So far, so close these Olympus gods that some of us have studied better than others and that we often find cited. They are very particular figures, rich in symbolism and meanings, often linked to the world of nature and animals. There are those who protect and identify with dogs, some in cows, some still in turtles, and then there are gods linked to natural phenomena such as wind and thunder. It is precisely the case to deepen the knowledge of these characters who resemble us much more than they seem.
Gods of Olympus: Hera and Zeus
Let's start from the top, because Zeus he is the king and father of the gods, if not also the leader of Olympus. The natural elements to which it is linked are the sky, the weather, thunder and lightning but it is also a symbol of law, order and justice. Its symbols are the scepter, being a king, and also the lightning, it is always depicted with a dark beard and a robust body, the eagle and the bull are sacred animals to Zeus who acquired power by dethroning his father Cronus.
Era is both wife and sister of Zeus, therefore queen of the gods. The animals sacred to her were the cow, the peacock and the cuckoo but she is known as the goddess of adult women, childbirth, inheritance, kings and empires and also marriage. Her figure is very elegant, she always appears with a beautiful diadem and a veil on her head and a lotus stem sometimes. In the events related to Olympus, she is often portrayed as a very jealous wife, also because Zeus gave her several reasons.
Gods of Olympus: Apollo and Aphrodite
The two of them are twin brothers but you will notice that they look very little alike. She is there Goddess of love, well known for this, but also represents fertility and carnal pleasure, among its sacred animals we find doves and sparrows, among its symbols the shells, flowers, mother-of-pearl and myrtle. She is a sensual and charming woman, married to Hephaestus but with several lovers, including one Ares.
His brother Apollo is the god of music and knowledge but also of male beauty that he never tires of showing off. Among the animals sacred to him there are roe deer, swans, cicadas, hawks, crows, foxes, mice, wolves and snakes. Just like Aphrodite he is the son of Zeus and Latona and his half-brother is Hermes, with whom he is always in competition. The two brothers are often seen as the sun and the moon, they have different but complementary characters. As a character Apollo can be defined as decidedly perfectionist, at times he becomes cruel and destructive, as when he is not reciprocated in love.
Gods of Olympus: Ares and Athena
God of war and goddess of peace, they will never get along and indeed Ares and Athena there is not a time when they manage to find some understanding. He loves bloodshed and violence, goes around dressed as a warrior or even naked and has a decidedly moody and humoral character. The animals sacred to Ares are the vulture, the dog, the poisonous snake, and the wild boar. Athena is the goddess of peace but also of intelligence, she is strategic and wise. If he enters the war he does so by reasoning, not to shed blood like his enemy. In the various representations she appears with a helmet, armed with a sword and shield and with a long robe. Among its symbols, the olive tree and the owl stand out.
Gods of Olympus: Artemis
Goddess of hunting but also of animals and the forest, Artemis she is Apollo's twin sister and one of the most fascinating goddesses, apart from Aphrodite. It is also linked to childbirth, to young women and to the moon, the animals sacred to her, in addition to the deer, include bears, wild boars, dogs and other forest animals. Usually she turns armed with a quiver and with a very short and comfortable skirt, she can also have spears and a crescent on her head as symbols.
Gods of Olympus: Hermes
Hermes is the messenger of the gods, in fact he is the god of communications and writing but also of travel and commerce. He has a very delicate role because it is he who accompanies the souls of the dead from beyond. The animals sacred to him are the turtle, the rooster and the vulture but among its symbols there are also sandals with wings, a petasus and a travel hat.
Gods of Olympus: Poseidon
If we talk about nature and the gods, we cannot neglect the figure of Poseidon, god of the sea and of all waterways, floods and earthquakes. Brother of Zeus and Hera, he is always depicted as a big bearded man armed with a trident. The animals sacred to him are the horse and the dolphin.
Gods of Olympus: Hestia and Demeter
We end this journey among the Olympians with the goddess of the earth and with that of agriculture, well aware that there would be many other deities to mention. Estia is the goddess not only of the earth but also of home and chastity. She is depicted as a very modest and humbly dressed woman, with symbols of the hearth, the circle, the house, the heart and the pot.
Demeter is instead a mature woman, often with a crown, a bundle of grasses and a torch. The animals sacred to her are pigs and snakes while her symbols are the cornucopia, the ear, the winged serpent, and the lotus with the stem. She is the goddess of agriculture, harvest, growth and nutrition.
Those who have not had enough can deepen their knowledge of the Greek gods with this illustrated book, to leaf through with their children and grandchildren: Atlas of Myths. Monsters and legends, gods and heroes in 12 maps of mythological worlds.