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In myths we come across many names of gods, goddesses and strange creatures. Many myths, legends and stories are related to them. Different gods represent different aspects of life on the Earth under their control. Some of the gods and mythical creatures are given below:


 

MYTHICAL GODS


Zeus (Roman name Jupiter) was the god of the earth and the sky. His symbols were the thunderbolt, the eagle, the bull and the oak. Although he was married to
Hera, his elder sister, he would frequently cheat on her with many mortal women. other goddesses and nymphs. He is depicted in statues and paintings as a middle-aged man seating on his throne or throwing a thunderbolt.


Hera (Roman name Juno) was the queen of the Gods. Pictured as a middle-aged still charming woman, Hera was the protector of women and marriage. She was jealous in character and when she knew about an infidelity of Zeus, his mistress would suffer a lot. The peacock was her symbol. According to the myth, Hera was also the protector of the Amazons.
Poseidon (Roman name Neptune), the god of the sea and the earthquakes, was much adored in ancient Greece. As many cities had a strong naval power, Poseidon was the protector of these cities. He usually mated with nymphs of the water and had many children. His symbols were the trident, the dolphin, the fish and the horse. He was seen as an old man riding his horse-carriage out of the waves.

Hades (Roman name Pluto), another brother of Zeus, was the ruler of the Underworld, the world of the dead. The ancient people depicted him as an old man with white hair and beard. His kingdom was found under the earth. Using a trick, this old man married a beautiful young girl, Persephone, daughter of goddess Demeter.

Hestia (Roman name Vesta) was the goddess of the hearth and the household. She was the noblest and most lovable goddesses for the ancient Greeks and she symbolized harmony in the family and the city. Every household and public building in ancient Greece had an altar dedicated to Hestia in the centre of a room that burnt all day and night. Hestia was never married or had children. Not being able to bear the continuous quarrels between the gods, Hestia left Olympus and went to live somewhere quieter, giving her place to Dionysus.

 

Aphrodite (Roman name Venus) was the goddess of beauty. She was forever beautiful and young. Shallow in nature, Aphrodite has a lot of affairs with mortals. Her son was Cupid, the familiar young boy with wings who played with his arrows and made people fall in love. Aphrodite was no directly connected to Zeus. She was probably a generation older than the other Olympian Gods. The myth says that she was born out of the foam of the sea either near Paphos Cyrpus or near Kythira island.


Demeter (Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of grain and fertility. She maintained the circle of life on the earth (the circle of young and old, life and death), alternating the seasons and reviving nature in spring. She is depicted in statues holding a tuft of grain. A very important festival, the Elefsenian Mysteries, was held every year dedicated to Demeter and her daughter Persephone.

Apollo (Roman name Apollo) was another famous god, not a brother, but a son of Zeus. Apollo and Artemis were twins that Zeus obtained from Leto, a mortal woman. Apollo was born in Delos, which later became his sacred island. He was the god of music and light, poetry and the arts, medicine, truth and prophecy. Note that the Oracles in ancient Greece were dedicated to god Apollo and people believed that god was actually speaking to them through the priests. He was pictured as a young, handsome and sensitive man.
Artemis (Roman name Diana), his twin sister, was a fierce female. She enjoyed sports and particularly hunting. Her symbols were the bow and arrows. She used to hide in the forests with her companions. Wild in nature, Artemis had asked her father never to confine her with marriage and she kept her virginity for all her life. Her female companions also ought to be virgins.

Ares (Roman name Mars), the god of warfare and violence, was son of Zeus and Hera. He was not a likable god in ancient Greece, which is why there are no many temples of Ares. However, people were afraid of his anger and included him in their offerings.

Hermes (Roman name Mercury), the son of Zeus, was the most foxy of all the Olympian Gods. He was the messenger of the Gods, which is why he knew all their secrets. He was also the guide to the Underworld and the protector of thieves, shepherds, orators, road travellers and merchants. He wore winged sandals to fly and give messages quickly.

Athena (Roman name Minerva) was also a goddess of war, but more of strategic war, not violence like Ares. She was also the goddess of wisdom and justice. The daughter of Zeus and a mortal woman, Athena was born out of the head of Zeus when her pregnant mother was killed out of Hera's jealousy. Noble in nature, Athena didn't match with men and would mostly deal with warfare.

 

MYTHICAL CREATURES


Centaur is a race of creature composed of part human and part horse. This half-human and half-animal composition has lead many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures. Centaurs were usually depicted as beasts of Dionysus. They were thought to carry bows and are very short tempered creatures. Most Centaurs are good and work against evil.


Scylla and Charybdis were powerful monsters and lived together in a sea cave. Scylla had many fierce dog heads and ate sailors alive; Charybdis created whirlpools by sucking in and spitting out seawater. Both Jason and Odysseus safely travelled by these monsters.


Cyclops were a race of giant-shepherds in mythology. They lived in Sicily, and each of them had just one eye in the middle of their foreheads. They made weapons and armour for the gods. Apollo destroyed them because they made the fire bolt that killed his son, Asclepius. The most famous  is Polyphemus, the Cyclops blinded by Odysseus.
Giants belonged to a race of beings that looked like humans but were much more larger. In Greek legend they represented the elements of nature such as earth, air, water, fire. They were called the Titans. They became powerful enough to try to unseat Zeus and the Olympians early in their rule. When the gods won they imprisoned the Giants in Tartarus. The ancient Romans and Greeks believed that their ancestors had been big people with great power and strength.
Gorgons in Greek mythology were terrifying, dragon like creatures, covered with golden-scales with snakes for hair. They had huge wings and round, ugly faces; their tongues were always hanging out, and they had large, tusk-like teeth. They lived on the farthest side of the western ocean, shunned because their glance turned persons to stone.
Chimera had three heads - lion, goat, and snake. Its body was also mixed having the front part of a lion, middle of a goat, and snake for a tail. It breathed fire. It ravaged Lycia, killing cattle and setting fires until it was killed by Bellerophon.

Medusa was one of the three sisters known as the Gorgons. The other two sisters were Sthenno and Euryale. Medusa was the only mortal out of the three. She was once very beautiful and lived far in the north were the sun didn't visit. Being very curious, she wanted to see the sun, and asked the Goddess Athena for permission to visit the south. Athena refused to allow her to visit. The medusa got angry and dared to say that Athena hadn't given her permission because she was jealous of her beauty. That was it! Athena was angered and punished her by turning her hair into snakes and cursing her by making her so ugly that who ever looks at her eyes would turn into stone.


Minotaur was a man-eating monster with the head of a bull. King Minos kept it hidden in a labyrinth (a maze) in Knossos, on the island of Crete, where he used it to frighten his enemies. Theseus killed the Minotaur.


 

Sirens were beautiful half-woman, half-birdlike creatures who sang such sweet songs that listeners forgot everything and died of hunger. The Sirens are sisters who lure sailors to their death. The song of the Sirens is irresistible but, the they reside beyond reefs which destroy the sailors boat when they try to reach the Sirens. Among those tempted were Jason on the Argo and Odysseus. Odysseus escaped from them by filling his crew's ears with wax while he tied himself to the ship's mast. The Argonauts were saved by Orpheus' music. The three most famous were Parthenope, Ligea, and Leucosia.

 
 
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