The Greeks created images of their deities for many purposes. A temple would house the statue of a god or goddess, or multiple deities, and might be decorated with relief scenes depicting myths. Divine images were common on coins. Drinking cups and other vessels were painted with scenes from Greek myths.
|Aphrodite (, Aphrodit?)
Goddess of beauty, love, desire, and pleasure. In Hesiod's Theogony (188-206), she was born from sea-foam and the severed genitals of Uranus; in Homer's Iliad (5.370-417), she is daughter of Zeus and Dione. She was married to Hephaestus, but bore him no children. She had many lovers, most notably Ares, to whom she bore Harmonia, Phobos, and Deimos. She was also a lover to Adonis and Anchises, to whom she bore Aeneas. She is usually depicted as a naked or semi-nude beautiful woman. Her symbols include myrtle, roses, and the scallop shell. Her sacred animals include doves and sparrows. Her Roman counterpart is Venus.
|Apollo (?, Apóll?n)
God of music, arts, knowledge, healing, plague, prophecy, poetry, manly beauty, and archery. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. Both Apollo and Artemis use a bow and arrow. Apollo is depicted as young, beardless, handsome and athletic. In myth, he can be cruel and destructive, and his love affairs are rarely happy. He is often accompanied by the Muses. His most famous temple is in Delphi, where he established his oracular shrine. His signs and symbols include the laurel wreath, bow and arrow, and lyre. His sacred animals include roe deer, swans, and pythons. Some late Roman and Greek poetry and mythography identifies him as a sun-god, equivalent to Roman Sol and Greek Helios.
|Ares (?, Ár?s)
God of courage, war, bloodshed, and violence. The son of Zeus and Hera, he was depicted as a beardless youth, either nude with a helmet and spear or sword, or as an armed warrior. Homer portrays him as moody and unreliable, and as being the most unpopular god on earth and Olympus (Iliad 5.890-1). He generally represents the chaos of war in contrast to Athena, a goddess of military strategy and skill. Ares is known for cuckolding his brother Hephaestus, conducting an affair with his wife Aphrodite. His sacred animals include vultures, venomous snakes, dogs, and boars. His Roman counterpart Mars by contrast was regarded as the dignified ancestor of the Roman people.
|Artemis (?, Ártemis)
Virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, the Moon and young girls. In later times, Artemis became associated with bows and arrows. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo. In art she is often depicted as a young woman dressed in a short knee-length chiton and equipped with a hunting bow and a quiver of arrows. Her attributes include hunting spears, animal pelts, deer and other wild animals. Her sacred animal is a deer. Her Roman counterpart is Diana.
|Athena (, Ath?nâ)
Goddess of reason, wisdom, intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy, and handicrafts. According to most traditions, she was born from Zeus's forehead, fully formed and armored. She is depicted as being crowned with a crested helm, armed with shield and spear, and wearing the aegis over a long dress. Poets describe her as "grey-eyed" or having especially bright, keen eyes. She is a special patron of heroes such as Odysseus. She is the patron of the city Athens (from which she takes her name) and is attributed to various inventions in arts and literature. Her symbol is the olive tree. She is commonly shown as being accompanied by her sacred animal, the owl. Her Roman counterpart is Minerva.
|Demeter (?, D?m?t?r)
Goddess of grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment. Demeter, whose Roman counterpart is Ceres, is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and was swallowed and then regurgitated by her father. She is a sister of Zeus, by whom she bore Persephone, who is also known as Kore, i.e. "the girl." One of the central myths associated with Demeter involves Hades' abduction of Persephone and Demeter's lengthy search for her. Demeter is one of the main deities of the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which the rites seemed to center around Demeter's search for and reunion with her daughter, which symbolized both the rebirth of crops in spring and the rebirth of the initiates after death. She is depicted as a mature woman, often crowned and holding sheafs of wheat and a torch. Her symbols are the cornucopia, wheat-ears, the winged serpent, and the lotus staff. Her sacred animals include pigs and snakes.
|Dionysus (, Diónusos)/Bacchus (, Bákkhos)
God of wine, fruitfulness, parties, festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, vegetation, ecstasy, and the theater. He is the twice-born son of Zeus and Semele, in that Zeus snatched him from his mother's womb and stitched Dionysus into his own thigh and carried him until he was ready to be born. In art he is depicted as either an older bearded god (particularly before 430 BC) or an effeminate, long-haired youth (particularly after 430 BC). His attributes include the thyrsus, a drinking cup, the grape vine, and a crown of ivy. He is often in the company of his thiasos, a group of attendants including satyrs, maenads, and his old tutor Silenus. The consort of Dionysus was Ariadne. It was once held that Dionysius was a later addition to the Greek pantheon, but the discovery of Linear B tablets confirm his status as a deity from an early period. Bacchus was another name for him in Greek, and came into common usage among the Romans. His sacred animals include dolphins, serpents, tigers, and donkeys.
|Hades (?, Háid?s)/Pluto (?, Plout?n)
King of the underworld and the dead. God of wealth. His consort is Persephone. His attributes are the drinking horn or cornucopia, key, sceptre, and the three-headed dog Cerberus. His sacred animals include the screech owl. He was one of three sons of Cronus and Rhea, and thus sovereign over one of the three realms of the universe, the underworld. As a chthonic god, however, his place among the Olympians is ambiguous. In the mystery religions and Athenian literature, Plouton ("the Rich one") was his preferred name, because of the idea that all riches came from the earth. The term Hades was used in this literature to refer to the underworld itself. The Romans translated Plouton as Dis Pater ("the Rich Father") or Pluto.
|Hephaestus (, H?phaistos)
God of fire, metalworking, and crafts. Either the son of Zeus and Hera or Hera alone, he is the smith of the gods and the husband of the adulterous Aphrodite. He was usually depicted as a bearded, crippled man with hammer, tongs, and anvil, and sometimes riding a donkey. His sacred animals include the donkey, the guard dog, and the crane. Among his creations was the armor of Achilles. Hephaestus used the fire of the forge as a creative force, but his Roman counterpart Vulcan was feared for his destructive potential and associated with the volcanic power of the earth.
|Hera (, H?ra)
Queen of the gods, and goddess of marriage, women, childbirth, heirs, kings, and empires. She is the wife and sister of Zeus, and the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was usually depicted as a regal woman in the prime of her life, wearing a diadem and veil and holding a lotus-tipped staff. Although she is the goddess of marriage, Zeus's many infidelities drive her to jealousy and vengefulness. Her sacred animals include the heifer, the peacock, and the cuckoo. Her Roman counterpart is Juno.
|Hermes (, H?rmês)
God of boundaries, travel, communication, trade, language, thieves and writing. Hermes was also responsible for protecting livestock and presided over the spheres associated with fertility, music, luck, and deception. The son of Zeus and Maia, Hermes is the messenger of the gods, and a psychopomp who leads the souls of the dead into the afterlife. He was depicted either as a handsome and athletic beardless youth, or as an older bearded man. His attributes include the herald's wand or caduceus, winged sandals, and a traveler's cap. His sacred animals include the tortoise. His Roman counterpart is Mercury.
|Hestia (, Hestía)
Virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and chastity. She is a daughter of Rhea and Cronus, and a sister of Zeus. Not often identifiable in Greek art, she appeared as a modestly veiled woman. Her symbols are the hearth and kettle. In some accounts, she gave up her seat as one of the Twelve Olympians in favor of Dionysus, and she plays little role in Greek myths. Her Roman counterpart Vesta, however, was a major deity of the Roman state.
|Poseidon (, Poseidôn)
God of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. He is a son of Cronus and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus and Hades. He rules one of the three realms of the universe, as king of the sea and the waters. In art he is depicted as a mature man of sturdy build, often with a luxuriant beard, and holding a trident. His sacred animals include the horse and the dolphin. His wedding with Amphitrite is often presented as a triumphal procession. In some stories he rapes Medusa, leading to her transformation into a hideous Gorgon and also to the birth of their two children, Pegasus and Chrysaor. His Roman counterpart is Neptune.
| Zeus (?, Zeús)
King of the gods, ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky, weather, thunder, lightning, law, order, and justice. He is the youngest son of Cronus and Rhea. He overthrew Cronus and gained the sovereignty of heaven for himself. In art he is depicted as a regal, mature man with a sturdy figure and dark beard. His usual attributes are the royal scepter and the lightning bolt. His sacred animals include the eagle and the bull. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter, also known as Jove.
|Ancient Greek name||English name||Description|
|(Akhlús)||Achlys||The goddess of poisons, and the personification of misery and sadness. Said to have existed before Chaos itself.|
|(Aith?r)||Aether||The god of light and the upper atmosphere.|
|? (Ai?n)||Aion||The god of eternity, personifying cyclical and unbounded time. Sometimes equated with Chronos.|
|(Anánk?)||Ananke||The goddess of inevitability, compulsion, and necessity.|
|? (Kháos)||Chaos||The personification of nothingness from which all of existence sprang. Depicted as a void. Initially genderless, later on described as female.|
|(Khrónos)||Chronos||The god of empirical time, sometimes equated with Aion. Not to be confused with the Titan Cronus (Kronos), the father of Zeus.|
|(Érebos)||Erebus||The god of darkness and shadow.|
|? (Ér?s)||Eros||The god of love and attraction.|
|? (Gaîa)||Gaia (Gaea)||Personification of the Earth (Mother Earth); mother of the Titans.|
|(H?méra)||Hemera||The goddess of day.|
|(Húpnos)||Hypnos||The personification of sleep.|
|? (Némesis)||Nemesis||The goddess of retribution.|
|(Nêsoi)||The Nesoi||The goddesses of islands.|
|(Núx)||Nyx||The goddess of night.|
|(Oúrea)||The Ourea||The gods of mountains.|
|(Phán?s)||Phanes||The god of procreation in the Orphic tradition.|
|(Póntos)||Pontus||The god of the sea, father of the fish and other sea creatures.|
|(Tártaros)||Tartarus||The god of the deepest, darkest part of the underworld, the Tartarean pit (which is also referred to as Tartarus itself).|
|? (Thálassa)||Thalassa||Personification of the sea and consort of Pontus.|
|? (Thánatos)||Thanatos||God of death. Brother to Hypnos (Sleep) and Moros (Doom).|
|? (Ouranós)||Uranus||The god of the heavens (Father Sky); father of the Titans.|
The Titan gods and goddesses are depicted in Greek art less commonly than the Olympians.
Eos (Dawn) and the hero Memnon (490-480 BC)
Helios in his four-horse chariot (3rd century BC)
Oceanus wearing crab-claw horns, with Tethys (Roman-era mosaic)
|Greek name||English name||Description|
|The Twelve Titans|
|(Koîos)||Coeus||God of intellect and the axis of heaven around which the constellations revolved.|
|(Kreîos)||Crius||The least individualized of the Twelve Titans, he is the father of Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses. Implied to be the god of constellations.|
|(Krónos)||Cronus||God of harvests and personification of destructive time. The leader of the Titans, who overthrew his father Uranus only to be overthrown in turn by his son, Zeus. Not to be confused with Chronos.|
|? (Hyperí?n)||Hyperion||God of light. With Theia, he is the father of Helios (the sun), Selene (the moon), and Eos (the dawn).|
|? (Iapetós)||Iapetus||God of mortality and father of Prometheus, Epimetheus, Menoetius, and Atlas.|
|M (Mn?mosýn?)||Mnemosyne||Goddess of memory and remembrance, and mother of the Nine Muses.|
|? (?ceanós)||Oceanus||God of the all-encircling river Oceans around the earth, the fount of all the Earth's fresh-water.|
|(Phoíb?)||Phoebe||Goddess of the "bright" intellect and prophecy, and consort of Coeus.|
|(Rhéa)||Rhea||Goddess of fertility, motherhood and the mountain wilds. She is the sister and consort of Cronus, and mother of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia.|
|(T?thýs)||Tethys||Goddess of fresh-water, and the mother of the rivers, springs, streams, fountains, and clouds.|
|? (Theía)||Theia||Goddess of sight and the shining light of the clear blue sky. She is the consort of Hyperion, and mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos.|
|(Thémis)||Themis||Goddess of divine law and order.|
|? (Astería)||Asteria||Goddess of nocturnal oracles and falling stars.|
|(Astraîos)||Astraeus||God of dusk, stars, and planets, and the art of astrology.|
|(Átlas)||Atlas||God forced to carry the heavens upon his shoulders by Zeus. Presumed to be the god of endurance and astronomy. Also Son of Iapetus.|
|(Di?n?)||Dione||Goddess of the oracle of Dodona.|
|(H?lios)||Helios||God of the sun and guardian of oaths.|
|(Sel?n?)||Selene||Goddess of the moon.|
|(s)||Eos||Goddess of the dawn.|
|(Epim?theús)||Epimetheus||God of afterthought and the father of excuses.|
|(L?lantos)||Lelantos||The father of the nymph Aura. Said to have probably been the god of air and the unseen.|
|? (L?t?)||Leto||Goddess of motherhood and mother of the twin Olympians, Artemis and Apollo.|
|(Menoítios)||Menoetius||God of violent anger, rash action, and human mortality. Killed by Zeus.|
|(Mtis)||Metis||Goddess of good counsel, advice, planning, cunning, craftiness, and wisdom. Mother of Athena.|
|(Pállas)||Pallas||God of warcraft. He was killed by Athena during the Titanomachy.|
|(Pérs?s)||Perses||God of destruction.|
|(Prom?theús)||Prometheus||God of forethought and crafty counsel, and creator of mankind.|
|? (Stýx)||Styx||God of the Underworld river Styx and personification of hatred.|
The Gigantes were the offspring of Gaia (Earth), born from the blood that fell when Uranus (Sky) was castrated by their Titan son Cronus, who fought the Gigantomachy, their war with the Olympian gods for supremacy of the cosmos, they include: