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As familiar as those from the Bible, these stories saturate our literary history, in renditions and translations, allusions and transformations. In all of these stories, Circe is at once important and liminal, just as she is a figure of uncertain powers, a minor immortal, the daughter of Helios, god of the sun and a Titan, and Perse, a lowly naiad. Secretly kind to Prometheus after he is condemned for giving fire to the humans, she is exiled to Aiaia not for this transgression but for her use of witchcraft to turn the mortal Glaucos, with whom she is in love, into a god; and, when Glaucos spurns her for the beautiful but feckless nymph Scylla, for transforming her into the sea monster who will plague sailors for generations.

His laugh had been bright as morning sun. I made a list of all the things I would do for him. Scald off my skin. The Roman poet Ovid's poem the Metamorphoses] retells many Greek myths. The word pantheon, which refers to all the gods of a particular culture, comes from the Greek pan all and theoi gods. The pantheon of the ancient Greeks consisted of the Olympian gods and other major deities, along with many minor deities and demigods. Olympian Gods. The principal deities, six gods and six goddesses, lived on Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Greece. Zeus called Jupiter by the Romans was the king of the gods and reigned over all the other deities and their realms.

He was the protector of justice, kingship, authority, and the social order. His personal life was rather disorderly, however. Many myths tell of his love affairs with various goddesses, Titans, and human women—and their effects. Hera Roman Juno , queen of the gods, was Zeus's sister and wife.

About Circe

She could cause all kinds of trouble when her husband pursued other women. Although the patron of brides, wives, and mothers. Titan one of a family of giants who ruled the earth until overthrown by the Greek gods of Olympus.

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Poseidon Roman Neptune , Zeus's brother, was god of the sea and of earthquakes. He was married to Amphitrite, a sea nymph, but like Zeus, he fathered many children outside his marriage. Demeter Roman Ceres , a sister of Zeus, was the goddess of grain, farming, and soil. She had a daughter, Persephone, by Zeus. This frieze shows the Gigantomachy, a legendary battle in Greek mythology between the Giants and the Olympian gods.

The gods won by killing the Giants with the help of Hercules.

Mythology Names

Before merging into the Olympian pantheon, Demeter and Hera were aspects of a much older deity called the Great Goddess, an earth goddess worshiped by the agricultural Greeks. Aphrodite Roman Venus , the goddess of love, beauty, and desire, greatly resembled Near Eastern goddesses such as Ishtar and Astarte. Her husband was Hephaestus Roman Vulcan , god of fire, volcanoes, and invention.

The other gods mocked Hephaestus because he was lame and also because of Aphrodite's adulteries, such as her love affair with the god of war, Ares Roman Mars. Two Olympian goddesses were virgins who resisted sexual advances from gods and men. Athena Roman Minerva , the daughter of Zeus and a female Titan, was the goddess of wisdom, military skill, cities, and crafts.

Philippine gods and goddesses

Artemis Roman Diana was the goddess of hunting and the protector of wild animals. She and her twin brother, the handsome young god Apollo, were the children of Zeus and the Titan Leto. Apollo functioned as the patron of archery, music, the arts, and medicine and was associated with the sun, enlightenment, and prophecy.

He also served as the ideal of male beauty. Hermes Roman Mercury was the son of Zeus and yet another Titan. He served as the gods' messenger and also as the patron of markets, merchants, thieves, and storytelling. Hestia Roman Vesta , another sister of Zeus, was goddess of the hearth, and her identity included associations with stability domestic well-being, and the ritual of naming children. Other Major Deities. Hades Roman Pluto , the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, was god of the underworld, where the dead could receive either punishment or a blessed afterlife. Hades dwelt in his underground kingdom and not on Mount Olympus.

He controlled supernatural forces connected with the earth and was also associated with wealth. Dionysus Roman Bacchus , born as a demigod, became the god of wine, drunkenness, and altered states of consciousness such as religious frenzy. Like plants that die each winter only to return in. Dionysus eventually took Hestia's place on Mount Olympus. Stories about the gods—along with other supernatural beings, demigods, heroes, and ordinary mortals—illustrate the major themes of Greek mythology.

They explain how the world came to be and offer examples of how people should and should not live. The myths provided support for the Greeks' idea of community, especially the city-state. Origins of Gods and Humans. The theme of younger generations overcoming their elders runs through the history of the Greek gods.

Creation began with Chaos, first imagined as the gap between earth and sky but later as formless confusion. The mother goddess, Gaia, the earth, came into being and gave birth to Uranus, the sky. Joining with Uranus, she became pregnant with six male and six female Titans. But before these children could be born, Uranus had to be separated from Gaia. Aphrodite was born from the foam where they landed. The 12 Titans mated with each other and with nymphs.

Cronus married his sister Rhea Roman Cybele. Perhaps remembering what he had done to his own father, Cronus swallowed his children as they were born. When Rhea gave birth to Zeus, however, she tricked Cronus by substituting a stone wrapped in baby clothes for him to swallow. Later, when Zeus had grown up, a female Titan named Metis gave Cronus a drink that made him vomit up Zeus's brothers and sisters.

They helped Zeus defeat the Titans and become the supreme deity. Zeus then married Metis. However, because of a prophecy that her children would be wise and powerful, he swallowed her so that her children could not harm him. Their daughter Athena sprang full-grown from Zeus's head. The matings of the gods and goddesses produced the rest of the pantheon. As for human beings, one myth says that they arose out of the soil.

Another says that Zeus flooded the earth and drowned all human beings because they did not honor the gods.

Deucalion and Pyrrha, the son and daughter-in-law of Zeus's brother Prometheus, survived the flood in a boat. Afterward they created the present human race from stones, which they threw onto the muddy land. Generations of readers have wondered whether the great Greek myths were based on true stories. One reader who decided to investigate was German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Convinced that the ancient city of Troy mentioned in Homer's Iliad had actually existed, he set out to find it. In the early s, Schliemann began digging at a site in northwestern Turkey that matched Homer's description of Troy.

He found the buried remains of a city as well as gold, silver, pottery, and household objects. Later excavations by other researchers revealed that a series of different settlements had risen on the same site over thousands of years.

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One of these may have been Homer's Troy. The Ages of the World. According to the poet Hesiod, the world had seen four ages and four races of human beings before his time. The Titans created the people of the golden age, who lived in comfort and peace until they died and became good spirits. The Olympian gods created the silver race, a childish people whom Zeus destroyed for failing to honor the gods. Zeus then created the bronze race, brutal and warlike people who destroyed themselves with constant fighting. Zeus next created a race of heroes nobler than the men of the bronze age no metal was associated with this age.

The Greeks believed that distant but semihistorical events such as the Trojan Warf had occurred during this fourth age, the age of heroes. Some heroes died, but Zeus took the survivors to the Isles of the Blessed, where they lived in honor. The fifth age, the age of iron, began when Zeus created the present race of humans. It is an age of toil, greed, and strife. When all honor and justice have vanished, Zeus will destroy this race like those before it. The theme of this myth is decline, with the best times always in the past.

Yet the Greeks also believed that one day the golden age would return again. Decline was only part of a long cycle. The gods were born in strife and struggle, and the theme of war as an inescapable part of existence runs through Greek mythology. Many myths recount episodes in the Olympians' conflict with the Titans. Others are connected to the Trojan War, a long conflict in which both people and deities displayed such qualities as courage, stubbornness, pride, and anger.

In addition to the war itself, the travels and adventures of warriors after the war ended are subjects of myth and legend. Many myths deal with the loves of Zeus, who sometimes disguised himself in order to enjoy sexual relations with mortal women. Other myths present examples of trust, loyalty, and eternal love—or of the pitfalls and problems of love and desire.


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The tragic myth of Pyramus and Thisbe illustrates a divine reward for lovers who could not live without each other. The story of Eros and Psyche revolves around the issue of trust.

In another myth, the gods reward the elderly Baucis and Philemon for their devotion to each other and their kindheartedness toward strangers. Love affairs in Greek myth do not always end happily One story tells how Apollo fell in love with a nymph named Daphne, but like Artemis she cared more for hunting than for love. She ran from Apollo in terror, and when he was about to seize her, she asked her father, a river god, to save her.

He changed her into a laurel tree, which is why the laurel was considered Apollo's sacred tree. Many Greek myths focus on the marvelous achievements of heroes who possessed physical strength, sharp wits, virtue, and a sense of honor. These heroes often had a god for a father and a human for a mother.

One cycle of myths concerns the hero Hercules—Zeus's son by a mortal princess—renowned for his strength and for completing 12 remarkable feats. Unlike other heroes, who died and were buried, Hercules eventually became immortal and was worshiped as a god by both Greeks and Romans. Transformation—the act of changing from one form into another—is a common theme in Greek mythology.