Greek Mythology features many Gods with really awesome powers. Most of the Gods are very well known thanks to the popular culture. I mean I am sure most of us are familiar with Zeus and Poseidon and even Hades. There are just way too many references in Movies, TV Shows and even books to miss these big names.
But there are more Greek Gods with some pretty cool stories. In this post, I am focusing on just the big league residents on Mount Olympus. I am picking a few stories I enjoyed.
I believe any Greek Mythology story should come with a list of disclaimers about so many crimes the Gods love to commit. In some stories, mortals are punished harshly for crimes committed by the immortals. And I don’t even want to get started on their concept of Fidelity in marriage. Having children with so many partners is so common that no one even notices it anymore.
Really strange family dynamics. So, with this background, let me start with the stories.
Zeus is the king of all Gods. He is the youngest son of Cronus and Rhea who ultimately fought his father and other Titans. During the war, Zeus freed the Cyclopes from imprisonment. As thanks, the Cyclopes made a lightning bolt and gave it to Zeus. Eventually, this lightning bolt became the most preferred weapon of Zeus. So whenever the Sky is thundering, you know who is being that.
Being the king of the Gods, Zeus had many adventures and stars in a lot of stories. So, to keep this post a manageable size, I will just focus on a few of his offspring’s as he has a lot of them.
Birth of Athena
Metis was a Titaness who helped Zeus in overthrowing other Titans. She became his first wife and his chief adviser. When she got pregnant it was predicted that her son will overthrow Zeus like he overthrew his father. Worried, Zeus swallowed Metis along with the unborn child. Probably he got this idea from his own father who swallowed his children.
But Metis was also an immortal so she survived inside Zeus. Soon the baby was ready to be born. When that happened, Zeus got a massive headache. Now this headache was so intense that he asked other Gods to cut open his head with an axe. Immortality has its benefits after all.
Anyways, when Zeus’s head was opened, fully grown and fully armoured Athena emerged. Zeus’s head healed in no time. Athena is the goddess of intelligence and strategic warfare.
Birth of Artemis and Apollo
Since Metis was no longer available to rule the Gods, Zeus married Hera – goddess of marriages. However, Zeus was not a very faithful husband. He had way too many affairs which naturally made Hera very angry.
Now we have to remember that Hera is also a great goddess. And an angry goddess is not very merciful. As Zeus is the king of all gods, he usually escaped Hera’s wrath unscathed. But his love interests got the full brunt of her anger.
Once Zeus had an affair with Leto and got her pregnant. When Hera found out, she was furious. She used her influence to make Let’s life as difficult as she could. Poor Leto went from nation to Nation and island to island to find a place to give birth to her children. But she didn’t know that Hera has already threatened everyone to not give shelter to Leto.
Ultimately Leto got shelter on a floating island called Delos. There she gave birth to twins. First came Artemis – the virgin goddess of the hunt. Then Artemis helped Leto to give birth to her twin brother Apollo – the god of Sun.
Other famous children of Zeus
Zeus kept a busy schedule seducing (and sometimes raping) mortals and immortals. As a result, he has over 50 children from many different mothers.
He has 10 children with Hera. Most prominent of them being Ares and Hephaestus. He fathered Persephone with Demeter. He is also the father of all the Muses. He also had famous Greek Heroes Heracles and Perseus with mortal consorts.
He once had a mortal lover Semele. When she got pregnant, she asked Zeus to show her his divine form. Zeus knew that mortals can not survive seeing the divine form. Yet he could not persuade her otherwise and ended up showing her his divine form. As expected, Semele burnt and disintegrated instantly. However, Zeus managed to save the fetus and stitched it in his thigh. The child was letter born as Dionysus – the god of wine.
Hades got the empire of the underworld to rule after he helped Zeus fight Titans. He didn’t live on Mount Olympus and is usually not counted as one of the twelve Olympians. But in my opinion, Hades got a pretty important domain. He rules the dead which is a very important job.
When the Cyclopes made the lighting bolt for Zeus, they also made an invisibility helmet for Hades. God of death having the power to turn invisible makes a lot of sense.
Hades was married to Persephone – daughter of Demeter and Zeus. However, they do not have a typical romance and courtship before marriage. Rather, as per the stories, Hades kidnapped Persephone and forcefully brought her to the underworld.
When Demeter found out, she was devastated. She went to Zeus and asked him to talk to Hades. When Zeus refused Demeter got furious. Now, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest. Most of the times other gods with more power did not think much of her. But this time Demeter was determined to get her daughter back.
So, Demeter stopped food from growing causing a severe famine. Now, the gods depended upon the offerings given by humans. Thus when the humans suffered a famine, the gods too suffered.
Ultimately, Zeus had to ask Hades to release Persephone. However, while Persephone was locked up in the underworld, she ate 6 seeds of a pomegranate. After all, she was starving. She didn’t think there would be any danger in eating a few seeds. But she was wrong there.
Since Persephone ate 6 seeds, she had to spend six months in the underworld every year. Pretty harsh punishment for such a small mistake in my opinion. But anyway, that’s what was decided.
Every year when Persephone spent six months in the underworld, Demeter mourns and nothing grows during that time. It’s a sweet explanation for seasons and why nothing grows in winters.
After the war with Titans, Zeus got the rule over the sky, Hades got the underworld and Poseidon got the control of the entire water body. All the oceans, seas, rivers and even lakes came under his domain.
The cyclopes who made the lightning bolt for Zeus and the invisibility helmet for Hades made a trident for Poseidon. He used this trident to create storms and even shake the earth itself.
Poseidon and Athena
It is said that once there was a city which did not have a patron deity. Somehow both Poseidon and Athena became interested in becoming the sole patron of the city.
A competition was arranged between Poseidon and Athena. They both were tasked to bring gifts for the citizens of the city. The one who brought the better gift would be declared the winner. So much for spirituality in this materialistic world.
Anyways, Poseidon used his trident and struck the earth with it. This made a saltwater spring. Then Athena brought her gift – an Olive tree.
While the spring was beautiful, the saltwater was not so useful for the citizens. On the other hand, Athena’s gift brought wood, oil and food for the citizens. Naturally, they all liked her gift more.
Athena won and named the city after her. That’s right the city known as Athens once chose Athena as her patron deity.
However, Poseidon was not at all happy by this. In his anger, he caused a massive flood in Athens. Having Athena as their patron did save the city but the citizens were still pretty shaken. It’s never fun to antagonize a god.