Greek Goddesses: Names and Legends

Greek Goddesses: Names and Legends

By admin

When discussing about Ancient Greek gods, both the Olympians and the Titans are always mentioned there. The latter preceded the former and gave birth to them, so basically the Titans were the parents of the Olympian gods. Contrary to popular belief, not all Titan gods were bad. Some were benevolent to mankind. As a matter of fact, Prometheus was for creating man. We all know the prevalent story of Zeus taking fire away from mankind as a punishment for having been tricked, prompting Prometheus to steal it back. Nonetheless, people do not consider neither is better than the other.

Olympians mostly consist of third and fourth generations of immortal beings. They were named so due to their residency on top of Mount Olympus. Titans, on the other hand, were the second generation of divine beings. Unlike the Olympians, the Titans were less commonly depicted. While the Gods of Titans and Olympians have always enjoyed being the center of attention in any heated dialogue about ancient Greek mythology. The goddesses are all just as fascinating to talk about and each has their own significant role. Here are some ancient Greek goddesses of Titans and Olympians.

Hestia: Goddess of Hearth, home and the domestic affairs

Hestia: Goddess of Hearth, home and the domestic affairs
Hestia: Goddess of Hearth, home and the domestic affairs

This virgin goddess is also known as the goddess sacrificial flame. Hestia was the last daughter of Rhea and Cronus. She was honored with receiving first offering at every sacrifice in the household. While being the first-born of the couple, she was also the first who was eaten by Cronus and the last to be disgorged, thus making her the youngest and the eldest child of the first Olympians. She is depicted as a modest woman wearing elegant yet modest clothing and holding a flowering branch. She grew in beauty and grace, following the path of her nature. She was courted, though in vain, by Poseidon who was her brother and Apollo, her nephew. However, she pledged for eternal virginity. Unlike Artemis and Athena, who were bound to virginity as well, Hestia didn’t need quests and was merely fulfilled with simply existing and serving her family as well as the community. Zeus didn’t take issue with this decision and even offered her a place as a housekeeper on Mount Olympus.

The Goddess of Hearth stayed at home all the time while other goddesses and gods were off on adventures. She was exceptional in that she was light-hearted, forgiving and non-judgemental. It was also her habit to offer strangers protection and shelter when needed. Her kindness also made her give up her space at Mount Olympus to Dionysus due to younger gods coming to live on Olympus and there were only twelve spaces available. This act resulted in her being referred to the forgotten goddess and Zeus rewarded her with a costume that was to be worn when receiving the first part of each offering made to the gods.

Name Pronunciation: hés-tee-ah

Symbols: hearth and its fire

Siblings: Hades, Chiron, Demeter, Hera, Poseidon, and Zeus

Parents: Rhea and Cronus

Children: none as she is one of the only three virgin goddesses

Hebe: Goddess of Youth

Hebe: Goddess of Youth
Hebe: Goddess of Youth

Among the Greek goddesses, Hebe is one that most of us could fall in love with. The youthful looking and fair-skinned goddess was the youngest daughter of Zeus and Hera. While many have spent centuries looking for the Fountain of Youth, the Greeks would have believed that a blessing from this particular ancient Greek goddess could help them achieve eternal youth. The female offspring in the home served guests according to the tradition of ancient Greece. These duties were not an exception to the daughters of deities as well. Hebe’s job was to bring her golden chalice full of ambrosia and nectar, the drink and food of the gods and the sustenance of immortality. The tasks of readying her mother’s chariot and drawing the bath for Ares, her brother, were also included in her 'key performance areas.’

She was dedicated to her role as beverage server to other gods. However, she had a misfortunate event in which she tripped and caused her dress to come undone while serving. The gods were not happy about this and her role as a cupbearer was taken away from her. Her duties may seem mundane but she had advantages. That was the gift of eternal youth. It was reflected in her fresh-faced appearance and adolescent figure. After Heracles was granted his divinity, Hebe became his wife. They had twin sons together. Another story tells that Hebe was conceived when Hera was eating wild lettuce while dining with Apollo. She was often asked by other gods to use her gift on them. She always felt reluctant to do it but would eventually relent if it was meant for justice. For instance, Heracles’ charioteer, Iolaus, asked Hebe to become young again for he was about to fight against Eurystheus. Hebe refused at first but relented when the goddess of justice, Themis, justified his reason.

Name Pronunciation: Hee-bee

Abode: Mount Olympus

Symbols: wings, wine cups, the fountain of youth

Husband: Heracles

Children: Anicetus and Alexiares

Parents: Zeus and Hera

Nemesis: Winged Goddess of Justice and Revenge

Nemesis: Winged Goddess of Justice and Revenge
Nemesis: Winged Goddess of Justice and Revenge

Nemesis is closely associated with enemies or opponents that are tough to take down. In Greek mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of justice and revenge. She was often called as the goddess of Rhamnous which is an isolated place in Attica. Her name originally refers to a distributor of fortune but in contemporary use, it is used to refer to one’s worst enemy. She was remorseless due to being the personification of divine retribution and vengeance. She was particularly invoked against those whose arrogance and hubris got the better of them. She served as a force of divine reckoning. Originally, she was a goddess who merely doled out what people had coming to them, be it good or bad. She gave earthy luck and punished sacrilege. On top of that, she was also a goddess who shared the dreaded responsibility of transporting guilty souls to Tartarus, together with the Furies.

Nemesis was often depicted carrying the bough of an apple tree or as an ash tree in one of her annual disguises. Other times, she was portrayed with a wheel, holding a whip. Bridle and scales. She was symbolized in a chariot drawn by winged griffins. Despite the fact that she was supposedly Zeus’ daughter, the God of the Sky pursued her relentlessly, prompting her to turn into a goose. However, Zeus also changed form into a swan and then managed to impregnate her. As a result, she hatched an egg contained two sets of twins. One set was the famous Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra and the other was the Dioscuri called Polydeuces and Castor.

Name Pronunciation: né-me-sees

Parents: Zeus and Nyx

Children: Pollux and Castor

Symbols: the sword, a pair of scales

Leto: Goddess of Motherhood and Demureness

Leto: Goddess of Motherhood and Demureness
Leto: Goddess of Motherhood and Demureness

When the first-born gods came into being: Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth), they had 12 children who were known as the Titans and Titanesses. Among them were Phoebe and Coeus who were parents of Leto. The goddess of motherhood was Zeus’ favorite lover. Despite being his bride, Zeus married his sister Hera (while Leto was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis!). Hera was always jealous of her sister’s beauty and modesty. It was in Hera’s nature to cause issues for those she disliked and so she pushed Leto off the mountain of the gods. The mortals were afraid of offending the powerful Hera and so no one would invite her (Leto) in. Hera even sent the dragon Python to chase after her, just to make matter worse. Zeus eventually intervened and saved Leto. He sent out Boreus, the god of North Wind, to carry her out to sea.

The wrath of Hera drove her from land to land and prevented her from having easy childbirth. Leto could finally seek refuge on the floating island of Delos. However, Hera managed to abduct the goddess of childbirth, Eileithyia but Leto received help from all the other goddesses. Her suffer continued for some time but fortunately, she gave birth to two fast-growing children, both of whom were good in archery. Apollo even managed to kill Python when he was only four days old. Leto was, no doubt, known for her kindness and modesty. She even played a role in the Trojan War where she fought alongside her children. When she was opposed to Hermes on the battlefield, he refused to fight her due to the fact she was the mother of Zeus’ children.

Name Pronunciation: Lee-to

Abode: Mount Olympus

Children: Artemis and Apollo

Siblings: Lelantos and Asteria

Parents: Coeus and Phoebe

Rhea: Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood

Rhea: Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood
Rhea: Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood

The Titan goddess was the daughter of Gaea and Uranus. She was most known for being married to Cronus and the mother to some of the most well-known Olympian gods and goddesses, including Zeus. She was responsible for the fertility of the soil, women as well as motherhood. She took over most of these duties from Gaea. She was depicted as a matronly woman with a turret crown, on a chariot pulled by lions or standing between two lions. She was also associated with the Moon due to her role as a fertility goddess. She was often depicted carrying a wrapped stone which she pretended was Zeus. As a goddess of fertility, she was also ultimately daring and crafty, mainly because of in defense of her children.

Cronus feared that his children would revolt against him based on a prophecy he heard and therefore he swallowed them whole. Rhea felt her heartbreaking each time he did so. Then, by the time she was pregnant with Zeus, she tricked her husband by giving him a lump of rocks to swallow instead. She spared her son’s life by sending him away to the island of Crete. This act eventually led to Cronus’ downfall for Zeus came back to take down his father and reclaim his lost siblings.

Name Pronunciation: Ré-AH

Symbols: the Moon, brass drums, a lighted torch, and a double axes

Husband: Cronus

Parents: Uranus and Gaea

Children: Zeus, Poseidon, Hestia, Demeter, Hades, and Hera

Aphrodite: Goddess of Beauty

Aphrodite: Goddess of Beauty
Aphrodite: Goddess of Beauty

You probably hear people make the Aphrodite reference when they want to compliment a woman of her beauty. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of this. Well, you should’ve been flattered though because she was the Olympian goddess of beauty, love, fertility, and sexual pleasure. She was attended regularly by some of her children, the Erotes, who could stir up passion in both gods and mortals at the goddess’ will. Aphrodite was portrayed as both unattainable and insatiable. She was born out of the aphros or foam that Uranus’ castrated genitals, no thanks to his son – Cronus – by the way, created when they fell into the sea near the coast of Cythera. Despite being married to Hephaestus, she had many affairs with pretty much all Olympian gods except Hades and Zeus, most famously with the God of War, Ares. Add to that she also had famous romances with two mortals, Adonis and Anchises.

Apollo signified the epitome of the perfect male body to the Greeks. The Goddess of beauty couldn’t be more ideal to be his female counterpart. She was often depicted nude, enchanting and beautiful. She was an asymmetrically flawless maiden, infinitely desired but just as out of reach.

With the story of Aphrodite being born out of Uranus’ castrated genitals, Homer tells quite a different story. He says that she was the daughter of Zeus and the Titan goddess, Diona. Those who follow this theory consequently believe that she was a second generation goddess.

Name Pronunciation: a-fro-DYE-tee

Symbol: mirror, girdle

Other names: Cytherea, Acidalia and Cerigo

Husband: Hephaestus

Siblings: Athena, Apollo, and Helen

Demeter: Goddess of Harvest and Fertility

Demeter: Goddess of Harvest and Fertility
Demeter: Goddess of Harvest and Fertility

The goddess of agriculture presided over grains as well as the fertility of the Earth. Even though she was most often called as the goddess of harvest. The daughter of Cronos and Rhea was also the goddess of sacred law as well as the cycle of life and death. She was given particularly higher stature in Ancient Greek mythology. Despite being one of the first Olympian goddesses, she took a path quite different from other contemporary Olympians when the age of Olympus took off. She didn’t want to be confined within the realms of Mount Olympus and instead opted for the temples dedicated to her by the devotees – living in proximity with her worshippers and pretty much those who depended on her. She was often depicted as a mature woman sitting on a throne, wearing a crown and carrying a torch or sheaves of wheat.

Demeter always had a large number of mortal followers due to her ability to bless them with better agriculture and harvest. She created seasons favorable for plantation. Persephone, her virgin daughter, was abducted by Hades who was the god of the underworld. Demeter searched for her endlessly and was always preoccupied with grief and loss. Consequently, the seasons came to a halt and living things ceased to grow and eventually died. At this point, the God of the Sky had to intervene and send Hermes, his messenger, to the underworld and bring back her daughter, thus extinction of all life on Earth could be prevented. However, Persephone had to spend four months annually in the Underworld and every time she would leave, winter time would arrive.

Name Pronunciation: dee-MEE-tur

Symbol: cornucopia

Child: Persephone

Parents: Rhea and Cronus

Other names: Sito, Ceres, and Thesmophoros

Artemis: Goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity

Artemis: Goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity
Artemis: Goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity

Artemis was pictured as a beautiful, vigorous young huntress who held a bow and carried a quiver of arrows, wearing a short knee-high tunic and was accompanied by a doe, stag or another hunting animal. She was also sometimes depicted with a crescent moon crown and in a long robe. She was the lovechild of Leto and Zeus. Her mother gave birth to her while hanging on an olive branch because she was forbidden from giving birth anywhere on solid earth. Artemis has a twin brother, Apollo. Apollo was much preferred playing with the strings of a lyre. Artemis enjoyed plucking the strings of her bow. Due to the fact she was able to assist her mother to give birth to Apollo, she then earned the title of protector of childbirth and labor, rightfully.

With the harshness Leto had for having mothered Zeus’ children, Artemis vowed to remain the virgin forever. She practiced eternal chastity. Therefore, she was also called as the goddess of virginity, which is kind of neat trick considering she was also the goddess of childbirth. She never gave in from the approaches of mortals and gods alike with loves as well as interests. However, she eventually fell for Orion, her hunting companion, who unfortunately was killed untimely either by Gaea or Artemis herself.

Name Pronunciation : Ar-té-mEEs

Symbol: a bow, stags, arrows, the Moon and hunting dog

Parents: Leto and Zeus

Husband: none

Siblings: Apollo

Hera: Goddess of Marriage and Birth

Hera: Goddess of Marriage and Birth
Hera: Goddess of Marriage and Birth

This major ancient Greek goddess was known for her jealousy and vengeful nature towards the many lovers as well as offspring of Zeus, her husband. She was also known as the queen of Olympus because she had already ruled over the heavens and the Earth long before she married Zeus. That’s why, because she ruled over the Mount Olympus in which the gods and goddesses lived, she was referred as The Queen of Heaven. Based on the number of cults, she is believed to be a very ancient goddess. Nobody even knew her real name for Hera was merely a title that is roughly translated as “Lady”. She was so powerful that even Zeus was terrified of her. She held a never-ending grudge over Zeus’ illegitimate son, Heracles due to his continuous adultery, among other things. Her hatred led her to raise a storm at sea in order to kill him. At this, Zeus became angry and hung her by a golden chain in the clouds. Her son, Hephaestus, tried to release her but Zeus threw him out of heaven, causing him to break his legs during the fall.

Hera was known as a jealous wife but she was also the protector of women, presiding over births and marriage. She may be physically attractive but her vindictive nature made her less so. Furthermore, she was also responsible for the ending of the Trojan War. It was because of her the war didn’t come to an end in peace. She manipulated Zeus to either remain neutral or switch sides because she had a vested interest in its outcome. Despite her vengeful personality, she was notable as one of the very few goddesses that remained faithful to her husband. That’s why she symbolized fidelity and monogamy. She had no specific attributes which made her hard to distinguish. However, she was often depicted seated on a throne and wearing a crown

Name Pronunciation: Hee-rah

Symbol: pomegranate, peacock and the cuckoo

Parents: Cronus and Rhea

Husband: Zeus

Children: Ares, Hebe, and Eileithyia

Athena: Goddess of War and Wisdom

Athena: Goddess of War and Wisdom
Athena: Goddess of War and Wisdom

Some people referred her as Athene. Athena holds a significant role in the realm of ancient Greek mythology. She is basically a goddess of a lot of things. Athena is the goddess of courage, wisdom, law, and justice, inspiration, civilization, strategy, maths, strategic warfare, the arts, skill, and crafts. She is mostly known for her strategic skill in warfare. She was the adored patroness of the city of Athens. This virgin deity was also associated with handicrafts (especially weaving and spinning) and peace, somewhat paradoxically. She is identified with braveness and courage. Often times she is also associated with own and olive tree due to her wisdom.

She is often depicted as a beautiful majestic lady in most art and literature but with a stern face and unsmiling full lips, armed with a spear and shield. Her posture emanated authority and power. The birth of Athena happened in miraculous circumstances. Upon learning that Metis’ next child may overthrow him, Zeus decided to swallow his first wife who, at the time, was already pregnant with Athena. When the time came, Zeus suffered from great headaches that he couldn’t bear. Hephaestus, the son of Zeus, struck him with his axe and you can guess what happened next. Athena leaped out of the God of the Sky’s head! This made her the daughter of Zeus but without a mother.

Name Pronunciation: a-THEE-nuh

Symbols: distaff, spear

Role: Goddess of Wisdom

Siblings: dozens of half-siblings

Neither were more nor less powerful. These major ancient Greek goddesses. Pretty much all deities were equal in power because they were all gods!

Tags: Greek goddesses, Greek goddess, goddess names, Greek goddess names.

Thoughts on "Greek Goddesses: Names and Legends"

Greek Goddesses: Names and Legends Gleanster5.0 / 5 based on 1 unique reviews
Leave a Comment
Required fields have **