Saturday, February 20, 2010


Oh gosh, I'm turning into a nerd?

Zeus - Ruler of Olympus
The youngest son of the Titans Kronos and Rheia. He was hidden by his mother when Kronos learned of the prophecy that one of his sons would supplant him as rulers of the world. When fully grown, Zeus forced his father to regurgitate his other children that he had swallowed, and then Zeus led a revolt against the Titans, who were banished to Tartarus. Below even the Underworld. Zeus and his two brothers drew lots to decide each god's part of the world. Zeus drew the heavens and supreme rule over all the gods and humankind. Zeus was always considered a weather god, with lightning, thunder, rain and thunderstorms attributed to him. Later he became associated with justice and the law. He could shape- shift, taking the shape of any object or living thing, and he used this ability in his seduction. Although he took his sister Hera as his wife, he seduced many other goddesses and mortal women, siring many children who became prominent in Greek mythology. There were many statues created in Zeus?honor, the most magnificent being the colossal statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Olympic games were held originally in his honor.

Poseidon - God of the Sea
The third son of Kronos and the brother of Zeus and Hades, he drew the seas as his domain to rule. He was known also as the god of earthquake and the god of horses. The symbols most often associated with Poseidon were the trident and dolphin. Sailors relied upon him for favorable winds and safe voyages, but he was moody. Despite sacrifices including drowned horses, he could cause storms, bad winds and earthquakes at a whim. Like Zeus, he projected his power and masculinity on women, fathering many children. In a famous contest between himself and Athena to decide which of the two would be the patron god of Athens, he threw a spear into the ground to create the Spring of the Acropolis. Athena surpassed him, however, by creating the olive tree. He often used water and earthquakes to exact revenge, but could be cooperative as well. He greatly aided the Greeks in the Trojan War, but took years of revenge on Odysseus, who had harmed one of Poseidon's Cyclops offspring.

Hades - Lord of the Underworld
The brother of Zeus, Hades drew the Underworld as his to rule when the Titans were overthrown and banished to Tartarus. He shared rule of the Underworld with Persephone, whom he had abducted from above. Although required to release her, she was tricked and forced to remain with him. Hades sat on an ebony throne and wore a helmet that made him invisible. There he ruled the dead and accepted those newly arrived from above. Hermes brought the souls of the dead to the River Styx where Charon, the ferryman, carried them across. The three-headed watchdog, Cerberus, prevented any escape. Most souls remained on the empty Plain of Asphodel. A lucky few of extraordinary merit went on to the blessed islands of Elysium. The unlucky were sentenced to unending torment further down in Tartarus. In rare instances, Hades allowed living mortals such as Odysseus, to enter the Underworld and then leave again. Even more rarely did Hades free the dead to return to the living. He was the richest of the gods possessing all the mineral wealth in the Earth.

Hera - Goddess of Home
The Goddess of Marriage and Birth and Queen of Olympus, she was both the wife and sister of Zeus. She is usually seen with a scepter, a diadem and a peacock. Hera was very vain. She bore Zeus many children including Ares, but also was tested by his incessant infidelity. She punished her rivals and their offspring, and even Zeus feared her wrath at times. She represented the ideal of married womanhood being beautiful, stately and very clever.

Athena - Goddess of Wisdom & Warfare
The goddess of wisdom, crafts, justice and war, she is often associated with a shield for war, the owl for wisdom, or the olive tree. When Athena and Poseidon vied to be the patron of a prominent city, they held a contest to see who could give the city the finest gift. Poseidon provided a well, but it produced salty water. Athena gave the olive tree that provided food, oil and wood. The city took the name Athens. Athena had a prominent role in Homer's epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, serving as Odysseus?patron throughout his long voyage. In addition to sponsoring warriors and heroes, she introduced many skills necessary for civilization. In an unusual but not unique birth, she sprang from Zeus?head fully grown and ready for battle. Legends say that Zeus had prevented a normal birth of a son with Athena's abilities, which he feared would unseat him. Although she was a protector of human heroes, she maintained a distance from male gods whom she perhaps found unworthy of her. Athena's companion was Nike, the goddess of victory.

Aphrodite - Goddess of Love & Beauty
The Goddess of Love and Beauty, her name derives from the word for sea foam. In one story, she was born when Kronos the Titan was castrated and his genitals were thrown into the ocean. The sea began to roil and from the foam, Aphrodite took shape. In contrast, Homer says she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Regardless of her ancestry, she was beautiful beyond words.Seeking Olympian tranquility, Zeus gave Aphrodite in marriage to hard-working and reliableHephaestus. With his metal working skills, he fashioned for her wonderful jewels, including a golden magical girdle. The combination of her personal charms and her jewels made her irresistible. She took advantage of her gifts, loving glamour and flirting and was not particularly happy with a dirty, boring husband. She took many lovers, including Adonis and bore several children, including Eros. The festival of Aphrodisiac was celebrated especially in Athens and Corinth. Coupling with her priestesses was a form of Aphrodite worship.

Ares - God of Battle & Slaughter
The Greek god of war, he is usually seen with a spear, the preferred weapon of Greek Hoplites. He was tall and handsome, but vain and cruel. He was preoccupied with war and battles, quick to rush into a fight, reveled in bloodshed, and heedless of who won or lost. He was worshipped most strongly in regions like Thrace, where the people were particularly fierce. There was one exception to his obsession with war: he was smitten by Aphrodite and had a long running affair with her. Homer recounts in the Odyssey a tale of the sun god, Helios spotting the pair enjoying each other's charms and reporting their tryst to Hephaestus, Aphrodite's husband. The great smith fashioned a special net in which he caught the pair locked in their passionate embrace. He offered to exhibit the netted pair to the gods of Olympus, but the women demurred. Homer says that many of the male gods offered to switch places with Ares

Apollo - God of the Sun & Music
The god of music, archery, medicine, colonization, herbs and divination, he represents many of the better qualities of humankind, including order, intelligence, rationalization and an appreciation for the finer things. He could cause or cure the plague. He established the Oracle at Delphi and perhaps the city of Troy. He is often perceived as the perfect male. Apollo and his twin sister Artemis were fathered by Zeus and born of the Titan Leto, necessarily incurring the wrath of Zeus?wife Hera, who did all she could to prevent the twins from being born. Apollo was also well known for his love affairs with beautiful mortals of both sexes, including among them Calliope, Coronis and Daphne. Apollo's Oracle at Delphi was well known throughout the Mediterranean. Apollo is closely associated with the sun, or at least with Helios, the Greek sun god.

Artemis - Goddess of the Hunt & Nature
The goddess of the hunt and the protector of children, she is often seen with her bow and with wild animals, or wandering in the woods accompanied by nymphs. She and her twin brother, Apollo, were children of Zeus and the Titan Leto. Artemis was said to be aloof and free spirited, free of husband and home and forever a virgin. She exacts complete and deadly retribution for those who transgressed against the gods or herself. She turned the hunter Acteon into a stag that was torn apart by his own hunting dogs, all for accidentally seeing her bathing. She was also believe to be responsible for the deaths of women in childbirth.

Hermes - God of Messengers
The Messenger of the Gods, Hermes wore a winged cap and winged shoes. He presided over shepherds, trade, land travel, literature, athletics, oratory and even thieving -- any activity requiring agility. He is the epitome of peace as he prefers to work out problems with talks rather than war. He was known for his cunning and shrewdness and as the inventor of the lyre, the flute and the pan-pipes. He is credited with the invention of foot racing, wrestling and boxing. He guided the souls of the dead to the Underworld. In early accounts, he's a patron of fertility or luck. Later he was associated with roads. Road markers, called herms, bore a representation of Hermes. Similar markers outside home warded off evil. He used his ingenuity to save heroes on several occasions, including Odysseus twice.

Dionysus - God of Wine & Celebration
The god of wine, the theater, agriculture, the fertility of nature and mysteries, he is usually seen with grape vines, ivy or a panther. Unlike most Greek gods, who are normally portrayed as bright creatures of the light, Dionysus is mysterious and shadowy. His followers revel in mad behavior, drunkenness and death. Because of his differences, Dionysus may have been a melding of Greek and Asian attributes.
He was the patron of the Maenads, wild women who worshipped him and roamed the mountains shouting and hunting wild animals. He was also the patron of mystery cults, of which we know very little today. The greatest mystery associated with Dionysus is that at one point he was believed slain, but then reborn, a very unusual circumstance for an immortal god.

Hephaestus - God of the Forge & Labor
The god of fire, volcanoes, blacksmiths and metal working, he had a strong following in the cities where his skills were important to commerce in war. He is usually seen with an axe. In one account, he sided with his mother, Hera against Zeus who threw him so far that he fell all day and limped thereafter. Hephaestus was associated with Mt. Etna on the island of Sicily. In his workshop, he fashioned many wondrous things for the gods, including thunderbolts for Zeus, Athena's shield, arrows for Eros and the chariot with which Helios the sun god rode across sky. He also helped create the first human woman from clay, named Pandora, who released the evils of the world on humankind from her magic box which is now known as Pandora's Box.


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