Time Out
Athens guidebook


A-Z of Greek Gods
First edition, 2004

 

 

"Despite Artemis'
bloodthirstiness
she protected
pregnant women
and small children."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Aphrodite
Goddess of: Love
Strengths: Born naked from the sea foam; also has a magic love-inducing girdle
Flaws: Addicted to adultery
Roman name: Venus
Symbols: Rose, apple, swan, Cupid (her son)

Apollo
God of: Light
Strengths: Bestowed enlightenment, governed music, medicine, oracles and crops
Flaws: Cheated in a musical contest, then flayed his rival Marsyas alive
Roman name: Apollo
Symbols: Lyre, bow, tripod, laurel wreath

Ares
God of: War
Strengths: This natural born killer fathered Eros (Cupid) and Harmonia (Harmony)
Flaws: Lost twice to Athena, the martial Goddess of Wisdom
Roman name: Mars
Symbols: Spear, torch, armour

Artemis
Goddess of: the Hunt
Strengths: Despite her bloodthirstiness, she protected pregnant women and small children
Flaws: This eternal virgin turned a peeping tom, Actaeon, into a stag and hunted him
Roman name: Diana
Symbols: Bow and quiver, new moon, hind

Athena
Goddess of: Wisdom
Strengths: Born, fully-grown and armed, from Zeus’ brain
Flaws: Accidentally killed her childhood playmate Pallas (assuming her name as penance)
Roman name: Minerva
Symbols: Helmet, shield, spear, olive tree, owl

Demeter
Goddess of: the Earth and Fertility
Strengths: Taught people about agriculture, civic order and wedlock
Flaws: Starved humans, when Hades stole her daughter, then created winter
Roman name: Ceres
Symbols: Ear of corn, fruit basket, poppy, torch, serpent

Dionysus
God of: Wine
Strengths: Roamed the globe with drunken nymphs, satyrs and wild women
Flaws: The portable party often spun out of control. Limbs were torn. Lives were lost.
Roman name: Bacchus (aka Liber)
Symbols: Ivy crown, grapes, cup, wand, fawn, panther, crazed revellers

Hades
God of: the Underworld and the Dead
Strengths: In milder moods, he bestowed wealth or an invisibility helmet
Flaws: Kidnapped his bride Persephone, whose enraged mother invented winter
Roman name: Pluto
Symbols: Three-headed dog Cerberus, pick axe, cypress tree

Hephaestus
God of: Fire and Metalworking
Strengths: His fabulous jewellery earned him Aphrodite, the love goddess, as his wife
Flaws: She cheated on him constantly and blatantly.
Roman name: Vulcan
Symbols: Hammer, tongs, lame leg

Hera
Goddess of: Marriage, Queen of Heaven
Strengths: Routinely renewed her virginity bathing in a special spring
Flaws: This jealous wife chased one rival with a python, kept another as a pet cow
Roman name: Juno
Symbols: Peacock, cuckoo, cow, pomegranate

Hermes
God of: Thieves, Traders and Messengers
Strengths: Invented the lyre mere days after his birth (with gut from Apollo’s stolen cows)
Flaws: Guided souls to the Underworld
Roman name: Mercury
Symbols: Herald’s staff, winged golden sandals, winged helmet

Hestia
Goddess of: the Hearth and Civic Harmony
Strengths: Kept the home fires burning and avoided sexual intrigue on Olympus
Flaws: Too dull to have one, really.
Roman name: Vesta
Symbols: Sceptre, hearth

Poseidon
God of: the Ocean and Flowing Waters
Strengths: Invented horses (or so he boasted)
Flaws: Caused storms and earthquakes
Roman name: Neptune
Symbols: Trident, chariot drawn by foam horses, dolphin

Zeus
God of: the Sky, King of the Gods
Strengths: Saved his siblings by poisoning their cannibal father, the Titan Cronus
Flaws: Raped his mother (who advised him not to marry his sister, Hera)
Roman name: Jupiter
Symbols: Lightening bolt, clouds, eagle, oak

 

 

 

 



"The wine god Dionysus
roamed the globe with
drunken nymphs, satyrs
and wild women."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Zeus raped his
mother, who advised
him not to marry
his sister Hera."

 

 

 

See also:
Greek mythology
Hero worship in film


Back to the directory