Power is a common word that is used to describe ancient Greek gods and goddesses but so are manipulative, violent, immoral, and selfish.
Many acts committed by the gods and goddesses upon both mortals and each other posed problems and made many fearful.
One god tried to eat his child because he thought his son would gain too much power. Another goddess chained her powerful husband, and he retaliated by dangling her from the sky. Finally, another goddess created a season based on the time spent away from her daughter.
Usually, if the god or goddess was punishing someone, everyone ended up getting punished. Their power was relentless even towards each other. The punishments were severe and unusual, to say the least.
Even though it seems likely that mortals would want to become gods or goddesses, they knew that the slightest mistake may result in a terrifying and inevitable catastrophe for themselves or their children.
Growing up without having a mother in your life may become difficult for some people. However, Athena overcame that barrier in order to be the goddess of reason, wisdom, and the arts. Her father, Zeus, helped provide her strength due to the absence of her mother as well as Athena being his favorite child. This strength made Athena a warrior by fighting in many battles to defend the land.
However, Athena is known for more than her strength but for her wisdom and purity. When confronted by Poseidon regarding Athens, again Athena’s prowess paid off and she won Athens by offering the Athenians an olive tree. Hence, her name became associated with Athens.
Her creativity and experience with animals propelled her to invent the bridle for horses. Her background in fighting, which was usually done on horseback, helped with this invention. Likewise, Athena’s symbol became the owl due to her wise decisions and creations.
Vanity ran deep within Aphrodite, so appearances were very important to her. Her beauty was detected by many gods. Yet, Aphrodite married the god, Hephaestus, who was known for being crippled as well as unattractive.
Despite this, Hephaestus was still a very powerful god and Aphrodite was a powerful goddess. Her power included casting a spell so that every male who saw her would instantly fall in love with her. As a result, Aphrodite became the goddess of love, yearning and beauty.
Aphrodite’s marriage to Hephaestus was unusual in the fact that she was known for her beauty, but she married a god that did not share the same beauty as she did. Therefore, Aphrodite began an affair with Ares who was the god of war. Their affair became known to Hephaestus which enraged him. This resulted in public humiliation for Ares and Aphrodite. As a blacksmith, Hephaestus chained both of them and attempted to present them to the public on Mount Olympus as an embarrassing punishment.
Rebelling and capturing the most powerful Greek god would be quite a challenge, but Hera did just that to her husband, Zeus.
Being the wife of Zeus, Hera became the goddess of women, matrimony and child delivery. She was very caring and shielding of women especially those that were married. Hera became popular as the supreme goddess due to her relationship with Zeus.
Yet, Hera became angry with Zeus and his power over her. She received help from other gods. They were able to tie Zeus down which was quite a task since Zeus was not just powerful but also strong.
However, Zeus managed to wiggle himself free. Those that assisted Hera saw Zeus’s escape and became petrified at his retaliation on them for helping his wife.
Instead, Zeus punished Hera by suspending her from the sky with gold chains. Even though Hera’s plan did not work out, she was able to get Zeus to release her after many hours of painful cries. When she was released, her agreement was to abide by Zeus’s decisions.
The season of winter can be attributed to Demeter, the goddess of corn, grain and crops.
Demeter’s job was simply to make the crops grow which she did. Her love of nature and growth showed in the way she seriously took care of nature. She revered the livestock and sought after them. Yet, Hades, the god of the Underworld, stole Demeter’s daughter, Persephone. He wanted Persephone to be his wife. This angered Demeter. Negotiations for Persephone were made and the outcome was for Persephone to spend four months with Hades in the Underworld and the remainder of the year on Earth. These four months without her daughter caused Demeter to stop growing any crops on Earth. This season of time where crops do not grow became known as winter.
Hunting is usually a male-dominated activity, but Artemis was an exceptional goddess of the hunt. Just like the gods, Artemis could hunt any animal with precision. She also was the goddess of the moon, the environment and virtue. Even though she proved to be a skillful hunter, Artemis was a protector of the animals and other wildlife. Being Apollo’s brother, Artemis learned many masculine actions like hunting from him. Yet, her compassion lied in helping animals and not hurting them for sport. Likewise, Artemis defended problems in childbirth and delivery for pregnant women. This dedication began immediately after she was born. It seems she was destined to protect children especially during childbirth. After being born, Artemis helped deliver her twin brother. Throughout her life, she would ward off potential suitors until Orion was able win her love.
After being pursued by Poseidon, the god of the sea, as well as Apollo, the god of the sun, Hestia refused them and remained a virgin. Her protection lied within the home. That is why she became known as the goddess of the home and family. Besides protecting the home, her popularity includes being Zeus’s sister. As a powerful god, any direct relative of his would make him or her powerful and prominent among the mortals and other goddesses. The name she was given, Hestia, means home.
Once Hestia was being attacked by another god. Priapus who was known to not be of the same caliber as other gods and in a lower category of gods than Hestia attacked her. Ironically, the noise from a local donkey distracted Priapus and Hestia was able to escape.
Becoming younger and stronger would be beneficial for anyone. This power was given to Hebe. Being the goddess of youth, Hebe contributed to society positively by making people younger. In one such case, Hebe was asked to make Iolaus a young man again which in turn would make him strong. Iolaus was involved in a battle with Eurystheus. In order to win this battle, Iolaus knew he needed more force and power. The only way to accomplish this was to become young again. Hebe was convinced and made Iolaus young and strong again causing him to win the battle against Eurystheus. Her dedication to youth proved valuable to others instilling the power she had. It is no surprise that Hebe would marry a strong god whose name is synonymous with strength, Hercules. Her marriage to Hercules resulted in two children.
Persephone became the goddess of the Underworld in an unusual way. However, gods and goddesses acted typically immoral according to the standards of today. Persephone’s marriage to Hades applies to this situation.
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter who is the goddess of the crops and harvest. At one point, Hades fell in love with Persephone. Being the god of the Underworld made it difficult to marry someone on Earth because his wife would be forced to give up living on Earth and live in the Underworld. Since Hades knew this, he took unorthodox methods in order to make Persephone his wife. He kidnapped her on Earth and took her to the Underworld. Persephone ate some seeds which made her stay in the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, began negotiating with Hades in which they both came to an agreement. They would share Persephone. She would stay four months of the year in the Underworld with her husband, and the remainder of the year she would stay with her mother on Earth.
Saving her child from being eaten by her husband was Rhea’s most popular contribution to Greek mythology. Since Rhea was one of the Titans, she became the wife of Cronus, and she bore six children including some famous gods and goddesses like Demeter, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Hera, and Zeus. Her husband, Cronus became worried about the power of his children. He decided he would kill Zeus due to his belief that Zeus would gain more power than he would. Before Zeus was killed, Rhea saved him.
Since Rhea was the mother of such powerful gods, she became known as the “mother of gods”. Her responsibilities included making sure everything was working well in the kingdom. She is symbolized by a pair of lions.
Having ownership of a prophetic symbol would empower even a god or goddess. Many gods and goddesses would consult the Oracle at Delphi to determine what would happen regarding their children, future events, and other situations. Even though gods and goddesses have a lot of power, the ability to see what will happen later allowed them to prepare for the future for their own personal benefit.
Themis was one of the Titans who happened to be married to Zeus. Then she bore a son, Apollo, and loved him very much. As valuable as the Oracle was, Themis presented the Oracle to her favorite son, Apollo. As a dedicated mother to her son, Themis also represented law and justice for all.