The 12 Olympians
Who were the Olympians? The Olympians were gods and goddesses of ancient Greece who resided in their celestial home above specially protected golden clouds on top of Mount Olympus. The Olympians were supernatural beings who possessed great magical & mystical powers. There were twelve major gods and goddesses who are collectively called the Olympians, although lesser gods and goddesses also resided on Mount Olympus.
Mythical Facts about the 12 Olympians for kids
Discover interesting information and fun facts about the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses.
Zeus was the king of the gods and responsible for justice, law and order. Zeus had the power to hurl his thunderbolts which had the power to shatter mountains. He was a notorious womaniser.
Poseidon the god of the sea had power over the sea, tempests, storms and earthquakes. In mythology he was described as greedy, bad-tempered, moody and vengeful
Hera, the wife of the unfaithful Zeus, was suspicious, cruel, jealous and vengeful
Ares was described as fierce, merciless, moody and argumentative. Ares was unpopular with the Olympians
Apollo was young, handsome with golden hair. He had the power to bring the sun and well-being to humans and rode his golden chariot pulling the sun across the sky.
Artemis remained unmarried. She was independent, loved sports and hunting
Hephaestus was the master craftsman of the gods and created the weapons and palaces of the 12 Olympians. He had the power to make amazing mechanical robots, such as the giant Talos.
Demeter, the goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons. She is depicted with a torch that represents the pair of flaming torches she carried in her search for her daughter, Persephone
Hermes was the messenger of the 12 Olympians and the god of travel, commerce, luck, gambling and thieves.
Dionysus was the god of wine, celebrations and merry-making. His thyrsos was a magic staff that could turn a rock into water and the water into wine
Aphrodite was described as passionate, weak, all smiles but little substance. She possessed a magic girdle, called a Cestus, that had the power of inspiring love.
Athena the goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare was depicted as tall, slim, wearing armor and carrying weapons
Hestia was the goddess of the hearth and the home. Every town of Greece had a fire sacred to Hestia (Vesta) that was always kept burning.
The 12 Olympians - Mount Olympus
The 12 Olympians achieved their supremacy over the older primeval gods when they were victorious in the Battle of the Titans. According to mythology and the legend in the Greek Creation Myth the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece consisted of three major groups and generations:
- The Primeval Gods (including Gaia and Uranus)
- The Titans (including Cronus and Rhea)
- The Olympian Gods
During the Battle of the Titans the older gods were believed to have been based on Mount Othrys and the rebellious new gods were based on Mount Olympus - hence their title of the Olympians. Mount Othrys and Mount Olympus are two actual mountains that exist in Greece. The people of ancient times believed the story that the gods lived above the mountains that were protected by golden clouds. The Ancient Greeks could easily believe that their gods and goddesses lived in golden palaces, far out of the reach of men, and hidden from their sight by the protection of the clouds in the secluded domain of Mount Olympus.
The Names of the 12 Olympians
There were twelve major gods and goddesses who resided in the magnificent palaces on Mount Olympus, referred to as the 12 Olympian gods or simply the 12 Olympians.
According to Greek mythology the 12 Olympians used to meet together in their grand council hall which was presided over by Zeus, who was the king of the gods and his wife, Hera, who was the queen of the gods. The ancient Greeks believed that the Olympians were a family, and just like mortal families, there jealousies, quarrels and arguments between the gods and goddesses. The names of the principle Olympians were:
- Hestia or Dionysus
There is some confusion in this list as the god Dionysus is sometimes replaced by the goddess Hestia. Hades, also known as Pluto, was not usually included among the 12 Olympians because his realm was the underworld.