea.
Poseidon was an important God to
the Greeks because they relied on the
sea for much of their welfare. It was
Poseidon’s choice for the sea to be
calm or enraged with a storm.
Poseidon is also well known for
giving man the horse.
Demeter: Harvest and
Roman Name: Ceres
Symbols: Cornucopia and plants
Family: Demeter is the sister of Zeus
and company. She is also the mother
of Persephone whom she never let out
of her sight.
Lost daughter: Demeter was
devastated when her daughter,
Persephone, was kidnapped by Hades.
Each spring, Demeter would greet her
daughter at the entrance from the
underworld and bring an end to
Hephaestus - Fire and Smithing
Roman Name: Vulcan
Symbols: The hammer and forge
Family: He is the son of Hera and Zeus.
He married Aphrodite at Zeus’s
Odd man out: Hephaestus did not have
the outer beauty of the other Gods,
but was noted for his kindness.
Adding to his outer appearance is his
noticeable limp. This limp was caused
by Zeus, who threw him off of
Mount Olympus for siding with Hera
over Zeus in a fight. (Some versions
have Hera throwing him!) Hephaestus
is the patron of smiths, and he makes
enchanted armor and weapons.
HESTIA – the Hearth
and Home
Roman Name: Vesta
Symbols: The hearth and veils
Family: The first born of Cronus’
The missing goddess: Hestia has
few stories about her. She just “is”.
She is a private goddess who is the
root of the home and the flame that
warms home. She tends the living
sacred fire of Olympus.
HADES – The Underworld
Roman Name: Pluto
Symbols: Invisible helmet and threeheaded dog Cerberus
Family: Sibling of Zeus. He drew the
“shortest straw” when the three
brothers split up their kingdoms,
leaving him with the Underworld.
Lost daughter: Lonely Hades fell in
love with Demeter’s daughter
Persephone. He stole her away to the
underworld to be his wife. He is forced
to give her back to her mother for part
of each year, and it is winter in the
world above when she is with Hades.