Ancient Greece was not only the cradle of one of the largest and most important civilizations of Western culture but also the origin of one of the most transcendental religious and cult worldviews of all time: Greek mythology. Reflecting the culture of Ancient Greece and its understanding of the world, in Greek mythology the gods of Olympus held a special place as they governed the different spheres of life and having their approval made the difference between success or failure. .
Known for their polytheism, the ancient Greeks believed in the existence of twelve Olympian gods, who owed their name precisely to their idyllic abode on the top of Mount Olympus. Legend has it that they were crowned the reigning gods of the world after their victory in the War of the Titans, the ancient gods who ruled during the legendary golden age. Whatever their origin, the truth is that the ancient Greek gods set an important precedent in history, so much so that the Romans took these deities as references, whose influence has reached our days.
The 12 most important gods in Greek mythology
For the ancient Greeks, the Council of the Gods was led by twelve main deities, who had different powers over Earth and humans. Of them, Zeus was considered the ruler of Olympus, god of all gods, but there were also many other gods such as Poseidon, the god of the sea, or Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Here are the most important Greek gods in ancient Greek culture:
In addition to being the god of lightning and thunder, Zeus was considered in Ancient Greece as the lord of the skies and ruler of Olympus. He represented the god of justice and clemency, hence he was in charge of punishing with his lightning those who committed a crime in his reign. Son of the God Cronos, he married Hera, with whom he had eight children, and gave rise to various heroic lineages. As god of all gods he not only had the power to control everything that happened on Earth but also to mediate the common problems between the gods of Olympus. He used to be symbolized with a thunderbolt, a scepter or an eagle.
God of the seas and oceans, Poseidon controlled the deep waters and was able to destabilize the Earth when he waved his trident causing earthquakes and tidal waves at will. Unlike other gods, he did not live on Olympus but in the depths of the oceans, from where he ruled his sea throne. Worshiped by Greek navigators who sought protection from him, he was believed to have abilities to communicate with living beings that inhabited the sea. He was symbolized with the crown that made him the king of the seas and the trident that he used as an extension of his power.
Queen of the gods and goddess of the home and marriage, she is credited with the power to watch over marriage unions and births, as well as giving special protection to all women. Known for her jealous and vindictive nature, especially against the lovers and the offspring of her husband Zeus, she also faced mortals who crossed her path as her legend tells with Paris, who offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the goddess. more beautiful, thus earning her eternal hatred. The cow, the peacock, the pomegranate and the crown are the best known symbols of her.
Goddess of beauty, sensuality and love, she was recognized in the Greek pantheon as the most beautiful goddess of all. Aphrodite was a benchmark of passion and desire, so that the ancient Greeks worshiped her when it came to her about love and heartbreak. She married to Hephaestus, the god of fire and the forge, she tells the legend of her that she was born as an adult from the foam of the sea, hence she was related to the sea, dolphins and pearls. However, she also used to be represented with the doves, the swans, the roses and the apple tree. From her name derives the term aphrodisiac, which refers to any substance that stimulates human desire.
Known as the Olympian God of War, he was the son of Zeus and Hera. He personified tireless strength and courage, while he was considered the protector of Olympus and armies, of the weakest and leader of rebels. In war he symbolized brutality and violence, although he was not always victorious in the combats in which he participated, as legends say that he was sometimes wounded during his confrontations with the demi-god Heracles. He was known for his conflicted and competitive temperament and was often depicted with a shield, a red-crested helmet and a spear with which he struck with divine grace at his opponents and enemies.
Goddess of wisdom, science and justice, she was one of the main divinities of the Greek pantheon and one of the twelve Olympian gods. Guardian of the capital of Greece, hence her name, combat masters and rulers used to invoke the name of Athena for strategic advice in their battles. She was also considered a mentor to the heroes as she provided them with the will and strength to continue their fights. She is the favorite daughter of Zeus, she tells the legend that she was born already armed and prepared from her father’s forehead, hence she exerted a great influence on thought and especially justice and wisdom. She is usually symbolized with an olive branch or an owl, which represent her intelligence and cunning.
God of trade and prosperity, he was the messenger of the gods, the caretaker of borders and the travelers who cross them, as well as the one who guided souls to the underworld of Hades. Great speech and oratory skills were attributed to him and it is said that he gathered the gods around him to tell them the new news of each day. Legend also has it that he was prone to telling lies and imbuing his oratory with fantasy, which explains why thieves and swindlers used to invoke Hermes to cunning him for tricks. Likewise, he used to be invoked or paid tribute to bring wealth to the houses. He was depicted wearing sandals, a winged helmet, and a caduceus.
Symbol of inspiration, he was considered the god of the arts, music and poetry and leader of the muses. He was also related to the light of truth and the sun, at the same time that he stood out among the other gods for his abilities for prophecy and divination, hence he was considered the patron of the most famous oracle of antiquity, the oracle of Delphi. Brother of Artemis, he had power over death, plagues and diseases, but also over healing and protection against evil forces. His connection with nature, trees and herds earned him consideration as a protector of shepherds, sailors and archers. He was symbolized by the sun, the bow and arrow, the raven and the lyre.
Goddess of wild animals and hunting, she was noted for her skill with wild animals and the fertility of virgin lands. Hence, the hunters acclaimed her to find good prey and her farmers paid her honors so that her crops would be profitable. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, she was also considered the goddess of virginity, maidens and births, so she used to be invoked by women to alleviate her illnesses and to provide protection. She used to be depicted as a huntress with a bow and arrows. The cypress and the deer were sacred to him.
God of fire and the forge, he was worshiped in the industrial and manufacturing centers of Greece by blacksmiths, craftsmen and sculptors. Famous for being the blacksmith and craftsman who built the weapons of the gods, legend has it that he worked with the material that was melted on Mount Etna, which gave great strength and resistance to his weapons. Unattractive in appearance, he was expelled from Olympus and raised away from the gods, though when he reached maturity he returned to the Council to marry Aphrodite. He used to symbolize himself with a forge, an anvil, fire and a hammer, his favorite work tools.
Considered the Greek goddess of agriculture, nature, fertility and the seasons of the year, she was one of the goddesses who was part of the Council of the Gods on Olympus. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, she was also related to the green and young earth and the cycle of life and death, hence she was revered by farmers who sought protection for her land and a bountiful harvest. The most representative symbols of her included the wheat, the poppy, the pig and the torch. From its Latin name, Ceres, derives the term cereal that we use today to refer to plants that are grown for their grain.
God of wine, celebrations and ecstasy, he was the son of Zeus with the princess of Thebes, Semele. He was the youngest Olympian god and the only one whose mother was a mortal woman. However, other versions suggest that his mother may also have been Persephone. God of music and theater, he was invoked at events and parties by those who wanted to have fun. The serpent, the bull, the ivy and the wine are the most distinctive symbols of Dionysus, who was often seen riding a leopard or in a chariot drawn by panthers.