Gods Title, Greek and Roman Mythology
Gods, Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their Gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It was a part of the religion in ancient Greece.
Modern scholars refer to and study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
Greek myth attempts to explain the origins of the world, and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of Gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines and mythological creatures.
Two poems by Homer‘s near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices.
Gods, Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology, with Gods and heroes featured prominently in the decoration of many artifacts.
Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles.
Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language.
Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes.
“Roman mythology” may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period.
Gods, and the Romans usually treated their traditional narratives as historical, even when these have miraculous or supernatural elements.
The stories are often concerned with politics and morality, and how an individual’s personal integrity relates to his or her responsibility to the community or Roman state. Heroism is an important theme.
Gods, and the study of Roman religion and myth is complicated by the early influence of Greek religion on the Italian peninsula during Rome’s protohistory, and by the later artistic imitation of Greek literary models by Roman authors.
In matters of theology, the Romans were curiously eager to identify their own Gods with those of the Greeks (interpretatio graeca), and to reinterpret stories about Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts.
Rome’s early myths and legends also have a dynamic relationship with Etruscan religion, less documented than that of the Greeks.
While Roman mythology may lack a body of divine narratives as extensive as that found in Greek literature, Romulus and Remus suckling the she-wolf is as famous as any image from Greek mythology except for the Trojan Horse.
The interpretations of Greek myths by the Romans often had the greater influence on narrative and pictorial representations of “classical mythology” than Greek sources.
- TitleAchelous: River god; son of Oceanus and Tethys and said to be the father of the Sirens.
- Acheron: One of several Rivers of Underworld.
- Achilles: Greek warrior; slew Hector at Troy; slain by Paris, who wounded him in his vulnerable heel.
- Actaeon: Hunter; surprised Artemis bathing; changed by her to stag; and killed by his dogs.
- Admetus: King of Thessaly; his wife, Alcestis, offered to die in his place.
- Adonis: Beautiful youth loved by Aphrodite.
- Aeacus: One of three judges of dead in Hades; son of Zeus.
- Aeëtes: King of Colchis; father of Medea; keeper of Golden Fleece.
- Aegeus: Father of Theseus; believing Theseus killed in Crete, he drowned himself; Aegean Sea named for him.
- Aegisthus: Son of Thyestes; slew Atreus; with Clytemnestra, his paramour, slew Agamemnon; slain by Orestes.
- Aegyptus: Brother of Danaus; his sons, except Lynceus, slain by Danaides.
- Aeneas: Trojan; son of Anchises and Aphrodite; after fall of Troy, led his followers eventually to Italy; loved and deserted Dido.
- Aeolus: One of several Winds.
- Aesculapius: See Asclepius.
- Aeson: King of Ioclus; father of Jason; overthrown by his brother Pelias; restored to youth by Medea.
- Aether: Personification of sky.
- Aethra: Mother of Theseus.
- Agamemnon: King of Mycenae; son of Atreus; brother of Menelaus; leader of Greeks against Troy; slain on his return home by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.
- Aglaia: One of several Graces.
- Ajax: Greek warrior; killed himself at Troy because Achilles’s armor was awarded to Odysseus.
- Alcestis: Wife of Admetus; offered to die in his place but saved from death by Hercules.
- Alcmene: Wife of Amphitryon; mother by Zeus of Hercules.
- Alcyone: One of several Pleiades.
- Alecto: One of several Furies.
- Alectryon: Youth changed by Ares into cock.
- Althaea: Wife of Oeneus; mother of Meleager.
- Amazons: Female warriors in Asia Minor; supported Troy against Greeks.
- Amor: See Eros.
- Amphion: Musician; husband of Niobe; charmed stones to build fortifications for Thebes.
- Amphitrite: Sea goddess; wife of Poseidon.
- Amphitryon: Husband of Alcmene.
- Anchises: Father of Aeneas.
- Ancile: Sacred shield that fell from heavens; palladium of Rome.
- Andraemon: Husband of Dryope.
- Andromache: Wife of Hector.
- Andromeda: Daughter of Cepheus; chained to cliff for monster to devour; rescued by Perseus.
- Anteia: Wife of Proetus; tried to induce Bellerophon to elope with her.
- Anteros: God who avenged unrequited love.
- Antigone: Daughter of Oedipus; accompanied him to Colonus; performed burial rite for Polynices and hanged herself.
- Antinoüs: Leader of suitors of Penelope; slain by Odysseus.
- Aphrodite (Venus): Goddess of love and beauty; daughter of Zeus and Dione; mother of Eros.
- Apollo: God of beauty, poetry, music; later identified with Helios as Phoebus Apollo; son of Zeus and Leto.
- Aquilo: One of several Winds.
- Arachne: Maiden who challenged Athena to weaving contest; changed to spider.
- Ares (Mars): God of war; son of Zeus and Hera.
- Argo: Ship in which Jason and followers sailed to Colchis for Golden Fleece.
- Argus: Monster with hundred eyes; slain by Hermes; his eyes placed by Hera into peacock’s tail.
- Ariadne: Daughter of Minos; aided Theseus in slaying Minotaur; deserted by him on island of Naxos and married to Dionysus.
- Arion: Musician; thrown overboard by pirates but saved by dolphin.
- Artemis (Diana): Goddess of moon; huntress; twin sister of Apollo.
- Asclepius (Aesculapius): Mortal son of Apollo; slain by Zeus for raising dead; later deified as god of medicine. Also known as Asklepios.
- Astarte: Phoenician goddess of love; variously identified with Aphrodite, Selene, and Artemis.
- Asterope: See Sterope.
- Astraea: Goddess of Justice; daughter of Zeus and Themis.
- Atalanta: Princess who challenged her suitors to a foot race; Hippomenes won race and married her.
- Athena (Minerva): Goddess of wisdom; known poetically as Pallas Athene; sprang fully armed from head of Zeus.
- Atlas: Titan; held world on his shoulders as punishment for warring against Zeus; son of Iapetus.
- Atreus: King of Mycenae; father of Menelaus and Agamemnon; brother of Thyestes, three of whose sons he slew and served to him at banquet; slain by Aegisthus.
- Atropos: One of several Fates.
- Aurora: See Eos.
- Auster: One of several Winds.
- Avernus: Infernal regions; name derived from small vaporous lake near Vesuvius which was fabled to kill birds and vegetation.
- Bacchus: See Dionysus.
- Bellerophon: Corinthian hero; killed Chimera with aid of Pegasus; tried to reach Olympus on Pegasus and was thrown to his death.
- Bellona: Roman goddess of war.
- Boreas: One of several Winds.
- Briareus: Monster of hundred hands; son of Uranus and Gaea.
- Briseis: Captive maiden given to Achilles; taken by Agamemnon in exchange for loss of Chryseis, which caused Achilles to cease fighting, until death of Patroclus.
- Cadmus: Brother of Europa; planter of dragon seeds from which first Thebans sprang.
- Calliope: One of several Muses.
- Calypso: Sea nymph; kept Odysseus on her island Ogygia for seven years.
- Cassandra: Daughter of Priam; prophetess who was never believed; slain with Agamemnon.
- Castor: One of Dioscuri.
- Celaeno: One of several Pleiades.
- Centaurs: Beings half man and half horse; lived in mountains of Thessaly.
- Cephalus: Hunter; accidentally killed his wife Procris with his spear.
- Cepheus: King of Ethiopia; father of Andromeda.
- Cerberus: Three-headed dog guarding entrance to Hades.
- Ceres: See Demeter.
- Chaos: Formless void; personified as first of Gods.
- Charon: Boatman on Styx who carried souls of dead to Hades; son of Erebus.
- Charybdis: Female monster; personification of whirlpool.
- Chimera: Female monster with head of lion, body of goat, tail of serpent; killed by Bellerophon.
- Chiron: Most famous of centaurs.
- Chronos: Personification of time.
- Chryseis: Captive maiden given to Agamemnon; his refusal to accept ransom from her father Chryses caused Apollo to send plague on Greeks besieging Troy.
- Circe: Sorceress; daughter of Helios; changed Odysseus’s men into swine.
- Clio: One of several Muses.
- Clotho: One of several Fates.
- Clytemnestra: Wife of Agamemnon, whom she slew with aid of her paramour, Aegisthus; slain by her son Orestes.
- Cocytus: One of several Rivers of Underworld.
- Creon: Father of Jocasta; forbade burial of Polynices; ordered burial alive of Antigone.
- Creüsa: Princess of Corinth, for whom Jason deserted Medea; slain by Medea, who sent her poisoned robe; also known as Glaüke.
- Creusa: Wife of Aeneas; died fleeing Troy.
- Cronus (Saturn): Titan; god of harvests; son of Uranus and Gaea; dethroned by his son Zeus.
- Cupid: See Eros.
- Cybele: Anatolian nature goddess; adopted by Greeks and identified with Rhea.
- Cyclopes: Race of one-eyed giants (singular: Cyclops).
- Daedalus: Athenian artificer; father of Icarus; builder of Labyrinth in Crete; devised wings attached with wax for him and Icarus to escape Crete.
- Danae: Princess of Argos; mother of Perseus by Zeus, who appeared to her in form of golden shower.
- Danaïdes: Daughters of Danaüs; at his command, all except Hypermnestra slew their husbands, the sons of Aegyptus.
- Danaüs: Brother of Aegyptus; father of Danaïdes; slain by Lynceus.
- Daphne: Nymph; pursued by Apollo; changed to laurel tree.
- Decuma: One of several Fates.
- Deino: One of several Graeae.
- Demeter (Ceres): Goddess of agriculture; mother of Persephone.
- Diana: See Artemis.
- Dido: Founder and queen of Carthage; stabbed herself when deserted by Aeneas.
- Diomedes: Greek hero; with Odysseus, entered Troy and carried off Palladium, sacred statue of Athena.
- Diomedes: Owner of man-eating horses, which Hercules, as ninth labor, carried off.
- Dione: Titan goddess; mother by Zeus of Aphrodite.
- Dionysus (Bacchus): God of wine; son of Zeus and Semele.
- Dioscuri: Twins Castor and Pollux; sons of Leda by Zeus.
- Dis: See Pluto, Hades.
- Dryads: Wood nymphs.
- Dryope: Maiden changed to Hamadryad.
- Echo: Nymph who fell hopelessly in love with Narcissus; faded away except for her voice.
- Electra: Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; sister of Orestes; urged Orestes to slay Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.
- Electra: One of several Pleiades.
- Elysium: Abode of blessed dead.
- Endymion: Mortal loved by Selene.
- Enyo: One of several Graeae.
- Eos (Aurora): Goddess of dawn.
- Epimetheus: Brother of Prometheus; husband of Pandora.
- Erato: One of several Muses.
- Erebus: Spirit of darkness; son of Chaos.
- Erinyes: One of several Furies.
- Eris: Goddess of discord.
- Eros (Amor or Cupid): God of love; son of Aphrodite.
- Eteocles: Son of Oedipus, whom he succeeded to rule alternately with Polynices; refused to give up throne at end of year; he and Polynices slew each other.
- Eumenides: One of several Furies.
- Euphrosyne: One of several Graces.
- Europa: Mortal loved by Zeus, who, in form of white bull, carried her off to Crete.
- Eurus: One of several Winds.
- Euryale: One of several Gorgons.
- Eurydice: Nymph; wife of Orpheus.
- Eurystheus: King of Argos; imposed twelve labors on Hercules.
- Euterpe: One of several Muses.
- Fates: Goddesses of destiny; Clotho (Spinner of thread of life), Lachesis (Determiner of length), and Atropos (Cutter of thread); also called Moirae. Identified by Romans with their goddesses of fate; Nona, Decuma, and Morta; called Parcae.
- Fauns: Roman deities of woods and groves.
- Faunus: See Pan.
- Favonius: One of several Winds.
- Flora: Roman goddess of flowers.
- Fortuna: Roman goddess of fortune.
- Furies: Avenging spirits; Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone; known also as Erinyes or Eumenides.
- Gaea: Goddess of earth; daughter of Chaos; mother of Titans; known also as Ge, Gea, Gaia, etc.
- Galatea: Statue of maiden carved from ivory by Pygmalion; given life by Aphrodite.
- Galatea: Sea nymph; loved by Polyphemus.
- Ganymede: Beautiful boy; successor to Hebe as cupbearer of Gods.
- Glaucus: Mortal who became sea divinity by eating magic grass.
- Golden Fleece: Fleece from ram that flew Phrixos to Colchis; Aeëtes placed it under guard of dragon; carried off by Jason.
- Gorgons. Female monsters; Euryale, Medusa, and Stheno; had snakes for hair; their glances turned mortals to stone.
- Graces: Beautiful goddesses: Aglaia (Brilliance), Euphrosyne (Joy), and Thalia (Bloom); daughters of Zeus.
- Graeae. Sentinels for Gorgons.; Deino, Enyo, and Pephredo; had one eye among them, which passed from one to another.
- Hades (Dis): Name sometimes given Pluto; also, abode of dead, ruled by Pluto.
- Haemon: Son of Creon; promised husband of Antigone; killed himself in her tomb.
- Hamadryads: Tree nymphs.
- Harpies: Monsters with heads of women and bodies of birds.
- Hebe (Juventas): Goddess of youth; cupbearer of Gods before Ganymede; daughter of Zeus and Hera.
- Hecate: Goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.
- Hector: Son of Priam; slayer of Patroclus; slain by Achilles.
- Hecuba: Wife of Priam.
- Helen: Fairest woman in world; daughter of Zeus and Leda; wife of Menelaus; carried to Troy by Paris, causing Trojan War.
- Heliades: Daughters of Helios; mourned for Phaëthon and were changed to poplar trees.
- Helios (Sol): God of sun; later identified with Apollo.
- Helle: Sister of Phrixos; fell from ram of Golden Fleece; water where she fell named Hellespont.
- Hephaestus (Vulcan): God of fire; celestial blacksmith; son of Zeus and Hera; husband of Aphrodite.
- Hera (Juno): Queen of heaven; wife of Zeus.
- Hercules: Hero and strong man; son of Zeus and Alcmene; performed twelve labors or deeds to be free from bondage under Eurystheus; after death, his mortal share was destroyed, and he became immortal. Also known as Herakles or Heracles. Labors: (1) killing Nemean lion; (2) killing Lernaean Hydra; (3) capturing Erymanthian boar; (4) capturing Cerynean hind; (5) killing man-eating Stymphalian birds; (6) procuring girdle of Hippolyte; (7) cleaning Augean stables; (8) capturing Cretan bull; (9) capturing man-eating horses of Diomedes; (10) capturing cattle of Geryon; (11) procuring golden apples of Hesperides; (12) bringing Cerberus up from Hades.
- Hermes (Mercury): God of physicians and thieves; messenger of Gods; son of Zeus and Maia.
- Hero: Priestess of Aphrodite; Leander swam Hellespont nightly to see her; drowned herself at his death.
- Hesperus: Evening star.
- Hestia (Vesta): Goddess of hearth; sister of Zeus.
- Hippolyte: Queen of Amazons; wife of Theseus.
- Hippolytus: Son of Theseus and Hippolyte; falsely accused by Phaedra of trying to kidnap her; slain by Poseidon at request of Theseus.
- Hippomenes: Husband of Atalanta, whom he beat in race by dropping golden apples, which she stopped to pick up.
- Hyacinthus: Beautiful youth accidentally killed by Apollo, who caused flower to spring up from his blood.
- Hydra: Nine-headed monster in marsh of Lerna; slain by Hercules.
- Hygeia: Personification of health.
- Hymen: God of marriage.
- Hyperion: Titan; early sun god; father of Helios.
- Hypermnestra: Daughter of Danaüs; refused to kill her husband Lynceus.
- Hypnos (Somnus): God of sleep.
- Iapetus: Titan; father of Atlas, Epimetheus, and Prometheus.
- Icarus: Son of Daedalus; flew too near sun with wax-attached wings and fell into sea and was drowned.
- Io: Mortal maiden loved by Zeus; changed by Hera into heifer.
- Iobates: King of Lycia; sent Bellerophon to slay Chimera.
- Iphigenia: Daughter of Agamemnon; offered as sacrifice to Artemis at Aulis; carried by Artemis to Tauris where she became priestess; escaped from there with Orestes.
- Iris: Goddess of rainbow; messenger of Zeus and Hera.
- Ismene: Daughter of Oedipus; sister of Antigone.
- Iulus: Son of Aeneas.
- Ixion: King of Lapithae; for making love to Hera he was bound to endlessly revolving wheel in Tartarus.
- Janus: Roman god of gates and doors; represented with two opposite faces.
- Jason: Son of Aeson; to gain throne of Ioclus from Pelias, went to Colchis and brought back Golden Fleece; married Medea; deserted her for Creüsa.
- Jocasta: Wife of Laius; mother of Oedipus; unwittingly became wife of Oedipus; hanged herself when relationship was discovered.
- Juno: See Hera.
- Jupiter: See Zeus.
- Juventas: See Hebe.
- Lachesis: One of several Fates.
- Laius: Father of Oedipus, by whom he was slain.
- Laocoön: Priest of Apollo at Troy; warned against bringing wooden horse into Troy; destroyed with his two sons by serpents sent by Athena.
- Lares: Roman ancestral spirits protecting descendants and homes.
- Latona: See Leto.
- Lavinia: Wife of Aeneas after defeat of Turnus.
- Leander: Swam Hellespont nightly to see Hero; drowned in storm.
- Leda: Mortal loved by Zeus in form of swan; mother of Helen, Clytemnestra, Dioscuri.
- Lethe: One of several Rivers of Underworld.
- Leto (Latona): Mother by Zeus of Artemis and Apollo.
- Lucina: Roman goddess of childbirth; identified with Juno.
- Lynceus: Son of Aegyptus; husband of Hypermnestra; slew Danaüs.
- Maia: Daughter of Atlas; mother of Hermes.
- Maia: One of several Pleiades.
- Manes: Souls of dead Romans, particularly of ancestors.
- Mars: See Ares.
- Marsyas: Shepherd; challenged Apollo to music contest and lost; flayed alive by Apollo.
- Medea: Sorceress; daughter of Aeëtes; helped Jason obtain Golden Fleece; when deserted by him for Creüsa, killed her children and Creüsa.
- Medusa: One of several Gorgons. slain by Perseus, who cut off her head.
- Megaera: One of several Furies.
- Meleager: Son of Althaea; his life would last as long as brand burning at his birth; Althaea quenched and saved it but destroyed it when Meleager slew his uncles.
- Melpomene: One of several Muses.
- Memnon: Ethiopian king; made immortal by Zeus; son of Tithonus and Eos.
- Menelaus: King of Sparta; son of Atreus; brother of Agamemnon; husband of Helen.
- Mentor: Tutor of Telemachus and friend of Odysseus. In the Odyssey, on several occasions, Athena assumes form of Mentor to give advice to Telemachus or Odysseus
- Mercury: See Hermes.
- Merope: One of several Pleiades. Merope is said to have hidden in shame for loving a mortal.
- Mezentius: Cruel Etruscan king; ally of Turnus against Aeneas; slain by Aeneas.
- Midas: King of Phrygia; given gift of turning to gold all he touched.
- Minerva: See Athena.
- Minos: King of Crete; after death, one of three judges of dead in Hades; son of Zeus and Europa.
- Minotaur: Monster, half man and half beast, kept in Labyrinth in Crete; slain by Theseus.
- Mnemosyne: Goddess of memory; mother by Zeus of Muses.
- Moirae: One of several Fates.
- Momus: God of ridicule.
- Morpheus: God of dreams.
- Mors: See Thanatos.
- Morta: One of several Fates.
- Muses: Goddesses presiding over arts and sciences: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric and love poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polymnia or Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Terpsichore (choral dance and song), Thalia (comedy and bucolic poetry), Urania (astronomy); daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.
- Naiads: Nymphs of waters, streams, and fountains.
- Napaeae: Wood nymphs.
- Narcissus: Beautiful youth loved by Echo; in punishment for not returning her love, he was made to fall in love with his image reflected in pool; pined away and became flower.
- Nemesis: Goddess of retribution.
- Neoptolemus: Son of Achilles; slew Priam; also known as Pyrrhus.
- Neptune: See Poseidon.
- Nereids: Sea nymphs; attendants on Poseidon.
- Nestor: King of Pylos; noted for wise counsel in expedition against Troy.
- Nike: Goddess of victory.
- Niobe: Daughter of Tantalus; wife of Amphion; her children slain by Apollo and Artemis; changed to stone but continued to weep her loss.
- Nona: One of several Fates.
- Notus: One of several Winds.
- Nox: See Nyx.
- Nymphs: Beautiful maidens; minor deities of nature.
- Nyx (Nox): Goddess of night.
- Oceanids: Ocean nymphs; daughters of Oceanus.
- Oceanus: Eldest of Titans; god of waters.
- Odysseus (Ulysses): King of Ithaca; husband of Penelope; wandered ten years after fall of Troy before arriving home.
- Oedipus: King of Thebes; son of Laius and Jocasta; unwittingly murdered Laius and married Jocasta; tore his eyes out when relationship was discovered.
- Oenone: Nymph of Mount Ida; wife of Paris, who abandoned her; refused to cure him when he was poisoned by arrow of Philoctetes at Troy.
- Ops: See Rhea.
- Oreads: Mountain nymphs.
- Orestes: Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; brother of Electra; slew Clytemnestra and Aegisthus; pursued by Furies until his purification by Apollo.
- Orion: Hunter; slain by Artemis and made heavenly constellation.
- Orpheus: Famed musician; son of Apollo and Muse Calliope; husband of Eurydice.
- Pales: Roman goddess of shepherds and herdsmen.
- Palinurus: Aeneas’ pilot; fell overboard in his sleep and was drowned.
- Pan (Faunus): God of woods and fields; part goat; son of Hermes.
- Pandora: Opener of box containing human ills; mortal wife of Epimetheus.
- Parcae: One of several Fates.
- Paris: Son of Priam; gave apple of discord to Aphrodite, for which she enabled him to carry off Helen; slew Achilles at Troy; slain by Philoctetes.
- Patroclus: Great friend of Achilles; wore Achilles’ armor and was slain by Hector.
- Pegasus: Winged horse that sprang from Medusa’s body at her death; ridden by Bellerophon when he slew Chimera.
- Pelias: King of Ioclus; seized throne from his brother Aeson; sent Jason for Golden Fleece; slain unwittingly by his daughters at instigation of Medea.
- Pelops: Son of Tantalus; his father cooked and served him to Gods; restored to life; Peloponnesus named for him.
- Penates: Roman household Gods.
- Penelope: Wife of Odysseus; waited faithfully for him for many years while putting off numerous suitors.
- Pephredo: One of several Graeae.
- Periphetes: Giant; son of Hephaestus; slain by Theseus.
- Persephone (Proserpine): Queen of infernal regions; daughter of Zeus and Demeter; wife of Pluto.
- Perseus: Son of Zeus and Danaë; slew Medusa; rescued Andromeda from monster and married her.
- Phaedra: Daughter of Minos; wife of Theseus; caused the death of her stepson, Hippolytus.
- Phaethon: Son of Helios; drove his father’s sun chariot and was struck down by Zeus before he set world on fire.
- Philoctetes: Greek warrior who possessed Hercules’ bow and arrows; slew Paris at Troy with poisoned arrow.
- Phineus: Betrothed of Andromeda; tried to slay Perseus but turned to stone by Medusa’s head.
- Phlegethon: One of several Rivers of Underworld.
- Phosphor: Morning star.
- Phrixos: Brother of Helle; carried by ram of Golden Fleece to Colchis.
- Pirithous: Son of Ixion; friend of Theseus; tried to carry off Persephone from Hades; bound to enchanted rock by Pluto.
- Pleiades: Alcyone, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope, Sterope or Asterope, Taygeta; seven daughters of Atlas; transformed into heavenly constellation, of which six stars are visible (Merope is said to have hidden in shame for loving a mortal).
- Pluto (Dis): God of Hades; brother of Zeus.
- Plutus: God of wealth.
- Pollux: One of Dioscuri.
- Polyhymnia: See Polymnia.
- Polymnia (Polyhymnia): One of several Muses.
- Polynices: Son of Oedipus; he and his brother Eteocles killed each other; burial rite, forbidden by Creon, performed by his sister Antigone.
- Polyphemus: Cyclops; devoured six of Odysseus’s men; blinded by Odysseus.
- Polyxena: Daughter of Priam; betrothed to Achilles, whom Paris slew at their betrothal; sacrificed to shade of Achilles.
- Pomona: Roman goddess of fruits.
- Pontus: Sea god; son of Gaea.
- Poseidon (Neptune): God of sea; brother of Zeus.
- Priam: King of Troy; husband of Hecuba; ransomed Hector’s body from Achilles; slain by Neoptolemus.
- Priapus: God of regeneration.
- Procris: Wife of Cephalus, who accidentally slew her.
- Procrustes: Giant; stretched or cut off legs of victims to make them fit iron bed; slain by Theseus.
- Proetus: Husband of Anteia; sent Bellerophon to Iobates to be put to death.
- Prometheus: Titan; stole fire from heaven for man. Zeus punished him by chaining him to rock in Caucasus where vultures devoured his liver daily.
- Proserpine: See Persephone.
- Proteus: Sea god; assumed various shapes when called on to prophesy.
- Psyche: Beloved of Eros; punished by jealous Aphrodite; made immortal and united with Eros.
- Pygmalion: King of Cyprus; carved ivory statue of maiden which Aphrodite gave life as Galatea.
- Pyramus: Babylonian youth; made love to Thisbe through hole in wall; thinking Thisbe slain by lion, killed himself.
- Python: Serpent born from slime left by Deluge; slain by Apollo.
- Quirinus: Roman war god.
- Remus: Brother of Romulus; slain by him.
- Rhadamanthus: One of three judges of dead in Hades; son of Zeus and Europa.
- Rhea (Ops): Daughter of Uranus and Gaea; wife of Cronus; mother of Zeus; identified with Cybele.
- Rivers of Underworld. Acheron (woe), Cocytus (wailing), Lethe (forgetfulness), Phlegethon (fire), Styx (across which souls of dead were ferried by Charon).
- Romulus: Founder of Rome; he and Remus suckled in infancy by she-wolf; slew Remus; deified by Romans.
- Sarpedon: King of Lycia; son of Zeus and Europa; slain by Patroclus at Troy.
- Saturn: See Cronus.
- Satyrs: Hoofed demiGods of woods and fields; companions of Dionysus.
- Sciron: Robber; forced strangers to wash his feet, then hurled them into sea where tortoise devoured them; slain by Theseus.
- Scylla: Female monster inhabiting rock opposite Charybdis; menaced passing sailors.
- Selene: Goddess of moon.
- Semele: Daughter of Cadmus; mother by Zeus of Dionysus; demanded Zeus appear before her in all his splendor and was destroyed by his lightning bolts.
- Sibyis: Various prophetesses; most famous, Cumaean sibyl, accompanied Aeneas into Hades.
- Sileni: Minor woodland deities similar to satyrs (singular: silenus). Sometimes Silenus refers to eldest of satyrs, son of Hermes or of Pan.
- Silvanus: Roman god of woods and fields.
- Sinis: Giant; bent pines, with which he hurled victims against side of mountain; slain by Theseus.
- Sirens: Minor deities who lured sailors to destruction with their singing.
- Sisyphus: King of Corinth; condemned in Tartarus to roll huge stone to top of hill; it always rolled back down again.
- Sol: See Helios.
- Somnus: See Hypnos.
- Sphinx: Monster of Thebes; killed those who could not answer her riddle; slain by Oedipus. Name also refers to other monsters having body of lion, wings, and head and bust of woman.
- Sterope (Asterope): One of several Pleiades.
- Stheno: One of several Gorgons.
- Styx: One of several Rivers of Underworld. The souls of the dead were ferried across the Styx by Charon.
- Symplegades: Clashing rocks at entrance to Black Sea; Argo passed through, causing them to become forever fixed.
- Syrinx: Nymph pursued by Pan; changed to reeds, from which he made his pipes.
- Tantalus: Cruel king; father of Pelops and Niobe; condemned in Tartarus to stand chin-deep in lake surrounded by fruit branches; as he tried to eat or drink, water or fruit always receded.
- Tartarus: Underworld below Hades; often refers to Hades.
- Taygeta: One of several Pleiades.
- Telemachus: Son of Odysseus; made unsuccessful journey to find his father.
- Tellus: Roman goddess of earth.
- Terminus: Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.
- Terpsichore: One of several Muses.
- Terra: Roman earth goddess.
- Thalia: One of several Graces. Also one of several Muses.
- Thanatos (Mors): God of death.
- Themis: Titan goddess of laws of physical phenomena; daughter of Uranus; mother of Prometheus.
- Theseus: Son of Aegeus; slew Minotaur; married and deserted Ariadne; later married Phaedra.
- Thisbe: Beloved of Pyramus; killed herself at his death.
- Thyestes: Brother of Atreus; Atreus killed three of his sons and served them to him at banquet.
- Tiresias: Blind soothsayer of Thebes.
- Tisiphone: One of several Furies.
- Titans: Early Gods from which Olympian Gods were derived; children of Uranus and Gaea.
- Tithonus: Mortal loved by Eos; changed into grasshopper.
- Triton: Demigod of sea; son of Poseidon.
- Turnus: King of Rutuli in Italy; betrothed to Lavinia; slain by Aeneas.
- Ulysses: See Odysseus.
- Urania: One of several Muses.
- Uranus: Personification of Heaven; husband of Gaea; father of Titans; dethroned by his son Cronus.
- Venus: See Aphrodite.
- Vertumnus: Roman god of fruits and vegetables; husband of Pomona.
- Vesta: See Hestia.
- Vulcan: See Hephaestus.
- Winds: Aeolus (keeper of winds), Boreas (Aquilo) (north wind), Eurus (east wind), Notus (Auster) (south wind), Zephyrus (Favonius) (west wind).
- Zephyrus: One of several Winds.
- Zeus (Jupiter): Chief of Olympian Gods; son of Cronus and Rhea; husband of Hera.
Title of the Gods – In Greek mythology, twelve Gods and goddesses ruled the universe from atop Greece’s Mount Olympus. These Olympians had come to power after their leader, Zeus, overthrew his father, Kronos, leader of the Titans. All the Olympians are related to one another. The Romans adopted most of these Greek Gods and goddesses, but with new names.
Zeus (Roman name: Jupiter)
Title of the Gods – The most powerful of all, Zeus was god of the sky and the king of Olympus. His temper affected the weather, and he threw thunderbolts when he was unhappy. He was married to Hera but had many other lovers. His symbols include the oak and the thunderbolt.
Hera (Roman name: Juno)
Title of the Gods – Hera was goddess of marriage and the queen of Olympus. She was Zeus’s wife and sister; many myths tell of how she sought revenge when Zeus betrayed her with his lovers. Her symbols include the peacock and the cow.
See also: A Heavenly Marriage? Hera and Zeus.
Poseidon (Roman name: Neptune)
Title of the Gods – Poseidon was god of the sea. He was the most powerful god except for his brother, Zeus. He lived in a beautiful palace under the sea and caused earthquakes when he was in a temper. His symbols include the horse and the trident (a three-pronged pitchfork).
See also: The Brothers of Zeus: Poseidon and Hades.
Hades (Roman name: Pluto)
Title of the Gods – Hades was king of the dead. He lived in the underworld, the heavily guarded land where he ruled over the dead. He was the brother of Zeus and the husband of Persephone, Demeter‘s daughter, whom he kidnapped.
See also: The Brothers of Zeus: Poseidon and Hades.
Aphrodite (Roman name: Venus)
Title of the Gods – Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, and the protector of sailors. She may have been the daughter of Zeus and the Titan Dione, or she may have risen from the sea on a shell. Her symbols include the myrtle tree and the dove.
See also: Aphrodite.
Title of the Gods – Apollo was the god of music and healing. He was also an archer, and hunted with a silver bow. Apollo was the son of Zeus and the Titan Leto, and the twin of Artemis. His symbols include the laurel tree, the crow, and the dolphin.
See also: Night of the Hunters: Artemis and Apollo.
Ares (Roman name: Mars)
Title of the Gods – Ares was the god of war. He was both cruel and a coward. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, but neither of his parents liked him. His symbols include the vulture and the dog, and he often carried a bloody spear.
See also: Hephaestus and Ares.
Artemis (Roman name: Diana)
Title of the Gods – Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the protector of women in childbirth. She hunted with silver arrows and loved all wild animals. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin of Apollo. Her symbols include the cypress tree and the deer.
See also: Night of the Hunters: Artemis and Apollo.
Athena (Roman name: Minerva)
Title of the Gods – Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was also skilled in the art of war, and helped heroes such as Odysseus and Hercules. Athena sprang full-grown from the forehead of Zeus, and became his favorite child. Her symbols include the owl and the olive tree.
Hephaestus (Roman name: Vulcan)
Title of the Gods – Hephaestus was the god of fire and the forge (a furnace in which metal is heated). Although he made armor and weapons for the Gods, he loved peace. He was the son of Zeus and Hera and married Aphrodite. His symbols include the anvil and the forge.
See also: Hephaestus and Ares.
Hestia (Roman name: Vesta)
Title of the Gods – Hestia was the goddess of the hearth (a fireplace at the center of the home). She was the most gentle of the Gods, and does not play a role in many myths. Hestia was the sister of Zeus and the oldest of the Olympians. Fire is among her symbols.
See also: Home and Harvest: The Sisters of Hera.
Hermes (Roman name: Mercury)
Title of the Gods – Hermes was the messenger god, a trickster, and a friend to thieves. He was said to have invented boxing and gymnastics. He was the son of Zeus and the constellation Maia. The speediest of all, he wore winged sandals and a winged hat and carried a magic wand.
See also: The Little Rascal: Hermes.
…also sometimes included:
Demeter (Roman name: Ceres)
Title of the Gods – Demeter was the goddess of the harvest. The word “cereal” comes from her Roman name. She was the sister of Zeus. Her daughter, Persephone, was forced to live with Hades each winter; at this time Demeter let no crops grow. Her symbols include wheat.
See also: Home and Harvest: The Sisters of Hera.
Dionysus (Roman name: Bacchus)
Title of the Gods – Dionysus was the god of wine, which he invented. In ancient Greece Dionysus was honored with springtime festivals that centered on theater. Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal. His symbols include ivy, the snake, and grapes.
See also: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Dionysus.
This glossary of Norse Mythology gives brief descriptions of the many characters involved in the stories and legends of Norse mythology.
- Aesir: Chief Gods of Asgard.
- Andvari: Dwarf; robbed of gold and magic ring by Loki.
- Angerbotha (Angrbotha): Giantess; mother by Loki of Fenrir, Hel, and Midgard serpent.
- Asgard (Asgarth): Abode of Gods.
- Ask (Aske, Askr): First man; created by Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur.
- Asynjur: Goddesses of Asgard.
- Atli: Second husband of Gudrun; invited Gunnar and Hogni to his court, where they were slain; slain by Gudrun.
- Audhumia (Audhumbla): Cow that nourished Ymir; created Buri by licking ice cliff.
- Balder (Baldr, Baldur): God of light, spring, peace, joy; son of Odin; slain by Hoth at instigation of Loki.
- Bifrost: Rainbow bridge connecting Midgard and Asgard.
- Bragi (Brage): God of poetry; husband of Ithunn.
- Branstock: Great oak in hall of Volsungs; into it, Odin thrust Gram, which only Sigmund could draw forth.
- Brynhild: Valkyrie; wakened from magic sleep by Sigurd; married Gunnar; instigated death of Sigurd; killed herself and was burned on pyre beside Sigurd.
- Bur (Bor): Son of Buri; father of Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur.
- Buri (Bori): Progenitor of Gods; father of Bur; created by Audhumla.
- Embla: First woman; created by Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur.
- Fafnir: Son of Rodmar, whom he slew for gold in Otter’s skin; in form of dragon, guarded gold; slain by Sigurd.
- Fenrir: Wolf; offspring of Loki; swallows Odin at Ragnarok and is slain by Vitharr.
- Forseti: Son of Balder.
- Frey (Freyr): God of fertility and crops; son of Njorth; originally one of Vanir.
- Freya (Freyja): Goddess of love and beauty; sister of Frey; originally one of Vanir.
- Frigg (Frigga): Goddess of sky; wife of Odin.
- Garm: Watchdog of Hel; slays, and is slain by, Tyr at Ragnarok.
- Gimle: Home of blessed after Ragnarok.
- Giuki: King of Nibelungs; father of Gunnar, Hogni, Guttorm, and Gudrun.
- Glathsehim (Gladsheim): Hall of Gods in Asgard.
- Gram (meaning “Angry”): Sigmund’s sword; rewelded by Regin; used by Sigurd to slay Fafnir.
- Greyfell: Sigmund’s horse; descended from Sleipnir.
- Grimhild: Mother of Gudrun; administered magic potion to Sigurd which made him forget Brynhild.
- Gudrun: Daughter of Giuki; wife of Sigurd; later wife of Atli and Jonakr.
- Gunnar: Son of Giuki; in his semblance Sigurd won Brynhild for him; slain at hall of Atli.
- Guttorm: Son of Giuki; slew Sigurd at Brynhild’s request.
- Heimdall (Heimdallr): Guardian of Asgard.
- Hel: Goddess of dead and queen of underworld; daughter of Loki.
- Hiordis: Wife of Sigmund; mother of Sigurd.
- Hoenir: One of creators of Ask and Embla; son of Bur.
- Hogni: Son of Giuki; slain at hall of Atli.
- Hoth (Hoder, Hodur): Blind god of night and darkness; slayer of Balder at instigation of Loki.
- Ithunn (Ithun, Iduna): Keeper of golden apples of youth; wife of Bragi.
- Jonakr: Third husband of Gudrun.
- Jormunrek: Slayer of Swanhild; slain by sons of Gudrun.
- Jotunnheim (Jotunheim): Abode of giants.
- Lif and Lifthrasir: First man and woman after Ragnarok.
- Loki: God of evil and mischief; instigator of Balder’s death.
- Lothur (Lodur): One of creators of Ask and Embla.
- Midgard (Midgarth): Abode of mankind; the earth.
- Midgard Serpent: Sea monster; offspring of Loki; slays, and is slain by, Thor at Ragnarok.
- Mimir: Giant; guardian of well in Jotunnheim at root of Yggdrasill; knower of past and future.
- Mjollnir: Magic hammer of Thor.
- Nagifar: Ship to be used by giants in attacking Asgard at Ragnarok; built from nails of dead men.
- Nanna: Wife of Balder.
- Nibelungs: Dwellers in northern kingdom ruled by Giuki.
- Niflheim (Nifelheim): Outer region of cold and darkness; abode of Hel.
- Njorth: Father of Frey and Freya; originally one of Vanir.
- Norns: Demigoddesses of fate: Urth (Urdur) (past), Verthandi (Verdandi) (present), Skuld (future).
- Odin (Othin): Head of Aesir; creator of world with Vili and Ve; equivalent to Woden (Wodan, Wotan) in Teutonic mythology.
- Otter: Son of Rodmar; slain by Loki; his skin filled with gold hoard of Andvari to appease Rodmar.
- Ragnarok: Final destruction of present world in battle between Gods and giants; some minor Gods will survive, and Lif and Lifthrasir will repeople world.
- Regin: Blacksmith; son of Rodmar; foster-father of Sigurd.
- Rerir: King of Huns; son of Sigi.
- Rodmar: Father of Regin, Otter, and Fafnir; demanded Otter’s skin be filled with gold; slain by Fafnir, who stole gold.
- Sif: Wife of Thor.
- Siggeir: King of Goths; husband of Signy; he and his sons slew Volsung and his sons, except Sigmund; slain by Sigmund and Sinflotli.
- Sigi: King of Huns; son of Odin.
- Sigmund: Son of Volsung; brother of Signy, who bore him Sinflotli; husband of Hiordis, who bore him Sigurd.
- Signy: Daughter of Volsung; sister of Sigmund; wife of Siggeir; mother by Sigmund of Sinflotli.
- Sigurd: Son of Sigmund and Hiordis; wakened Brynhild from magic sleep; married Gudrun; slain by Guttorm at instigation of Brynhild.
- Sigyn: Wife of Loki.
- Sinflotli: Son of Sigmund and Signy.
- Skuld: One of several Norns.
- Sleipnir (Sleipner): Eight-legged horse of Odin.
- Surt (Surtr): Fire demon; slays Frey at Ragnarok.
- Svartalfaheim: Abode of dwarfs.
- Swanhild: Daughter of Sigurd and Gudrun; slain by Jormunrek.
- Thor: God of thunder; oldest son of Odin; equivalent to Germanic deity Donar.
- Tyr: God of war; son of Odin; equivalent to Tiu in Teutonic mythology.
- Ull (Ullr): Son of Sif; stepson of Thor.
- Urth: One of several Norns.
- Valhalla (Valhall): Great hall in Asgard where Odin received souls of heroes killed in battle.
- Vali: Odin’s son: Ragnarok survivor.
- Valkyries: Virgins, messengers of Odin, who selected heroes to die in battle and took them to Valhalla; generally considered as nine in number.
- Vanir: Early race of Gods; three survivors, Njorth, Frey, and Freya, are associated with Aesir.
- Ve: Brother of Odin; one of creators of world.
- Verthandi: One of several Norns.
- Vili: Brother of Odin; one of creators of world.
- Vingolf: Abode of goddesses in Asgard.
- Vitharr (Vithar): Son of Odin; survivor of Ragnarok.
- Volsung: Descendant of Odin, and father of Signy, Sigmund; his descendants were called Volsungs.
- Yggdrasill: Giant ash tree springing from body of Ymir and supporting universe; its roots extended to Asgard, Jotunnheim, and Niffheim.
- Ymir (Ymer): Primeval frost giant killed by Odin, Vili, and Ve; world created from his body; also, from his body sprang Yggdrasill.
This glossary introduces characters from the stories and legends of Egyptian Mythology.
- Aaru: Abode of the blessed dead.
- Amen (Amon, Ammdn): One of chief Theban deities; united with sun god under form of Amen-Ra; husband of Mut.
- Amenti: Region of dead where souls were judged by Osiris.
- Anubis: Guide of souls to Amenti; son of Osiris; jackal-headed.
- Apis: Sacred bull, an embodiment of Ptah; identified with Osiris as Osiris-Apis or Serapis.
- Geb (Keb, Seb): Earth god; father of Osiris; represented with goose on head.
- Hathor (Athor): Goddess of love and mirth; cow-headed.
- Horus: God of day; son of Osiris and Isis; hawk-headed.
- Isis: Goddess of motherhood and fertility; sister and wife of Osiris.
- Khepera: God of morning sun.
- Khnemu (Khnum, Chnuphis, Chnemu, Chnum): Ram-headed god.
- Khonsu (Khensu, Khuns): Son of Amen and Mut.
- Mentu (Ment): Solar deity, sometimes considered god of war; falcon-headed.
- Min (Khem, Chem): Principle of physical life.
- Mut (Maut): Wife of Amen.
- Nephthys: Goddess of the dead; sister and wife of Set.
- Nu: Chaos from which world was created, personified as a god.
- Nut: Goddess of heavens; consort of Geb.
- Osiris: God of underworld and judge of dead; son of Geb and Nut; brother and husband of Isis.
- Ptah (Phtha): Chief deity of Memphis.
- Ra: God of the Sun, the supreme god; son of Nut; Pharaohs claimed descent from him; represented as lion, cat, or falcon.
- Serapis: God uniting attributes of Osiris and Apis.
- Set (Seth): God of darkness or evil; brother and enemy of Osiris; brother and husband of Nephthys.
- Shu: Solar deity; son of Ra and Hathor.
- Tem (Atmu, Atum, Tum): Solar deity.
- Thoth (Dhouti): God of wisdom and magic; scribe of Gods; ibis-headed.
- Achilles heel: In Greek mythology, the warrior Achilles was made invulnerable as a baby by being dipped into the River Styx. Only his heel—the place he was held by when being dipped—was left unprotected, which led to his downfall when it was struck by an arrow. An Achilles heel refers to a person’s vulnerability or fatal flaw. He was a shrewd business man and investor, but his Achilles heel was gambling.
- Argus-eyed: According to the Greek legend, Argus had 100 eyes. The Greek queen Juno had him spy on her wayward husband, Zeus. Argus-eyed refers to jealous watchfulness. “Why so Argus-eyed, my love?” cried Bill. “I swear I’ve been at the office this whole time!”
- Bacchanalian: Bacchanalia was a Roman festival in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine (called Dionsyius in Greek mythology). The holiday was eventually banned due to drunken and libertine excess. Something described as Bacchanalian is similarly decadent and uninhibited. What started out as a genteel and subdued dinner party degenerated into Bacchanalian abandon as the hours wore on.
- Cupid: Cupid, or Amor, was the Roman god of love, who was also called Eros by the Greeks. He was usually depicted as a young winged boy with a bow and arrow. To play Cupid is to be a matchmaker, while someone who suddenly falls in love is said to have been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Diane knew Sam had asked her not to get involved in his personal life, but she couldn’t resist the urge to play Cupid and set him up with Rebecca.
- Gordian knot: According to Greek legend, King Gordius tied a wagon to a column with an extremely complex and intricate knot, which many tried and failed to undo. An oracle declared that whoever could untie the knot would rule the world. With a single stroke of his sword, Alexander the Great cut the knot in two, and went on to rule Asia. A Gordian knot is an intractable problem, and to cut the Gordian knot is to resolve a difficult problem with swift and bold action. The president believed he could cut through the Gordian knot of growing civil unrest by sending in the national guard with tear gas.
- Herculean: Hercules was a hero in Greek mythology who was renowned for his strength and courage. He is best known for completing his 12 labors, which included killing or capturing legendary creatures, gaining various items, and diverting a river to clean out the stables of Augeas. A Herculean feat is one very hard to perform, especially one requiring great strength. With a Herculean effort, Valjean lifted the cart off the man trapped underneath.
- Nemesis: Nemesis was a Greek goddess of retribution, the incarnation of the Gods’ revenge for violating their laws. As the Gods’ retribution could not be avoided, a nemesis is not only an agent of punishment, but any challenge or opponent that a person is unable to defeat. He used all his willpower to stay on the diet, but the doughnut shop next door proved to be his nemesis.
- Pandora’s box: Pandora, according to Greek mythology, was the first woman on earth. Created by Zeus in revenge for Prometheus’s stealing of fire, she was given a box that she was told not to open. Either she or her husband Epimetheus—tellings diverge on that point—opened the box, allowing all manner of evils to escape and plague the world. A Pandora’s box is anything that, upon investigation, leads to extensive and unexpected troubles. The investigation of drug use among the athletes opened a Pandora’s Box implicating half the league.
- Promethean: In Greek mythology, Prometheus defied Zeus, stealing fire from the heavens and giving it to the human race. His name has become associated with bold originality and creativity. Although religious authorities and moralists objected to the new procedure, the Promethean scientists would not be denied.
- Protean: Proteus was a Greek god who had the ability to change his shape. Someone or something that easily adapts to changing situations or roles by changing itself is described as protean. The senator’s protean policies always mirrored the whims of his electorate.