The Titans were also often called the older Gods. Nobody knows for how long exactly they were in the universe. They were huge in size and had unbelievable strength. There were a lot of them but they don’t all appear in Mythology. The leader of the Titans and the most important was called Cronus, (Saturn in Latin) He remained the leader until his own son Zeus took over his throne and also assumed all the power for himself. It has been said that when Zeus took over his fathers throne, Cronus ran away to Italy, where he introduced the Golden Age, which was a period of peace and happiness that lasted for all the entire duration of his reign.
Some other Titans that we should mention are Ocean, a river that circled around the world; Ocean’s wife Tethys; Hyperion, the father of the dawn, the moon and the sun; Mnemosyne, which means memory; Themis, most often translated as justice, Lapetus was important because of his sons, Atlas, who bore the earth on his shoulders, and Prometheus, who was the saviour of all mankind. These were the only Titans otherwise called older Gods, which did not entirely disappear with the arrival of Zeus, but they took a lower place in Mythology.
The 12 Olympian Gods were the highest in authority among the Gods that succeeded to the Titans. They were named the Olympians because they lived on Olympus; Olympus is the highest mountain in the central area of Greece. The entrance to where they lived, slept and feasted on ambrosia and nectar, was guarded by a very big gate of clouds, kept by the seasons.
The 12 Gods of Olympus (the Olympian Gods) made up a unique family:
ZEUS (Jupiter in Latin) was the chief; he dethroned his Father Cronus and then had a draw with his brothers Poseidon and Hades for their share in the universe. Zeus won the draw and became the main ruler of the Gods. He was the lord of the sky, the rain and the cloud gatherer. His weapon was a thunderbolt, which he hurled at those who displeased him. He was married to Hera but was famous for his many affairs with other women. He was also known as the God that punished those who lied or broke oaths.
POSEIDON (Neptune in Latin) was the brother of Zeus. After his Father Cronus was dethroned he took part in a draw between his two brothers Zeus and Hades in order to share the power of the world. His prize was to become the ruler of the sea. The Greeks on both sides of the Aegean were sea men and he was widely worshipped by these people. Besides being the ruler of the sea, he also gave the first horse to man, so he was honoured as much for the one as for the other. He married Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titan Oceanus. As well as horses, he had some connection with bulls. His weapon was a trident, which could shake the earth, and shatter any object. He was the most powerful Olympian god, after Zeus.
HADES (Pluto in Latin) was the second brother of Zeus that took place in the draw after his father was dethroned. He had the worst draw and was made the ruler of the underworld; his main responsibility was to rule over the dead. He was also the God of wealth because of worthy metals that were drawn from the earth. He rarely left his dark realm to visit Olympus or the rest of the earth, he was not a welcome visitor anyway because he showed no pity and was a terrible but not evil God. Hades abducted his wife Persephone, then carried her away and made her the queen of the underworld. Although he was the king of the dead, Death itself had a different God who was named Thanatos (Orcus in Latin).
HERA (Juno in Latin) was Zeus wife and sister; she was raised by the Titans Ocean and Tethys. She took care mostly of married women and was the protector of marriage. Zeus and Hera did not have a happy marriage as he raped her and she then married him to hide her shame. She was always finding Zeus was falling for other women and many great arguments, fights and wars were started over her asking for revenge about Zeus’s infidelities. The peacock and the cow were sacred animals to her and she adored the large city of Argos.
ATHENA (Minerva in Latin) was Zeus daughter alone. No mother gave birth to her. She sprung from Zeus head fully grown and armoured. She was the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity. She was fierce and brave in battle but only ever fought in order to protect the state and home from enemies from the outside. She was pre-eminently the Goddess of the city, the protector of civilized life and the leader of handicrafts, and agriculture. She invented the bridle which allowed men to tame horses. She was Zeus favourite child. He trusted her alone to carry the horrible aegis, his buckler and his most prided weapon, the thunderbolt. Athens was her favourite city the olive, her favourite tree and the owl her most loved bird. She was one of the three virgin goddesses.
ARES (Mars in Latin) was Zeus and Hera’s son; both parents detested him for he was the God of war. He was described as hateful, murderous and bloodstained but he was also a coward. When he moved the voices of groaning arose and the earth streamed with blood behind him. The dog was wrongly chosen as his animal and his bird was the vulture.
APOLLO (Phoebus in Latin) was the son of Zeus and Leto. He was born on a small island on the boarder of Mykonos called Delos. People often say that he is the most Greek of all Gods. He is mentioned a lot in Greek poetry as the God of music, pictured with his golden lyre bringing happiness to Olympus by playing his peaceful music. He is also the God of light as no darkness ever crossed his life and the God of truth because nothing but the truth ever came out of his mouth. One of Apollo's most important tasks is to harness his chariot daily with four horses and drive the sun across the sky. The laurel was his favourite tree; many creatures were sacred to him but mostly were the dolphin and the crow.
ARTEMIS (Diana in Latin) was Zeus and Leto’s child and the twin sister of Apollo. She was born on Mount Cynthus on the island of Delos. She was described as the lady of the wild things, the huntsman of the gods and also the protector of the young. Artemis was one of the three virgin Goddesses and the goddess of chastity. The cypress tree was sacred to her; and so were all wild animals but mostly the deer.
APHRODITE (Venus in Latin) was the goddess of love and beauty; she was the irresistible goddess who stole even the wits of the wise. In addition to her natural gifts she had a magical girdle that compels anyone she wishes to desire her. There are different stories about her birth, one story is that she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. The other story goes back to when Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his severed genitals into the sea, they say that she then arose from the sea foam on a giant scallop and walked on to shore in Cyprus. She was married to Hephaestus, her favourite tree was the myrtle and her favourite birds the dove, the sparrow and the swan.
HEPHAESTUS (Vulcan and Mulciber in Latin) was the God of fire. He was the only God that was lame and sometimes said to be the son of Zeus and Hera other times said to be the son of Hera alone who was taking revenge on Zeus for producing Athena. He was an ugly but a peaceful looking God. Some say that Hera was angry about giving birth to an ugly son so she threw him from Mount Olympus into the sea, making him lame, others say that he took his mother’s side in an argument with Zeus and Zeus flung him off Mount Olympus making him lose both legs. His wife was Aphrodite.
HESTIA (Vesta in Latin) was the goddess of the Hearth and the symbol of the home around which a new born child is carried before it is received in to the family. She was Zeus’s sister and like Athena and Artemis a virgin goddess. She does not have a distinct personality and does not play many parts in myths. Every meal on Olympus began and ended with some offering to her. Each city had a public hearth sacred to her where fire was never allowed to be put out.
HERMES (Mercury in Latin) was the son of Zeus and Maia, he was the fastest of all Gods and for that reason he was Zeus messenger. On his feet he wore winged sandals; wings were also on his hat and on his magic wand, the Caduceus. He was the god of thieves and commerce and also the guide for the dead to go to the underworld. He appears in mythology more than any other of the Gods because of a very popular statue that makes him appear graceful and swift of motion.
THE GODS OF THE WATERS
Poseidon was the lord and the ruler of the sea, the Mediterranean and the friendly sea, now the black sea. Underground rivers also belonged to him.
Ocean, a Titan, was the lord of the river Ocean, a great river that flowed around the whole world. His wife, also a Titan, was Tethys. The Oceanids, the nymphs of this great river, were their daughters. The gods of all the rivers on earth were their sons.
Pontus, which means the deep sea, was a son of mother earth and the father of Nereus, a sea god far more important than he himself was.
THE LESSER GODS OF THE EARTH
Nereus was called the old man of the sea. “A trusty and gentle God, which thinks just kindly thoughts and never lies. His wife was Doris, a daughter of Ocean. They had fifty lovely daughters, the nymphs of the sea, called Nereids from their fathers name, one of whom, Thetis, was the mother of Achilles, Poseidon’s wife, Amphitrite, was another
Triton was the trumpeter of the sea. His trumpet was a great shell. He was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite.
Proteus was sometimes said to be Poseidon’s son sometimes his attendant. He had the power both of foretelling the future and of changing his shape at will.
The Naiads were also water nymphs. They dwelt in brooks, springs, and fountains.
Leucothea and her son Palaemon, once mortals, became divinities of the sea, as did also Glaucus, but all these three were unimportant.
Earth herself was called the all mother, but she was not really a divinity. She was never separated from the actual earth and personified. The goddess of the corn, Demeter (Ceres in Latin) was a daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and the god of the vineyard.
Dionysus also called Bacchus were the supreme deities of the earth and of great importance in Greek mythology
Pan was the chief. He was Hermes son, a noisy merry god, the Homeric hymn is his honour calls him, but he was part animal too, with a goats horns, and a goats hoofs instead of feet he was the goatherds god, and the Shepard’s god, and also the companion of the woodland nymphs when they danced. He was always in love with one nymph or another but he was always rejected because of his ugliness.
Silenus was sometimes said to be pans son and sometime his brother, a son of Hermes. He was a jovial fat old man who usually rode an ass because he was too drunk to walk. He is associated with Bacchus as well as with pan, he taught him when the wine god was young, and, as is shown by his perpetual drunkenness, after being his tutor he became his devoted follower.
Besides these gods of the earth, there was a very famous and very popular pair of brothers, Castor and Pollux, who in most of the accounts were said to live half of the time on earth and half in heaven.
They were the sons of Leda and are usually represented as being gods, the special protectors of sailors.
They were also powerful to save in battle. They were especially honoured in Rome where they were worshipped as “the great twin brethren to whom all Dorians pray.
However, the accounts of them are contradictory. Sometimes Pollux alone is held to be divine, and castor a mortal who won a kind of half-and-half immortality merely because of his brother’s love.
Leda was the wife of king of Tyndareus of Sparta, and the usual story is that she bore two mortal children to him, Castor, and Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife, and to Yeus, who visited her in the form of a swan, two others who were immortal, Pollux and Helen, the heroine of the Troy. Nevertheless, both brothers, Castor and Pollux, were often called sons of Zeus, indeed, the Greek name they are best known by, the dioscouri, means the stripling of Zeus. On the other hand, they were also called “sons of Tyndareus, the Tyndaridae.
The Sileni were creature’s part man and part horse. They walked on two legs, not four, but they often had horse’s hoofs instead of feet, sometimes horse’s ears, and always horses tails. There are no stories about them but they are often seen on Greek vases.
The satyrs like pan were goat men, and like him, they had their home in the wild places of earth.
Aeolis, king of the winds, also lived on earth. An island, Aeolian, was his home. Accurately he was the only regent of the winds, viceroy of the gods. The four chief winds were boreas, the north wind, in Latin aquilo, favonius, zephyr, the west wind. Notus the south wind also called in Latin auster, and the east wind, Eurus, the same in both Greek and Latin.
The Centaurs. They were half men, half horse and for the most part, they were savage creatures, more like beasts than men were. One of them however, Chiron was known everywhere for his goodness and his wisdom.
The gorgons were also earth dwellers. There were three, and two of them were immortal. They were dragon like creatures with wings, whose look turned to men like stone. Phorcys, son of the sea and the earth, was their father.
The graiae were their sisters, three Graz women who had but one eye between them. They lived on the bank of the ocean.
The sirens lived on an island in the sea. They had enchanting voices, their singing voices, and their chanting lured sailors to their death. It was not known what they looked like, for no one saw them ever returned.