Gods of Olympus: The Backbone of Mythological Culture

Alp Karaçaylı

Alp Karaçaylı

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Olympian gods

The Olympian Gods symbolize the gods living on the summit of Mount Olympus in present-day Greece. It is possible to come across various gods, heroes and legendary stories in almost every part of this mythological culture that has survived from Ancient Greece to the present day.

Of course, we should not ignore the importance of oral and written culture in the formation of this situation. In the ancient Greek society, myths have always been the first to take the form of beliefs and later transferring them from mouth to mouth. It should be noted that oral and written culture is of great importance for the myths to reach the present day.

Stories transferred based on oral communication between generations and oral culture fall into history as a seal with the development of written culture. Undoubtedly, we can argue that today’s interest in mythology lies in this relationship between oral and written culture.


Belief in Olympian Gods in Ancient Greece

ancient Greek

The mythical stories that emerged in Ancient Greece and shaped the flow of daily life are the centers of interesting heroism, love, epic wars and revenge. Moreover, since it has a polytheistic structure, Greek Mythology also hosts multiple versions of the same myth and story. Let us state that it is useful to remember the role of verbal transmission in the formation of this situation.

Thus, it becomes possible to access countless different copies of the myth about the same god or hero. At the same time, in Ancient Greece, where urban culture was common, cities were identified with the characteristics and names of various gods.

For example, Athena represents Athens, the capital of Greece today, while Zeus evokes the city of Olympos and Apollo the city of Delphi. At the root of all these associations, at least today, we can say scientifically that people felt the need to fill the meaning gaps that emerged during their formation and occupation processes.


What is the Importance of Mount Olympus for the Gods?

mount olympus

Zeus, who is the chief god among the Olympian Gods and the ruler of Mount Olympus, is also defined as the protector by the people of the city from which the mountain is named. This protection is undoubtedly related to the reverence for God, the abundance of production and every aspect of daily life.

The importance of Mount Olympus can be said to be more than one. First of all, it is of great importance as it is one of the command centers of the war between the titans and the gods and the places where it is essential to win. Secondly, it has a special place among the mountains with its rich biodiversity. Maybe this rich biodiversity has a role in determining Mount Olympus as the center of Ancient Greek oral culture, who knows.

The summit of the mountain, called Mytikas, is the place where Zeus’ throne is located, as well as the place where 12 gods hold feasts. But it should be noted that the first settlers of Mount Olympus were not 12 gods led by Zeus. Before the 12 Olympian Gods, the titans and the gods who revealed the titans spent time in this area.


What Does Cosmic War Mean in Ancient Greek Mythology?

cosmic war

The Olympian Gods would enter a war that would last for years because of their destiny and prophecy. Titanomachia, the Battle of the Titans, aka the Cosmic War, had the mission to determine the outcome of everything. As a result of this war, the winning side would have absolute control of the universe and would also sit on the summit of Mount Olympus.

It would be useful to go to the roots of the struggle between the gods and the titans, who are both ancestors and antagonists of the gods. A prophecy seen and heard by the titan Kronos, who was seen as strong and invincible in terms of his origin, has a great place in the emergence of this war.

Kronos, who was killed by one of his sons in the prophecy, decides to swallow all the children that his wife Rhea gave birth to in order to prevent this situation. After the 5 born children are swallowed by Kronos, Rhea decides to kidnap Zeus, the last born child. He then convinces Kronos to swallow the stone he put in a bundle as a baby. Over the years, Zeus continues to grow out of sight and grow stronger at the same time.


Lost Child Zeus and Rise of the Olympian Gods

zeus and chronos

Kidnapped from Kronos by his mother Rhea, Zeus resurfaces after he’s grown strong enough to save his brothers and avenge his father, Kronos. His first job is to save his brothers, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter and Hera, the other Olympian God, that his father swallowed.

After that, the titan rescues the creatures imprisoned by Gaia and Uranus, who played a masculine role in the creation process of the universe in various stories. The Cyclopes and hundred-armed giants, freed by Zeus, thus determine their sides in the coming war.

Even though there was a balance of power between the gods and the titans at this point, the Cyclops, who are famous for their mining and blacksmithing, produce various weapons for the gods and give them as gifts. These are the well-known Zeus’ lightning bolt, Poseidon’s trident, and Hades’ helmet of invisibility.

Thanks to these mythological tools that will determine the outcome of the Cosmic War, the gods defeat the titans and imprison them in Tartarus, never to leave. In the post-war period, the Olympian Gods held a meeting at the top of the mountain and determined Zeus as the chief god. Now Zeus becomes the god of the sky, Poseidon the god of the seas and rivers, and Hades the god of the underworld.


How Everything Was Created in Ancient Greek Mythology

When this question is asked, we go well before Kronos devoured his children and the Cosmic War. Let’s say in advance that there are many different creation stories due to the diverse transmission of oral culture. We thought that mentioning a few of them could be both more detailed and interesting information about the Olympian Gods.

First of all, we come across an environment where nothing happens at the beginning of everything. A power emerges from this darkness called Chaos. According to some sources, this power is Gaia, while according to others, it is Eurynome, who mates with the snake named Orphion. According to the first narrative, Gaia made love to Uranus, and then everything happened.

Not only do the land and sea parts take shape, but also the Cyclopes and hundred-armed giants, who play a decisive role in the Cosmic War. According to the second narrative, Eurynome turns into a pigeon and produces a huge egg. Orphion, on the other hand, fertilizes the egg in the form of a snake and causes everything to be born. Everything, especially Gaia and Uranus, emerges after this process.


What is the Relationship Between the Olympian Gods and Man?

Olympian gods and humans

While we have talked so much about gods and titans, it would be impossible to briefly explain the place of humans in this story. First of all, let us state that there is a close relationship between humans and gods. This relationship is not only a relationship of worship, but also a love relationship of a mortal and an immortal.

So much so that Zeus’ relations with mortals are legendary. Of course, this situation is not unique to Zeus. It should be noted that all gods and goddesses live freely. There is no definite origin regarding the birth of humans in Ancient Greek mythology. So much so that the existence of many experiments about the creation of humans is also mentioned.

But the most well-known among them is the creation of people according to a certain order and quality. Gold, Silver, Bronze and ultimately our ancestors are created, respectively. To what do we owe so much creation? Because the gods face the failure of their creation and decide to create a new one. The decrease in their worship is the most important reason for this situation.

Without further ado, let’s get to know the god dwellers of Mount Olympus:


1) A King of Lightning on the Peak of Olympus: Zeus

zeus olympian gods

No matter where you start with the word about ancient Greek mythology , Zeus will appear from somewhere. A god Zeus, who has the status of a son who will kill his father Kronos, even though he is not named even before his birth. We can say that he is a god who knows no bounds with his story of growing up, saving his brothers, leading the Cosmic War and his love.

His struggle with Kronos develops just as in the King Oedipus narrative. The absolute struggle of the son and the father and the series of events that resulted in the castration of the father. Let’s also mention that the power and magnificence continue in the story of Zeus. No matter how absurd it is to say, Zeus, who is legally married to Hera, is undoubtedly among the gods most admired by women in the mythological world.

Zeus, who is also a sister to Hera, is among the representatives of the prohibition of domestic marriage in mythology. Zeus, who is an absolute womanizer for some and an unshakable ruler for others, undoubtedly continues to be among the indispensable subjects of Ancient Greek mythology.


2) God of Competing Waters with Power and Arrogance: Poseidon

poseidon

Although Poseidon is known for his warrior and virtuous characteristics, he also draws attention as a god who managed to succumb to his arrogance. Poseidon, who rules the waters of the earth and can create natural disasters, also has a vengeful and arrogant appearance.

After the victory against his father Kronos and the titans, he shares the universe with his brothers. Poseidon, who fell to dominate the waters of the earth, never hesitates to do this. The power and magnificence of Poseidon became a popular belief in Ancient Greece.

So much so that he even engages in a struggle with his sister, the goddess Athena, for the patronage of the city of Athens. This struggle does not turn into a war, but is turned into a bet by Zeus. Whoever presents a gift that the people of Athens will like more, the city of Athens will be his.

Poseidon spurts salt water out of a dry land, making his splendor speak, while Athena extends the olive seedling that will enable the first olive tree to grow in the city. Thus, Athens won the competition. As a result, Poseidon creates a great flood and unleashes it on Athens. Today, it is possible to see that both gods and goddesses have architectural traces in the past of the city of Athens.


3) The Goddess Recognized for Her Beauty as Jealousy: Hera

hera

Hera is born as one of the children of Kronos and Rhea. As his father devours him and his siblings, they wait for their younger brother Zeus to save them. After the Cosmic War, she marries Zeus and becomes the chief goddess of Mount Olympus. According to multiple sources, it is written that Hera, who made a logical marriage with Zeus, actually burned with the greed for power.

Perhaps Zeus’ hatred of all goddesses, fairies and mortal women he was with may also be due to this. Hera is also the goddess of birth and fertility, which stands out with her beauty.

In this sense, to call Hera only Zeus’ sister and wife would be a disgrace to her. He became famous in Ancient Greek mythology with the cruelty that Zeus did to the women and children he was with. Finally, let’s mention that many of the Olympian Gods were afraid of Hera.


4) Goddess of Sorrow and Blessings: Demeter

demeter

Demeter is the goddess symbolizing fertility, grain and harvest among the Olympian Gods. Demeter, descended from a Titan and swallowed by her father Kronos, is saved by her brother Zeus, with whom she will later be together. It should be noted that unlike other gods and goddesses, she is a goddess devoid of arrogance.

He prefers to spend most of his time with people on earth rather than on the summit of Olympus. She has the appearance of a goddess who is full of life and gives life to the earth. So much so that there are many stories that he directed all his anger towards those who harm nature.

However, the turning point of Demeter’s fate is the abduction of the beautiful Persephone, whom she gave birth to from her union with Zeus, by Hades, the god of the underworld. So much so that in the depiction of this goddess, who was so loved and worshiped in Ancient Greece, she has a wheat ear in one hand and a torch in the other.

While the ear of wheat symbolizes production and fertility; the torch symbolizes the search for his daughter. Let’s not go without adding that with this identity, she is a beloved goddess who has counterparts in many cultures after Ancient Greece.


5) Symbol of Sacrifice and Fire: Hestia

hestia

Hestia is the first child of Rhea and Kronos. It is not known whether it was because she was the first, but she is the last goddess to come out of her father’s stomach after Zeus rescued her brothers. It would not be wrong to call Hestia the goddess of kindness, sacrifice and domestic life.

Hestia, who refuses to marry any god or mortal and even tells Zeus that she wants it to stay forever, prefers to live as a secluded goddess. Although Hestia is asked about the fire of Mount Olympus, she still desires a life far from ostentatious.

So much so that Dionysus’ 13. As a god, he prevents him from joining Mount Olympus and returns to earth, among people. This situation also shows us how external the number 13 was culturally in Ancient Greece. Hestia, for whom no temple was built, is strangely the goddess of fire, who facilitates the continuation of life.


6) Goddess of Love and Absolute Beauty: Aphrodite

aphrodite olympian gods

It is among the myths that Aphrodite is one of the children of Uranus and Gaia. Gaia and Kronos are disturbed by the ugliness of their former children, the Cyclops and hundred-armed giants. Therefore, Gaia makes a request to Kronos. Kronos cuts off his father’s penis with the help of a sickle and throws it into the sea.

Thus, the sperm of Uranus fall into the sea and foaming begins. It is in the myths that Aphrodite was born from this bubbling. However, the real fame of Aphrodite as a goddess comes from her beauty. The god is a beauty goddess desired by mortal and demigod men.

With this feature, Aphrodite is a goddess who can both provoke gods and goddesses and get any man she wants. Aphrodite, who is married to the blacksmith Hephaestus, has a passionate love affair with her brother Ares, according to a myth. As a result of this love, Eros, which symbolizes sexual love today, is born.


7) The Representative of Prank on Mount Olympus: Ares

ares

Ares may be the only person in the mythological universe who can take on Hades. Ares, who is in charge of the war, is also the person who makes fun of everyone with his pranks. Considering that he is the son of Zeus and Hera, it is easy to guess that he grew up in a troubled past and an environment dominated by domestic violence.

Ares’ most important feature may be his ability to manipulate. He has the ability to manipulate humans, gods, demigods and every mythological creature. There are countless wars caused by him, and fear and terror are his own. However, the love they had with Aphrodite is among the most well-known events of Olympos.

The love affair drives Hephaestus crazy and even catches the two of them and displays them on Mount Olympus for all to see. For this reason, almost every god and goddess, especially Zeus, is disgusted and ashamed of Ares. His only lover may be his uncle Hades and his lover Aphrodite.


8) A Handsome and Young Artist God: Apollo

Apollo

Apollo is a god in the second generation of the Olympian Gods. In ancient Greek mythology, gods and deities are identified with many features, but it is debatable whether anyone has as much abundance as Apollo’s abilities. It is said that he got his handsomeness from his father Zeus and his beauty from his mother Leto.

So much so that it is known by those who are familiar with the mythology universe that she has tresses and calico hair. Let’s add that Apollo was creative in art and was referred to as such. If there is someone singing music with a lyre anywhere, it means that Apollo must have passed by there.

Before we forget, Apollo was not as much a smiling and friendly god as he seemed. At least we can say that he is not modest. Marsyas, who has the appearance of a demigod and a goat, underestimates Apollo’s talent for music, art and lyre.

According to the claim they made among themselves, they should turn the instrument they are playing upside down and play it. Apollo, who succeeded in this, skinned Marsyas alive, who failed. In this sense, it should be said that punishments in Ancient Greek mythology were frightening.


9) Watch God of Hunting: Artemis

artemis gods of olympus

Artemis is the ancient Greek goddess who gave her name to the Temple of Artemis in Turkey. It is possible to say that it left its mark in Anatolia with this feature. She is one of the twin children of Zeus and Leto and sister of Apollo. However, it should be noted that he does not have an artistic identity as much as Apollo in this regard.

Among the Olympian Gods, she is a goddess who spends time in nature, encourages hunting and protects the hunter. Artemis is a character who is not only interested in hunting, but also fends off attacks against herself and her tribe.

Drawing attention with her bow and arrow, Artemis is also famous for harshly punishing the hunter Orion who tried to rape her. Artemis, the iconic deer, is also known for having many different myths about it.


10) A Warrior Goddess in the World of Humans: Athena

Athena

Athena is among the most speculative characters of Mount Olympus in terms of her birth and life. She stands out as an extraordinary goddess, from her birth from the head of her father Zeus to the claim that she lit up with Poseidon for the city of Athens. A goddess Athena, the lover of the human people, who is also praised for her warfare.

With his rational and arrogant look, he knows how to win the claim he made for the city of Athens. While Poseidon makes the heavens and earth groan, Athena is content to extend the olive branch to the people of Athens and wins the competition.

Athena, who is merciful as well as punishing, has a character that first blinds Tiresias, who watches her while she bathes naked, and then grants the power of prophecy. Athena stands out with her cunning intelligence as well as one of Zeus’ favorites. We can say that he is among those with high fighting power among the Olympian Gods.


11) The God Who Draws Attention With His Talents: Hephaestus

Hephaestus

It would not be wrong to say that Hephaestus is a god who is there where the doubts are. He is a god who keeps his mystery in every area he is in and at the same time is on the top of his eyes. Especially his marriage to Aphrodite, his fight with Zeus, whom no one dared to fight, or his skills in coppersmithing…

All these stand out as the features that make Hephaestus a character that has made a name for himself in the history of mythology. At the same time, the setup he set up after he caught the mischievous god Ares and his wife Aphrodite while they were in love is like a reflection of an astonishing idea.

Unfortunately, Hephaestus could not escape from being mocked at the same time, although the mechanism he had set up exposed Aphrodite and Ares. There is a god who is not respected enough among the Olympian Gods, but also betrayed in his love life and falls in love with different goddesses.


12) God, Symbol of Communication and Cunning: Hermes

hermes the gods of olympus

Hermes is a god that we can see in various absurd events from the moment he was born. Although he is seen as a god known as the god of communication and worshiped by traders, he is also a character who does not let Ares get into the hands of cunning. If you ask who is the representative of hyperactivity in Ancient Greece, we can easily answer as Hermes.

As in the second generation among the Olympian Gods, he takes place as an auxiliary god or auxiliary character in many of the main stories. For this reason, very little is known about him today. However, even his position in the love triangle of Hephaestus-Aphrodite and Ares sums up how absurd and interesting he is.

Hermes falls in love with Aphrodite while looking at the two lovers in the setup Hephaestus has prepared to expose Ares and his wife Aphrodite. Then he gets together with Aphrodite and a child named Hermaphrodite is born from him.


13) An Anti-Order and Boundless Figure: Dionysus

Dionysus

We can say that Dionysus is among the most sarcastic gods of Ancient Greek mythology. Even if we define the most sarcastic god, it would not be wrong. Because Dionysus stands at a point where the idea of absolute fun and divinity, immortality and mortality coincide.

As a result of Hestia’s sacrifice, he found himself in the 12th century. He finds himself at the top of the mountain as the God of Olympus. He is such a character that Dionysus, his father Zeus, raised him on his thigh bone so that Hera would not notice him. As he grows up, he manages to become a character whose character settles down, and as he gets older, he manages to become a character who suffers problems one after the other. He is notorious for not only enjoying travelling, but also for getting drunk and causing trouble.

Dionysus, who was taken prisoner by the pirates during a voyage, is the god who not only untied the knots but also turns the whole ship into a wine cellar. It is possible to find Dionysus in front of you, if you say whoever or the god people toasted in Ancient Greece.


Bonus: Hades: An Immortal Who Prefers the Underworld to Earth

hades

According to various narratives, Hades preferred the underground to the earth, and in some it is told that although Hades wanted to go to the earth, Zeus prevented it. Despite all this, Hades is a character who has made a place for himself in oral and written culture as the god who alone rules the unique kingdom of the underworld.

It is very clear that even not being among the Olympian Gods creates a great responsibility and stance. Let’s also point out in advance that Hades, who is often associated with evil, is as guilty as anyone else in Ancient Greek mythology. It would be unfair to say that he spent all his time on evil because he was a god to the nether world.

We should see ourselves as part of a mission or mission. Hades as the leading god for the dead to reach the underworld in an orderly and correct manner. Although Demeter’s falling in love with her daughter Persephone and abducting her dragged Demeter into an inextricable crisis on earth, Hades will be in the first place among the gods who deserve the definition of man of duty.

It was Hades himself who commissioned the boatman Kharon to help the dead cross the Acheron River and reach the underworld. The dead try to reach the underworld with the guidance of Hermes, and Charon carries them to eternity in his boat.

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