Greek Gods

Greek Olympians

The twelve Olympians consist of most of the major gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon. Immortals who ruled their human subjects from on high, they were constantly fighting, fooling, and having affairs with each other, often with dire consequences.

Greek Olympians Hero

Overview

The Twelve Olympians were the principal deities of Greek mythology. Their name derives from the fact that they lived on Mount Olympus, a medium-sized mountain in northern Greece. With Zeus as their king, they were worshiped as the rulers of the cosmos throughout Greek history.

The first generation of Olympians were children of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, themselves early rulers of the cosmos. Eventually, Zeus and his siblings overthrew the Titans and made themselves the new gods. They continued to rule undefeated (though not unchallenged) for the remainder of the Greek mythical period. 

The second generation of Olympians were mostly offspring of Zeus and his siblings. They included Athena, goddess of wisdom, Ares, god of war, and the twins Apollo and Artemis.

Not all sources agreed on the identities of the Twelve Olympians. In some traditions, the domestic goddess Hestia, one of the first generation of Olympians, gave up her seat to Dionysus when he became a god. Because of this, there are actually thirteen gods who were counted among the Twelve Olympians in antiquity.

List of Olympians

  • Zeus

    The “cloud-gatherer”—king of the Greek gods and lord of the skies

    Zeus was the king of the Greek pantheon, ruling over men and gods alike from his throne on Mount Olympus. Powerful but flawed, his meddling in the lives of both goddesses and mortals made his reign turbulent.

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    Zeus, Greek King of the Gods (3:2)
  • Athena

    Greek goddess of wisdom, craftwork, and war

    Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, crafts and weaving, and the arts of war. The patron goddess of Athens, she was one of the Twelve Olympians and gave her favor and guidance to many famous Greek heroes.

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    Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom (3:2)
  • Poseidon

    Lord of all waters; Greek god of the seas, sailors, and earthquakes

    Poseidon was a powerful Olympian and the Greek god of the seas, seafarers, earthquakes, and horses. Unruly and rebellious, he interfered in the business of gods and men, often with dramatic results.

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    Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea
  • Aphrodite

    Sensual Greek goddess and wellspring of love, passion, and procreation

    Aphrodite was the sensual Greek goddess of love, desire, and procreation. Both nurturing and destructive, she famously incited the Trojan War by offering Paris the most beautiful mortal woman alive.

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    Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love (3:2)
  • Hermes

    Greek messenger god; patron of travelers, merchants, and thieves

    Hermes was the trickster deity of the Greek gods, using wit and wile to accomplish his goals. An Olympian and a divine messenger, he played a role in many myths and poems, including Homer’s epics.

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    Hermes, Greek God of Commerce (3:2)
  • Demeter

    “Golden-haired” Greek goddess of family, fertility and agriculture

    Demeter was the Greek goddess who reigned over crops, harvests, family, and fertility. One of the most widely celebrated Olympians, she was often worshiped alongside her daughter Persephone.

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    Demeter, Greek Goddess of Fertility (3:2)
  • Apollo

    Beloved divine patron of music, poetry, and artistic inspiration

    Apollo was a powerful Greek god and one of the Twelve Olympians. Often depicted holding a lyre, he was the patron of music, poetry, medicine, and prophecy, as well as the ideal of masculine beauty.

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    Apollo, Greek God of Music (3:2)
  • Artemis

    Greek goddess of the hunt; guardian of wild places, maidens, and mothers

    Artemis was the virginal Greek goddess of the hunt and wild places. An Olympian and twin sister to Apollo, she shunned the company of other Greek deities and fiercely defended her chastity.

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    Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt (3:2)
  • Dionysus

    The intoxicating Greek god of wine, revelry, music, and dance

    Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and revelry, passion and fertility. One of the pantheon’s most widely worshiped deities, his festivals were characterized by heavy intoxication and religious ecstasy.

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    Dionysus, Greek God of Wine (3:2)
  • Hera

    Queen of the Greek gods, who reigned over women, family, and marriage

    Hera was the queen of the Olympians and Greek goddess of women, motherhood, and marriage. Constantly enraged by her husband’s infidelities, she was best known for her acts of vengeance against Zeus’ many lovers.

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    Hera, Greek Queen of the Gods (3:2)
  • Hephaestus

    Craftsman of the Greek gods, master of metallurgy, and patron of artisans

    Hephaestus was the master craftsman of the Greek gods and an Olympian himself, maker of divine talismans and weapons. Lamed from infancy, he preferred to handle his enemies with tricks and traps as opposed to outright conflict.

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    Hephaestus, Greek God of Fire (3:2)
  • Hestia

    Greek goddess of the home and hearth; protector of families and children

    Hestia was the Greek goddess of home and hearth and ruler of the domestic sphere. Dutiful, obedient, and inconspicuous, she embodied the Greeks' patriarchal ideals of motherhood and femininity.

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    Hestia, Greek Goddess of the Hearth (3:2)
  • Ares

    Brutal Greek god of rage, aggression, and the most violent aspects of war

    Ares was the eternally belligerent Greek god of war and violence. The least-admired Olympian, his unrestrained aggression and poor impulse control often got him into trouble with the other deities.

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    Ares, Greek God of War (3:2)