The ancients Greeks to be polytheistic — that is, lock worshipped numerous gods. Their significant gods and also goddesses live at the top of mount Olympus, the greatest mountain in Greece, and also myths described their lives and actions. In myths, gods often actively intervened in the day-to-day resides of humans. Myths were provided to assist explain the unknown and sometimes teach a lesson.

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For example, Zeus, the king the the gods, brought his favourite weapon, the thunderbolt. As soon as it rained and there to be thunder and also lightning, the ancient Greeks believed that Zeus was venting his anger.

Many stories about how the Greek god behaved and also interacted with people are found in the functions of Homer. He created two epos poems: the Iliad, which related the occasions of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, which thorough the travel of the hero Odysseus. These two poems were passed under orally over countless generations.


Painting © M. Larrinaga
The Statue that Zeus in ~ Olympia (recreated above) was one of the 7 Wonders that the ancient World. Zeus to be the ruler of the gods, the lord of the skies, and also the dad of many deities and demigods of the Greek pantheon.

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus" son Achilleusand that is devastation, which placed pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,

Aphrodite, the goddess the love, sits through the battle god, Ares in this painting by the Renaissance artist Botticelli. Aphrodite is one of several Greek goddesses, and also is regularly referred come by her roman name, Venus.
hurled in their multitudes come the house of Hades strong soulsof heroes, but gave their bodies to be the fragile feastingof dogs, of every birds, and also the will certainly of Zeus to be accomplishedsince the time when an initial there stood in department of conflictAtreus" child the mr of men and brilliant Achilleus.Homer, the Iliad (1951, translation by Richard Lattimore)


A Soap Opera from Hellas


Courtesy NASA and also Cislunar Aerospace, Inc.
Many Greek myths described the mysteries that nature. The myth of Apollo, for example, defines how the sun moves throughout the skies to increase and set each day.
The Greeks produced gods in the image of humans; the is, their gods had plenty of human features even despite they to be gods. The god constantly fought amongst themselves, behaved irrationally and unfairly, and also were regularly jealous of every other. Zeus, the king that the gods, was hardly ever faithful to his mam Hera. Hera plotted versus Zeus and also punished his mistresses.

The Greek gods were very emotional and also behaved inconsistently and also sometimes immorally. Greek faith did not have actually a standard collection of morals, there were no Judaic Ten Commandments. The gods, heroes, and also humans the Greek mythology were flawed.

In enhancement to Zeus and Hera, over there were numerous other significant and minor gods in the Greek religion. At she birth, Athena, the goddess the wisdom, sprang directly from the head of Zeus. Hermes, who had winged feet, to be the messenger of the gods and could fly almost everywhere with good speed. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to be the most beautiful gift in the universe. She brother, Ares, the god that war, to be sinister, mean, and also disliked. Poseidon, rule the sea from his underwater place and also Apollo talk his chariot throughout the sky, bringing the sun with him.

Hades was in charge the the dead in the underworld. Almost all human being went come Hades ~ they passed away whether castle were great or bad. To gain there, the dead had to overcome the flow Styx. Charon to be the name of the boatman who ferried the souls the the dead throughout the river Styx come Hades.

Typically, the gods punished those that were bad. Because that example, Tantalus who killed his very own son and also served him to the gods because that dinner was sent out to Hades and made forever thirsty and also hungry. Although there to be a swimming pool of clear, fresh drinking water in ~ his feet, at any time Tantalus bent down to drink, the pool would dry up and also disappear.

Likewise, end his head hung the most delicious fruit. However, anytime Tantalus got to for them, a wind would certainly blow them just out the his reach. The English indigenous "tantalize" derives native the surname Tantalus.

Pandora"s Box and Hercules" Labors

Myths helped describe how the world became the method it was. In one myth, Zeus developed an exceptionally beautiful and nearly perfect woman named Pandora. She one defect was that she was very curious and suspicious. Hermes, Zeus"s messenger, gave Pandora a golden box. The warned her never ever to open it because terrible things would take place if she did.

But Pandora could hardly contain her curiosity and also eventually broke down and also opened the unique box. Out from the box flew all the malice that plague humanity: famine, greed, pain, sorrow, etc. Just one thing continued to be in package — expect — i m sorry humans regulated to hold on to. This myth explains the origins of human misfortune. In ~ the same time, that teaches a ethical lesson by warning that the dangers of curiosity.

In addition to myths about gods, the old Greeks likewise told stories around heroes. Among the most well known Greek heroes was Hercules, the world"s the strongest man. Hercules was the illegitimate boy of a mortal woman and Zeus, that tricked the woman by disguising himself together the woman"s husband. Hera, Zeus"s wife, to be angry about Zeus" affair and also sought to punish Hercules. Hera cheat Hercules into believing the his whole family to be dangerous beasts, i m sorry Hercules climate proceeded to kill. Once Hercules realized that he had actually killed his whole family, the agreed to carry out 12 jobs to atone for his damaging actions. For among the tasks, Hercules had actually to slay the nine-headed monster referred to as the Hydra.

For another task, he had to clean the filth native Augean stable, which had not to be attended to in 30 years. To execute this, Hercules diverted the course of a river the washed far the mess. In the end, he completed the so-called 12 Labors of Hercules and made up because that the murder of his family.

God/GoddessImportant Attributes
ZeusKing of the gods, Zeus eliminated his dad Chronos. The is likewise the god the thunder.
HeraThe wife of Zeus, Hera is the goddess the fertility.
PoseidonThe god the the sea.
HadesThe god that the underworld.
HestiaA little-known goddess, she is a sister the Zeus and goddess of the hearth.
ChronosThe leader of the Titans and father of the Olympians, Chronos ate every his youngsters except because that Zeus, who killed him.
DemeterGoddess the the harvest and mother that Persephone.
ApolloGod that the sun, music, and art, among the most versatile gods.
ArtemisGoddess that the hunt, Moon, and also childbirth. The sister the Apollo, she is additionally a really versatile Olympian.
AphroditeThe goddess that love and the mom of Eros, recognized to the Romans together Cupid.
AresThe god that War.
AthenaSprang full-grown indigenous Zeus"s head. She is the Goddess that wisdom. The city of Athens is named for her.
HaephestosThe god of the forge. Thrown native the top of mount Olympus by Zeus, Haephestos is likewise crippled. The husband that Aphrodite.
HermesThe messenger god put on a winged helmet and also winged sandals.
PersephoneThe daughter the Demeter, Persephone was kidnapped through Hades to it is in his bride. Since she ate three pomegranate seeds, she is compelled to spend three months of the year in Hades. This duration of time is recognized as winter.
DionysosThe god of wine and also revelry. Dionysos had an enormous following transparent the Greek world.

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ErosThe god that love. Often shown as a young child, Eros used magical arrows can to cause people to fall in love.