The ancients Greeks were polytheistic — that is, castle worshipped countless gods. Their major gods and also goddesses lived at the optimal of mountain Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, and also myths defined their lives and actions. In myths, god often actively intervened in the day-to-day stays of humans. Myths were used to assist explain the unknown and sometimes teach a lesson.

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For example, Zeus, the king of the gods, lugged his favorite weapon, the thunderbolt. As soon as it rained and there to be thunder and also lightning, the ancient Greeks thought that Zeus to be venting his anger.

Many stories around how the Greek god behaved and interacted with human beings are found in the works of Homer. He developed two epos poems: the Iliad, which connected the events of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, which thorough the travels of the hero Odysseus. These two poems to be passed down orally over numerous generations.


Painting © M. Larrinaga
The Statue that Zeus in ~ Olympia (recreated above) was one of the seven Wonders the the ancient World. Zeus to be the leader of the gods, the lord of the skies, and the father of plenty of deities and demigods that the Greek pantheon.

Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus" son Achilleusand the devastation, which put pains thousandfold ~ above the Achaians,

Aphrodite, the goddess the love, sits with the battle god, Ares in this painting by the Renaissance artist Botticelli. Aphrodite is just one of several Greek goddesses, and also is often referred come by her roman name, Venus.
hurled in your multitudes come the home of Hades strong soulsof heroes, yet gave your bodies to be the breakable feastingof dogs, of all birds, and also the will certainly of Zeus to be accomplishedsince that time when very first there stand in division of conflictAtreus" boy the lord of men and also brilliant Achilleus.Homer, the Iliad (1951, translation by Richard Lattimore)


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Courtesy NASA and also Cislunar Aerospace, Inc.
Many Greek myths described the mysteries the nature. The myth of Apollo, for example, explains how the sunlight moves across the skies to rise and collection each day.
The Greeks created gods in the picture of humans; that is, your gods had numerous human features even despite they were gods. The gods constantly fought among themselves, behaved irrationally and unfairly, and also were frequently jealous of each other. Zeus, the king of the gods, was rarely faithful to his wife Hera. Hera plotted versus Zeus and punished his mistresses.

The Greek gods were very emotional and behaved inconsistently and sometimes immorally. Greek faith did not have actually a standard collection of morals, there to be no Judaic Ten Commandments. The gods, heroes, and humans of Greek mythology were flawed.

In enhancement to Zeus and Hera, there were many other major and minor god in the Greek religion. At she birth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprang straight from the head of Zeus. Hermes, who had actually winged feet, to be the messenger the the gods and also could fly all over with great speed. Aphrodite, the goddess that love, was the most beautiful being in the universe. She brother, Ares, the god that war, was sinister, mean, and disliked. Poseidon, rule the sea native his underwater place and Apollo speak his chariot across the sky, happen the sunlight with him.

Hades was in charge that the dead in the underworld. Virtually all people went come Hades ~ they died whether castle were great or bad. To gain there, the dead had actually to cross the river Styx. Charon was the surname of the boatman who ferried the souls that the dead throughout the river Styx come Hades.

Typically, the gods punished those who were bad. Because that example, Tantalus who killed his own son and also served him come the gods for dinner was sent to Hades and also made forever thirsty and also hungry. Although there to be a swimming pool of clear, fresh drinking water in ~ his feet, whenever Tantalus bent down to drink, the pool would certainly dry up and also disappear.

Likewise, end his head hung the most delicious fruit. However, whenever Tantalus got to for them, a wind would certainly blow them simply out of his reach. The English word "tantalize" derives from the name Tantalus.

Pandora"s Box and also Hercules" Labors

Myths helped define how the world came to be the means it was. In one myth, Zeus developed an exceptionally beautiful and practically perfect woman named Pandora. Her one flaw was the she was an extremely curious and also suspicious. Hermes, Zeus"s messenger, offered Pandora a golden box. The warned her never to open up it due to the fact that terrible points would take place if she did.

But Pandora might hardly contain she curiosity and eventually damaged down and opened the special box. Out from package flew all the evils that torment humanity: famine, greed, pain, sorrow, etc. Only one thing continued to be in the box — hope — i beg your pardon humans managed to organize on to. This myth explains the beginnings of human misfortune. In ~ the same time, it teaches a moral lesson by warning of the dangers of curiosity.

In enhancement to myths around gods, the ancient Greeks likewise told stories about heroes. Among the most famous Greek heroes to be Hercules, the world"s the strongest man. Hercules was the illegitimate son of a mortal woman and Zeus, who tricked the mrs by disguising himself together the woman"s husband. Hera, Zeus"s wife, to be angry about Zeus" affair and also sought to punish Hercules. Hera tricked Hercules right into believing that his whole family to be dangerous beasts, i m sorry Hercules then proceeded to kill. As soon as Hercules realized the he had killed his whole family, that agreed to perform 12 jobs to atone for his disastrous actions. For among the tasks, Hercules had actually to slay the nine-headed monster called the Hydra.

For an additional task, he had actually to clean the filth indigenous Augean stable, which had actually not been attended to in 30 years. To do this, Hercules sail the food of a river that washed far the mess. In the end, he perfect the so-called 12 Labors that Hercules and made up because that the murder of his family.

God/GoddessImportant Attributes
ZeusKing of the gods, Zeus killed his father Chronos. The is additionally the god the thunder.
HeraThe mam of Zeus, Hera is the goddess that fertility.
PoseidonThe god of the sea.
HadesThe god of the underworld.
HestiaA little-known goddess, she is a sister the Zeus and also goddess of the hearth.
ChronosThe leader the the Titans and also father that the Olympians, Chronos ate all his children except for Zeus, who killed him.
DemeterGoddess the the harvest and also mother that Persephone.
ApolloGod the the sun, music, and art, one of the many versatile gods.
ArtemisGoddess of the hunt, Moon, and also childbirth. The sister of Apollo, she is additionally a an extremely versatile Olympian.
AphroditeThe goddess of love and also the mother of Eros, recognized to the Romans as Cupid.
AresThe god that War.
AthenaSprang full-grown native Zeus"s head. She is the Goddess of wisdom. The city the Athens is called for her.
HaephestosThe god the the forge. Thrown native the peak of mountain Olympus by Zeus, Haephestos is also crippled. The husband the Aphrodite.
HermesThe messenger god attract a winged helmet and winged sandals.
PersephoneThe daughter of Demeter, Persephone to be kidnapped through Hades to it is in his bride. Due to the fact that she ate three pomegranate seeds, she is compelled to spend three month of the year in Hades. This period of time is known as winter.
DionysosThe god the wine and revelry. Dionysos had an massive following transparent the Greek world.

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ErosThe god that love. Often illustrated as a young child, Eros used magical arrows could to reason people to loss in love.