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The Olympians are a problematic bunch. Temperamental and extremely egotistic, even for the gods.
Carl Black.

The Olympians are a group of the twelve major deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon, and as such were the principal deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon, said to reside atop Mount Olympus.

Overview

The Olympians gained their supremacy in a war of gods in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over the Titans. The children of Cronus and Rhea were the original Olympian gods who usurped the rule of their Titan family and have destroyed their seat of power, which was Mount Othrys, and made a new seat of power which was Mount Olympus. Ever since then their ranks were joined by their children but ones that possessed great impact and influence over mortals and natural order.

The Olympians were also said to have ties with other groups of deities both across the West, the North, and the East. And, as with most of the gods, because of their arrogance they do not bother to form companionship or allegiance with lesser known pantheons. They have the closest allegiance to the Norse gods, known as the Aesir, often on rare occasions address one another in order to discuss important or critical matters.

Description

While the number was fixed at twelve, there was considerable variation as to which deities were included. They were a family of gods, the most important consisting of the first generation of Olympians, offspring of the Titans Cronus and Rhea: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter and Hestia, along with the principal offspring of Zeus: Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and Dionysus. It is believed that Hestia willingly gave her seat as the twelfth Olympian to Dionysus to keep the peace, although this has never been confirmed as official.

When it comes to Hades, even though was a major deity in the Greco-Roman pantheon, and was the brother of Zeus and the other first generation of Olympians, his realm was far away from Olympus in the underworld, and thus he was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians. Olympic gods can be contrasted to chthonic gods including Hades, by mode of sacrifice, the latter receiving sacrifices in a bothros ("pit") or megaron ("sunken chamber") rather than at an altar.

There are numerous other minor gods and goddesses that had close ties with the Dodekatheon and might be considered to be Olympians. Heracles became a resident of Olympus after his apotheosis and married another Olympian resident Hebe. According to Hesiod, the children of Styx: Zelus (Envy), Nike (Victory), Kratos (Strength), and Bia (Force), "have no house apart from Zeus, nor any dwelling nor path except that wherein God leads them, but they dwell always with Zeus." Some others who might be considered Olympians, include the Muses, the Graces, Iris, Dione, Eileithyia, the Horae, and Ganymede.

In Roman Mythology, they are known as Dii Consentes and have some differences. Apollo remains the same in both Greek and Roman traditions, and much like with the Greeks, Pluto, the god of the Underworld, is not part of the twelve. Lesser gods like Proserpina, Bellona, Janus and Mors are also not part of the Dii Consentes.

They are arranged in six male-female pairs: Zeus-Hera, Poseidon-Athena, Ares-Aphrodite , Apollo-Artemis, Hephaestus-Hestia and Hermes-Demeter. Three of the Dii Consentes formed the Capitoline Triad: Zeus, Hera, and Athena.

Personality

As gods, the Olympians have extremely diverse personality traits that coincide with the realms and/or concepts that they represent. For instance, Zeus is typically stern, to the point, often abrupt, and authoritative, which coincides with his being the ruler of the sky and the king of the gods. His sister, Demeter, on the other hand, is shown to have a motherly, fussy, overbearing demeanor with an inordinate obsession with agriculture and related products. Hades is often bitter, angry, and resentful, which humans typically view as an attitude appropriate to the dead.

The twelve main Olympians do share several traits, however. The first and most important is that they are all easily offended. Almost all of the gods that so much as sense a slight against them tend to react ominously. Dionysus is often described as having purple flames appear in his eyes, and Hermes at one point transformed his caduceus into a cattle-prod when angered.

History

Myths and Legends

Hierarchies of Deities

The Twelve Gods

The Three Major Flames (Di Flaminales)

The Twelve Minor Flames (Flamines Minores)

  • Carmenta
  • Demeter
  • Falacer
  • Chloris
  • Furrina
  • Palatua
  • Pomona
  • Portunus
  • Hephaestus
  • Volturnus
  • Two other deities whose names are not known

Di Selecti

Varro's twenty principal Roman deities

Sabine Gods

Deities that might have originated from the Sabine region.

Disqualified

Quotes

The Olympians. Hmph. For all their proclamations of being grandiose and showings of so-called splendor...they are undoubtedly the most arrogant, petty, vindictive, and spiteful of all the gods. The slightest showing of disrespect and they would bestow either death or a curse upon a mortal. Ah, well, at least my family is not as dysfunctional as their own.
Lucifer.

Gallery

Trivia

  • It is said that the gods are strongest during the Summer and Winter Solstice. This is because on these days the gods all gather together on Olympus.
  • The grouping of twelve deities has origins older than the Greek or Roman sources.
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