Essays

Gods and Goddesses - Greek Mythology

by tanitasz

One of the six Olympians, the daughter of Kronos and Rheia, Hera is the beautiful and powerful wife of Zeus.

She is the most beautiful of the immortals, even more beautiful than Aphrodite. Her beauty is renewed each spring as she magically washes away the ware and worry of her immortal lifestyle. Her name appears in many stories and she is often regarded as petty and unforgiving.

The story of Zeus and Io is the sad story of infidelity and revenge. Zeus changed his beautiful lover, Io, into a black and white heifer to hide her from Hera. Hera saw through the ruse and sent Argos Panoptes (all seeing) to keep watch on Io and keep Zeus away. Hermes, doing the will of Zeus, killed Argos and thus received the name Argeiphontes (the murderer of Argos). Hera would not be deterred from her vengeance. She sent a gad fly to torment and constantly prod the poor cow-woman so that she might never rest or find comfort. Finally, Io was driven to the ends of the earth (i.e. Egypt) where she found peace. The eyes of Argos can still be seen in the tail of the peacock.

Hera is often confused with the Roman goddess, Juno.

The Greek god Hephaestus, also known as Vulcan by the Romans, was the god of fire and craftsmen. He was known as the god of fire and given his name Vulcan because it stands for volcanic fire. The name Hephaestus traveled from Asia Minor, where the Greeks lived, and the name became the god’s name. Hephaestus’s parents were Zeus and Hera. According to Homer’s Iliad, it is said that when they were quarreling once, and Hephaestus sided with his mother, Zeus flung Hephaestus from Mount Olympus onto the island Lemnos. That made him lame so he is also known as the lame god. Homer gave another account of his lameness. Hera flung Hephaestus from Mt. Olympus because he was born lame and ugly. To take his revenge on Hera, he made a golden throne and when Hera sat in it she was bound to it. The golden throne was not the only thing he made. Vulcan was known as the craftsman god. By mixing fire and metal working, he was involved in metallurgy. He made a shield and armor for Achilles, a shield for Hercules and an invisible net that captured his wife Aphrodite and her lover Ares. When Aphrodite, the goddess of love, started loving Hephaestus again, he built mechanical marvels and beautiful works of art to represent his love of Aphrodite. In art, Hephaestus appears as a bearded man with a sleeveless tunic and having powerful arms and leg muscles having one shortened leg because of his lameness. Hephaestus’s festival, known as Vulvanilia, was celebrated on August 23 to protect people from destructive fire. My myth on Hephaestus is how Hephaestus made Pandora for Zeus and he didn’t know what is was for. Anyway, here it is: When Prometheus (a Spartan) crossed Zeus for the second time, Zeus decided to punish all mankind. So he went to Hephaestus and asked him to make the most beautiful woman he could. This woman must be as beautiful as a goddess and the most beautiful woman on earth. Hephaestus did as he was told and since he was the blacksmith and craftsman god he made a very beautiful woman. The most beautiful there was. This woman was Pandora, who would open a box which would release all the bad things in the world.

DEMETER, in Greek mythology, goddess of corn and the harvest, and daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld, Demeter's grief was so great that she neglected the land; no plants grew, and famine devastated the earth. Dismayed at this situation, Zeus, the ruler of the universe, demanded that his brother Hades return Persephone to her mother. Hades agreed, but before he released the girl, he made her eat some pomegranate seeds that would force her to return to him for four months each year. In her joy at being reunited with her daughter, Demeter caused the earth to bring forth bright spring flowers and abundant fruit and grain for the harvest. However, her sorrow returned each fall when Persephone had to go back to the underworld. The desolation of the winter season and the death of vegetation were regarded as the yearly manifestation of Demeter's grief when her daughter was taken from her. Demeter and Persephone were worshiped in the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The cult spread from Sicily to Rome, where the goddesses were worshiped as Ceres and Proserpine.

Aphrodite is the goddess of love and sexual rapture. She was born when Uranus was castrated. His son Cronus was the one who castrated him. Cronus threw the severed genitals into the sea. It began to foam and churn. From the foam arose Aphrodite. That is how Aphrodite was born.

Artemis, the Maiden of the Silver Bow, has the power to send sudden death to mortals, as well as the power to heal. She was accompanied on her hunts by lop-eared hounds, had sixty ocean nymphs as maids of honor, and twenty Cretean nymphs to tend her houn ds. She wore a saffron colored hunting tunic and her principal emblems are the date-palm, the stag and the bee.

In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. He was the god of the sun, logic and reason, and was a fine musician and healer. He could fortell the future. His most famous sacred place was at Delphi, site of the Oracle of Delphi. The Romans also believed in Apollo as the god of light, music, and healing.

 
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