GREEK GODS AND GODDESSES Greek Religion The Greeks believed that in the beginning of the earth there was a huge void called Chaos. From this void, eventually, came the Titans led by Chronos. Zeus, the son of Chronos, was the leader of the next race of gods – the Olympians. These were the gods and goddesses worshiped by the ancient Greeks. The home of the gods was Mount Olympus, a real mountain in Greece. The Olympian gods were human in form. They were not the half beast, half human gods of the Egyptians. They acted like humans, but did not age and die. They were greater, more powerful and more beautiful than mortal man. Every city-state honored a god or goddess, who was thought to give its people special protection. The Greeks prayed to these Olympians for divine help and favors. They offered libations of milk, wine, cake, vegetables or fruit. They also offered sacrifices of bulls, goats, rams or pigs. The Greeks believed that each god or goddess had power over a particular area of life. To honor them, they held religious festivals in every part of Greece. Athens’ great festival, the Panathenaea, is such an example. There were also shrines and statues to the gods in every part of Greece. The magnificent Parthenon of Athens honored the goddess Athena. The Greeks placed a colossal (huge) statue of her inside the Parthenon. Another famous temple was the Temple of Apollo in the city of Delphi. People would visit the temple to ask Apollo for advice. A priestess, called the oracle of Delphi, would answer their questions by going into a trance. The words spoken by the priestess were thought to come from Apollo. But the Greeks religion lacked scriptures or beliefs. Since they had not strict theology, they were able to question literally everything in the pursuit of truth. And question they did! THE TWELVE OLYMPIAN GODS Zeus Athena Hera Apollo Poseidon Artemis Hestia Hephaestus Hades Aphrodite Ares Hermes ZEUS Zeus was the supreme ruler over all gods. He was the cloud-gatherer, lord of the sky and the rain god. He also wielded the terrible thunderbolt. HERA Hera was Zeus’s wife and sister. She was the goddess of marriage, married women and the home. POSEIDON Poseidon was Zeus’s brother and the god of the sea. He was also god of earthquakes and horses. HADES Hades was brother to Zeus and Poseidon. He was god of the underworld and the dead. (The Greeks, unlike the Egyptians, had a negative concept of the afterlife. Therefore, Hades was not widely worshiped.) ATHENA Athena was the daughter of Zeus alone. She had no mother. She is the goddess of wisdom and war. Later she is seen as the goddess of reason and purity. APOLLO Apollo was the son of Zeus. He was the healer, the archer god, sun god, god of light and master musician. ARTEMIS Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister and daughter of Zeus. She was the lady of wild things, the goddess of the moon and the hunt. APHRODITE Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. She was “foam-born,” meaning born from the sea. In most tales she is the wife of Hephaestus . HERMES Hermes was the son of Zeus and messenger of the gods and god of travel. He was also the god of commerce and god of thieves and mischief-makers. ARES Ares was the god of war and son of Zeus and Hera. He was a strong warrior and always carried weapons. He was often illustrated as a cruel and bloodthirsty god. HEPHAESTUS Hephaestus was the god of fire and artisans. He made weapons and armor for other gods. He was also the protector of blacksmiths. HESTIA Hestia was the sister of Zeus. She was goddess of the hearth (the family fire).