We are down to the other half of the occupants of Olympus. I have a lot of personal favourites here so I am eager to start and I will begin with one of my favourites.
Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war (the smart side of war that requires strategy and planning, not rage war—that is Ares) She was often spotted with Owl, her sacred animal and she loved inventions and creativity.
Do you guys remember the Titan Metis? Zeus’s first wife that I mentioned in the last episode? Remember she was pregnant when Zeus swallowed her? Okay. She was pregnant with Athena then. Metis eventually gave birth in Zeus’s tummy (gross alert!) and faded into Zeus’s thought—she was the Titan of thoughts anyway. I don’t even want to know how that happened. Athena grew up in Zeus’s gut, the same way his siblings grew in their Kronos’s. When Athena was fully grown—the compressed version of growth—she wanted to get out. She travelled to Zeus’s brain and kept pounding on it until she came out. She was born from Zeus’s mind, fully-grown and dressed. I told you, a lot of strange births.
After emerging from Zeus’s brain, Athena went to the nymphs of North Africa to learn combat. She became friends with a strong and skilled nymph called Pallas. Zeus saw Pallas and Athena sparring one day; he thought Pallas wanted to kill Athena. Zeus got over-protective and held up the Aegis (a bronze shield carrying the face of Medusa, given to Zeus by Athena). Pallas got distracted by it and Athena mistakenly killed her while they were sparring. Athena was heartbroken and she built a wooden statue in honour of Pallas. The statute looked like Athena’s which is why Athena was sometimes called Pallas Athena.
Athena was a good friend but she didn’t like to be insulted. Just ask Medusa. Poseidon had always wanted to get back at Athena for taking his patron position at Athens away from him. Plus, Athena saved one of Poseidon’s girlfriend from him. So, when Poseidon met Medusa, he decided to get cosy with her in the temple of Athena. Big insult! Athena turned Medusa into one of the most hideous monsters known till today. Each strand of her hair turned into tiny snakes and one look from her would turn anyone into stone. Medusa became so monstrous, Poseidon ran, leaving her in the temple (not cool Poseidon, not cool!). Medusa lived the rest of her life away from people with her two sisters. They became the Gorgons and they also made several screen times in some Greek heroes’ quests.
There was also this lady called Arachne. She was extremely gifted at weaving and she dared to boast that she was better than Athena. Athena turned her into the first spider. Just keep weaving, since you are so good at it, Athena thought.
Athena wasn’t all bad. She brought Olive trees to the people of Athena where she was made a patron. Athena was also one of the reasons Odysseus made it back home (even if no one else did). Athena also helped other heroes like Hercules and Perseus. You see? She had a sweet side!
He is the son of Hera and Zeus. Ares is the god of war and bloodlust. You know those bullies that just come after you for no reason? Yeah, Ares is probably behind their rage thought. Anytime you see senseless fighting or bloodshed, Ares is happy about that. He is the god of bullies, gangsters, mafias and crime syndicates that peddle weapons. Most people avoid Ares because of obvious reasons but the Spartans got along with him just fine. They also made human sacrifices to him and offered dogs to him. Who kills a dog?! That is sick! I knew there was a reason I hate gladiator movies. Ares always went to war with his two sons, Phobos (fear) and Deimos (panic) – very catchy names—and he rode on chariots pulled by fire-breathing horses.
Ares’s girlfriend was Aphrodite, goddess of love, talk about unlike pole attracts. Together, they had a daughter called Harmonica.
Ares doesn’t joke with his pet. He had two sacred dragons and this dude, Cadmus, killed one of them. Not only that, he also married the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, Harmonica. Ares turned Cadmus and his daughter into snakes. He loved his dragons.
The goddess of love takes no prisoners when it comes to beauty. If your type of beauty is slim, red hair, that is how Aphrodite would appear to you. If you love plum blonde, she was that. She was everybody’s type. Remember the time when the first murder took place and Kronos dumped the hacked pieces of his father, Ouranos, into the Ocean? Aphrodite came from the mixture of that ichor with the seawater. Technically, she is the first Olympian and the oldest. She grew up in the sea and came up to the shore on the island of Cyprus. When she got to Olympus, as the guys drooled over her, the ladies grew jealous and paired her off to marry Hephaestus, the god of blacksmith and the god of ugliness.
See, Hera was Hephaestus’s mother. She gave birth to him to prove to Zeus, who kept having mortal lovers, that she could have a child on her own. Only that she couldn’t. Out of sheer force of will, hatred and rage, she gave birth to the very definition of ugliness. Hera was disgusted and threw the baby out through Olympus window. It was a very long fall but the baby was immortal so he didn’t die, his ugliness just multiplied from twisted and disfigured bone structure. That was the man they gave to Aphrodite, the goddess who prides herself in beauty and appearances. No wonder she cheated openly with Ares. Aphrodite never loved nor had any children with Hephaestus. I am sure they never even held hands not to think of kissing.
Her son, Eros the love god could make anybody fall in love with anyone. He later became known as Cupid.
Artemis is another one of my favourite goddesses. Who doesn’t like a butt-kicking virgin goddess with arrows? Artemis is the moon goddess, taking over moon duty from the Titan Selene. She was also the goddess of childbirth and the goddess of hunting. She is the twin sister of the sun god, Apollo. She often dressed in white or silver with her silver hunting bow and enchanted arrows in a quiver. Artemis also had healing powers.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and a Titan called Leto. When Hera found out that Leto was pregnant, she cursed the earth to never receive Leto when it was time for her to give birth. Leto ran around for months looking for where to give birth until she found the floating island of Delos. She gave birth to Artemis first and Apollo afterwards.
She was always in the company of maidens who had sworn off men. They hunt wild animals together without upsetting the balance of nature. Meaning, they won’t kill a bunny, except a really dangerous bunny.
Artemis hated peeping toms. A guy named Actaeon accidentally stumbled upon the bathing hole of Artemis and her maidens. Artemis turned him into a deer and made Actaeon’s hunting dogs hunt and feast on him. Artemis has no time for nonsense like that.
He is the twin brother of Artemis. He was the god of poetry, music, healing and he was the sun god. He took over the last position from the Titan Helios. Apollo was also good at archery. Once Apollo decided to kill you, being in another continent won’t save you from him. All he had to do was fire his arrow, it will find you.
Apollo, like the other gods, doesn’t like it when humans boast or compare themselves to the gods. A woman named Niobe learnt this the hard way. Niobe had fourteen children that were doing very well but she compared them to Leto’s twins, Apollo and Artemis. It was bloodshed. They turned the city dwellers into stones and killed Niobe’s fourteen children and her husband. Niobe wept for years until she turned into a rock. Her family members weren’t buried for nine days, just out in the open as files and vultures feasted on their bodies. Artemis and Apollo were happy leaving the city that way but Zeus pitied them and turned the people of the city back to humans so they could bury the dead.
Apollo once flayed a satyr who thought he was a better musician. Seriously, how many examples, how many people died before those people learnt not to compare themselves with the gods?!
This guy is the busiest god! He is the god of the travellers, language, hospitality, flight, commerce, cattle herders, thieves, gymnastics, luck, deception and on top of all that—and many others I have not mentioned—he is the messenger of the gods. He oversaw guiding stray souls to the Underworld.
He is the son of Zeus and Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas. To hide from Hera, Maia gave birth to Hermes in a cave in Mount Cyllene. His symbol is the caduceus. The rod with two snakes? The doctors’ symbol? Yea, that’s a caduceus.
Good ol’ D is the god of wine and partying. This guy knows how to have a good time and make everyone have a good time (club owners, take note). How he was born you ask? Strange birth alert! Remember Semele whom Hera deceived and Zeus showed her his true god form? The one that was vaporized? Yea, Remember Zeus kept her baby in his thigh? like he turned his thigh into an incubator? That baby was Dionysus!
To keep him out of Hera’s sight, Zeus asked Hermes to take baby Dionysus to his mortal aunt and uncle to raise him. Hera found out, of course, she always did. Zeus was able to save only Dionysus but Hera struck Dionysus’s Aunt and Uncle with madness. Hell hath no fury…
Zeus found another place to hide baby Dee, in a place called mount Nysa under the care of nymphs. As Dionysus grew, he made friends with both mortals and satyrs, especially a satyr called Ampelos. Ampelos died from falling from a tree while trying to get fruit for Dionysus. Dionysus cursed the tree in anger and his friend’s blood sipped into the root of the tree and produced the first grapefruit. I am not taking wine again!
Anyway, Dionysus mastered the art of winemaking and that made him very popular in Greece as the god of wine and excessive partying. Himself and his party followers/bands called the maenads trotted the globe spreading the joy of intoxication and extreme happiness.
As free-spirited as the god of wine is, don’t mess with him. He was captured by pirates one time and after requesting that they let him go and they refused, he made huge vines grow, sinking the ship. That wasn’t enough, Dionysus turned the crew into dolphins.
Dionysus got married to Ariadne, a princess who helped Theseus defeat a minotaur and escape his father’s labyrinth. When he ascended into Olympus to become the twelfth Olympian, Ariadne became his immortal wife.
Whew! That about covers it! Hestia is often not counted as an Olympian as we discussed very much earlier. The twelve Olympian gods are Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena, Ares, Hermes and Dionysus.
So! What did you learn from this series except having an idea of Greek mythology? I don’t know about you but I learnt a few things. One, don’t look at Zeus, Hera is not forgiving. Two, don’t boast or think you are better than the gods, they value their reputation. Three, live a worthy life to get into Elysium!
It has been fun writing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it.
See you on the funny pages.