Ancient Greek Gods & Their Duties

Greek architecture depicts statues of the gods and the magnificence of their ancient temples.
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Although Zeus is probably the most well known of the Greek gods, there was an entire pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Greek pantheon included different generations of gods including the primeval gods, the Titans and the Olympians. The gods were connected with every aspect of life including love, war, nature, the harvest and the home. The Greek gods had passions and weaknesses very similar to humans. They experienced love, anger, lust and other human emotions.

1 In the Beginning

All that existed in the beginning was a great void known as Chaos. Earth, also known as Gaia, the great Mother, came into being from Chaos. Gaia gave birth to Pontus, the sea and Uranus, the sky. Gaia's son Uranus also became her husband, and together they had six sons and six daughters that became known as the Titans. Gaia also gave birth to one-eyed giants, called the Cyclopes, and monsters with 100 arms, known as the Hecatonchires. But it was the Titans that rose to power.

2 The Titans

The Titan males consisted of Cronus, Iapetus, Hyperion, Oceanus, Crius and Coeus. The females included Rhea, Theia, Phoebe, Mnemosyne, Tethys and Themis. Atlas and Prometheus, the sons of Iapetus, were also considered Titans. Atlas is most well known for holding the world on his shoulders, and Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. Cronus overthrew his father Uranus and took the throne. The time during his reign became known as the golden age. Hyperion was known as the sun god or god of light. Oceanus personified the ocean, while Phoebe was the personification of light, and Themis represented justice. Rhea was the wife of Cronus and was worshiped in orgiastic rites.

3 The Olympians

Zeus overthrew his father, Cronus, and became king of the gods. Zeus and his siblings became known as the Olympian gods and made their homes on Mount Olympus. Although there were many lesser Olympian gods, the main gods made up the council of twelve. The council included Zeus, his wife Hera, Poseidon, Hermes, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares and Demeter. Hestia was also on the council but resigned and gave her seat to Dionysus. The twelfth council seat remains in dispute over whether it belonged to Hades or Hephaestus. Hades preferred to dwell in his domain of the underworld.

4 Duties of the Olympians

Zeus was the god of thunder and lightning. His weapon and symbol was a thunderbolt. He was also the supreme god. Zeus presided over all matters on earth and in heaven. Hera was the queen of the gods and the goddess of marriage. Poseidon was the second most powerful god next to Zeus. He was the god of the seas. Poseidon possessed a powerful weapon called the trident, which shook the earth. Athena was born when she sprung from Zeus's brain. She was the goddess of wisdom. Ares was the god of war. He instigated violence and bloodshed. Even his own father, Zeus, disliked him. The brother and sister, Apollo and Artemis were twins. Apollo was the god of the sun, music and poetry. Artemis was the goddess of the moon and the hunt. Hermes was a trickster and messenger to the other gods. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest, while Hestia was goddess of the hearth, and Dionysus was the god of wine. Hephaestus was the god of metallurgy, who forged the weapons of the other gods.

Darlene Zagata has been a professional writer since 2001, specializing in health, parenting and pet care. She is the author of two books and a contributing author to several anthologies. Zagata attended the Laurel Business Institute to study in the medical assistant/secretarial program. She earned her associate degree through the U.S. Career Institute.