In "ancient Greek religion and "mythology, the twelve Olympians are the major deities of the "Greek "pantheon, commonly considered to be "Zeus, "Hera, "Poseidon, "Demeter, "Athena, "Apollo, "Artemis, "Ares, "Aphrodite, "Hephaestus, "Hermes, and either "Hestia or "Dionysus. They were called 'Olympians' because they were considered to reside on "Mount Olympus.
Although "Hades was a major ancient Greek god, and was the brother of the first generation of Olympians: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia, he resided in the "underworld, far from Olympus, and thus was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians. Besides the twelve Olympians, there were many other cultic groupings of twelve gods.
The Olympians were the principal "deities of the Greek "pantheon, so named because of their residency atop "Mount Olympus. They gained their supremacy in a ten-year-long "war of gods, in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over the previous generation of ruling gods, the "Titans. They were a family of gods, the most important consisting of the first generation of Olympians, offspring of the Titans "Cronus and "Rhea: "Zeus, "Posidon, "Hera, "Demeter and "Hestia, along with the principal offspring of Zeus: "Athena, "Apollo, "Artemis, "Ares, "Aphrodite, "Hephaestus, "Hermes, and "Dionysus. Although "Hades was a major deity in the Greek "pantheon, and was the brother of Zeus and the other first generation of Olympians, his realm was far away from Olympus in the "underworld, and thus he was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians.
The canonical number of Olympian gods was twelve, but besides the (thirteen) principal Olympians listed above, there were many other residents of Olympus, who thus might be called Olympians. "Heracles became a resident of Olympus after his "apotheosis and married another Olympian resident "Hebe. Some others who might be considered Olympians, include: the "Muses, the "Graces, "Iris, "Dione, "Eileithyia, the "Horae, and "Ganymede.
Besides the twelve Olympians, there were many other various cultic groupings of twelve gods throughtout ancient Greece. The earliest evidence of Greek religious practice involving twelve gods (Greek: Dodekatheon, from dōdeka, "twelve" and theoi, "gods") comes no earlier than the late sixth century BC. According to "Thucydides, an "altar of the twelve gods was established in the "agora of "Athens by the "archon Pisistratus (son of "Hippias, and the grandson of the tyrant "Pisistratus), in c. 522 BC. The altar became the central point from which distances from Athens were measured and a place of supplication and refuge.
"Olympia apparently also had an early tradition of twelve gods. The "Homeric Hymn to Hermes (c. 500 BC) has the god "Hermes divide a sacrifice of two cows he has stolen from Apollo, into twelve parts, on the banks of the river "Alpheius (presumably at Olympia):
Another of Pindar's Olympian odes, mentions "six double altars". "Herodorus of Heraclea (c. 400 BC) also has Heracles founding a shrine at "Olympia, with six pairs of gods, each pair sharing a single altar.
Many other places had cults of the twelve gods, including "Delos, "Chalcedon, "Magnesia on the Maeander, and "Leontinoi in "Sicily. As with the twelve Olympians, although the number of gods was fixed at twelve, the membership varied. While the majority of the gods included as members of these other cults of twelve gods were Olympians, non-Olympians were also sometimes included. For example, "Herodorus of Heraclea identified the six pairs of gods at Olympia as: Zeus and Poseidon, Hera and Athena, Hermes and Apollo, the "Graces and Dionysus, Artemis and "Alpheus, and "Cronus and "Rhea. Thus while this list includes the eight Olympians: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus, it also contains three clear non-Olympians: the Titan parents of the first generation of Olympians, Cronus and Rhea, and the river god Alpheius, with the status of the Graces (here apparently counted as one god) being unclear.
The Roman poet "Ennius gives the "Roman equivalents (the "Dii Consentes) as six male-female complements, preserving the place of "Vesta (Greek Hestia), who played a crucial role in "Roman religion as a state goddess maintained by the "Vestals.
There is no single canonical list of the twelve Olympian gods. The thirteen gods and goddesses most commonly considered to be one of the twelve Olympians are listed below.
|Greek||Roman||Image||Functions and attributes|
|"Zeus||"Jupiter||""||King of the gods and ruler of "Mount Olympus; god of the sky, storms, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice. Youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, lion, scepter, and scales. Brother and husband of Hera, although he had many lovers, also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.|
|"Hera||"Juno||""||Queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage, women, childbirth and family. Symbols include the peacock, cuckoo, and cow. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. Being the goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus' lovers and their children.|
|"Poseidon||"Neptune||""||God of the seas, water, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and horses. Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin, and trident. Middle son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the "Nereid "Amphitrite, although, like most male Greek Gods, he had many lovers.|
|"Demeter||"Ceres||""||Goddess of the harvest, fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons. Who presided over "grains and the "fertility of the earth. Symbols include the poppy, wheat, torch, cornucopia, and pig. Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Also the lover of Zeus and Poseidon, and the mother of Persephone.|
|"Athena||"Minerva||""||Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts, science, defense and strategic warfare. Symbols include the owl and the olive tree. Daughter of Zeus and the "Oceanid "Metis, she rose from her father's head fully grown and in full battle armor.|
|Apollo[A]||""||God of light, the sun, "prophecy, "philosophy, truth, inspiration, poetry, music, arts, medicine, healing, and plague. Son of Zeus and Leto. Symbols include the sun, lyre, swan, and mouse. Twin brother of Artemis.|
|"Artemis||"Diana||""||Goddess of the hunt, virginity, birth, archery, the moon, forests, all animals, protection and plaque. Symbols include the moon, horse, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree, and bow and arrow. Daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo.|
|"Ares||"Mars||""||God of war, violence, bloodshed and manly virtues. Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear, and shield. Son of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods despised him. His Latin name, Mars, gave us the word "martial."|
|"Aphrodite||"Venus||""||Goddess of love, pleasure, passion, procreation, fertility, beauty and desire. Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, "myrtle, and rose. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea foam after "Uranus' semen dripped into the sea after being castrated by his youngest son, "Cronus, who then threw his father's genitals into the sea. Married to Hephaestus, although she had many adulterous affairs, most notably with Ares. Her name gave us the word ""aphrodisiac", while her Latin name, Venus, gave us the word ""venereal".[B]|
|"Hephaestus||"Vulcan||""||Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of the forge, craftsmanship, invention, fire and volcanoes. Symbols include fire, anvil, axe, donkey, hammer, tongs, and quail. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. Married to Aphrodite, though unlike most divine husbands, he was rarely ever licentious. His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word ""volcano."|
|"Hermes||"Mercury||""||Messenger of the gods; god of travel, commerce, communication, borders, eloquence, diplomacy, thieves and games. Symbols include the "caduceus (staff entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork, and tortoise (whose shell he used to invent the lyre). Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just older than Dionysus.|
Most listings include either one or the other of the following deities as one of the twelve Olympians.
|Greek||Roman||Image||Functions and attributes|
|"Hestia||"Vesta||""||Goddess of the hearth, fire and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family; she was born into the first Olympian generation and was one of the original twelve Olympians. Some lists of the Twelve Olympians omit her in favor of Dionysus, but the speculation that she gave her throne to him in order to keep the peace seems to be modern invention. She is the first child of Cronus and Rhea, eldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.|
|"Bacchus||""||God of wine, the grape vine, fertility, celebrations, ecstasy, madness and resurrection. Patron god of the art of "theatre. Symbols include the grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin, goat, and pinecone. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess "Semele. Married to the Cretan princess "Ariadne. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.|
|Major Olympians' family tree |