Who are the Greek Gods?
Who are the Greek Gods? The Greeks believed that their gods and goddesses controlled everything in their lives and their environment. But what kind of beings were these divinities? Who are the Greek Gods and what were they like?
- The Greek Gods were believed to be immortal, they lived forever
- The divinities and deities lived on the summit of the mythical Mount Olympus that was protected by a special layer of clouds. Mount Olympus was the home of the gods and the site of the throne of Zeus. The gods and goddesses attended sumptuous banquets in the council-chamber of the gods and feasted on ambrosia (the food of the gods) and nectar (the drink of the gods) and would be entertained by the music of Apollo who played the lyre and the beautiful voices of the Muses
- Although they were immortal the Greek gods were not invulnerable and could suffer from wounds. Their blood was a bright unearthly fluid called Ichor that had the power of producing new life
- The Greek divinities and deities were perceived as resembling mortals, but they were superior in every way
- They were more beautiful than mortals
- They were taller than mortals
- They were stronger than mortals
- Their mental capabilities were far superior to mere mortals
- The divinities of Ancient Greece needed food, drink and sleep to nourish their bodies
- They wore similar styles of clothes to mortals but the texture of the materials was exceedingly fine
- The Greek divinities and deities also used similar styles of weapons and are often depicted with swords, shields, bows and arrows and helmets
- They had the same emotions and feelings as humans and often displayed feelings of love, gratitude, jealousy, hate, revenge and deceit which were featured in the many legends in Greek Mythology
- They married and had families
- In Greek mythology the gods and goddesses visited humans. Many fell in love with humans and their children were called 'demigods' or 'Heroes' who were invariably renown for their courage and great strength
Who are the Greek Gods?
What special powers did they possess? How were they perceived by mortals? The ancient Greeks believed that their Gods had great influence over their everyday lives. As time went by each of the most important elements in life were identified with each individual god and goddess. In ancient Greece the people believed that each god or goddess:
- Had a specific function or role. If help and success was needed in a particular venture such as hunting, the Greeks would offer prayers and offerings to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt
- Every god and goddess was given a specific appearance, that could be easily recognised by mortals. For instance Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, medicine and music was depicted in Greek art as young, handsome with golden hair and was tall and strong
- To aid further in the easy recognition of all of the gods and goddesses each deity was depicted with a special attribute or symbol. Zeus, the king of the gods was depicted with his special weapon, the thunderbolt, sitting on his golden throne and accompanied by an eagle. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and passion was depicted with a rose, scallop shell, mirror and girdle.
- Each of the deities were given different personalities. Apollo was perceived as highly competitive, sociable and fun loving whereas Hera, the Queen of the gods was perceived as suspicious, cruel, jealous, vengeful and interfering
- The legends, mythology and stories of the gods were passed down by story tellers and designed to terrify, entertain, thrill and inspire the listeners. These ancient Myth stories contained morals and were used to teach the virtues of love, courage, fidelity, strength, perseverance, loyalty, leadership and self reliance. These same legends and myths also taught the consequences of vices such as hate, jealousy, greed, deceit and treachery.
- The mythology of the gods also told stories which explained the symbols assigned to each of the gods
- The Ancient Greeks were therefore able to identify with all the gods, who even had husbands, wives, and children who caused the same problems that would be experienced in mortal families
The Greek Gods
The mythology, legends and myths of each of the deities, divinities and goddesses enabled the Ancient Greeks to identify many aspects of their own lives with that of the gods. That being said, mere mortals were constantly aware and in awe of the power of their gods.
They believed that although the gods and goddesses gave them great benefits, they could also bring terrible disasters. There magical powers seemed to be limitless:
- Their immense powers enabled them to control the weather, nature and wild animals. Even terrifying monsters
- The deities did not die, they were were immortal
- They had the power to become invisible and were able to transport themselves across incredible distances with the speed of light
- Their weapons had special, magical properties making them invincible
- The had fantastic powers over mortals and could transform humans into animals, rocks or trees either for protection or revenge
Worshipping the Greek Gods
The Greek god & goddesses expected mortals to worship them in magnificent temples and provide them with gifts and sacrifices. Animals and even humans were sacrificed in their honor. They gods interfered with the lives of humans and would punish mortals for perceived slights.