Greek Pantheon

               (See also the section on Roman Pantheon)

               ADONIS Beloved of Aphrodite, the central figure of a widespread
               fertility cult, god of vegetation and re-birth. Adonis seems clearly
               linked with Tammuz, the Assyro-Babylonion god who dies and rises again.
               Adonis is the Greek version of the Phoenician term Adon, which means

               APHRODITE Goddess of fertility, love and beauty. When Zeus killed his
               father, Uranus, he cut off his father's genitals and cast them into the
               sea. The sea foamed and boiled and Aphrodite arose from the waters. As
               Aphrodite stepped from the ocean, flowers grew wherever her feet
               touched. Paphos, the place where Aphrodite supposedly rose from the
               waters, was her most important place of worship, and at Corinth she was
               worshipped with sacred whores. Aphrodite is clearly related to Ishtar
               and Astarte and very much loves the company of the male gods. While
               married to Hephaestus, she also dallied with Ares, Poseidon, Adonis, and
               Dionysius. Aphrodite is a complex, many faceted deity. Among her many
               names are Melaina (the Black One), Androphonos (Killer of Men),
               Epitymbidia (She Upon the Graves), Anadyomene (Rising from the Sea),
               Urania (Sky Borne), and Pandemos (Goddess of All the People).

               APOLLO God of light, god of prophecy and music, god of medicine, god of
               flocks and herds, the divine archer, a pastoral god. Wise, beauteous,
               all- knowing, ever just, ever young. Apollo urges forgiveness to all
               offenses, even the blackest of crimes, so long as the offender was truly
               penitent. After Zeus and Athene, the greatest of the Gods. Apollo's most
               important place of worship was the famous temple at Delphi, where
               oracles prophesied in his name. The Sybil at Cumae in southern Italy
               also foretold the future in his honor. Paintings and statuary show him
               with his bow and lyre, which were a gift from the infant Hermes. Apollo
               loved young men and young women alike, though his affairs usually ended
               unhappily. Artemis is his twin sister, and Horus is his counterpart in
               the Egyptian pantheon.

               ARES; to the Romans, MARS God of war. The Greeks detested Ares.
               Quarrelsome, spiteful, unfaithful, Ares loves only hatred, strife and
               bloodshed. Ares was the first god to be placed on trial for murder, and
               the place in Athens where he was supposed to be have been tried was
               called the Aeropagus, the Hill of Ares. By custom trials for murder were
               held at the Aeropagus. The Romans believed Ares to be the father of
               Romulus and Remus.

               ARTEMIS Also PARTHENOS Fertility goddess, patron of maidens, goddess of
               childbirth. Identified with the moon, as her brother Apollo is
               identified with the sun. The Virgin Huntress, Mistress of Beasts, Lady
               of All Wild Things, A Lion unto Women. Usually benevolent, but stern and
               demanding, dangerous to cross. Artemis lived in Arcadia with a band of
               nymphs subject to her strict discipline; those who dallied with men, as
               did Callisto, might be shot down with an arrow or otherwise punished. No
               man or god ever gained the love of Artemis. Artemis is virtually
               unbeatable in combat. The only one of the immortals who ever bested her
               was Hera, who defeated Artemis on the battlefield at Troy, whipped her
               with her own bow, and sent her fleeing in tears.

               ASCLEPIUS God of medicine and healing, son of Apollo. Originally a
               mortal. So great was Asclepius' skill that he could revive the dead.
               Zeus killed Asclepius after Hades complained that he was being cheated
               of his lawful due, but Asclepius' virtues and good deeds won him a place
               among the gods. Those who wished a cure of Asclepius would sleep in his
               temple, where he would appear to them in a dream and advise them. Snakes
               are his symbol and were allowed to wander freely in his temple at

               ATHENE; to the Romans, MINERVA Goddess of wisdom, of architects and
               sculptors, of weavers, of oxen and horses. A goddess of war. Like
               Artemis, an eternal virgin. Often associated with birds, particularly
               the owl. Athene taught men to tame horses and invented the potter's
               wheel. Her city is Athens, which she won in a contest with Poseidon.

               CHARON The ferryman who carries dead souls across the river Styx to
               Hades. His fee is one obol, which was placed in the mouth of the dead
               man before he was buried.

               CRONUS The chief of the Titans, the race of giants who preceded the
               Olympian gods. In very ancient times, Cronus was probably a corn god.
               Told that he would be overthrown by one of his own sons, Cronus devoured
               them all as they were born until his wife Rhea deceived him to save
               Zeus. Wrapping a stone in swaddling clothes, Rhea gave the stone to
               Cronus and spirited Zeus away to a hiding place. After defeating Cronus,
               Zeus imprisoned him and the rest of the Titans, thus beginning the age
               of the Olympian gods.

               DEMETER; to the Romans, CERES Goddess of grain and the fruitful earth.
               An earth mother who was certainly one of, if not the oldest of the gods.
               Demeter's immensely popular festivals, held twice a year at Eleusis,
               were so highly revered that no initiate was ever known to break the vow
               of secrecy. Demeter gave the gift of grain to men and instituted the
               Eleusinian Mysteries. The nature of these Mysteries has been lost to us,
               though we know that the mystery cults celebrated the Lesser Mysteries in
               February of every year and the Greater Mysteries in September of every
               fifth year. Most likely the rites included processions, ritual cleansing
               and religious dramas.

               DIONYSIUS God of religious ecstasy and wine, accompanied always by
               satyrs and nymphs. The force of life in all growing things. Dionysius is
               the Greek form of Thracian and Phrygian deities of vegetation and
               fetility, who followers worked themselves into a frenzy and ritually
               tore apart their god in the form of a goat, a bull or a man. The cult
               survived the introduction of the Olympian gods and proved so popular
               that it finally had to be accepted by the Dorian Greeks. In the dark age
               which followed the decline of the Myceneans, the cult of Dionysius
               spread rapidly, especially among women. His followers were known as
               maenads (mad women) and it was best not to be near when their frenzy
               came upon them. Animals, and sometimes people, were torn apart and
               sometimes eaten in the belief that they were devouring the god himself.
               Drunk, lawless and noisy, not terribly impressed by authority or
               convention, the followers of Dionysius were often unwelcome. His
               worshippers danced wildly, and his rites were designed to cleanse men of
               lowly irrational emotions and desires.

               ERIS The dark sister of Eros. Goddess of chaos and discord, Eris loves
               confusion and conflict. It was Eris who gave the goddesses the golden
               apple inscribed "To the Fairest," which set in motion the chain of
               events that led to the Trojan War.

               EROS God of love both heterosexual and homosexual, though his domain is
               not limited solely to sexual love and includes love in all its broadest
               senses. One of the oldest of the gods, the center of his worship was at
               Thespiae. The ancient Greeks feared Eros. Eros can cause havoc, and
               there is an air of maliciousness about him. Eros can drive men and women
               to noble self-sacrfice, but he can also torture them to madness and
               drive them to self-destruction. Lacking wisdom, moderns have made Eros
               contemptibly cute and sweet, and somewhat prankish.

               GAIA "Mother of all things." The Earth itself, mother of the Titans, the
               old gods. Usually represented as a giant woman. Before anything else
               existed, there was only Chaos (the Void, the Nothingness, the Emptiness)
               and the Earth. Gaia nurses the ill and watches over marriages. Gaia is
               an oracle as well, and the temple at Delphi was hers before it was
               Apollo's. The Greeks had no tales about Gaia, because she belonged to
               the distant past.

               HADES Also PLUTO "The Unseen," "the Rich." God of wealth and the
               underworld. Hades is stern but perfectly just, and rejects all pleas for
               mercy, but he is in no sense evil or destructive. His realm is not a
               place of flames and torment, as is the Christian hell. Most dead souls
               dwell on the plain of Asphodel, where they wander aimlessly as mere
               shadows of their earthly selves. The blessed go to the Elysian Fields, a
               place of great joy and beauty, while the abominably wicked go to the
               dismal plain of Tartarus. You're born, you live, you die, you go to
               Hades. End of story.

               HEBE Goddess of youth and beauty. An eternally young girl, Hebe helps
               the gods wash and dress themselves, though her main duty is to serve
               nectar and ambrosia at their feasts. A minor but charming deity.

               HECATE Goddess of black magic and evil ghosts. Often portrayed with
               three faces: maiden, mother and crone. The poor and down trodden often
               turned to Hecate for protection or vengance. Hecate defends children and
               appears with her dogs at crossroads and tombs.

               HELIOS God of the sun, the charioteer who drives the sun across the sky.
               From his great height, Helios sees everything and was often called upon
               to witness contracts and oaths. From the fifth century onward, Helios
               was considered identical with Apollo.

               HEPHAESTUS; to the Romans, VULCAN The lame blacksmith god, patron of
               craftsman and metalworkers, god of fire. The centers of his cult could
               be found wherever metalworkers congregated and near volcanos. Hephaestus
               was so ugly that his mother Hera kept him out of sight, and the other
               gods laughed at his lame gait. In revenge, Hephaestus tricked the gods
               into giving him Aphrodite for his wife, though he never succeeded in
               keeping her faithful. Some scholars say Hephaestus' lameness was a
               reflection of an actual practice. A skillful smith was a rare and
               valuable man, and tribes or villages would often cripple a good smith to
               keep him from leaving or running away.

               HERA; to the Romans, JUNO. Wife of Zeus, queen of the gods. Zeus is
               quite a randy god, and Hera's domestic life with him is always stormy.
               Zeus and Hera were on opposite sides during the Trojan War, and they
               squabble all the way through the Iliad. At first a sky goddess, Hera
               later became the embodiment of womanliness. Like Dionysius, Hera is a
               pre-Olympian deity whose cult was so strong that it had to be adopted by
               the Dorian Greeks. Hera was worshipped in high places, and her temples
               were built on mountain peaks. Her festival, held at Argos and called the
               Heraia, involved athletic contests.

               HERMES; to the Romans, MERCURY The messenger of the gods, the god of
               eloquence, the god of luck. God of travelers, merchants and athletes.
               Originally a pastoral and fertility god in Arcadia, in his oldest
               monuments Hermes is represented simply as a phallus. Easygoing, kind and
               obliging, Hermes is quite helpful to both gods and men, though he
               appears in some stories as a trickster. Hermes invented the lyre, which
               he gave to Apollo to get out of a mess he'd made by stealing Apollo's
               cattle. Hermes' image was often found at crossroads and junctions, and
               he is shown with winged sandals and a winged helmet. Hermes was quite

               HYPNOS God of sleep. Brother of Thanatos (Death). Hypnos has power even
               over the gods.

               IRIS Goddess of the rainbow. Like Hermes, a messenger for the gods. The
               center of her cult was at Delos, and the proper offerings to her were
               dried figs and honeycakes.

               MOROS God of destiny. Dark, unknowable, all powerful. Even the gods are
               subject to Moros.

               MORPHEUS God of dreams. His name is the root word of "morphine."=

               NEMESIS Also ADRASTEIA Goddess of destiny and inevitability, the
               repayment of sin and crime.

               NIKE; to the Romans, VICTORIA Goddess of victory. Generally portrayed as
               a winged maiden holding high a wreath of bay leaves, the victor's
               laurel. Her most famous temple was in Athens.

               OCEANUS Ancient god of the oceans, eventually displaced by Poseidon.
               With his sister, Tethys, he had six thousand children, half of them sea
               spirits, the other half river spirits.

               PAN "The Pasturer," "the Feeder of Flocks." God of herds, fertility and
               male sexuality. Pan has the horns and legs of a goat and plays a syrinx,
               a pipe withs seven reeds. An ancient god, he has no moral or social
               aspect whatsoever, and is simply the embodiment of pure, basic instinct.
               Some said that Pan taught Apollo the art of prophecy. Pan especially
               loves mountains and wild country. Pan has a dark aspect as well, causing
               men and animals to go suddenly mad with terror in distant, lonely
               places. His name is therefore the root word of "panic."

               PERSEPHONE Also KORE "Maiden." Daughter of Demeter, wife of Hades. Hades
               kidnapped Persephone and took her to the underworld to be his queen.
               When Demeter heard, she wandered the earth in mourning, abandoning her
               responsibilities, and the earth grew gray and barren. The growing famine
               forced Zeus to demand that Hades return Persephone to the surface world.
               But Persephone had eaten part of a pomegranate, and eating of the food 
               of the dead bound her to their world. Zeus and Hades struck a bargain -- 
               Persephone would spend seven months a year in the world of the living
               and five in the world of the dead. When Persephone is in the world, her
               mother Demeter is content, and the world blooms and lives. When she is
               in the underworld, Demeter mourns, the world languishes, and we have

               POSEIDON God of the sea and earthquakes. Horses and bulls are sacred to
               him. Originally the god of earth tremors, of vegetation and fecundity,
               Poseidon fought for the Olympians against the Titans, and his reward
               after the victory was dominion over the seas, lakes and rivers.
               Poseidon's fits of rage manifest as storms, and seamen dread his anger.
               Bulls were thrown into the sea as sacrifices to Poseidon. His amorous
               adventures played an important role in Greek mythology, and he loved men
               no less than women.

               THANATOS God of death. Sometimes portrayed as a winged spirit, at other
               times as a man robed in black armed with a sword. Thanatos is not evil
               or hateful. He is just doing his job.

               URANUS Heaven personified. The son born to Gaia when she first emerged
               from Chaos. Uranus' rain made Gaia fruitful, and she brought forth the
               Titans. Jealous of his children, Uranus confined them to the earth, and
               Gaia conspired wth Cronus, the boldest of her children, to overthrow
               him. Cronus castrated Uranus with a sickle, only to be overthrown by
               Zeus in his turn.

               ZEUS; to the Romans, JUPITER. "Cloud Gatherer." The ruler of the
               Olympian gods, god of the sky, thunder, and lightening, the upholder of
               custom and tradition. Zeus had many names. As Soter, he is know as the
               father and saviour of mankind; as Herkeios, guardian of the home; as
               Xenios, keeper of the rules of hospitality; as Ktesios, protector of
               property; as Gamelios, god of marriage; as Zeus Chronius, god of the
               earth and fertility; as Zeus Eluetherious, protector of freedom; and as
               Zeus Polieus, god of the civic virtues. Despite all these duties, Zeus
               still had plenty of time to romp with young girls and boys. His wife
               Hera persecuted his lovers, both mortal and divine.