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GREEK DEITIES AND THEIR MEANINGS.


APHRODITE

The ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. She was said to be the daughter of Zeus or alternatively to have been born of the sea foam. Her husband was Hephaestos, but she had other lovers among both gods (notably Ares) and mortals (notably Adonis).

Aphrodite governs desire and sexuality. She is also known as Cytherea, Cypris, and Venus (Roman). She is often pictured with a sceptre or a mirror.

 

APOLLO

Apollo, the Greek god of light, youth, beauty and prophecy, is shown with his silver bow and golden arrows. The famous oracle at Delphi was dedicated to Apollo.

Apollo is associated principally with music, prophecy, sickness, and medicine. He is also known as Phoebus Apollo and is called the Far Shooter and the Pythian. (He has no separate Roman name.) His attributes in iconography are the cithara, or sometime the lyre, the bow, the fawn, and the tripod. He is often depicted with his sister, Artemis.

 

ARES

The ancient Greek god of war, son of Zeus and Hera. He was widely disliked by the other gods because of his savagery, but he became the lover of Aphrodite.

Ares is the god of war and conflict. He is also known as Mars (Roman). Ares is depicted as a warrior but, as he has no unique attributes in iconography, he can only be identified by context or inscription.

 

ARTEMIS

The ancient Greek goddess of hunting and the moon. She was the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. Although she was herself a virgin, she was the helper of women in childbirth.

Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and animals, as well as of childbirth. She is also known as Diana (Roman). Her attributes in iconography include the bow and the fawn. She often appears with her brother, Apollo.

 

ATHENA (Athene)

The ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and of the arts and crafts. Represented as a woman of severe beauty, in armour, she was the daughter of Zeus, springing from his forehead, which Hephaestus (or Prometheus) had opened with an axe. Like Apollo, she exerted a benevolent, civilizing influence (she was a patron of war, but in its just rather than its savage aspects). Her most famous temple is the Parthenon, built on the Acropolis at Athens (447-432 BC) by Pericles to honour her as the city's patron goddess.

Athene (also spelled Athena) is the patron of wisdom, military victory, and women's crafts. She is also known as Tritogeneia and Minerva (Roman) and is also called Pallas Athene. Her attributes in iconography include the aegis (a fringed cloak, sometimes decorated with a Gorgon's head), the helmet, and the spear.

 

CRONUS

In pre-Hellenic and Greek mythology, the youngest son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth), leader of the Titans. By the advice of his mother he castrated his father, thus separating Heaven from Earth. He became ruler of the Earth, but was fated to be in turn deposed by one of his own children. He swallowed Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon at birth. However, his wife Rhea (who was also his sister) substituted a stone wrapped in swaddling-clothes for Zeus, the last-born. Zeus eventually deposed his father and the other children were vomited up.

 

DEMETER

In Greek mythology, the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and marriage. She was the sister of Zeus and also the mother of his daughter Persephone.

Demeter is the giver of grain. She is also known as Ceres (Roman) and sometimes Deo. Her attributes in iconography can include a torch, a crown, a sceptre, and stalks of grain. She is often portrayed with her daughter, Persephone/Kore.

 

DIONYSOS

Is the god of wine, intoxication, and creative ecstasy. He is also known as Dionysus, Bacchus or Bakchos, and Liber (Roman). His attributes in iconography include a drinking vessel, an ivy wreath, grape vines, and the thyrsos (a long fennel stalk topped with ivy leaves).

Dionysos in Greek mythology, the god of wine and ecstasy. He was the son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of a king of Thebes. One of the most popular Greek gods, he was the subject of many legends and his worship, manifesting itself in a frenzied rout of votaries, male and female, Satyrs, Sileni, Maenads, and Bassarids, was often drunken and orgiastic. He was also regarded as a patron of the arts, inspiring music and poetry.

 

HADES

Hades is the god of the underworld. He is also known as Pluto, Plouton, Dis (Roman), and Aidoneus. His attributes in iconography are the cornucopia and the sceptre.

Hades in Greek mythology, a name applied to both the god of the underworld and to the underworld itself, where the spirits of humans went after their earthly death. Hades the god was the brother of Zeus and the husband of Persephone. Hades the place was thought of as being located underground or in the far west, separated from the world of the living by the River Styx and guarded by Cerberus. It was a place of gloominess rather than torment. Souls that the gods wished to punish were sent to Tartarus--a terrible abyss. Souls of the blessed went to Elysium.

 

HEPHAISTOS

Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and metalworking, represented as a lame blacksmith. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and the husband of Aphrodite.

Although - or because - lame, Hephaistos is the builder and craftsman for the gods. He is also know as Hephaestus and Vulcan (Roman). His attributes in iconography include the axe and tongs.

 

HERA

As the wife (and sister) of Zeus, Hera is the patron of marriage. She is also known as Juno (Roman). She has no unique attributes in iconography and so can only be identified by context or inscription.

Hera, in Greek mythology, the supreme goddess, the sister and wife of Zeus. She was constantly at odds with Zeus because of his infidelities and she often plotted against his lovers and his offspring.

 

HERMES (Mercury)

Hermes' main role is as a messenger but he has many other functions as well. He is also known as Mercury (Roman) and Argeiphontes (Slayer of Argos). His attributes in iconography include the kerykeion (messenger's staff), winged boots, and petassos (cap).

Hermes, the god of commerce, invention, theft, and cunning, also the messenger and herald of the other gods. He was the patron of travellers and conducted the souls of the dead to Hades, and is identified in Roman mythology with Mercury.

 

HESTIA

Hestia, in Greek mythology, the goddess of the hearth and symbol of home and family. She was a sister of Zeus. A hearth was consecrated to her in every home, and sacred fires were kept burning to her in every Greek city.

Hestia is the goddess of the hearth. She is also known as Vesta (Roman). Although an important deity in Greek religion, she is rarely depicted in art, and has virtually no mythology and iconography.

 

PERSEPHONE

Persephone, in Greek mythology, a beautiful goddess, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of agriculture. She was carried off by the god Hades and made queen of the Underworld. Demeter sought her everywhere, lighting her torches at the fires of Mount Etna, while the earth became barren at her neglect. Though Zeus yielded at length to Demeter's lamentations, Persephone could not be entirely released from the lower world because she had eaten some pomegranate seeds there. She was allowed to spend part of each year on earth and the remainder in Hades.

Persephone is the Queen of the Underworld and the daughter of Demeter. She is also known as Proserpine (Roman), and Kore, which is also transliterated as Core or Cora and translated as the Maid or the Maiden. Her attributes in iconography can include a torch, a crown, a sceptre, and stalks of grain.

 

POSEIDON

Poseidon is the god of the sea. He is also known as Neptune (Roman) and the Earth-shaker. His attributes in iconography include the trident and the fish.

Poseidon, in Greek mythology, the god of the sea, of earthquakes, and of horses. He was a brother of Zeus. The Romans identified him with the water-god Neptune.

 

ZEUS.

In Greek mythology, the son of Cronus, whom he overthrew and succeeded as the supreme god. The greatest of the gods and ruler of the universe, he was married to his sister Hera, and was consort of a number of goddesses and lover of mortal women. The latter legends may be accounted for in some cases by the claim of royal houses to be descended from him. Zeus was the giver of laws; he saw that justice was done and liberty maintained. Supreme among gods, his power was limited only by the mysterious dictates of the Fates.

Zeus is the ruler of the Olympian gods. He is also known as Jupiter and Jove (both Roman). His attributes in iconography include the lightning bolt, the eagle, and the sceptre.

 


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