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The Greek and Roman Gods. The Origins of the Gods The top 12 of Olympus. Creation of the World. From nothing, there came Chaos Night and Erebus were born of Chaos Love was born of Erebus Light and Day were born of Love. The Birth of the First Creatures. Ouranos (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth)

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the greek and roman gods

The Greek and Roman Gods

The Origins of the Gods

The top 12 of Olympus

creation of the world
Creation of the World
  • From nothing, there came Chaos
  • Night and Erebus were born of Chaos
  • Love was born of Erebus
  • Light and Day were born of Love
the birth of the first creatures
The Birth of the First Creatures

Ouranos (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth)

parent the first creatures

1. Three monsters with 100 hands, 50 heads

2. Three Cyclopes (one-eyed giants)

3. Titans (as powerful as brothers, but not purely destructive

*****Gaia = geo (prefix meaning earth)

titanic = enormous, strong, powerful

the titans
The Titans
  • Cronus (Saturn): most powerful, father of Zeus
  • Ocean: river encircling the earth
  • Hyperion: father of sun, moon, and dawn
  • Mnemosyne: memory
  • Themis: justice
  • Atlas
  • Prometheus Brothers, who together
  • Epimetheus caused the fall of man

*****mnemonic = intended to assist the memory

daddy issues
Daddy Issues
  • Ouranos was a terrible father: hating his 100-handed sons, he locked them in the earth
  • Gaia begged her son Cronus to help
  • Cronus overthrew Ouranos and wounded him

From his blood, Giants & Furies are born

  • Cronus is lord of the universe for untold ages

He never actually frees his brothers (you know, the reason he was supposed to fight dad in the first place)

war gods v titans and more daddy issues
War: Gods v TitansAnd More Daddy Issues
  • Cronus & sister-queen Rhea have 6 children

Hades, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, Hestia, Zeus

  • Prophecy: one of Cronus’s children will overthrow him
  • Cronus swallows all his babies whole
  • Rhea is not pleased

Secretly sends 6th baby (Zeus)

to Crete

Gives hubby a rock wrapped

in a blanket, which he swallows

Zeus grows up, makes

dad throw up his siblings, and war is on

taking sides
Taking Sides
  • Titans, obviously, side with Cronus and fight Zeus and his siblings
  • War almost wrecks the universe
  • Titans lose for 2 reasons

Zeus frees the 100-handed

monsters, who naturally

fight on his side

Titan Prometheus

fights for Zeus

crime and punishment
Crime and Punishment
  • Zeus punishes the Titans in a big way

Most are bound in chains under the earth

Atlas is forced to carry the earth on his back/shoulders

*****atlas: a book of maps

zeus jupiter
Zeus (Jupiter)
  • Lord of the sky, rain god, cloud gatherer
  • Grand but flawed
    • Deceivable
    • Has a serious weakness for females
    • Fate is stronger than he is
  • Breastplate: Aegis
  • Weapon: thunderbolt
  • Bird: eagle
  • Oracle: Dodona

(priests interpret his

will through the rustling

of oak leaves)

hera juno
Hera (Juno)
  • Wife and sister of Zeus
  • Protector of marriage
  • ONLY in the tale of the Golden Fleece, she protects and inspires heroes
  • Venerated in every home
    • Daughter Ilithyia helps women in childbirth
  • Jealous, spiteful, vindictive
    • Constantly tortures her husband’s lovers
  • Animals: cow, peacock
  • City: Argos
poseidon neptune
Poseidon (Neptune)
  • Ruler of the sea
  • Second only to Zeus
  • Wife is Amphitrite, a Nereid, granddaughter of Ocean
  • Undersea palace is splendid,

but he hangs out on Olympus

most of the time

  • Storm and calm are

under his control

  • Drives golden car

over waters

  • Gave man the first horse
  • Called Earth-shaker
  • Carries a trident
hades pluto
Hades (Pluto)
  • Ruler of the underworld and the dead
    • He is NOT death: Death is Thanatos
  • God of wealth & precious metals under the earth
  • Has a helmet that makes the wearer invisible
  • Not popular on Olympus
  • Unpitying, inexorable, but just
  • Wife is Persephone, daughter of his sister Demeter
pallas athena minerva
Pallas Athena (Minerva)
  • Daughter of Zeus alone: sprang from his head in full armor
  • Zeus’s favorite child: trusted to carry his Aegis and thunderbolt
  • Goddess of the city
    • Protector of civilized life, handicrafts, agriculture
    • Inventor of bridle
    • Gave man the olive tree
  • In the Iliad ONLY, she is a fierce battle goddess
  • The leader of the 3 virgin goddesses
  • In Greek poetry she embodies 3 virtues
    • Wisdom
    • Reason
    • purity
  • City: Athens
  • Bird: Owl
  • Tree: olive
phoebus apollo
Phoebus Apollo
  • Son of Zeus and Leto
  • The most Greek of all the gods
  • Beautiful
  • Master musician
  • Archer god
  • Teaches men the art of healing
  • God of Light
  • God of Truth: never speaks falsely
  • His oracle at Delphi is the most important oracle
    • Its center is the stone Cronus swallowed instead of Zeus
  • Associated with the sun
    • He is NOT the sun god: the sun god is Helios
  • Dual nature
    • Sometimes beneficent, a peace-maker, communicator of divine will
    • Sometimes cruel and pitiless
  • Tree: laurel
  • Animals: many, but especially the dolphin and crow
artemis diana
Artemis (Diana)
  • Apollo’s twin, daughter of Zeus and Leto
  • One of the 3 virgin goddesses
  • Lady of the wild things, huntsman for the gods
  • Protects the young
  • Carries silver arrows
  • Dual nature
    • Protects young, helps women with swift, painless death
    • Fierce and vindictive
  • Associated with the moon
    • She is NOT the mood goddess: the moon goddess is Selene
  • Tree: cypress
  • Animals: all wild animals, but especially the deer
aphrodite venus
Aphrodite (Venus)
  • Goddess of love and beauty
  • Laughter-loving
  • Beguiling: steals the wits of the wise
  • Laughs at those she conquers
  • Parentage is questionable
    • In the Iliad: daughter of Zeus and Dione
    • In later poems: sprang from the foam of the sea, landed on Cyprus
  • Dual nature
    • Beautiful, brings light, joy, loveliness
    • Treacherous and malicious
  • Wife of Hephaestus, the only ugly god
  • Tree: myrtle
  • Birds: dove, sparrow, swan (drives a chariot pulled by swans)

*****aphrodisiac = something that arouses desire

venereal = pertaining to sexual desire

hermes mercury
Hermes (Mercury)
  • Son of Zeus and Maia (daughter of Atlas)
  • Zeus’s messenger
    • Graceful and swift
    • Wings on sandals, hat, & wand (the Caduceus)
  • Most cunning of gods: master thief
    • The day he was born, he stole Apollo’s herds
    • Won Apollo’s forgiveness by giving him his invention: the lyre
  • God of commerce and the market
  • Guide of the dead
  • Appears more often in myths than any other god

*****mercurial = quick-witted, lively, changeable

hermaphrodite = has reproductive organs of both sexes (comes from a myth about Hermes’s child with Aphrodite)

ares mars
Ares (Mars)
  • Son of Zeus & Hera: they can’t stand him
  • God of war
    • Hateful and ruthless
    • Homer calls him murderous and bloodstained
    • Innately a coward, runs away when wounded
  • Attendants
    • Eris: goddess of discord
    • Strife: Eris’s sister
    • Enyo: war goddess, who hangs with Terror,

Trembling, and Panic

  • Romans liked Mars better than Greeks did Ares
  • Figures very little in myth
  • Lover of Aphrodite
  • No cities where he is worshipped
  • Bird: vulture
  • Animal: dog
hephaestus vulcan or mulciber
Hephaestus (Vulcan or Mulciber)
  • Questionable parentage
    • Sometimes son of Zeus and Hera
    • Sometimes just Hera’s son (like Athena is just his)
  • God of fire
  • The only ugly god, and has a limp to boot
    • Some myths say Hera saw he was ugly & threw
    • him off Olympus
    • Others say he defended Hera against Zeus, so
    • Zeus threw him
  • Workman of the immortals
    • Makes their dwellings, armor, furnishings, weapons
    • Has handmaidens he made out of gold
    • His workshop can be found under this or that volcano
  • Wife
    • Iliad: one of the three Graces
    • Odyssey: Aphrodite
  • Kindly, peace-loving, popular with mortals
  • Patron of handicrafts, as is Athena


hestia vesta
Hestia (Vesta)
  • Sister of Zeus
  • One of the 3 virgin goddesses
  • Goddess of the hearth and home
    • Mortal meals begin & end w/ offering to her
    • Each city had a public hearth in her honor
    • Newborns must be carried around hearth to be received into the family
  • In Rome, her priestesses are virgins, called Vestals
  • No distinct personality, plays

no part in myths

*****vestal = virginal

eros cupid
Eros (Cupid)
  • God of love, his home is in men’s hearts
  • Represented blindfolded
  • Said to be Aphrodite’s son
  • Dual nature
    • Cannot do or allow wrong; force can’t come near him
    • In later myths, mischievous or even evil
  • Attendants
    • Anteros: avenges slighted love
    • Himeros: longing
    • Hymen: god of wedding feast

*****erotic = arousing desire

cupidity = greed

hebe and iris


  • Goddess of youth
  • Daughter of Zeus and Hera
  • Cupbearer to the gods
  • Marries Hercules
  • Goddess of the rainbow
  • Messenger of the gods
Hebe and Iris
the graces
The Graces
  • Daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (daughter of Ocean)
  • Not separate personalities, except in one myth, in which Aglaia marries Hephaestus
  • Triple incarnation of grace and beauty
    • Aglaia: splendor
    • Euphrosyne: mirth
    • Thalia: good cheer
  • Dance to music of

Apollo’s lyre

  • No party is complete

without them

the muses
The Muses
  • Daughters of Zeus & Mnemosyne
  • Take away men’s unhappy thoughts
  • Companions of Apollo
  • Can make lies sound true
  • Inspirers of men
  • There are 9
  • Clio: history
  • Urania: astronomy
  • Melpomene: tragedy
  • Thalia: comedy
  • Terpsichore: dance
  • Calliope: epic poetry
  • Erato: love poetry
  • Polyhymnia: songs to gods
  • Euterpe: lyric poetry

*****hymn = song to god

zeus s cabinet on olympus
Zeus’s Cabinet on Olympus
  • Themis: divine justice
  • Dike: human justice
  • Nemesis: righteous anger
  • Aidos: reverence (the shame that keeps men in line

*****nemesis = an opponent or rival that cannot be overcome; an agent or act of retribution

gods of the waters
Gods of the Waters
  • Poseidon
  • Ocean
  • Pontus: deep sea
  • Nereus: son of Pontus;

old man of the sea, has 50 daughters called Nereids

  • Triton: trumpeter of the sea (uses conch shell)
  • Proteus: shapeshifter, sees the future
  • Naiads: water nymphs (freshwater)
  • Nereids: water nymphs (saltwater)
the underworld
The Underworld
  • Rulers: Hades and Persephone
  • Location
    • Beneath secret places of earth (Iliad)
    • Over edge of world, across ocean (Odyssey)
    • Various entrances in caverns & deep lakes (later poetry)
  • Rivers separating underworld from earth
    • Acheron: woe
    • Phlegethon: fire
    • Cocytus: lamentation
    • Lethe: forgetfulness
    • Styx: the unbreakable



Divisions of the Underworld

    • Tartarus
      • Prison of sons of earth
      • Deepest region
      • Wrongdoers are punished here
    • Erebus: where the dead pass &

are judged when they die

    • Elysian Fields: place of blessedness,

where the good go

  • Important Figures
    • Cerberus: 3-headed dog guards entrance (you can come in, but you can’t leave)
    • Judges: Minos, Aeacus, Rhadamanthus
    • Erinyes (Furies)
      • Greeks believed they pursued sinners on earth
      • Romans placed them in underworld, punishing dead sinners
    • Sleep and Death: brothers, send dreams from underworld through 2 gates
      • Horn: true dreams
      • Ivory: false dreams
two great gods of earth

Two Great Gods of Earth

Demeter and Dionysus

demeter ceres
Demeter (Ceres)
  • Goddess of the harvest
  • Mother of Persephone
  • Lost her daughter
    • Persephone wandered too far, enticed by a flower
    • Hades dragged her through a chasm to the underworld
  • Demeter left Olympus to search for Persephone
  • Neglected the earth, harvests suffered
    • Zeus is alerted by suffering humanity, sends Hermes for Persephone
    • Persephone ate pomegranate seeds in the underworld: if you eat anything down there, you can’t leave
  • Compromise
    • Persephone must live with Hades in underworld for 4 months per year
    • When Persephone is gone, Demeter mourns, fields are barren = winter
    • On Persephone’s return, life returns = spring
    • Persephone is the goddess of the spring


dionysus bacchus
Dionysus (Bacchus)
  • Son of Zeus and Semele
    • Hera, jealous, tricks Semele: make Zeus promise (by the Styx) to show himself in all his glory
    • Semele is killed by the burning light of his glory
    • Zeus snatches the child, near birth, to store in his thigh
  • God of the vine: born of fire, nursed by rain
    • wanders the earth, teaching the culture of the vine
    • Worshipped everywhere but his country
  • Pirate kidnapping
    • Held for ransom, one helmsman recognizes his godhood, but no one listens
    • Ropes break, wind fills sails without moving the ship, wine streams across the deck, vine covers sail, ivy twists around mast
dionysus cont d
Dionysus (cont’d)
    • Pirates jump overboard, but turn to dolphins, only helmsman avoids this fate
  • Followers are Maenads, or Bacchantes
    • Women frenzied with wine rush across fields & woods in ecstasy, tear wild creatures & devour
    • Dionysus feeds them and helps them sleep it off
    • Their beauty is counteracted by their bloody feasts
  • Some refuse to believe
    • Lycurgus, king of Thrace, is struck blind by Zeus
    • Pentheus, king of Thebes & Dionysus’s cousin, is ripped to pieces by Maenads that include his own mother
  • Dual nature
    • Beneficent and kind
    • Cruel, driving men to terrible deeds

*****bacchanal = an occasion of drunken revelry

lesser gods of earth
Lesser Gods of Earth
  • Pan
    • Son of Hermes
    • God of goat herders, home is in wild places
    • Frolics with nymphs
    • Sounds heard at night are credited to him: panic
  • Silenus
    • Worships Dionysus
    • Always drunk, rides an ass because he can’t stand up
  • Castor and Pollux
    • Twins, one is mortal, the other is immortal
    • Couldn’t bear to be parted by death, so Pollux shares his immortality w/ Castor
  • Satyrs: half man, half goat
  • Centaurs: half man, half horse
  • Oreads: mountain nymphs
  • Dryads: tree nymphs
lesser gods of earth cont
Lesser Gods of Earth (cont.)
  • Aeolus: god of the winds, father of the 4 winds
    • Boreas (Aquilo): north
    • Zephyr (Favonius): west
    • Notus (Auster): south
    • Eurus: east
  • Gorgons
    • 3 earth-dwellers
    • Monsters: dragon-like, snakes for hair, look turns a man to stone
  • Graiae
    • 3 gray sisters to the Gorgons
    • Share one eye
  • Sirens
    • Their song lures sailors to death, but is irresistible
    • No one knows what they look like
  • Fates
    • 3 females, stronger than the gods, who give men their inherent good or evil at birth
    • Clotho: spins thread of life
    • Lachesis: assigns destiny
    • Atropos: carries shears to cut the thread of life

*****zephyr = gentle breeze

the creation of man
The Creation of Man
  • 2 Titans who sided with Zeus are responsible for creating man
    • Epimetheus
      • Name means “afterthought”
      • Scatterbrained
      • Gave best gifts to animals before making man, leaving man with nothing
    • Prometheus
      • Name means “forethought”
      • Thought of a way to give man superiority
      • Fashioned man into a nobler shape: upright
      • Lit a torch from the sun and gave man fire to protect him
the fall of man
The Fall of Man
  • Only men exist at first
  • Zeus becomes angry with Prometheus and with man
    • Prometheus helps man trick Zeus
    • 2 sacks from a slaughtered ox: one has bones, covered with juicy fat, the other has the edible meat, covered with entrails
    • Zeus chooses the pretty fat to be sacrificed to him and later learns he got the raw end of that deal
  • Man’s punishment is woman
    • Zeus creates Pandora
    • Gods gift her with every lovely quality (Pandora = “gift of all”
    • Zeus gives Pandora to Epimetheus as wife (he accepts, in spite of Prometheus’s warning not to accept gifts from Zeus)
the fall of man cont d
The Fall of Man (cont’d)
    • Pandora is also given a box, with a warning never to open it
    • Of course, she opens it, and plagues, sorrow, & mischief fly out
    • Only hope is left in the box
  • Prometheus’s punishment is more gruesome
    • Chained to a mountaintop
    • Each day, an eagle tears out his liver
    • The liver always grows back overnight, so the process can repeat itself.

Did you know? The liver is the only organ that regenerates itself.

the deluge
The Deluge
  • Men are so wicked, Zeus sends a flood to destroy them
  • Only Mt. Parnassus is not quite covered.
  • 9 days, 9 nights of rain
  • 2 people are saved
    • Deucalion (Prometheus’s son) & Pyrrha (Epimetheus’s daughter)
    • Prometheus advises them to hide in a wooden chest
    • They are faithful to Zeus and allowed to live
  • Repopulating the earth
    • A voice tells Deucalion to throw the bones of his mother behind him
    • Earth is mother, stones are her bones
    • The stones take human shape.