Greek Mythology Reexamined: The Gods

Whether we like it or not, Greek mythology has always been part of our culture and these we’re constantly drawn to it for various reasons since it usually consists of one epic soap opera with monsters, fighting, and characters who suffer terrible fates for lacking common sense. Like many ancient cultures, Ancient Greece had a pantheon of gods who were just as human as themselves as well as deities you shouldn’t piss off. This did not mean that they also caused their share of trouble and piss off each other off (resulting in a very dysfunctional family like most pantheons). However, we must be aware that not all Greek mythologies are consistent here and sometimes modern culture has a habit of depicting them differently than they were originally presented. Still, there are plenty of Greek gods so I’m only going to name the most important of these deities who appear in most of the myths. And I’m not going to cover the previous generations either since that gets too complicated. So without further adieu, if you’re stuck in a Greek mythological world, here’s a short cheat sheet on what to expect from them.

1. Zeus

Apparently, being the King of Mount Olympus means being as much of an asshole as you want. Or maybe he's the boss because he knows how to keep a bunch of assholes in line. Either way, he's a major jerk who humps anything that moves without without considering his wife's feelings, treats his kids however he feels like it, and can screw mortals in anyway he sees fit. Yeah, major jackass.

Apparently, being the King of Mount Olympus means being as much of an asshole as you want. Or maybe he’s the boss because he knows how to keep a bunch of assholes in line. Either way, he’s a major jerk who humps anything that moves without without considering his wife’s feelings, treats his kids however he feels like it, and can screw mortals in anyway he sees fit. Yeah, major jackass.

AKA: Jupiter, Jove

Domain: King and Patriarch of the Gods on Mount Olympus and is associated with sky, thunder, leadership, law, oaths, rain, and hospitality then a very sacred thing in the ancient world.

Pro: He’s considered as perhaps the toughest and most powerful god in the bunch (and became king of the gods by triumphing over his dad Chronos and putting the end of the Titan’s rule) as well as someone even the other gods don’t want to piss off (considering the Greek mythos, this is an asset since someone needs to keep this bunch in line). Also, he hates liars, oath breakers, and the unjust and won’t hesitate to punish the truly vile. But he does tend to show up and help others on a good day. Still, despite his character flaws, he’s usually a guy you’d want on your side but usually tries to remain neutral.

Con: He’s been very prone to cause a lot of trouble in mythos because he can’t keep it in his pants and will go for anyone that moves in any form and whether they want it or not. As a parent, he doesn’t really treat all his kids equally and wouldn’t hesitate offing some of them either (and let me say, he has a shitload of kids divine and mortal). Also, has major hypocrisy issues despite being a god of justice, especially in his personal life as well as performed other highly questionable actions. Not to mention, will do everything he could to stay in power (for good reasons). Yet, he also could be unpredictable and the weather depended on his temper. Out of all the Greek gods, he’s probably the biggest asshole.

Patron City: Olympia where the big Statue of Zeus once stood and place of the Ancient Greek Olympic Games which was an event held on behalf of this guy.

Symbols: thunderbolt, eagle, bull, scepter, throne, and oak

2. Hera

Of course, she may be Queen of Mount Olympus but she has major issues with taking out most of her anger over Zeus infidelity on his sexual conquests and illegitimate kids. Of course, she does this since she can't really wring her wrath on Zeus but maybe she should. Still, she's not as much of a bitch as she seems and she and Zeus kind of deserve each other.

Of course, she may be Queen of Mount Olympus but she has major issues with taking out most of her anger over Zeus infidelity on his sexual conquests and illegitimate kids. Of course, she does this since she can’t really wring her wrath on Zeus but maybe she should. Still, she’s not as much of a bitch as she seems and she and Zeus kind of deserve each other.

AKA: Juno

Domain: Queen and Matriarch of the gods on Mount Olympus and is associated with marriage, women, and birth. Zeus’ wife and older sister (though incest is common in ancient pantheons).

Pro: Has Zeus’ weather powers and can also be formidable in a fight even with other gods. Can be a benevolent and fair queen who protects mothers and wives and is very nice toward faithful husbands. Also, it’s not easy having Zeus as a husband though the two seem to genuinely love each other.

Con: Like her husband, she’s extremely volatile and similar in his temperament though she sticks with a guy who constantly cheats on her. Has a tendency to be perpetually ticked off at anyone who wronged her, insulted her, had sex with Zeus, or being any of his love children. Still, though she may have an unjust tendency to unleash her wrath against Zeus’ conquests and love children, this is her only way of getting even since she can’t do anything to her husband besides yell at him. Other offending husbands aren’t so lucky. And while she’s a stepmother from hell (especially to her namesake Heracles {Hercules}), she’s not much better parent to her own children either.

Patron City: Argos but she had a temple in Olympia with a cult figure said to predate Zeus (it was the earliest there) and she was big in Mycenae.

Symbols: pomegranate, peacock, feather, diadem, cow, and lily

3. Poseidon

The old man of the sea who has a nasty temper and could cause all kinds of natural disasters when in a bad mood. On a positive note, he has a cool trident.

The old man of the sea who has a nasty temper and could cause all kinds of natural disasters when in a bad mood. On a positive note, he has a cool trident and likes horses.

AKA: Neptune

Domain: God of the ocean, rivers, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and horses. However, he does not have a fish tail since he wasn’t born the God of the sea but won his rule when he and his brothers drew lots amongst themselves.

Pro: He’s one of the toughest gods and let’s just say you don’t want to mess with any of his kids even if there was a good reason for it. Someone you might want to have on his good side.

Con: While not in his brother Zeus’ league, he does have his share of conquests as well as a shitload of kids (and shares a similar sexual appetite and conduct, though his wife didn’t seem to care since she didn’t want to marry him in the first place). And sometimes his philandering leads to the same problems (like some stories relating to his involvement with Medusa). He can also be very volatile causing storms, shipwrecks, earthquakes, chaotic springs, and drownings with his trident. Definitely not one to mess with.

Patron City: Corinth and most seafaring cities in Ancient Greece and Southern Italian colonies. Yet, he also has great importance in Athens since they had the best navy and Delphi. He may also be one of the oldest Greek gods with roots in the Bronze Age as a chief deity.

Symbols: trident, fish, dolphin, horse, and bull

4. Hades

Despite the image, he's actually one of the least malicious gods you'll ever meet. He's more or less a polite guy doing his job which happens to be on par with running the garbage dump that everybody hates. Oh, yeah, and he's usually makes good on his promises and can't be easily bribed.

Despite the image, he’s actually one of the least malicious gods you’ll ever meet (who is actually devoted and faithful to his wife even if he did kidnap her). He’s more or less a polite guy doing his job which happens to be on par with running the garbage dump that everybody hates. Oh, yeah, and he’s usually makes good on his promises and can’t be easily bribed.

AKA: Pluto, Dis, Clymenus, Polydegmon, Eubuleus, Orcus. Even his own name is a euphemism. Yet, many Ancient Greeks tried to avoid saying his name.

Domain: God of the Underworld reigning over the dead, wealth, and the underground in general. Is not a grim-reaper type figure.

Pro: Despite modern connotations, he isn’t a bad guy and is one of the nicest Greek gods around. He honors his deals and doesn’t screw around in mortal affairs. And he only lashes out when someone has really done him wrong or tries to cheat death (but he does make exceptions and can be rather helpful). Also, despite kidnapping and marrying his niece Persephone, he’s actually a loving, devoted, and faithful husband who actually consulted Zeus before he did the deed. Also, he’s used by the Ancient Greeks as to how terrifying something is and is stinking rich. And he has a cool helmet of invisibility.

Con: Well, he kidnapped Persephone and made her his wife under ambiguous consent (in Ancient Greece kidnapping in marriage was the norm). He’s also a very busy guy with the most subjects to govern in a job that’s rather unpopular but very important resulting in him having the biggest workload among the Greek gods. Also, though he does have a heart, you probably wouldn’t know it since he has the emotional range of a statue and doesn’t have the best personality. Not to mention, his association with death didn’t make him popular in Ancient Greece since they were terrified of it and him, especially since he’s impossible to sweet-talk out of doing something.

Patron City: None, since the Ancient Greeks were terrified of and loathed him due to his association with death and his temples are dedicated anonymously. And let’s just say their attitude of him was rather complex.

Symbols: Cerberus, drinking horn, scepter, cypress, narcissus, and key

5. Hestia

Sweet, mild mannered, personable goddess of the hearth. Also, minds her own business. But kind of boring and forgettable.

Sweet, mild mannered, personable goddess of the hearth. Also, minds her own business. But kind of boring and forgettable.

AKA: Vesta

Domain: Goddess of home, house, and family.

Pro: She’s one of the most moral out of all the Greek gods and usually stays out of her relatives’ antics. She’s also one of the more important deities in the pantheon and one Ancient Greeks would pray most to for their daily troubles as well as had a role in all their religious ceremonies. Has a modest and discreet nature.

Con: She doesn’t appear in most of the mythos despite her importance and is one of the more boring Greek Gods. Also, her discreet and modest nature makes many people forget of her existence in the Pantheon.

Patron City: None, but she was one of the first to have sacrificial offerings and among the most worshiped by Ancient Greeks and was seen as very significant to the center of community and home.

Symbols: hearth and its fire

6. Demeter

She may be the goddess of the harvest but almost destroyed humanity when Hades kidnapped her daughter Persephone. Luckily she gets to see her half the year. Still. starving the world over her daughter may be a bit extreme but understandable.

She may be the goddess of the harvest but almost destroyed humanity when Hades kidnapped her daughter Persephone. Luckily she gets to see her half the year. Still. starving the world over her daughter may be a bit extreme but understandable.

AKA: Ceres

Domain: Goddess of grain, fertility, sacred law, and cycle of life and death.

Pro: Really seems to love her daughter, Persephone that she almost destroyed humanity when she went missing though whether she did it intentionally or out of grief depends on the version. Yet, she’s usually nice unless provoked and once raised a mortal baby. She’s also well liked and widely worshiped by the Ancient Greeks since she was the goddess of agriculture.

Con: She nearly lost it when Hades kidnapped her daughter and doesn’t really seem to take it too kindly to him despite that Persephone gets a good arrangement out of seeing her mom for half a year. Also, she has her share fooling around with mortal and divine men and eight other children who rarely get mentioned (she’s a mother goddess after all).

Patron City: Eleusis since they were the center of the Eleusian Mysteries which pre-dated the Olympian Pantheon, but she had plenty of temples dedicated to her and may be one of the oldest Greek Gods with Bronze Age roots. In fact, she may have had a cult established in 1500 B.C.E. Her major festival is Thesmorphiora which was participated by women only.

Symbols: poppy

7. Aphrodite

Sure she may be the goddess of love and beauty but that doesn't mean she'd make the perfect girlfriend since she's just as much of a bitch as her fellow gods. She sleeps with everyone but her husband, is very fickle, isn't great to her kids, and you don't want to see her when she's angry. Also, is very much a diva and doesn't like other girls deemed prettier than her.

Sure she may be the goddess of love and beauty but that doesn’t mean she’d make the perfect girlfriend since she’s just as much of a bitch as her fellow gods. She sleeps with everyone but her husband, is very fickle, isn’t great to her kids, and you don’t want to see her when she’s angry. Also, is very much a diva and doesn’t like other girls deemed prettier than her.

AKA: Venus

Domain: Goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality as well as associated with looking after children. Well, at least when it comes to sex anyway.

Pro: She doesn’t get angry very often but just don’t piss her off. Not to mention, she’s very much in touch with her sexuality and nobody sees anything wrong with it.

Con: She may be the goddess of love, but has a tendency to stir trouble. For one, she has many lovers and several kids and is really not a great mother herself. Not to mention, she’s married to Hephaestus and he doesn’t get any action from her. Also, she’s very vain and gets pissed off at women deemed prettier even if it’s someone her son Eros wants to be with (Psyche).

Patron City: Cyprus, which was where she started as their chief deity.

Symbols: dolphin, rose, scallop shell, myrtle, dove, sparrow, girdle, mirror, and swan

8. Athena

As far as Greek goddesses go, she's probably the closest thing to being a role model for young girls, by today's standards. She's smart, fierce, and is fairly decent to those who follow the rules though she's not perfect. She's also known to assist heroes and kick other gods' asses. Get on her bad side and she'll give you no mercy.

As far as Greek goddesses go, she’s probably the closest thing to being a role model for young girls, by today’s standards. She’s smart, fierce, and is fairly decent to those who follow the rules though she’s not perfect. She’s also known to assist heroes and kick other gods’ asses. Get on her bad side and she’ll give you no mercy.

AKA: Minerva

Domain: Goddess of wisdom, strategy, industry, defensive war, justice, inspiration, civilization, mathematics, arts, crafts, intelligence and skill.

Pro: She’s one of the smartest and most powerful Greek Gods as well as very tough in her own right (she has taken many gods in a fight). But she’d rather not fight without reasonable cause (but is willing to own up to her mistakes). Yet, despite this she’s very loyal and is willing to help people as long as they were following the rules. She’s also kind to kids as well as raised a few herself and sometimes helps resolve trouble. Though passionate about justice, she’s pretty level headed most of the time.

Con: She doesn’t like being disrespected and can get quite angry and vindictive to those slighting her. Also, doesn’t like people thinking they’re better than her either. And she shows no mercy to people who break the rules.

Patron City: Athens though she may be one of the earliest Greek gods with varied origin stories. Also, the Parthenon is her temple.

Symbol: owl, olive tree, snake, Aegis, armor, helmet, spear, Gorgoneion

9. Apollo

He may be a good looking and popular cool guy who gets all the guys and girls. Yet he also wouldn't hesitate to pull dirty tricks on people if he didn't get his way. He may be a god of light but he's very much a big bully.

He may be a good looking and popular cool guy who gets all the guys and girls. Yet he also wouldn’t hesitate to pull dirty tricks on people if he didn’t get his way. He may be a god of light but he’s very much a big bully.

AKA: He has no other names in Classical mythology and even the Romans referred to him the same way.

Domain: God of light, sun, truth and prophecy, medicine, disease and darkness, music, poetry, archery, knowledge, purity, athleticism, manly beauty, rhetoric, enlightenment, and more. I mean, he has a lot of things associated with him.

Pro: He is very smart, powerful and can be very handy to have on your side. Not to mention, he’s the god of a lot of things and you don’t want to hurt any of his kids either or his mother and sister. Also, he’s one of the more popular Greek gods.

Con: He has a very bad side despite being a very good-looking god. For one, he has a string of lovers and many kids and not all his sexual encounters have been consensual. Not to mention, he’s a guy who always likes to have his way or else, he’d do something very terrible to either mortals or gods like spreading disease, setting them up for murder either way he’d leave them to fate after he’s done with them. And in many ways, he’s one of the biggest jerks on Mount Olympus. Doesn’t have best relationship with sister.

Patron City: Delphi and Delos where the oracles usually resided while he may have had Anatolian, Minoan, or Dorian origins though he’s one of the last to be included. Still, he’s one of the more popular ones though and the Pythian Games were held in his honor.

Symbols: lyre, laurel wreath, python, raven, bow and arrows, and others I can’t list.

10. Artemis

She may be a goddess of the hunt in the woods with her virgin entourage but she has a vicious streak about a mile wide and does not like men at all.

She may be a goddess of the hunt in the woods with her virgin entourage but she has a vicious streak about a mile wide and does not like men at all.

AKA: Diana

Domain: Goddess of young women, virginity, childbirth, the hunt, wild animals, women’s ailments, forests and hills, disease and sudden death, and the moon.

Pro: Is a very good archer as well as hunting and is a friend of nature as well as women in general. Also, as a goddess, she’s known to assist women in childbirth. Can be nice to tree huggers and kids as well. Not to mention, is more concerned with doing her own thing with her female attendants than anything else.

Con: She has a vicious streak about a mile wide and has a string of victims. There’s a lot of things that can piss her off such as boasting about being prettier or being a better hunter than her, being romantically pursued (save maybe one time it didn’t go well or having her attendants fool around), and others. Not to mention, she does not like men and can inflict disease.

Patron City: None, but there was a famous temple of her at Ephesus yet she didn’t want to be a city patron anyway. Also, she may have been one of the earliest Greek gods and might have had Neolithic origins.

Symbols: bow and arrows, stag, hunting dog, bear, deer, and the moon

11. Ares

He may be an imposing and manly god of war but he doesn't have many friends on Mount Olympus and loves going on bloodthirsty killing sprees just for the heck of it all. But if he gets hurt, he'll whine and run to daddy. Also, he's kind of worthless against most non-mortal enemies.

He may be an imposing and manly god of war but he doesn’t have many friends on Mount Olympus and loves going on bloodthirsty killing sprees just for the heck of it all. But if he gets hurt, he’ll whine and run to daddy. Also, he’s kind of worthless against most non-mortal enemies.

AKA: Mars

Domain: God of war, bloodshed, and violence. Some may say he’s the god of unhinged masculinity.

Pro: He’s depicted as a good dad who always supported his kids and tried to protect them unlike many of his fellow gods (and he has a lot of kids). He also loved his mother Hera (though she didn’t love him). He’s also a force to be reckoned with and the embodiment of physical valor in war.

Con: He’s one of the most despised gods in Greek mythology and most of the ancient Greeks didn’t have a high opinion of him either. Heck, even his own parents and other gods hate him. Also, usually goes on bloodthirsty killing sprees on default and has a huge ego but he loses against almost every non-mortal enemy he’s faced. Not to mention, he’s a shameful coward who’d run back and complain to Zeus whenever he was seriously injured. And he’s had a long string of lovers and isn’t always nice to them. He may be a war god, but his effectiveness is constantly in doubt.

Patron City: Sparta since they seem to have a much higher opinion of him than the other Greek city-states, yet he’s also associated with founding Thebes and places like Thrace, Macedonia, and Mani. Also, the Romans really like him as well as viewed him as the founder of their people.

Symbols: spear, helmet, dog, chariot, and boar

12. Hephaestus

He may not be the best looking or most popular god on Olympus, but the pantheon couldn't do without him. Still, no matter how much crap he gets, at least he doesn't take his angst out on mortals.

He may not be the best looking or most popular god on Olympus, but the pantheon couldn’t do without him. Still, no matter how much crap he gets, at least he doesn’t take his angst out on mortals.

AKA: Vulcan (but has nothing to do with Star Trek) however, it’s his nearest Roman equivalent though.

Domain: God of fire, blacksmiths, craftsmen, stone masonry, sculptors, metallurgy, and volcanoes.

Pro: Though crippled and ugly, is probably one of the handy gods who helps fashion things for his fellow Olympians and is associated with technology. He can even make his inanimate creations come to life. He’s also one of the nicer and humbler gods as well as peace loving who never takes his anger out on mortals. Not to mention, there’s a reason why his dad Zeus chose him to marry Aphrodite.

Con: Though he’s married to the constantly unfaithful Aphrodite, he does get around and sire children with others even though he does not take her infidelity well (though theirs is a sexless marriage). Not to mention, he has a tendency to be under appreciated by his fellow deities. Also, did a really sick trick on his mother, Hera even though that might not have been completely undeserved.

Patron City: Lemnos, though he had a considerable following and might have been of Pre-Greek origin, especially in manufacturing and industrial centers of Ancient Greece.

Symbols: hammer, anvil, tongs, and quail

13. Hermes

He deceives, cheats, steals, and whatnot but usually gets away with it, but compared to the others, he's one of the nicest Greek gods you'll meet. If he doesn't like you, then there's a good reason for it and you best watch your back.

He deceives, cheats, steals, and whatnot but usually gets away with it, but compared to the others, he’s one of the nicest Greek gods you’ll meet. If he doesn’t like you, then there’s a good reason for it and you best watch your back.

AKA: Mercury, well, closest Roman equivalent anyway

Domain: Messenger to the Gods and guide to the Underworld as well as associated with commerce, travelers, thieves, sports, athletes, shepherds, cowherds, wit, written language, literature, cunning, boundaries, communication, animal husbandry, and luck.

Pro: Compared to the rest of the gods besides Ares, he’s a model parent and one of the nicest gods who doesn’t judge people based on appearances. He was also nice to other people’s children as well as acted as foster parent to a few (also has a bunch of kids). Not to mention, he’s able to stop Zeus from destroying humanity. Is basically a good friend to anyone who’s nice to him and if he doesn’t like someone, there’s usually a good reason for it.

Con: He’s kind of mischievous but loveable rogue who deceives, cheats, steals, and whatnot as well as usually gets away with it. Like a lot of the Olympians, he also gets around with a string of lovers as well.

Patron City: None, but his oldest temple was in Arcadia and he had a very popular following in which the festival Hermaea consisted of sporting events for only young boys.

Symbols: Caduceus, Talaria, tortoise, lyre, rooster, and snake

14. Dionysus

The closest thing Ancient Greece had to a frat boy god. He's a hedonist party animal with unpredictable moods and bouts with insanity. Can be great fun or an insane sadist like many frat boys. So eat, drink, and be merry, or he'll kill you.

The closest thing Ancient Greece had to a frat boy god. He’s a hedonist party animal with unpredictable moods and bouts with insanity. Can be great fun or an insane sadist like many frat boys. So eat, drink, and be merry, or he’ll kill you.

AKA: Bacchus but also identified with Liber

Domain: God of wine, parties and festivals, drunkenness, drugs, ecstasy, theater, grape harvest, and agriculture. In some ways, he may be interpreted as the god of Greek life as far as modern college campuses are concerned.

Pro: Genuinely loves his wife, Ariadne in some versions despite not being completely faithful to her (well, what do you expect from a god of hedonism?) and cares about his mother to go to the Underworld for her. Is pretty much fun personified and has survived plenty of nasty shit since he was a baby.

Con: He does have a tendency to punish those who piss him off and does have his share of conquests (basically anything that moves but wife doesn’t seem to mind). Also, in some myths, he’s seen as an insane sadist and party animal as well as prone to violent mood swings. Not to mention, doesn’t take kindly to those who object to his debauch and hedonistic ways.

Patron City: None, but though considered a late arrival in the Olympian pantheon, he actually may have been worshiped as early as 1500 B.C.E. but his cult had been much marginalized for a long time. But he was highly popular for very explainable reasons.

Symbols: Thyrsus, grapevine, leopard skin, panther, tiger, and leopard

15. Persephone

She may be the goddess of spring but she's also Queen of the Underworld and is sometimes more feared than her husband, Hades. Still, whether Stockholm Syndrome or not, she must've felt something positive for Hades to be kind of possessive of him.

She may be the goddess of spring but she’s also Queen of the Underworld and is sometimes more feared than her husband, Hades. Still, Stockholm Syndrome or not, she must’ve felt something positive for Hades to be kind of possessive of him. Then again, she and Hades seem to have had a happy marriage by Ancient Greek standards.

AKA: Proserpina

Domain: Queen of the Underworld and associated with vegetation, spring, rejuvenation, and youth

Pro: Though stoic, she can be moved to tears if someone wants to either die in their spouse’s place or bring his or her spouse back. And whether or not she was really abducted by today’s standards, she seems to have loved Hades though missed her mother around the same time.

Con: She may love Hades but she’s not so much faithful to him (she and Aphrodite fought over Adonis). Not to mention, sometimes she’s even feared more by mortals than her own husband and is almost as stoic as he is. And if anyone dare try to seduce Hades, she would show no mercy.

Patron City: She was worshiped in Ancient Greece in ceremonies involving her mother like the Eleusian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and may have had Bronze Age or Near Eastern roots making her one of the oldest Greek gods. Still, she had more worshipers than Ares.

Symbols: white poplar and mint leaf

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