Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who were the twelve Olympian gods?

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The Greeks had many gods, each for a different emotion, sport or nature of the earth that they could not explain how it happens or where it came from. There were twelve main gods who live on top of a mountain called ‘mount Olympus’. The god of metal work, Hephaestus, built their palace on top of this mountain. Mount Olympus is in the northeast of Greece and rises to ,17 meters. From their place in the sky the gods were able to look down on the entire earth and give advice to anyone who asked for it. These twelve gods were Zeus, Hera, Posiedon, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hermes, Athena, Hephaestus and Hestia.


Zeus, (Jupiter), and his brothers Hades and Posiedon overthrew their father and then drew lots from a helmet. Each was given a kingdom to rule Zeus the sky, Posiedon the sea and Hades the underworld, leaving the earth a free place. Zeus became god of the sky and heavens. He married his sister Hera but still had many other sexual liaisons with mortals and goddesses. Hera jealous of these plotted against his lovers. Zeus ruled the sky, storm, lightning and thunder, however he still had many other spheres of influence. He was the only god who was able to control and wield the lightning and using this power he controlled his quarrelsome and rebellious family of mount Olympus and ordered the heavenly bodies, made laws, enforced oaths and pronounced oracles.


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Hera, (Juno), was queen of the gods and Zeus’ sister and wife. She is also Goddess of marriage and all phases of life of women. She is also one of the many moon goddess. Hera is Zeus’ sister as well as his wife and they have had many children together, Ares, Eileithya and Hebe. Hera was also well a where of Zeus’ many sexual liaisons with goddesses and mortals. Hera was very jealous of these women and being a mean tempered goddess sort out revenge on these women. Hera is the supreme goddess and is said to be one of the most beautiful goddesses.


Poseidon, (Neptune), is Zeus’ brother and god of the sea, of horses and of earthquakes. He helped Zeus and Hades overthrow Cronus and drew the lot of god of the sea. Almost at once he went about building his underwater palace and looked for a wife. He tried to take over Attica by forcing his trident into the acropolis at Athens, where a well of seawater immediately gushed out and is still to be seen. However later Athena came and took possession in a gentle manner planted the first olive tree by the well. In a fit of rage Poseidon challenged her to single combat, but Zeus Interposed and ordered them to submit the dispute to a vote. Zeus showed no opinion, but all the other gods supported Poseidon and all goddesses supported Athena. So, by a majority of one, the gods decided that Athene had given the better gift to the land so she had a better right to the land.


Demeter, (Ceres), was goddess of the harvest, agriculture, fertility and marriage. Her brother was Zeus and he also fathered her daughter Persephone. Hades, who then took her to the underworld, abducted Persephone. Demeter’s search for Persephone was the basis of the mysteries of Eleusis. Once Demeter had found Persephone Hades agreed to let her go, but before she went he fed Persephone some pomegranate seeds which forced her to go back to the underworld for four months of the year. In her delight at having her daughter back, Demeter caused the earth to produce beautiful spring flowers and the earth to be warm, when Persephone had to leave to go to the underworld Demeter’s despair caused the harsh conditions of autumn and winter.


Artemis, (Diana), was the goddess of hunting, childbirth, the moon and wild animals. She was twin to her brother Apollo and was special protector of young women. Artemis was a virgin and often punished mortals who angered her using a bow and arrow that her brother also had.


Apollo, (Apollo), was the god of Sun and Light, but he was also particularly associated with the forces of civilization, notably music, poetry and medicine. He was also the twin brother of Artemis; Apollo was a protector of young men and his twin the protector of young women.


Ares, (Mars), was the god of war and only son of Zeus and Hera. He was widely disliked by the other gods but he still became Aphrodite’s lover. Ares represented the brute side of war, where as Athena represented the strategy of war.


Aphrodite, (Venus), was the goddess of sexual love, beauty and fertility. She was born from the foam after Cronos cast his father’s genitals into the sea near Paphos in Cyprus. She had power over everyone, except Hestia, Athena and Artemis. Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, but she still had many other lovers, notably Ares.


Hermes, (Mercury), was the god of Motion, Sleep and Dreams, Travellers, Thieves and cunning. He was messenger and herald to the other gods and was a son of Zeus by Maia, daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes was not an original god, but cunningly made himself a god and herald and messenger to the gods.


Athena, (Minerva), was the goddess of war, wisdom and arts and crafts. She was often represented as a woman of severe beauty, in armour. She was a goddess of war, but her approach was more strategic compared to the brutal force of Ares.


Hephaestus, (Vulcan), was the god of fire and metalworking. He was represented as a lame blacksmith who rules over volcanoes. He was the son of Hera and Zeus, though some sources say he was born of Hera without a mate. He was also the only ugly god.


Hestia, (Vesta), was the goddess of the Hearth, Home and was a sworn virgin. In each household a hearth was consecrated to her and in every city a sacred fire was kept burning for her. However, she was more important to the Romans than to the Greeks.


From this study I have learnt that the Greek gods each have their own Roman counterparts. Each having their own roman name as well as the Greek, also many sayings have come from the names of the Gods, for example, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ represents the two lovers Ares and Aphrodite. Each god has their own stories representing certain things in life, like Zeus’ thunderbolts to explain the storms that come, as it seems, from nowhere to the Greeks of the ancient world. Also all of the moon gods are women and all men are sun gods. This could be because in ancient Greece women were more attractive if the were as pale as they could get, this could be the reason why the women are all goddess of the moon, so that they only see the night and would not tan their skin in the sun. I also believe that when the Greek religion first came about that it was to answer for the absence of science, but gradually the Greeks discovered reason for things they did not know before. The reason that they were able to make these discoveries was because they did not have to follow their gods and religion compulsively, their gods were said to give them advice that they could choose to accept or not. They were also free to question their religion and the universe, which allowed them to excel in science and many other areas before other civilizations. I have also noticed that all the gods were seen as being very beautiful, for the exception of hepatitis. This is to show that if you are very beautiful you may have more power than the average man or woman, this can be put to modern day life. Today many of the most powerful people in Hollywood are either extremely beautiful or immensely rich. The gods also have Hephaestus who is the only ugly god who is also lame, this could be to show that no matter how strong a body is it will always have a weakness or no body is perfect, no even the almighty court of Olympus. This shows that the Greek religion was more realistic than many other religions.

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