The Olympians are a group of 12 gods who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans. All the Olympians are related in some way. They are named from their dwelling, Mount Olympus
Zeus overthrew his Father Cronus and then drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Zeus won the draw and became the supreme ruler of the gods. He is lord of the sky, and the rain. His weapon is a thunderbolt, which he hurls at those who displease him. He is married to Hera but is famous for his many affairs. He is also known as the god that punishes those that lie or break oaths.
Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. After the overthrow of their Father Cronus he drew lots with Zeus and Hades, another brother, to share the power of the world. His prize was to become lord of the sea. He was widely worshipped by seamen. He married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titan Oceanus. He desired Demeter, who asked him to make the most beautiful animal that the world had ever seen, just to put him off. So, Poseidon created the first horse. In some accounts, his first attempts were unsuccessful, he created a variety of animals in his quest and then created the first horse. His weapon is a trident, which can shake the earth, and shatter any object. He is the most powerful Olympian god, after Zeus.
Hadesis the brother of Zeus. After the overthrow of their Father Cronus he drew lots with Zeus and Poseidon, another brother, to share the power of the world. He had the worst draw and was made lord of the underworld, ruling over the dead. He is a greedy god who is greatly concerned with increasing his subjects. He is exceedingly disinclined to allow any of his subjects leave. He is also the god of wealth, due to the precious metals that mined from the earth. He has a helmet that makes him invisible and he rarely leaves the underworld. He is unpitying and terrible, but not capricious. His wife is Persephone whom Hades abducted. He is the King of the dead but, death itself is another god, Thanatos.
Hestia is Zeus sister. She is a virgin goddess. She does not have a distinct personality. She plays no part in myths. She is the Goddess of the Hearth, the symbol of the house around which a newborn child is carried before it is received into the family. Each city had a public hearth sacred to Hestia, where the fire was never allowed to go out.
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. Both parents disliked him. He is the god of war and he is considered murderous and bloodstained but, also a coward. When he was caught in an act of adultery with Aphrodite, her husband Hephaestus publicly ridiculed him. His bird is the vulture. His animal is the dog.
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She is fierce and brave in battle but only fights to protect the state and home from outside enemies. She is the goddess of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She has invented the bridle, which permits man to tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She is the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity. She is Zeus’s favourite child and she is allowed to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. Her favourite city is Athens. Her tree is the olive and the owl is her bird. She is a virgin goddess.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin sister is Artemis. He is the god of music, playing a golden lyre, of light and truth, who can not tell a lie. One of Apollo’s more important daily tasks is to harness his chariot with four horses and drive the sun across the sky. He is famous for his oracle at Delphi and people use to travel to it from all over the Greek world to divine the future. His tree is the laurel, his bird is the crow and his animal is the dolphin.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, desire and beauty. In addition to her natural gifts she has a magical girdle that compels anyone she wishes to desire her. There are two accounts of her birth. One says she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. The other goes back to when Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his severed genitals into the sea. Aphrodite then arose from the sea foam on a giant scallop and walked to shore in Cyprus. She is the wife of Hephaestus. The myrtle is her tree, the dove, the swan, and the sparrow are her birds.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is Zeus’s messenger. He is the fastest of the gods. He wears winged sandals, a winged hat, and carries a magic wand. He is the god of thieves and commerce. He is the guide for the dead to go to the underworld. He invented the lyre, the pipes, the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics, and the care of olive trees.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Her twin brother is Apollo. She is the lady of the wild things. She is the huntsman of the gods. She is the protector of the young. Like Apollo she hunts with silver arrows. She is a virgin goddess, and the goddess of chastity. She also presides over childbirth, which may seem odd for a virgin, but goes back to cause Leto no pain when she was born. She became associated with Hecate. The cypress is her tree. All wild animals are scared to her and especially the deer.
Hera is Zeus wife and sister. The Titans Ocean and Tethys raised her. She is the protector of marriage and takes special care of married women. Hera’s marriage was founded in strife with Zeus and continued in strife. Zeus courted her unsuccessfully. Then he changed himself into dishevelled cuckoo. Hera feeling sorry for the bird held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then transformed in his normal form and took advantage of the opportunity he gained, and raped her. Then she married him to cover her shame. Zeus was being particularly overbearing to the other gods and Hera convinced them to join in a revolt. Her part in the revolt was to drug Zeus, and when she managed that, the gods bound the sleeping Zeus to a couch, noticing to tie many knots. After that, they began to quarrel over the next step. Briareus overheard the arguments, full of gratitude to Zeus, Briareus slipped in and try to untie the knots. Zeus sprang from the couch and grabbed up his thunderbolt. The gods fell to their knees begging and pleading for mercy. Then Zeus seized Hera and hung her from the sky with gold chains. She wept in pain all night but none of the others dared to interfere. Her weeping kept Zeus up and the next morning he agreed to release her if she would swear never to rebel again. She didn’t have a choice, so she agreed. Since she couldn’t rebel again, she often intrigued against Zeus’s plans and she was often able to outwit him. Most stories concerning Hera have to do with her revenge for Zeus’s infidelities. Her sacred animals are the cow and the peacock. Her favourite city is Argos.
Hephaestus is the son of Zeus and Hera. Sometimes it is said that Hera alone produced him and that he has no father. He is the only god who is physically ugly and lame. Accounts as how he became lame vary. Some say that Hera, upset by having an ugly child, flung him from Mount Olympus into the sea, breaking his legs. Others that he took Hera’s side in an argument with Zeus and Zeus flung him off Mount Olympus. He is the god of fire and the forge. He is the smith and armourer of the gods. He uses a volcano as his forge. He is the patron god of both smiths and weavers. He is kind and peace loving. His wife is Aphrodite. Sometimes his wife is identified as Aglaia.