Zeus

ZEUS (zoose or zyoose; Roman name Jupiter) was the supreme god of the Olympians. He was the father of the heroes Perseus and Heracles, the latter of whom once wrestled him to a draw.Zeus was the youngest son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. When he was born, his father Cronus intended to swallow him as he had all of Zeus’s siblings: Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera. But Rhea hid the newborn in a cave on Mount Dicte in Crete. (To this day, the guides at the “cave of Zeus” use their flashlights to cast shadow puppets in the cave, creating images of baby Zeus from the myth.) Continue reading

Hermes

HERMES (HUR-meez; Roman name Mercury) was the messenger of the gods and guide of dead souls to the Underworld. A prankster and inventive genius from birth, Hermes aided the heroes Odysseus and Perseus in their quests. Hermes was the son Zeus and a mountain nymph. As a newborn he was remarkably precocious. On his very first day of life, he found the empty shell of a tortoise and perceived its utility as a sounding chamber. Stringing sinews across it, he created the first lyre. Continue reading

HERA (HEE-ruh; Roman name Juno) was the goddess of marriage. Hera was the wife of Zeus and Queen of the Olympians. Hera hated the great hero Heracles since he was the son of her husband Zeus and a mortal woman. When he was still an infant, she sent snakes to attack him in his crib. Later she stirred up the Amazons against him when he was on one of his quests. Continue reading

Hephaesteus

HEPHAESTUS (he-FEE-stus or he-FESS-tus; Roman name Vulcan) was the lame god of fire and crafts or the two together, hence of blacksmiths. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera or, in some accounts, of Hera alone. He limped because he was born lame, which caused his mother to throw him off Mount Olympus. Or in other accounts he interceded in a fight between Zeus and Hera, and Zeus took him by the foot and threw him from Olympus to the earth far below. Continue reading

Artemis

ARTEMIS (AR-ti-mis; Roman name Diana) was the virgin goddess of the hunt. She helped women in childbirth but also brought sudden death with her arrows. Artemis and her brother Apollo were the children of Zeus and Leto. In some versions of their myth, Artemis was born first and helped her mother to deliver Apollo. Continue reading

Dionysus

DEMETER (dee-MEE-tur; Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of agriculture. Demeter as the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone. Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow one day when a huge crack opened up in the earth and Hades, King of the Dead, emerged from the Underworld. He seized Persephone and carried her off in his chariot, back down to his his realm below, where she became his queen. Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the length and breadth of the earth in search of her daughter, during which time the crops withered and it became perpetual winter. Continue reading

Demeter

DEMETER (dee-MEE-tur; Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of agriculture. Demeter as the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone. Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow one day when a huge crack opened up in the earth and Hades, King of the Dead, emerged from the Underworld. He seized Persephone and carried her off in his chariot, back down to his his realm below, where she became his queen. Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the length and breadth of the earth in search of her daughter, during which time the crops withered and it became perpetual winter. Continue reading

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