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The Twelve Olympians by Monsiau, circa late 18th century.

The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: Δωδεκάθεον < δώδεκα, dōdeka, "twelve"+ θεοί, theoi, "gods"), in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. The first ancient reference of religious ceremonies for them is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The classical scheme of the Twelve Olympians (the Canonical Twelve of art and poetry) comprises the following gods: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Ares, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes and Dionysus. The respective Roman scheme comprises the following gods: Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Mars, Ceres, Apollo, Diana, Vulcan, Venus, Mercury and Bacchus.[1] Hades (Roman: Pluto) was not generally included in this list. He did not have a seat in the pantheon because he spent almost all of his time in the underworld. Also commonly seen among the twelve is Hestia (Roman: Vesta.) When Dionysus was offered a seat, the total number of Olympians became thirteen. Believing thirteen to be an unlucky number and wishing to avoid a fight, Hestia stepped down.

There was, however, a great deal of fluidity when it came to who was counted among their number in antiquity.[2] Around 400 BC, Herodotus included in his Dodekatheon the following deities: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hermes, Athena, Apollo, Alpheus, Kronos, Rhea and the Charites.[3] Wilamowitz agrees with Herodotus' version of the Twelve.[4]

Herodotus includes Heracles as one of the Twelve.[5] Lucian also includes Heracles and Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are left behind.[6] However, Pindar, Apollodorus,[7] and Herodorus disagree with this. For them Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult.[3]

Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and proposed that the final month be devoted to rites in honor of Pluto and the spirits of the dead, implying that he considered Hades to be one of the Twelve.[8] Hades is phased out in later groupings due to his chthonic associations.[9] In Phaedrus Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank.[10]

Hebe, Helios and Persephone are other important gods, goddesses, which are sometimes included in a group of twelve. Eros is often depicted alongside the other twelve, especially his mother Aphrodite, but is rarely considered one of the Olympians.

The Twelve Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, the Charites, Heracles, Dionysus, Hebe, and Persephone were children of Zeus. Although some versions of the myths state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone, and that Aphrodite was born of Ouranos.

Contents

List of the Olympians

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Classical Olympians

The fourteen gods and goddesses listed among the Twelve most often.

Greek Deities Series
Primordial deities
Titans (predecessor deities)
Greek sea gods
Chthonic deities
Muses (personified concepts)
Other deities
The Twelve Olympians
Zeus Hera
Poseidon Hermes
Hestia Demeter
Aphrodite Athena
Apollo Artemis
Ares Hephaestus
Greek Name Roman Name Statue God(dess) Of... Generation
Zeus Jupiter Jupiter Versailles Louvre Ma78.jpg King of the Gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky, and thunder. Youngest son of the Titans Kronos and Rhea. Symbols are the lightning bolt and the eagle. First
Hera Juno Hera Campana Louvre Ma2283.jpg Queen of the Gods, and the goddess of marriage and motherhood. Symbols are the peacock and the cow. Daughter of Kronos and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. First
Poseidon Neptune Neptune fountain02.jpg Lord of the Sea; god of the seas, earthquakes and horses. Symbols include the hippocamp and the trident. Son of Kronos and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. First
Demeter Ceres Demeter Pio-Clementino Inv254.jpg Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. Symbols include the poppy. Daughter of Kronos and Rhea. Sister of Zeus. First
Hades Pluto Hades-et-Cerberus-III.jpg Lord of the dead, god of the underworld and earthly wealth. Symbols include the Helm of Darkness, a bident, and a skull. Son of the Titans Kronos and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Poseidon. First
Hestia Vesta Hestia-meyers.png Virgin goddess of home and the hearth. Daughter of Kronos and Rhea, and the sister of Zeus. First
Aphrodite Venus NAMA 262 Aphrodite Epidaure 2.JPG Goddess of love, beauty and sexuality. Daughter of Zeus and Dione or, in other traditions, of Uranus. Symbols include the dove. Second (or Pre-First) [A]
Apollo Phoebus[B] Roman Statue of Apollo.jpg God of light, healing, music, poetry, prophecy and archery. Symbols include the bow and the lyre. Artemis is his twin sister. Son of Zeus and Leto. Second
Ares Mars Ares villa Hadriana.jpg God of war and bloodshed. Symbols include the boar and the spear. Son of Zeus and Hera. Second
Artemis Diana Diane de Versailles Leochares 2.jpg Virgin goddess of the hunt and the moon. Symbols include the deer and the bow. Twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus and Leto. Second
Athena Minerva Athena Giustiniani Musei Capitolini MC278.jpg Virgin goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle strategy. Symbols are the olive tree and the owl. Daughter of Zeus, according to some traditions by Metis. Second
Dionysus Bacchus Dionysos Louvre Ma87 n2.jpg God of wine, festivities and ecstacy. His symbol is the grapevine. Son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. Second
Hephaestus Vulcan Vulcan Coustou Louvre MR1814.jpg Blacksmith to the Gods; god of fire and the forge. Son of Zeus and Hera or, according to some traditions, of Hera alone. Second
Hermes Mercury Hermes-louvre3.jpg Messenger of the Gods; god of commerce and thieves. Symbols include the caduceus. Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. Second
Notes
  • A ^ According to an alternate version of her birth, Aphrodite was born of Ouranos, Zeus' grandfather, — after Cronus threw his castrated genitals into the sea. This supports the etymology of her name, "foam-born". As such, Aphrodite would belong to the same generation as Cronus, Zeus' father, and would technically be Zeus' aunt. See the birth of Aphrodite
  • B ^ Romans used to associate Phoebus to Helios and sun itself.[11][12] However, they also used the name legaced by the Greeks, Apollo.[13]

Other definitions

These are not included in the classical list of the Twelve Olympians, but they are sometimes included in other lists of the Twelve Olympians, as noted above.

  • Alpheus – A river-god.
  • Asclepius – God of medicine and healing.
  • the Charites – Goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility.
  • Cronus – Titan; father of Zeus.
  • Eros – God of erotic love and desire.
  • Hebe – Goddess of youth, and the cupbearer for the gods.
  • Helios – A titan and the personification of the Sun.
  • Heracles – Greatest hero of the Greek myths.
  • Pan – God of the wild, shepherds, nature, and animals.
  • Persephone – Goddess of the spring and death, daughter of Demeter.
  • Rhea – Titaness; mother of Zeus.

Close to the Olympians

  • Anemoi – Wind gods: Boreas (north wind), Notus (south), Zephyrus (west), Eurus (east).
  • Bia – Personification of violence.
  • Cratos – Personification of power.
  • Dione – Mother of Aphrodite by Zeus.
  • Eileithyia – Goddess of childbirth; daughter of Hera and Zeus.
  • Eos – Personification of dawn.
  • Eris – Goddess of discord.
  • Ganymede – Cupbearer of the god's palace at Olympus.
  • Hecate - Goddess of Magic and Witches
  • Horae – Wardens of Olympus.
  • Iris – Personification of the Rainbow, also the messenger of Olympus along with Hermes.
  • Leto – Titaness; the mother of Apollo and Artemis.
  • Morpheus – God of Dreams.
  • Muses – Nine ladies of science and arts.
  • Nemesis – Greek goddess of retribution and revenge.
  • Nike – Goddess of victory.
  • Paeon – Physician of the gods.
  • Perseus –son of Zeus, one of the greatest heroes in all of Greek mythology.
  • Selene – Titaness; Personification of the Moon.
  • Zelus – Emulation.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Greek mythology". Encyclopedia Americana. 13. 1993. p. 431. 
    * "Dodekatheon" (in Greek). Papyros-Larousse-Britanicca. 2007. 
  2. ^ According to Stoll, Heinrich Wilhelm (translated by R. B. Paul) (1852). Handbook of the religion and mythology of the Greeks. Francis and John Rivington. pp. 8. "The limitation of their number [of the Olympians] to twelve seems to have been a comparatively modern idea" 
  3. ^ a b "Dodekatheon" (in Greek). Papyros-Larousse-Britanicca. 2007. 
  4. ^ Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Ulrich von (1931–1932) (in Deutch). Der Glaube der Hellenen (Volume 1). Berlin: Weidmansche Buchhandlung. pp. 329. 
  5. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, 2.43–44
  6. ^ Berger-Doer, Gratia (1986). "Dodekatheoi". Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. 3. pp. 646–658. 
  7. ^ Pindar, Olympian Odes, 10.49
  8. ^ Plato, The Laws, 828 d-e
  9. ^ "Greek mythology". Encyclopedia Americana. 13. 1993. p. 431. 
  10. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg, Plato: Phaedrus, 246 e-f
  11. ^ North John A., Beard Mary, Price Simon R.F. "The Religions of Imperial Rome". Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology. (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.259. ISBN 0-521-31682-0.
  12. ^ Hacklin, Joseph. "The Mythology of Persia". Asiatic Mythology (Asian Educational Services, 1994), p.38. ISBN 81-206-0920-4.
  13. ^ See, for example, Ovid's Met. I 441, 473, II 454, 543, 598, 612, 641, XII 585, XVIII 174, 715, 631, and others.

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