14 Olympian Gods and Goddesses: Who are the Olympian gods?

In Greek mythology, there are 12 Olympian gods. This council of 12 is called the Pantheon. The gods that make up this council are Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Hestia.

However, the goddess Hestia was later replaced by Dionysus. Also, the demigod, and son of Zeus, Heracles later earned a place among the Olympians. Because of this, there are sometimes said to have been 14 Olympian gods.

Without further ado, lets take a detailed look at each of the above characters.

The 14 or 12+2 Olympian Gods and Goddesses

1. Zeus

The Olympian god, Zeus was the son of Cronus and Rhea and in fact he was the king of all the other Olympian gods, many of whom were related to him in one way or another. He was in many ways all powerful and the other gods on Mt. Olympus accepted his will, most of the time. His name translates as bright sky.

He appears in many of the Greek myths. He could often take a different form. Some of the more memorable are as a bull, a partridge, a swan, a golden rain shower, and even as other humans. A lot of the stories involve him trying to seduce and have affairs with other gods, titans, demigods and mortal women, you name it.

Some of these gods and titans include Themis, Demeter, Mnemosyne, Leto, and just a few of the mortal women are Niobe, Io, Europa, Antiope, Leda  Alcmena, Danae, Semele. He did however actually have a wife, a fellow Olympian god called Hera. He was always trying to escape her attentions and wrath and she certainly did get very jealous on many occasion. She would be quite vindictive to many of the women associated with Zeus.

As king of the Gods, Zeus dispensed his own forms of justice on Mt. Olympus and on earth and this could be quite warped by modern standards. He made many enemies and a lot of the other gods and many other characters plotted against him. Some notable examples include his betrayal by the titan Prometheus when he gave fire to men and also when Gaia, his grandmother sent the giants against him.

Zeus – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Carefree, vengeful, a lover of women, scheming, deceitful, wise, merciful and prudent.
  • Powers and Abilities – He could fire lightning bolts at whoever he pleased, he rode a winged horse called Pegasus, he had might shield called Aegis and he spoke multiple languages.
  • Symbols – The oak tree, the lightning bolt, thunderbolt, the sceptre, and the scales.
  • Animals – Eagle and bull
  • Roman Name – Jupiter
  • God of  – The Olympian Gods, Mt. Olympus and the sky.

2. Hera

Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and also the sister and wife of Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. She was seen as being beautiful and majestic, while at other times she could also be jealous and vengeful. As the protector of marriage and women’s life she was worshipped by all women across Greece. Before she married Zeus she was desired by many other characters including the giants Porphyrion and Ephialtes. After marriage, Hera and Zeus often challenged each other and were seen bickering. Zeus would have countless affairs with other gods and mortals, while Hera would disobey direct orders from Zeus.

Hera, very often took an interest in the lives of demigods and mortals on earth. She directly helped the hero Jason and his Argonauts in their search for the golden fleece. She also went against Zeus to help in the Trojan War. Some of the most famous stories are how she attempted to kill Heracles on many many occasions. Heracles was the son of Alcmene. When Heracles was completing his 12 Labours, Hera would very often conspire to help his opponents in one way or another. The theme of jealousy is pretty common in stories involving Hera and she is very often seen to be causing problems for the mistresses, sons and daughters of Zeus.

Hera – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Quick to anger, arrogant, rude, impatient, cunning, jealous, vengeful, and loyal.
  • Powers and Abilities – She could bless and curse specifically in the realm of child birth, she was eternally youthful and regenerated every year, she liked to control the mind of men and cause madness.
  • Symbols – The diadem, the scepter, the pomegranate and the lotus staff.
  • Animals – Peacock, cuckoo, cow, lion, crane and hawk.
  • Roman Name – Juno
  • Goddess of – Marriage, impregnation, women, birth, childbearing, family, the heavens, the sky.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Wife and sister

3. Poseidon

Poseidon was the son of Cronus and Rhea and the god of the sea. He was also the brother of Zeus, Hades, Demeter, Hera and so on. He usually wore green robes and he often rode around the ocean on a chariot led by dolphins. He was said to be gigantic in size, easily angered and could cause all manner of natural disasters.

In some myths he is credited with creating many sea creatures including the octopus and the blowfish. On top of that, there is the story of how he created the horse as a gift for Demeter. He didn’t manage to create the horse on his first attempt and the camel, the hippopotamus, the giraffe, the donkey and the zebra are all said to be earlier attempts.

He was always desiring one women or another and sired many children. There were the fearsome giants Antaeus, Otus, and Ephialtes and then there was the Cyclops Polyphemus, who was famous for being blinded by the hero Perseus.

A lot of his sons were killed, including Sciron and Cercyon who were killed by Theseus. He also intervened in the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks much to the annoyance of his brother Zeus. Amongst the other Olympian gods he was constantly getting into scraps, often over the control of territory on earth.

Poseidon – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Highly temperamental, cruel, vengeful, masculine, violent, and predatory.
  • Powers and Abilities – He could cause earthquakes and storms, he had some divine control of horses, he was super sized compared to the other Olympians, he had a trident which could be used to change the land and his powers became weakened the further he ventured from the sea.
  • Symbols – The diadem, the scepter, the pomegranate, the lotus staff, the pine tree and seaweed.
  • Animals – Fish, dolphin, horse, bull, octopus, blowfish, camel, hippopotamus, giraffe, donkey and zebra.
  • Roman Name – Neptune
  • God of – the Sea, Rivers, Water, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Storms, and Horses.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Brother.

4. Demeter

Demeter was the daughter of the Titans, Cronus and Rhea. She was said to be the goddess of the harvest. She would wander the land ensuring that humans were sowing, managing and harvesting of the crops. She would also give her powerful blessings to the act of cultivation and ensure that humans had enough to eat. However, her temperamental emotional state greatly affected how successful the harvest would be. So, if she was pleased then there would be abundant harvests and if she was unhappy there would be famine across the land.

She had a number of feuds with her fellow gods, the most famous being with Hades, the god of the underworld. He had abducted her daughter and taken her to live with him down below the earth. She fell into a great despair and the earth was unable to produce sufficient food. It was only after Zeus was able to arrange Persephone’s release that the harvest returned to normal. However, it wasn’t so simple. Persephone would spend half of the year in the underworld and half above ground.

She also had a feud with the sea god Poseidon and he would flood the earth as revenge. In the end, Poseidon was able to seduce her with the creation of the horse and they were married. Demeter was a popular god and the Greeks worshipped her often. There were also a great number of festivals dedicated to her.

Demeter – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Peace-loving, protective, vengeful, temperamental, motherly.
  • Powers and Abilities – She could protect harvests, she could cause the earth to be more fertile and she rode a chariot pulled by serpents.
  • Symbols – The Cornucopia, wheat, the torch, barley, the poppy, mint.
  • Animals – Pig, Gecko, Serpent.
  • Roman Name – Ceres
  • Goddess of – Agriculture, fertility, law, the afterlife and the harvest.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Brother.

5. Athena

Athena was the daughter of Zeus and Metis. She was born when Hephaestus split open head of Zeus. Zeus had swallowed her pregnant mother in an attempt to stop a prophecy from coming true. Being born in such a fashion, she naturally because the god of wisdom. Given this trait of intelligence, she become the natural protector of the city of Athens. She is often described as wearing a helmet and armour and carrying a spear and a shield.

She was able to teach humans about many different types of inventions including the plough, the chariot, the spinning wheel, the rake, pottery and the sail. She is therefore one of the more popular gods to worship. She took the side of the Greeks during the Trojan War and was often seen to be fighting Ares, the god of war, who had sided with the Trojans. She also helped a number of different Greek heroes in their adventures including Perseus, Bellerophon, Jason, Heracles and Odysseus.

Athena – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Wise, courageous, pure, fierce, ruthless, warlike, intelligent, persuasive and cunning.
  • Powers and Abilities – She could devise complex strategies and warfare, she was able to use the lightning bolts of Zeus, she wielded the shield Aegis which hosted the head of Medusa on the front which could be used to turn enemies to stone and she was also very persuasive.
  • Symbols – The olive tree, Aegis, the helmet, the spear.
  • Animals – Owl, Crow, Snakes.
  • Roman Name – Minerva
  • Goddess of – Warcraft, strategic planning, heroism, wise counsel, pottery, weaving, olives, invention.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Daughter.

6. Apollo

Apollo was the son of Zeus and the titan Leto. He was also the twin sister of Artemis, another of the Greek gods. In some myths, it was said that each day he would drive the son across the sky form east to west. Apollo was famed for fighting the snake beast Python and founding the Oracle at Delphi. He was loved by mankind and said to be fair and balanced. His father Zeus looked upon him very fondly and gifted him many great powers and responsibilities.

He was the god of prophecy, healing, truth, poetry, music, and archery. He was known to have had many lovers in particular Daphne but also Coronis and the nymth Cyrene. During the Trojan war he fought on the side of the Trojans and caused plague in the Greek ranks and also he guided the arrow which struck Achilles in the heal. He also created great music using his lyre and his accompanying choir of muses.

Apollo – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Calm, wise, knowledgeable, proud, spiteful, energetic, truthful, creative, supportive.
  • Powers and Abilities – He was highly skilled with a bow and arrow, he could manipulate light, he was a very talented musician.
  • Symbols – The lyre, the wreath, the bow and arrow.
  • Animals – Python, swan, raven, mouse, wolf, dolphin.
  • Roman Name – Apollo
  • God of – Music, art, the sport of archery, plague, writing poetry, medicine, the sun, light, prophecy, and knowledge.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Son.

7. Artemis

Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of wild animals, hunting, and
archery. She was also seen as the protector of children, in particular young girls. Her mother Leto gave birth to the twins on the island of Asteria. Hera, the wife of Zeus, who was always jealous of the other children of her husband, spent a lot of her time trying to make life difficult for Artemis.

It was said that she was the goddess of the moon and rode a chariot at night, firing arrows from her silver bow. As the goddess of the moon she also had control of the tides of the ocean.

She actually spent a lot of her time hunting with her travelling band of dryads. Wild animals were very sacred to her and she would punish anyone who hunted and killed more animals than they themselves could eat. She could also be wicked on occasion. When the grandson of Apollo saw her bathing naked, she turned him into a stag and he was killed and eaten by his own hunting dogs.

Artemis – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Aloof, cold, disdainful, free spirited, introverted and independent.
  • Powers and Abilities – She had near perfect aim with her bow, she could heal others easily, she could control the tides of the ocean.
  • Symbols – The bow and arrow, the lyre, the moon and hunting spears.
  • Animals – Deer, bear, stag, wild boar, hunting dogs, guinea fowl, quail.
  • Roman Name – Apollo
  • Goddess of – the forest, the Moon, choirs, archery, hunting, wild animals, children and disease.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Daughter.

8. Ares

Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera. He was also the god of war. He was viewed by the Greeks violent and single minded. He killed for fun and incited men to go to war. He was also arrogant and on many occasions merciless.

He had an affair with Aphrodite behind the back of Hephaestus and together they had two children. They were called Deimos which means fear and Phobos which means terror. He also had a sister, Eris the god of discord and they would go into battle together. He had four horses that went by the name Terror, Fire, Flame and Trouble. He didn’t have many friends or companions other than Aphrodite his lover, Eris his sister and Hades who liked him because of all the souls he would send to the underworld.

He features in a few different myths but not too many. There was the tale of how he and Aphrodite were embarrassed by Hephaestus when he trapped them in bed together and revealed them to the other Olympian gods. He had a feud with Poseidon when one of his monstrous sons killed his daughter. He was also on the side of the Trojans during the Trojan war.

Ares – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Violent, merciless, angry, bloody-minded, arrogant.
  • Powers and Abilities – he was a superior warrior and great at hand to hand combat.
  • Symbols – the flaming torch, the spear, and the war chariot.
  • Animals – Dog, serpent, vulture, woodpecker, eagle, owl and wild boar.
  • Roman Name – Mars
  • God of – War
  • Relationship to Zeus – Son.

9. Hephaestus

Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera. He was also the god of fire, the forge, and the patron of craftsmen. He had a very difficult childhood. When he was born he was so deformed that his mother Hera threw him from Mt. Olympus and both his legs were broken. He was raised by a sea goddess called Thetis and while with her he made many sea animals including tropical fish.

He did however, have a plan to return to Olympus. He build a magnificent throne and had Hermes give it to Hera as a gift. Once she sat in it she couldn’t was unable to rise again. She was basically a prisoner until she accepted that Hephaestus could return to Mt. Olympus.

Hephaestus was married to Aphrodite, however she would have many affairs behind his back. With gods, demigods and mortal men. However, he didn’t seem to care and always took her back after she returned.

He spent a lot of his time in his forge in the crater of a volcano. With him he had an apprentice, the one eyed cyclopes and together they made many marvellous gifts for both other gods and heroes. The more notable being the suit of armour for Achilles and the creation of the first women Pandora. He was also a key character in the punishment of Prometheus, chaining him to rock while a great eagle devoured his liver.

Hephaestus – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Kind, friendly, hard working, peaceful, bitter and sometimes disappointed.
  • Powers and Abilities – He could withstand any heat from his fire, he could construct anything you requested, and could also control both fire and metal.
  • Symbols – The hammer, tongs and the anvil.
  • Animals – Donkey and crane
  • Roman Name – Vulcan
  • God of – Metalworking, fire, buildings, stone masonry, the art of sculpture, volcanoes and the forge.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Son.

10. Aphrodite

Aphrodite was born from the severed genitals of the primordial god Uranus. Hell of a start in life. She was also the the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Because love is such a dominant theme in life, Aphrodite features in many many Greek myths. She was courted by many of the Olympian gods but ended up with the ugliest of them all Hephasteus. That being said, he wasn’t to be thought of as lucky. She had many affairs most notably with Ares but also with Poseidon and Hermes along with many demigods and mortals. Because of this she was seen a sexually promiscuous and many Greeks, in particular men didn’t respect her like they did the other Olympian gods.

Her great power was that she could make almost anybody fall in love with someone else. She used this ability to make Pasiphae fall in love with one of Poseidon’s prized bulls. She also helped the Greek hero Jason by making Medea fall in love with him.

In the story of the judgement of Paris, she is chosen as the most beautiful of her, Athena and Hera. She then goes on to help Paris when he wishes to seduce Helen of Sparta. She goes on to become Helen of Troy and is the major reason for the Trojan war.

Aphrodite – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Disloyal, adventurous, arrogant, envious, manipulating and vacuous.
  • Powers and Abilities – She could make almost anyone fall in love with anyone else.
  • Symbols – The rose, the shell, the apple tree, the mirror and foam.
  • Animals – Dove, hare, sparrow, goose and dolphin.
  • Roman Name – Venus
  • God of – Love, beauty, passion, pleasure and procreation.
  • Relationship to Zeus – None.

11. Hermes

Hermes is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is the messenger god and patron of travellers, merchants, thieves, literature, and
athletics. He played a number of different roles in the Greek myths. He often did tasks for Zeus for example he was sent to negotiate the release of Persephone, he saved Dionysis from the wrath of Hera and he rescued Io from the monster Argus.

As he was a son of Zeus, Hera was almost certain to hate him. So, when she wasted looking he switched himself with her true son Ares. She breastfed him and from that point on she had to protect him. There is also a story from his youth when he stole the cows of Apollo and sacrificed them to the gods. Apollo was furious but Hermes gave him the gift of a lyre and they become good friends.

He was also involved in the Trojan War when he negotiated the return of hero Hector’s body from Achilles to then be returned to the Trojan king Priam. He also invented the alphabet, astronomy, and mathematics, wore winged sandals that allowed him to fly and led the souls of the dead to the underworld.

Hermes – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Graceful, cunning, witty, majestic, tricky, lovable, athletic.
  • Powers and Abilities – he was very persuasive as the messenger god and he had winged sandal with which to fly.
  • Symbols – the talaria, the caduceus and the Lyre.
  • Animals – Tortoise, rooster, sheep, cattle and hawk.
  • Roman Name – Mercury
  • God of – Animal husbandry, travellers, trade and commerce, athleticism, language, theft, literature, sports, border Crossings and messages.
  • Relationship to Zeus – None.

12. Hestia

Hestia was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was the eldest sister of the six children, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, Hades,
and Zeus. She was in many ways very different from the other Olympian gods. She never took part in the scheming, arguments and gossiping that were rampant among the other gods.

She was queen of the homestead, but never took a husband or had any children. She was the guardian of all orphans and lost children. She was known for her kindness and purity. She was thought of as important when cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. She was well thought of among the Greek people.

Hestia – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Gentle, mild, kind, forgiving, content, calm, warm, peaceful, motherly and the mediator.
  • Powers and Abilities – She had great ability to control and tame fire.
  • Symbols – The hearth and fire.
  • Animals – Pig
  • Roman Name – Bacchus
  • God of – the home, the hearth, family meals, family, the state and domesticity.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Brother.

13. Dionysus

Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele. The story of his birth is quite terrible. Zeus had an affair with Semele and she became pregnant. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus persuaded him to show Semele his true form. Mortal could look directly upon Zeus and she was burnt up in an inferno. However, Zeus was able to save the fetus and he implanted it in his thigh.

When Dionysus was born he was given to the sister of Semele, Ino and her husband. One of the more famous stories involving Dionysus is when he descends into the underworld to help his mother escape. He gives Persephone, the queen of the underworld, a bouquet of flower as a gift. They are so beautiful that she can’t deny him his request. He takes his mother and pleads with Zeus to make her into a god. She becomes a moon deity. Zeus, then makes Dionysus one of the 12 gods of the Pantheon. The god Hestia leaves in order to keep the number 12.

Dionysus is often associated with drunkenness and merry making and he would wander the world teaching people how to make wine. His chariot was pulled by fierce beasts such as the panther, the tiger, and the leopard so you often see these animals associated with him.

Dionysus – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Lighthearted, generous, carefree, festive, wild and crazy.
  • Powers and Abilities – He could cause vines to grow from anywhere, he could turn anything into wine he was able to make other people drunk,
  • Symbols – The grapevine, ivy, bindweed, grapes and wine.
  • Animals – Leopard, lynx, tiger, serpent, bull, goat, donkey, panther and cheetah.
  • Roman Name – Bacchus
  • God of – the grape harvest, wine growing and wine making, of ritualised madness, merriment, ecstasy and theatre.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Son.

14. Heracles

Hercules was the son of Zeus through an affair he had with the mortal women Alcmene. Zeus’s wife Hera was terribly jealous and attempted to murder Heracles many times throughout his life.

Heracles had a number of wives including Megara, Omphale, Deianira, and Hebe were his wives, but he also took several lovers, both male and female. With his wife Megara he had 8 children, but Hera cursed Heracles and caused his to go temporarily insane. He ended up killing his entire family.

As a punishment for his crime, Heracles had to overcome the famous 12 labours which involved killing the Nemean Lion and retrieving the Golden Apples of the Hesperides.

Heracles was eventually killed by another of his wives, the mortal Deianira. She was jealous and poisoned him with the blood of a centaur called Nessus.

Hercules – Quick Facts

  • Personality – Loyal, strong, hardworking, courageous, guilty.
  • Powers and Abilities – He possessed great strength and talent at fighting.
  • Symbols – Bow and Arrow, club.
  • Animals – Nemean Lion
  • Roman Name – Hercules
  • God of – humanity.
  • Relationship to Zeus – Son.

Final Thoughts

That was quite a lot to get around in one article. The Olympian gods and goddesses are fascinatingly flawed bunch. This article only really touches upon the myths and stories that they all were involved in. You should spend some time diving into these characters. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “14 Olympian Gods and Goddesses: Who are the Olympian gods?”

  1. What about Hades? He is the 14th of the Twelve Olympians.

    Aphrodite is Zeus’s aunt.

    Diana is the Roman name of Artemis.

    Hermes is the son of Zeus.

    Reply
    • Hey Ronald,

      Hades wasn’t an Olympian. Many people like to add him to the list as he was the brother of Zeus but to be technical he was never an Olympian.

      Thanks,

      Andy

      Reply

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