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The Olympian Family

And in the beginning there was Chaos, the original void, from which sprang Gëa, Goddess of the Earth, who married Uranus, God of the Sky, from which sprang Cronos, Pallas, Oceanus, the Cyclops and the Titans; from Cronos, God of the World and Time, who married his sister Rhea, sprang Hades, Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon, and Zeus, Father of Gods and Mortals, who also married his sister, Hera, Queen of Heaven and Goddess of childbirth, marriage, and women, mother of Ares, Arge, Discordia, Eleithyia, Hebe and Hephëstus; and from the marriages and mistresses, both god and mortal, from the fornicating with a swan, with a white bull, with a shower of gold the children of Athens and Troy were born.

Zeus, ruler of Mount Olympus, king of gods and men, god of weather: The sixth and last child of Cronos and Rhea, Zeus escaped his father's appetite because his mother substituted a stone in his place; eventually, he fed Cronos an emetic causing him to cough up the other children who then joined Zeus against the elder gods. By far more powerful than the other gods, Zeus has trouble exerting his authority over his subjects, much like any mortal parent would have controlling a large extended family; no doubt, many of his problems are the result of his conspicuous sexual appetite.... Zeus is said to have fathered literally hundreds of children by 53 different wives, mistresses, and lovers. (Jupiter = Roman name)

Hera, protectress of marriage, married women, children, and the home: Both Zeus's wife and sister, Hera wanders through Greek mythology, always a betrayed wife, torturing young girls because of their affairs with her husband. Because of the judgment of Paris, she was hostile to the Trojans in the Trojan War. (Juno)

Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes and giver of horses to man: Brother of Zeus and Hera, Poseidon too supported the Trojans, giving Admetus the best horses which Eumelus drove; his symbol is the trident which he used to cause earthquakes. (Neptune)

Demeter, goddess of crops, giver of grain and fruit: Sister of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, Demeter withheld her gifts when Zeus permitted Hades to carry off her daughter, Persephone, to the underworld. Famine spread until a compromise could be reached; Persephone would spend only one quarter of the year in the underworld, her annual return marking the return of spring.

Hades, king of the Underworld, brother of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and Demeter. (Pluto)

Athena, goddess of war, wisdom, and the liberal arts: Daughter of Zeus and Metis, whom Zeus swallowed when she became pregnant, Athena was born, fully grown and armed, from Zeus's forehead. Although she supported the Greek triumph at Troy, she took vengeance on those heroes who failed to pay her appropriate homage. She is credited with establishing the rule of law, even the concept of mercy, in the trial that freed Orestes from the dread Furies after he had murdered his mother at Apollo's orders. (Minerva)

Apollo, god of the sun and patron of truth, archery, music, medicine, and prophecy: Son of Zeus and Leto, twin brother of Artemis, Apollo was the most majestic of the Olympians and is associated with the basic Greek precepts: "Know thyself." and "Nothing in excess." (Phoebus)

Artemis, goddess of the moon and of the hunt, an avowed virgin: Daughter of Zeus and Leto, twin sister of Apollo, Artemis was the guardian of cities, of young animals, and of women of all ages who prayed to her for an easy childbirth. Artemis blocked the passage of the Greek army to Troy by withholding the wind because Agamemnon boasted he was a better shot than she was; consequently, she demanded the life of his daughter but some say she spared the girl's life. (Diana)

Ares, god of war: Son of Zeus and Hera, both who despised him, Ares was held in awe by the Greeks, never adored. But he was liked by Hades for the wars he started increased the Underworld population. Ares sided with the Trojans in their war against the Greeks. (Mars)

Aphrodite, goddess of sexual love and beauty: Daughter of Zeus and Dione, alternatively, born of the foam of the sea when the severed genitals of Uranus were thrown into the sea, the foam gathering around them, wife of Hephaestus, the fire god, and lover of Ares with whom she bore several children, among them Fear and Terror, Aphrodite had the power to beguile even wise gods and often placed temptation in the path of Zeus. She supported Troy and when Paris gave her the apple of discord, she helped him win Helen. (Venus)

Hephaestus, god of fire and artisans: Son of Zeus and Hera, legend tells that Hephaestus was expelled from Olympus by his mother who was ashamed of his lameness. From his forges came many marvels, among them the first mortal woman Pandora, into whom the gods breathed life. An expert metalsmith, with the Cyclops as his workmen, Hephëstus created arms for Achilles and Aeneas, a scepter for Agamemnon, and a shield for Heracles. (Vulcan) Dionysus, god of the vine and fertility, of the joyous life and hospitality: Son of Zeus by a mortal mother, Dionysus was driven mad by a jealous Hera (who also destroyed his mother) and was forced to wander the earth accompanied by satyrs and maenads. He gave Greece the gift of wine - at times a blessing, at others a curse. (Bacchus) Hermes, Zeus's messenger to mortals, protector of flocks and cattle, of thieves and mischief-makers, and guardian of wayfarers. Hermes celebrated the day of his birth by stealing Apollo's cattle and then confused his pursuers by leaving a false trail; caught, he protested that he was too young for stealing.... Hermes is identified by his broad-rimmed hat, winged sandals, and a herald's staff entwined with snakes. Perhaps ironically, he is not only the patron of gamblers but of commerce and orators and writers as well. (Mercury) For more detailed information, see David Kravits. Who's Who in Greek and Roman Mythology (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1975) and Betty Radice. Who's Who in the Ancient World (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1973).