The Ancient Greeks believed that a family of gods lived in a cloud palace above Mount Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece). These gods were thought to have special powers, and each had control over a different aspect of life. Join National Geographic Kids as we meet some of them...
Zeus was the king of the gods, and the most powerful. He was the god of the sky and thunder, and controlled the weather. He had different powers, his most famous being the ability to hurl lightning bolts at those who displeased him! He hated dishonesty, and would punish those who lied or broke promises.
Hera was Zeus’ wife and queen of the gods. She was the goddess of women, marriage and family. Hera was well worshipped by the Ancient Greeks, and the oldest and most important temples of the region were built in honour of her. Her sacred animals were the cow, lion and peacock.
Poseidon was the brother of Zeus, and god of the sea and earthquakes. Although one of the gods of Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in the ocean. His weapon was a trident which was said to be so powerful it could shake the earth and shatter any object! He had a reputation for being bad-tempered and moody, and would seek revenge on those who angered him.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. The Greeks believed Aphrodite was created from the foam of the sea on the shores of Paphos, Cyrpus. She was considered the most beautiful of the gods, and later married Hephaestus, god of metalwork and fire. Her sacred animal was the dove.
Hades was Zeus and Poseidon's elder brother. Although a god of Mount of Olympus, Hades rarely left his dark kingdom, the underworld, where he ruled over the dead. Because he represented death, Hades was the most feared of the Ancient Greek gods - some people even refused to say his name! Hades was aided in the underworld by his three headed dog, Cerberus.
A son of Zeus, Hermes was the messenger of the gods. He was also responsible for guiding the dead to the underworld. Hermes was said to be the fastest of the gods and wore winged sandals and a winged hat. He was also known for his intelligence and wit, and would help Zeus with his important decisions.
Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, vegetation and crop growth. She was also associated with the seasons. The Ancient Greeks believed that her daughter, Persephone, was taken from her for four months each year, during which Demeter would grieve and withdraw her gifts from the world, creating winter.
A son of Zeus, Apollo was the Greek god of music, arts, light and medicine. He was famous for playing the lyre (an instrument a bit like a small U-shaped harp) - and he was also believed to have invented the lute (a pear-shaped string instrument). Although associated with health and healing, together with his twin sister Artemis, he could bring disease and plague to humans.
Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, skill and war. She taught humans various skills and crafts such as weaving, and would protect heroes during war. She was said to be Zeus’ favourite daughter, so much so that he would allow her to use his weapons - even this blastastic thunderbolt! Her sacred animal was the owl.
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