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. "Hades and "Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the "Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded because he resided permanently in the "underworld and never visited "Olympus.
The twelve Olympians were the principal "deities of the Greek "pantheon, said to reside atop "Mount Olympus. The Olympians gained their supremacy in a ten-year-long "war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over their predecessor gods, the "Titans.
The concept of the "Twelve Gods" (Greek: Dodekatheon, from dōdeka, "twelve" and theoi, "gods") is older than any extant Greek or Roman source. The gods meet in council in the "Homeric epics, but the first ancient reference to religious ceremonies for the Olympians collectively is found in the "Homeric Hymn to Hermes. Although the names of nearly all the Olympian deities are individually attested in "Linear B texts of the "Mycenaean Period, the Greek cult of the Twelve Gods as a collective group can only be traced to 6th-century BC Athens and probably has no Mycenaean precedent. The "Altar of the Twelve Gods at Athens is usually dated to the "archonship of the younger "Pesistratos, in 522/521 BC.
While the number was fixed at twelve, there was considerable variation as to which deities were included. However, the twelve as most commonly portrayed in art and poetry were "Zeus, "Hera, "Poseidon, "Demeter, "Athena, "Apollo, "Artemis, "Ares, "Aphrodite, "Hephaestus, "Hermes and either "Hestia, or "Dionysus.
"Hades, known in the "Eleusinian tradition as "Pluto, was not usually included among the Olympians because his realm was the underworld. "Plato connected "twelve gods" with the twelve months, and implies that he considered "Pluto one of the twelve in proposing that the final month be devoted to him and the spirits of the dead. In "Phaedrus, Plato seems to exclude Hestia from the rank of "the twelve great gods".
At "Olympia there were six altars dedicated to six pairs of gods: Zeus and Poseidon, Hera and Athena, Hermes and Apollo, the "Charites and Dionysus, Artemis and "Alpheus, and "Cronus and "Rhea. The historian "Herodotus states that "Heracles was included as one of the Twelve by some. At Kos, Heracles and "Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are not. For "Pindar, the "Bibliotheca, and "Herodorus of Heraclea, Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult. "Lucian (2nd century AD) includes Heracles and "Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them.
"Hebe, "Helios, "Selene, "Eos, "Eros and "Persephone are other important gods and goddesses who are sometimes included in a group of twelve.["citation needed] Eros is often depicted alongside the other twelve, especially his mother Aphrodite, but not usually counted in their number.
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 canonical 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.|
The following gods and goddess are sometimes included as one of the twelve Olympians.
|Greek||Roman||Image||Functions and Attributes|
|""||God of the Underworld, the dead, and the riches under the Earth; he was born into the first Olympian generation, the elder brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, and Demeter, and younger brother of Hestia, but, because he lives in the Underworld rather than on Mount Olympus, he is typically not included amongst the twelve Olympians, and is normally viewed as a "chthonic god.|
|"Persephone (or Kore)||"Proserpina||""||Queen of the Underworld and a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Also goddess of spring time. She became the consort of Hades, the god of the underworld, when he kidnapped her. Demeter, driven to distraction by the disappearance of her daughter, neglected all of the earth so that nothing would grow. Zeus eventually ordered Hades to allow Persephone to leave the underworld and rejoin her mother. Hades did this, but because Persephone had eaten six of the twelve pomegranate seeds in the underworld when Hades first kidnapped her, she had to spend six months in the underworld each year. This created the seasons when for six months everything grows and flourishes then for the other six months everything wilts and dies. Her symbols include the pomegranate, willow tree, waterfalls, rivers and "springs.|
|"Heracles||"Hercules||""||A divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters.|
|"Asclepius||"Vejovis||""||The god of medicine and healing. He represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Health"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). He is the son of Apollo and "Coronis.|
|"Eros||"Cupid (or Amor)||""||The god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity, son of "Aphrodite and "Ares. He was depicted often as carrying a "lyre or bow and arrow. He is often accompanied by dolphins, roses, and torches.|
|"Hebe||"Juventas||""||She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles. She is the goddess of youth.|
The following gods and goddesses were not usually counted as Olympians, although they had close ties to them.
|Major Olympians' family tree |
The limitation of their number [of the Olympians] to twelve seems to have been a comparatively modern idea