Exactly who were the 12 Olympians in Greek mythology?
What was the Council of the Twelve Roman Gods (Des Consentes), and how did it start?
It all began with Hannibal. Hannibal was from an old city-state in north Africa called Carthage. Hannibal was the enemy of Rome. Hannibal was very good at war.
Hannibal had already fought and lost to the Romans in skirmishes and minor battles when Rome was still a Republic.
Hannibal and his army were heading toward Rome to take it over. This was a terrible danger for the Romans. They began to think that Hannibal couldn’t be stopped. People were unhappy. Some people were ready just to give up.
The Roman Senate wanted to do something to boost public morale and make the Roman people think they could win the fight against Hannibal, but they couldn’t think of anything.
The Senate of Rome asked the College of Rome for help. The professors and teachers in Rome were all part of the College.
The College proposed something like a pep rally. They thought the Romans needed to be reminded that the gods were on their side.
They said statues of their 12 Olympians’ most important gods should be put together in a public display to make it look like they were meeting to discuss Hannibal’s defeat.
People would realise that even a military genius like Hannibal couldn’t beat the power of these 12 Olympians’ significant gods all working together. They suggested that this group of people be honoured with a feast.
The Roman Senate liked the idea and ran with it. They needed more time to get full statues made. Instead, they told their most talented artists to make the heads of their 12 Olympians’ most important gods.
Each pair of heads was set up on one of six couches.
The couches were put together in public so that it looked like the heads on the couches were having a meeting.
The 12 gods were Jupiter and his wife, Juno; Neptune and his wife, Minerva; Mars and his wife, Venus, Apollo and his wife, Diana; Vulcan and his wife Vesta; and Mercury and his wife, Ceres.
The Senate called this group the Council of 12 Olympians or Dei Consentes.
Hannibal never made it to the city of Rome. The Roman Legion stopped him, and he had to run away.
The Romans thought the victory was helped by the Council of 12 Olympians, which was made up of their 12 most important gods.
Ancient Romans had faith that the gods were on their side, which gave them the courage to go out and conquer and keep growing.
And so forth. In ancient Greek mythology, the 12 Olympians gods and goddesses ran the world from their palace on Mount Olympus.
They had parties, fought, and had passionate love affairs in their castle.
In Greek mythology, the 12 Olympian gods were the third generation of gods. Six of them were born to the powerful Titans, who had killed their father, the sky, Uranus.
Cronus, the leader of the Titans, was afraid that his children would rise against him one day. To stop this from happening, he ate his children as soon as they were born.
In the end, he was right to be afraid because his wife, Rhea, hid their son Zeus and kept him from being eaten. Once Zeus was old enough, he could free his brothers and sisters. With the help of their huge half-brothers and sisters, the three Cyclopes and the three fifty-headed monsters, the 12 Olympians beat the Titans.
They were in charge of the world from their palace on Mount Olympus.
Greek Name / Roman Name: The 12 Olympians Gods
1-Zeus / Jupiter
2- Hera and Juno
3- Poseidon (Neptune)
4- Demeter ( Ceres)
5- Athena ( Minerva)
6- Artemis ( Diana)
7- Apollo ( Apollo)
8- Hestia ( Vesta)
9- Hermes ( Mercury)
10- Hephaestus ( Vulcan )
12 -Ares ( Mars)
Zeus is the Gods’ King.
- Zeus became the most important God after he led the fight against Cronus. He ruled over the other gods who lived on their divine mountain.
He controlled the Earth and the sky and was the best judge of right and wrong. He was in charge of the weather and could throw thunder and lightning to keep his power.
Metis, who was a Titan sister, was Zeus’s first wife. Later, he married his sister Hera, but he had a crush on all women. His love life led to the birth of many gods, demigods, and heroes who lived on Earth.
And because Zeus was the most powerful God. No one was stronger than Zeus, who was in charge of the whole universe. He wasn’t scared of anything except maybe his horrible wife, Hera.
Zeus was the only God who had the magic to throw lightning bolts. He could change into any kind of person. He could change the way he spoke to sound like anyone.
As king, he had special powers because he was the king of all the gods. These were things the government could do. He could give names and jobs to other gods.
He could get rid of those names and jobs. Like any leader, he could tell the other gods what to do. The people chose his job. The Council was made up of 12 Olympian gods. They could have chosen a different person. They never did, though. And Zeus never retired.
- Hera was the goddesses’ queen.
As queen of the gods, Hera was in charge. She was the Goddess of marriage and faithfulness and one of the only Olympians who never left her husband or wife. Even though she was loyal, she was very angry and tormented many of Zeus’s lovers.
Io was changed into a small cow, and Hera sent a gadfly to keep bothering her.
She turned Callisto into a bear and sent Artemis after her. Another woman, Semele, was tricked into asking Zeus to show her all of his glory.
Hera hated Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, so much that she did everything to kill him.
She sent snakes to poison him in his crib, set up his twelve labours so that he wouldn’t make it, and let the Amazons attack him when he went to their land.
Zeus was the only God who could change his appearance to look like anyone. He could change the way he spoke to sound like anyone.
As king, he had special powers because he was the king of all the gods.
She was also angry with Zeus because of this. Zeus’s wife Hera, or rather her temper, was probably the only thing he feared on Earth or in the heavens.
You never knew what Hera would do, but it was usually something terrible.
- Poseidon, or Neptune in Latin, was the God of the sea.
When Zeus became king, he split the world between himself, his two brothers, and himself. Poseidon was given control over all the world’s seas and water.
He could also make storms, floods, and earthquakes happen. He was also the God of all horses and the guardian of sailors.
They always pulled his chariot through the waves, his beautiful team of horses mixed with the sea foam. Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite lived in a beautiful palace under the sea. However, he often left the palace. Amphitrite wasn’t any more forgiving than Hera. She used magic herbs to turn Scylla, one of Poseidon’s lovers, into a terrible monster with six heads and twelve feet.
He was a very important god. He was one of the 12 Olympians who made up the gods’ Council.
Zeus, the king of all the gods, and Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, were Poseidon’s two powerful brothers.
Poseidon did not envy his brothers or their power at all. He didn’t want to rule over the Underworld. And he certainly didn’t want to take on all of Zeus’s responsibilities.
Being Lord of the Sea made him very happy.
He was perfect for the job. Poseidon had blue eyes and streaming green long hair. He laughed out loud. He had terrible moods and was always moving around.
He could use magic to make an island appear, a tidal wave cover the beach, or a wave come and pull anyone off the beach. He just had to wave his hand to do what he wanted.
Poseidon didn’t worry people who lived on land very much. But the ancient Greeks who lived along the coast were afraid of him.
To honour him, they build temples. Every day, they brought gifts. Poseidon was happy sometimes when he got gifts, and the water was calm and sparkling.
Sometimes the gifts didn’t make him happy, and a terrible storm would hit the land. People did everything they could to make Poseidon happy.
Poseidon had many wives, like most gods. He loved his main wife the most, and she didn’t care about the other women in his life. That was different, and Poseidon liked it. His main wife was the only one who lived underwater and made their impressive underwater palace her home.
Poseidon, like Hades, had a big house on Mount Olympus, but he only stayed there when he had to meet with the Council of 12 gods. He liked his palace under the sea much better. It was a nice place to be.
Greek columns, colourful seaweed, white sand, shining jewels, shimmering shells, magical amber, and fish of every rainbow colour were swimming in and out.
At night, glow worms lit up every nook and cranny. It was a bright, peaceful place. Nothing else in the world was like it.
No matter how angry or crazy Poseidon was, he always felt better when he got home to his beautiful palace and calm main wife.
The Greeks made up a lot of stories about Poseidon, the God of the sea.
- Demeter was the Harvest Goddess.
She was known as the “goods goddess” to all people of the Earth; Demeter oversaw farming, agriculture, and the Earth’s fertility. Ancient people worshipped her a lot, which makes sense since she was responsible for food production. Hades, Zeus’s third brother, fell in love with Demeter’s daughter Persephone. He finally took the girl hostage and took her to his dark palace in the Underworld. Demeter was sad, so she looked all over the world for her daughter and forgot to do her other jobs.
A worldwide famine killed so many people that Zeus told Hades to give back his prize. However, Clever Hades lured Persephone to the Underworld with the promise of pomegranate seeds, but she ended up eating them instead. They decided that Persephone should stay with Hades for four months every year. During those four months, Demeter is so sad that Persephone is gone that nothing can grow, which makes winter happen every year.
Athena is the Roman name for the Goddess of War and Wisdom, Minerva.
- Athena was Zeus’s daughter, but his first wife, Metis, gave birth to her. Zeus ate Metis because he feared one of his sons would try to take over his power as he did with his father. Metis did not die, though; Zeus helped her make armour for her unborn child. He finally got such a bad headache from all the pounding that Hephaestus used an axe to cut Zeus’s head open. Athena came out of the wound, all grown up and wearing armour. Athena was just as strong as any of the other gods. She didn’t want to date anyone, so she stayed a virgin.
She lived at the top of Mount Olympus as the Goddess of fairness, military strategy, sage advice, logical thought, arts and crafts, and rational thought. One of her most important symbols was the owl, and she gave the first olive tree to her favourite city, Athens, which shares her name.
In ancient Greece, Athena was a strong and well-known goddess. Myths say that Athena had a mother, but this is not true. She came from Zeus’s head, which is how she became so bright. She is sometimes called Athena, the Goddess of war. She was revered for her ability to bestow wisdom and strategy upon deserving warriors. Courage and victory in battle (in her opinion.)
Athena was a member of the Council of twelve gods, which met on Mount Olympus. The other gods knew that Athena would do what was right. Zeus liked Athena because she was intelligent, kind, and wise. Even her moody uncle Poseidon loved his niece, the Goddess of wisdom, Athena.
Some stories about Athena show how intelligent, thoughtful, and useful she was.
- Artemis was the God of the moon and hunting.
Zeus and the Titaness Leto had Artemis and her twin brother Apollo.
Hera said that every country in the world would be cursed if they let Leto stay there and let her give birth for nine months. Still, the twins were born, and although they were very different, they became important 12 Olympians. Artemis was the moon, forests, archery, and hunting goddess. She was quiet, dark, and serious.
Artemis, like Athena, didn’t want to get married. She was the Goddess who protected women’s fertility, chastity and giving birth. She was also closely linked to wild animals. She thought the bear was holy.
- Apollo is the Roman name for the God of the sun, light, and music.
Apollo, Artemis’ twin brother, was the God of music, the sun, light, prophecy, medicine, and knowledge. He was the exact opposite of Artemis. His Delphi oracle was the most famous in all of the ancient times.
Apollo’s mischievous little brother Hermes gave him a lyre as a gift, which will always be linked to Apollo.
Apollo was thought to be the most beautiful God. He was happy and bright, liked to sing, dance, and drink, and was well-liked by gods and people.
He goes in his father’s footsteps by chasing after human women, though he isn’t always successful. Daphne, a river nymph, told her father to turn her into a laurel tree so she wouldn’t fall in love with him.
Zeus had a son named Apollo (king of all the gods.) Leta, who was kind, was his mother. Apollo’s twin sister was Artemis, the huntress.
He also had a younger brother named Hermes and some half-brothers and sisters. Apollo loved everyone in his family, except maybe Mars (the God of war.)
Apollo was a Greek god who did a lot of different things. As we’ve already said, he was the God of medicine, healing, light, truth, and medicine.
One of the most important things he did daily brought the sun up. He was a great archer like his sister and always had a silver bow with him.
Apollo was dependable and calm, but he could get angry if he was upset. When he did lose his temper, he usually found clever ways to get even. His little brother, Hermes, seemed to irritate him the most.
Those of you who have younger brothers may understand. Even though he fussed over Hermes, Apollo was sometimes naughty, like his younger brother and father, the powerful Zeus.
- Hephaestus was the Greek God of smiths and metalwork. His Roman name was Vulcan.
There are different stories about how Hephaestus was born. Some people say he was taken to Zeus and Hera, while others say Hera had him on her own to get back at Zeus for giving birth to Athena. On the other hand, Hephaestus was very ugly, even by the standards of gods and goddesses. Hera didn’t like how he looked, so she threw him off Olympus, which made him permanently lame.
He became the God of fire, metallurgy, sculpture, and crafts, but not as much as his sister Athena. He learned how to be a blacksmith and built himself a workshop. His forges make fire as hot as a volcano.
Hephaestus married the Goddess of love, Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman in the world.
Zeus might have set up the wedding so the 12 Olympian gods wouldn’t fight over her. But a common story says that Hephaestus got mad at how his mother treated him and locked her on a special throne. He only let her out when he was promised the hand of Aphrodite.
Where Hephaestus and Ares were the children of Zeus and Hera, they were known as the great king and the great queen of all the Greek gods. The God of war was Ares. He enjoyed breaking things. The opposite of him was Hephaestus.
He liked to put things together.
Hephaestus made the homes for all the gods on Mount Olympus, including his own. If any gods wanted something made or built, he was always happy to help. Hephaestus always found a way to make them happy, even when they asked for strange things.
His marriage didn’t work out as well.
Here, his mother arranged a marriage between the God of fire, Hephaestus, and the Goddess of love, Aphrodite. It didn’t make Aphrodite happy, but what could she do?
Even though she was strong, Hera was even stronger. Aphrodite mostly forgot about her husband.
Hephaestus made Pandora after Zeus told him to make a woman out of clay.
Some people say that when Hephaestus made Pandora, he gave her traits that he wished his wife had, like being gentle, kind, and thoughtful, which his wife was not.
Zeus was so happy with how Pandora turned out that he gave Hephaestus the power over volcanoes, fire, and forges as a reward.
- Aphrodite, which means “Love, Beauty, and Sexuality,” The Roman name was Venus.
Aphrodite didn’t like that she was married to Hephaestus, even though he made her beautiful jewellery to try to win her heart. She liked the rough and wild Ares better.
When Hephaestion discovered that Aphrodite and Ares were having an affair, he used his skill to make a trap again. He set up a web of invisible chains around his bed and caught Aphrodite and Ares in the middle of one of their love affairs.
He called on the other gods and goddesses, and they joined him in making fun of the lovers.
When they were finally let go, they both ran away from Olympus in shame for a while.
Aphrodite also liked to hang out with regular people. She may be best known for making a promise to the young Paris to marry the beautiful Queen Helen, who was already married, which led to the legendary Trojan War.
Aphrodite, an ancient Greek goddess, appeared one day, thousands of years ago, and started showing up in ancient Greek myths, which were stories told by ancient Greek storytellers. Stories about her said she was as vain as beautiful and wonderful.
Zeus was pleased to be able to call her his daughter. Zeus usually gave his children jobs and titles. He made Aphrodite the Goddess of Love and Beauty and told her to spread love and beauty all over the world.
Eros, whom the Romans called Cupid, was Aphrodite’s son, whom she loved very much. She even got along most of the time with Hera, the queen of all the Greek gods.
She worked very hard at her job as the Goddess of love and beauty, which Zeus had given her.
Aphrodite usually tried to be nice to everyone and spread love and beauty wherever she went.
But her plans for people (and gods and goddesses) sometimes worked out differently than she thought they would, which caused a lot of trouble. Aphrodite often said that she wasn’t really to blame for things that went wrong. Actually, no.
- Ares, the Roman name is Mars.
He was known as the God of War.
Ares was the God of war, but his sister, Athena, was the Goddess of peace. Athena was in charge of strategy, tactics, and fighting on the defensive.
On the other hand, Ares loved the violence and bloodshed that war brought.
Except for Aphrodite, the other Olympians didn’t like him because he was aggressive and had a short fuse. People on Earth didn’t want him either.
His worship was much smaller than that of other gods and goddesses, but the warlike Spartans of southern Greece liked him.
Even though he is associated with war, he is often called a coward because he runs back to Olympus in fury whenever he gets hurt. Nike, or victory, was always with Athena, but Ares chose to hang out with Enyo, Phobos, and Deimos, or strife, fear, and terror.
The Greek God of war was named Ares.
He was the child of the gods’ king and queen (Zeus and Hera.) He was tall, handsome, and mean and only cared about himself. Ares liked when people died. Ares was often involved when the ancient Greeks went to war.
Ares would sometimes fight for the Greeks and sometimes fight against them.
Ares didn’t care who won or lost a battle or whether it was for a good or bad cause.
It didn’t matter to him who won or lost a battle. He just liked bloodshed. Even his parents did not want him very much.
Hermes: He was the Gods’ messenger.
Hermes was the God of trade, eloquence, wealth, luck, sleep, thieves, travel, and animal-raising. He also had many other skills. He is also always described as being naughty.
He was always looking for things to do and ways to have fun. When he was still a baby, he stole Apollo’s sacred herd of cattle. As punishment, he had to give up his lyre.
As the gods’ messenger, Hermes had many jobs to do. He killed the monster Argos to free Io, rescued Ares from the giants who had locked him up and talked Calypso into letting Odysseus and his men go.
It was also his job to take souls to the afterlife.
Dionysus, God of wine.
Both Olympians and regular people loved Dionysus. He was the God of wine, making wine, partying, the theatre, and ritual madness.
He was considered the son of both Zeus and Semele, the princess of Thrace. Hera tricked Semele into wanting to see Zeus in all his glory, which is how Dionysus was born.
Semele couldn’t handle the news, but Zeus saved the baby she was carrying by sewing it to his thigh. A few months later, Dionysus was born from that thigh, and the nymphs of Nysa raised him.
He was the only Olympian who was taken to a human mother. This may be why he spent so much time with humans, travelling with them and giving them wine as gifts.
12 Olympians from Greece and two more
The 12 Olympians of Greek mythology are usually considered the above 12 Olympian gods. Still, Hestia and Hades, two of Zeus’s siblings, are not on this list.
So, who were these gods, and why don’t we think of them as Olympians?
Hestia, the Roman name Vesta, is the Goddess of the Hearth.
Hestia was Zeus’s last sister, but she wasn’t always counted as one of the 12 Olympians gods. Hestia was the kindest Goddess, watching over the home and the fire. Myths say that she was one of the twelve at one time. But when Dionysus was born, she was kind enough to give him her throne. She said she was happier sitting by the fire that kept Olympus warm and taking care of it.
She had two brothers and three brothers. All her brothers and sisters were Olympians, members of the Council of 12 Olympians, and rulers of the gods in the world of the ancient Greek gods. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were her brothers. Zeus was the most important God.
Poseidon ruled over the sea. The ruler of the Underworld was Hades. Her sisters were Hera and Demeter.
While Demeter oversaw the harvest, Hestia, the Goddess of kindness, had her vital duties. A goddess of hearth and home, Hestia was revered by ancient peoples.
Hestia is not the subject of many myths.
It wasn’t necessary except in Sparta. The ancient Greek women gathered daily in their central courtyards to sew, cook, or listen to stories about the gods while the men were away.
They knew that Hestia would look out for them.
They never had any doubts. It made them feel excellent. They didn’t want Hestia to have her own life at all. They were glad that Hestia cared for all the women in ancient Greece, even the Spartan women. Hestia enjoyed doing it very much.
On Mount Olympus, Hestia had a home. She was on the Council of 12 Olympians for a while, just like her brothers and sisters. But Hestia did not like arguments.
She asked Dionysus, a god, to take her place on the council one day. No one has ever given up their seat on the Council.
Zeus needed to figure out what to do next. He decided that Hestia could let Dionysus sit in her seat. He was the right one.
Dionysus was the God of wine, culture, the law, and good manners. He had been in many fights. His calm thoughts on problems in the Council were very helpful.
Hades is the king of the dead.
Hades, who is Zeus’s other brother, is also not in the 12 Olympians because he did not live in the divine palace. Hades was the God of the dead. He was in charge of the Underworld and all the souls who went there.
Either gods or people did not like him, and he was usually considered to be mean, harsh, and uncaring. Even so, he was less of a problem than his brother Poseidon, who once tried to overthrow Zeus. Hades also liked his wife, Persephone, a lot.
The Roman name for Hermes, the messenger of the gods, is Mercury.
Even when Hermes was a little boy, Zeus liked having him around. Hermes was always having a good time. He had a lot of brains.
He had many good ideas. He was good at sports by nature. He had a mischievous grin. He seemed to get people to do almost anything he wanted.
Hermes was liked and trusted by both gods and people. They had good reason to trust. Hermes was good at keeping secrets. Zeus chose him to be the gods’ messenger and to help them make deals. That would make sure Hermes was always in the middle of things and that he was important.
Hermes was in many myths because he solved problems and brought messages.
He knew almost everything that was going on in the world of myths. But he never hurt anyone by telling what he knew. Hermes was very kind.
He wanted to find a solution that would be good for everyone. The gods had faith in him. Without trust, he could not have solved all the problems he did.
He got better at what he did as he got older until he was the best dealmaker in the world.
The Story of Demeter and Persephone: Why the Seasons Change – Greek Myths for Kids.