Greek mythology and history research project part 1

Apollo Olympian god of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge 

Hermes. Also known as “the messenger,” Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia. He has been depicted in many different ways in poems, plays, and myths. 

Hephaestus. His beginnings have been described in contradictory terms by Homer and Hesiod. Homer describes him as the crippled son of Zeus and Hera, while Hesiod takes a rather unconventional (and far more intriguing) route by stating that Hera bore him alone. 

Ares. Born of Zeus and Hera, Ares was also known as the god of war. But he reflected the violent and gory aspects of war far more than the righteous and just violence for the greater good. He was always willing to wreak havoc just to display his might in battle and rarely thought of fighting for justice or self-defense. 

Cronos. Widely known among the ancient Titans, Cronos was the ruling god before the age of the Olympian deities. 

The Titans were known for their colossal bodies and equally massive brute strength, among whom Cronos proved himself to be the strongest when he became the ruler by castrating his own father, Uranus. But once he came to power, much like his despised parent, Cronos became rather suspicious of his children – the most noticeable ones being Zeus, Poseidon, and Aphrodite. 

In his utter paranoia, he swallowed them to keep them from ever surpassing him. But his mother Gaia and wife Rhea were able to rescue Zeus who fought him off and banished him to the dreaded Tartarus in the underworld once he had freed his siblings. The end of Cronos heralded the age of the Olympian deities who would go on to be far more popular in Greek mythology than their predecessors ever were. 

Apollo. The twin brother of Artemis, Apollo was a god with many facets. His father was, again, Zeus and he was born to his mother Leto on the island of Delos – the only refuge they could find from an enraged Hera (no surprises there). 

Leto was so overwhelmed with the care she received from the inhabitants of Delos that she promised that Apollo would always favor them and ensure their prosperity, a promise which he went on to honor. 

As mentioned earlier, Apollo has many facets which were rather contradictory. He was the god of serenity and music and was often depicted with a lyre. He was also a skilled archer who could often be seen with a silver bow. He was considered the god of healing and medicine but when enraged, he would bring about death and despair with his arrows. He would harness his four-horse chariot and move the sun across the sky every single day, providing light and life to the earth. 

Dionysus. Being the god of festivity, pleasure, and wine, he was quite a popular deity – both among gods and mortals. 

He is the only god who had a mortal parent in the form of his mother Semele, his father being the mighty Zeus. He was brought up under the protection of mountain nymphs since Hera, Zeus’s wife, was jealous of her husband’s romantic adventures outside their marriage. Dionysus slowly built a cult of followers who would accompany him on his journeys around the world. 

Prometheus. One of the most popular Titan gods, Prometheus is held in high esteem among the great benefactors of mankind. 

His father Iapetus was also a Titan but his mother was an Oceanid. Being the god of forethought, he foresaw the defeat of the Titans at the hands of the new Olympian gods and cleverly sided with the Olympians during the battle, thus escaping imprisonment at Tartarus along with the others. 

Prometheus was then assigned the task of molding mankind out of clay. Once he was done creating mankind, he became rather attached to them, always worried for their welfare. This led him to cross paths with the mighty Zeus time and again since he did not care so much about humans. So when Zeus took away fire from mankind, Prometheus stole it from the heavens and gave it back to the humans. 

Poseidon. When Zeus and his brothers drew straws to decide who got to be the lord of which realm, Poseidon drew the realm of the seas. In this way, he became the ruler of the seas and, along with his wife Amphitrite, led a group of lesser gods that included Triton and the Nereids. 

Being the lord of seas, he was widely worshiped and followed by seamen and voyagers. But his influence was even more far reaching. Historians cite him as being a major deity in several ancient Greek cities. 

In terms of sheer power, he came second only to the mighty Zeus. As well as taming the power of the seas, he also carried a trident which could cause massive earthquakes with a single strike. 

At some point, he fell desperately for Demeter who asked him to create the most unique creature if he was to win her. It is said he made a number of animals in his quest and finally created the first majestic horse. 

Hades. Following the advent of the age of the Olympian gods, Hades became the ruler of underworld – a place where only the dead could enter (though there were quite a few exceptions to that). 

Naturally, ruling over such a gloomy and dismal realm seldom led to a good impression, making him less prominent in Greek mythology. However, many Greeks believed him to be the personification of death itself (which he was not) and paid him regular homage because of their superstition. But his evil image is a far cry from what he was actually like, for he was not as much of a bad guy as we have been led to believe. 

Contrary to common belief, it was not Hades who was responsible for the redemption of souls but rather the three demigods Minos, Aiakos, and Rhadamanthys would carry out the judgment. He was also pretty fair in his dealings with Hercules who approached him with the intention of capturing his three-headed dog. However, Hades hasn’t been cut any slack for tricking his love interest Persephone into staying with him in the underworld. 

Zeus. Zeus was the god of the whole known universe that the Olympians won from the Titans. 

After conquering the Titans, Zeus also won the draw with his brothers Hades and Poseidon to see who would inherit the throne after their father Kronos, becoming the god of all skies and the acknowledged ruler of all remaining gods. Zeus was married to Hera, the queen of all gods, but he was also notorious for his romantic escapades outside his marriage. 

He was known as the father of the gods, and as you might have noticed by now, he fathered quite a few children from his many affairs. Being the personification of the nature of all things, he constructed the order that became the basis for the different realms. 

He also regulated time in the form of the changing seasons and alternating day and night. He ruled with absolute authority and command over his universe but he also had a bad temper and was very easy to provoke. He would respond by hurling thunderbolts at those who displeased him. 

6 Interesting Facts About Ancient Greece That You May Enjoy! 

1) The Ancient Greeks came up with the concept of demokratia, or ‘rule by the people’, thus establishing the world’s first democracy. However, it lasted for only 185 years. 

2) Ancient Greece condoned slavery. In fact, around 40% to 80% of Athens’ population were slaves! 

3) Ancient Greeks did not call their land ‘Greece’ they called it Hellas or Hellada. 

4) Handshakes came from the Greek people and are now done all around the world. 

5) Contrary to popular belief Ancient Greek statues were not always white. Once upon a time they were painted with vibrant colors, however, over time the colors faded to the monochrome we see today. Sculptures such as the ones seen in the Parthenon Frieze were once painted in a wide array of colors. 

6) The Ancient Greeks worshipped an unknown god. The Ancient Greeks worshipped twelve major gods. However, in addition to those twelve, they worshipped “Agnostos Theos”; which is “Unknown God”. The title was essentially a placeholder for any or all gods unknown to them. 

The Trojan horse was a wooden horse said to have been used by the Greeks during the trojan war the trojan war to enter the city of troy and win the war. The trojan horse is not mentioned in homers Iliad, which is a famous poem about history and mythology. But the story of the Trojan horse is in another famous poem called the Aenid by Virgil, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse at the order of the King Odysseus, and hid a select force of men inside, including Odysseus himself. The trojans thought the Greeks had sailed away and took the horse as a victory trophy. At night, the Greeks crept out of the horse and opened the gates for other Greek soldiers. Then they destroyed the city and ended the war.  

Why did Cronos swallow his children? 

Cronos gained the throne after killing his father Uranus (the sky). Later he was warned by a prophecy (some say his mother Gaia, the earth) that he would be dethroned by his own son. In order to avoid this fate, he swallowed each of his children as they were born. What a nice guy! ( ; But the last child Zeus was saved by his mother Rhea who gave him to Gaia to be raised in secret. After he was grown up, Zeus confronted Cronos and killed or imprisoned him after throwing up his brothers and sisters (who along with Zeus became part of the Olympians). 

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