Greek and Roman Mythology


Greek and Roman mythology has influenced our world throughout all ages. Literature alludes to these myths, while names from these myths live on in our everyday lives. The tales of these immortal gods and goddesses, the main twelve Titans and twelve Olympians seen below, from Greek and Roman mythology served often as an education of morals, behaviors, traits, and all aspects of human life. Such insight into the human mind from ancient times has provided a foundation for science and literature to grow and flourish.


Only Chaos, a void of darkness and nothingness, existed in the beginning. Out of the void came Nyx, night, and Erebus, the unfathomable deep. Then came Gaea, Mother Earth, the first god/dess. Uranus, Father Sky, was born from Gaea while she slept. Gaea and Uranus became husband and wife and had many children together. Their first children were the Hecatonchires, monsters with fifty heads and one hundred hands, and the Cyclopes, giants with one eye. The second born children were the Titans. The Hecatonchires were destructive and earned the disdain of Uranus as they played with thunder, lightning, and earthquakes, and they always fought. Consequently, he locked them away within the earth. Gaea was angry with Uranus because he had imprisoned her children, and turned to her youngest son, Cronus. However, Cronus had his own selfish reasons for overthrowing his father; and when he became the ruler of the universe, he would not release the Hundred-Handed monsters.

Cronus took Rhea as his wife, and they had five children together. These five, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, became the first of the Olympians. Cronus feared that his children, as he done to his own father, would overthrow him one day, so he then swallowed them as newborns. Rhea protected her sixth child, Zeus, by giving birth to him in secret, and then she tricked her husband by giving him a rock to swallow instead. Zeus was then raised on the island Crete by nymphs.

When Zeus was powerful enough to defeat Cronus, his mother told him about his five brothers and sisters that were swallowed by his father. With the help of Gaea, Zeus’s grandmother, he made Cronus regurgitate his siblings. Then Zeus with his siblings waged a war against Cronus, who was backed by his fellow Titans.

The universe was almost destroyed by the war between the Olympians and Titans. Prometheus, a Titan, saw that Zeus was destined to win the war against the Titans, and then joined the Olympian’s side. Prometheus secretly advised Zeus to release the Hundred-Handed monsters who would fight against Cronus more ruthlessly because of his earlier betrayal. When they had finally won, Zeus imprisoned the Titans within Tartarus, which is located in the bowels of the Earth. Zeus then claimed the use of thunderbolts that the monsters had used. The only Titans granted a pardon were Prometheus, for his help in the war, and his brother Epimetheus as a favor to Prometheus.

Prometheus and Epimetheus were then given the task of populating the earth. Epimetheus gave the lower creatures many gifts, and eventually when it was time to create humans, there was nothing left. Epimetheus went to his wise brother for help, asking Prometheus what to give to the humans. Prometheus then let them walk upright, and intelligence that greatly surpassed that of the beasts. Eventually, Prometheus lavishly gave them fire, which bestowed upon them great power. By this time, Zeus had become corrupt and fearful of being overthrown. As punishment for Prometheus, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock for all eternity until he would tell Zeus which of his sons would overthrow him. When Prometheus refused to tell, Zeus punished him further by sending an eagle down each day to devour his liver each day, and it would grow back each day to once again be devoured.

During the time Prometheus was chained to the rock, Zeus made a punishment for man in the shape of a woman. Hephaestus made the woman Pandora, meaning “all gifts” because she was given all gifts to make her desirable, out of clay. She was given a box and was told to never open it. The box was filled with all the miseries of the world, such as plague, famine, hatred, and many others. Eventually, her curiosity overcame her and she opened the box. When she opened the box, the miseries escaped before she could close it. However, when she opened the box once again, there was only one thing left within it—Hope.

Original Twelve Titans

Ruling Titan after overthrowing Uranus, youngest Titan, and his children were the first Olympians, Roman name is Saturn.
Wife of Cronus, "mother of gods", and the mother of the Olympians.
Personified salt waters across the earth, father of the 3,000 Oceanids
Aquatic sea goddess, wife of Oceanus, mother of the chief rivers of the world, mother of the 3,000 Oceanids
Titan of light, often called the Sun High-One, god of observation
Known for ruling the sun, goddess of sight
Personification of memory, mother of the nine muses
Embodiment of divine order, law, and custom.
Father of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius
Least individualized Titan
Titan of Wisdom, fathered Leto
Known as "Shining", wife of Coeus, mother of Leto, associated with the moon

Twelve Olympians

Greek Name
Roman Name
God or Goddess of...
File:Jupiter Smyrna Louvre Ma13.jpg
File:Jupiter Smyrna Louvre Ma13.jpg

eagle, aegis, septre, thunderbolt, oak tree
King of gods and ruler of mankind
Poseidon sculpture Copenhagen 2005.jpg
Poseidon sculpture Copenhagen 2005.jpg

trident, horse
God of sea, horses, earthquakes

helmet to make invisible
God of underworld

caduceus, winged hut, sandals
Messenger god, god of commerce, travelers and thieves
NAMA Aphrodite Syracuse.jpg
NAMA Aphrodite Syracuse.jpg

dove, myrtle
Goddess of love and beauty
Athena Giustiniani Musei Capitolini MC278.jpg
Athena Giustiniani Musei Capitolini MC278.jpg

owl, olive tree, helmet, spear
Goddess of wisdom, war, weaving
Vulcan Coustou Louvre MR1814.jpg
Vulcan Coustou Louvre MR1814.jpg

anvil, forge
God of fire, forger of armor

Goddess of hearth and home
Hera Campana Louvre Ma2283.jpg
Hera Campana Louvre Ma2283.jpg

peacock, cow, iris
Queen of gods and wife of Zeus
Roman Statue of Apollo.jpg
Roman Statue of Apollo.jpg

lyre, bow, laurel, delphi
God of sun, music, poetry, medicine
Diane de Versailles Leochares 2.jpg
Diane de Versailles Leochares 2.jpg

bow, arrow, deer, cypress
Goddess of moon and hunting
Ares villa Hadriana.jpg
Ares villa Hadriana.jpg

weapons, armor, vulture
God of War


Zeus –Zeus is the king of the gods. Zeus overthrew his Father Cronus to become the ruler of mankind. His brothers are Poseidon and Hades. One of his symbols is the thunderbolt which he hurls at those who make him mad. He is married to Hera yet, is famous for his many affairs. He is also been known to punish those that lie or break oaths. He is the rain god, and the cloud gatherer, which yields the thunderbolt. Zeus’ other symbols are his aegis (breast plate), the oak tree and the eagle. He is known as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punisher of the wicked.

Poseidon— Poseidon is the god of the sea, horses (as he, like Epona of Celtic Mythology, created horses), earthquakes. He is married to Amphitrite, a granddaughter of the Titan Oceanus. At one point he had passion for Demeter. Demeter asked him to make the most beautiful animal that the world had ever seen. So to impress her, Poseidon created the first horse. Some say his first attempts were unsuccessful and he created a bunch of other animals in his task. By the time the horse was created his passion for Demeter was gone. His weapon is the trident, which can shake the earth, and shatter any object. He has a quarrelsome personality. Poseidon was greedy and he had a series of disputes with other gods when he tried to take over their cities.

Hades— Hades rules in the underworld and does not live on Mount Olympus. He is a greedy god who is greatly concerned with increasing his subjects (the dead). The Erinnyes (the Furies who punish crime) are welcomed guests. He doesn’t allow any of his subjects to leave. He is also the god of wealth, due to the precious metals mined from the earth. He has a helmet that makes him invisible and he uses it when he leaves the underworld, but he rarely leaves the underworld. He is unpitying and terrible. His wife is Persephone, whom he abducted. He is the King of the dead, but death itself is another god, Thanatos.

Hermes—Hermes is the messenger god, and he is the god of commerce, travelers, and thieves. He is the son of Zeus and Maia. He is the fastest of the gods and he wears winged sandals, a winged hat, and carries a magic wand. He is the guide for the dead to go to the underworld. He invented the lyre, the pipes, the musical scale, astronomy, weights and measures, boxing, gymnastics, and the care of olive trees.

AphroditeAphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. She has a magical girdle that compels anyone she wishes to desire her. She is the wife of Hephaestus. Some off her symbols are the myrtle tree, the dove, the swan, and the sparrow. Her favorite lover is the god of war, Ares. She represents sex, affection, and the attraction that binds people together.

Athena—Athena is the goddess of wisdom, war and weaving. She is the daughter of Zeus. She sprang full grown in armor from his forehead, which means that she has no mother. She was Zeus's favorite child and was allowed to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. She is fierce and brave in battle. She is the goddess of the city, handicrafts, and agriculture. She invented the bridle (which allows people to tame horses), the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She is the representation of wisdom, reason, and purity. Her favorite city is Athens. Her other symbols are the olive tree, the owl.

Hephaestus—Hephaestus is the god of fire and the forger of armor. At his forge he uses a volcano. Hephaestus is married to Aphrodite but sometimes his wife is Aglaia. Hephaestus is the son of Zeus and Hera. Some say that Hera alone produced him and that he has no father. He is the only god to be physically ugly but he is kind, peace loving and lame. Some say that Hera, was upset by having an ugly child and she then flung him from Mount Olympus into the sea, breaking his legs. Others say Hephaestus took Hera's side in an argument with Zeus and Zeus flung him off Mount Olympus. His symbols are the anvil and forge.

Hestia—Hestia is the goddess of hearth and home. She is the sister of Zeus. She is also the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Each Roman or Greek city had a public hearth sacred to Hestia, where the fire was never allowed to go out. Hestia is the mildest, most honest and among all the Olympian gods. Her symbol is the hearth-fire.

Hera—Hera is the queen of the gods and the wife of Zeus. She was raised by the Titans Ocean and Tethys. She is the ultimate goddess and the goddess of marriage and childbirth. She also takes special care of married women. Most stories dealing with Hera have to do with her jealous revenge for Zeus's sex life. Her symbols are the cow, the peacock, and the iris. Her favorite city is Argos.

Apollo—Apollo is the god of sun, music, poetry, and medicine. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin sister is Artemis. Apollo is also the god of truth One of Apollo's essential daily chores is to harness his chariot with four horses and drive the Sun across the sky. Some of his symbols are the lyre, the bow, the laurel tree. He is famous for his prophesy at Delphi, where people traveled to it from all over the Greek world to define the future.

Artemis—Artemis is the goddess of moon and hunting and is the patroness of maidens. Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Her twin brother is Apollo and she also hunts with silver arrows. She is a virgin goddess, and the goddess of chastity, and she presides over childbirth. Some of her symbols are the bow, the arrow and the cypress tree.

Ares—Ares is the god of war. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, and he was disliked by both of them. He is well thought-out as murderous and bloodstained but, also a coward. When he is in an act of adultery with Aphrodite her husband Hephaestus is known to have made fun of him. Some of his symbols are weapons, armor and the vulture.

Greek and Roman Mythology Stories

The Story of Prometheus and Io

One day Io, who looked like a young cow but spoke like a miserable human girl stumbled across the sight of Prometheus. She could not believe her eyes as she saw Prometheus, the very one who gave man fire. They talked with each other, and he told her how Zeus had treated him by having him chained to a rock where an eagle tore at his liver only to have it grow back each day. He was to be left there for all eternity, until he agreed to tell Zeus which of his children would try to replace him. Io, in turn, told Prometheus how she was once a princess, and the Hera turned her into a “starving beast.”

It all started when Zeus fell in love with Io. He attempted to hide them within a thick cloud as to blind his wife from his affair. Hera, being the jealous wife that she was, became suspicious. She then went down to Earth because she could not find Zeus in heaven. Zeus denied ever seeing Io and turned Io, now transformed into a beautiful white cow for as a disguise, over to his wife. Hera then placed Argus, who had a hundred eyes, to watch Io. Zeus felt helpless and then told Hermes to find a way to kill Argus. After many unsuccessful attempts, Hermes killed Argus. Io felt free, but only to learn that Hera sent a gad-fly to plague her, and she took Argus’ eyes and put them into the tail of her bird the peacock. Since Prometheus means "forethought," he was able to foretell the future and told Io to go to the Nile where Zeus would restore her (a reference to a beautiful white cow by the Nile river is also seen in the Shilluks mythology). Io bore Zeus a son, Epaphus. Io’s descendant was Hercules, the man who rescued Prometheus.

The Story of Europa

Europa was the daughter of the King of Sidon. One day Zeus noticed Europa. Europa was with her companions picking flowers. Zeus watched Europa from heaven and then Cupid as well as the goddess of Love shot one of her shafts into his heart, and that very instant he fell madly in love with Europa. Zeus then decided to turn into a bull in order to not be caught by his jealous wife Hera. He would then approach Europa on Earth and take her somewhere special. Zeus would take Europa to Crete, his own island, where his mother had hidden him from Cronus when he was born. At Crete, Europa bore him “glorious sons.” The two famous sons were Minos and Rhadamanthus, who were rewarded for their justice on Earth by being made the justices of the dead.


Throughout civilization, Greek and Roman mythology has had a large influence in our world. From the names of the characters to literature and science, examples of this mythology's influence is seen all around. The insight into the human mind has inspired the growth of science, and provided education. Additionally, literature frequently takes from these myths in allusions to different parts of these mythologies. The stories of the powerful gods and goddesses clearly show many traits of humanity, both good and bad. The mythology of the Greeks and Romans have helped shape governments, social norms, and the beliefs of generations.


Introduction and Conclusion (Literature Book): World Literature, Revised Edition. New York, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1998. 214-223. Print.
Mythology Refrences (Stories): Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. 1st ed. New York: Bay Back Books, 1998. 95-105. Print.

Creation Story (and text link):
Titan Chart
Olympian Gods Summaries:
Olympian Chart:

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Text Link 1 (Creation):
Text Link 2 (Olympians):
Text Link 3 (Summaries):

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