The Ancient Greek Gods, the gods of Olympus, comprise one of the most famous pantheons of the world. The way they are constructed is unique because each god is made to reflect not only an element or a concept, but also of human vices, emotions, needs, and motivations.
One of the main sources for the myths and legends about the Olympian gods is the poet Hesiod, who lived around the times of Homer. Hesiod wrote the book Theogony where a general Greek mythology chart, such as the creation of the world, and the first few generations of gods that led to the formation of the 12 gods of Olympus, their family tree chart, and more, are narrated in great detail.
There are several more gods than just twelve, but these twelve were considered the main ones. In order to keep track of them all, you need a Greek gods and goddesses chart.
Getting to know the Greek god family tree is a good place to start, as most of them are related in some way or other!
Greek Mythology Chart – Family Tree
All Greek gods are the offspring or descendants of the first two gods, Uranus and Gaia. Uranus’ name means “sky” and Gaia’s name means “earth”. Uranus and Gaia had two children, Cronos and Rhea, who were the first Titans.
Cronos and Rhea then had six children, of which four were the first Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Demeter) and two went on to live away from Olympus but often would visit or be part of life there (Hades and Hestia).
Uranus also had Aphrodite, all on his own, who also became an Olympian god.
Zeus and Hera married, and together (except for one) they had another seven children who became Olympian gods as well.
While these are the main elements of the Greek god’s chart, let’s briefly look at each of them to get a taste of that famed humanity, flawed and exulted, that can be represented by them.
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Zeus is the youngest son of Cronos and Rhea, the one who sits at the throne of Olympus. He is the god of thunder and lightning and the king of the gods. He is often depicted with a lightning bolt in his hand.
Before him, his father Cronos was the one ruling over the world. Cronos was afraid that one of his children could topple him, so as soon as Rhea had them, he swallowed them. Because the babies were immortal, they didn’t die, but they remained trapped within Cronos.
In the end, Rhea devised a scheme to protect her youngest son, Zeus, from Cronos, and instead wrapped a rock in the baby’s clothes and gave it to Cronos to eat.
Eventually, Zeus grew up and freed his siblings from Cronos, and then defeated him in a great battle, and became the new ruler of Mt. Olympus, and the world.
Hera is both the sister and wife of Zeus, and as such she is also queen of the gods. She is the goddess of marriage and family.
While Zeus is notoriously unfaithful to their marriage, with several myths being around the women he seduced and the children he had with them, Hera remained loyal and only had children with him.
She is notorious for her jealousy of Zeus’ many adulteries, and how she tried to get revenge or punish the women who accepted Zeus’ affections (or, sometimes, were forced to accept them).
Poseidon is the god of the sea. He is also Zeus’ brother. Because he is volatile and often has mood swings and sudden bursts of anger, he is also the god of earthquakes. As a commander of the greatest body of water, he is also responsible for floods and droughts. He is often depicted with a trident in his hand.
Demeter, sister of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, is the goddess of harvest and by consequence, she also indirectly controls the seasons. Without Demeter, no plant can grow, and no seed can sprout, condemned to eternal winter as was displayed when she lost her daughter Persephone. She is often depicted holding wheat or with a cornucopia.
Read here the story of Hades and Persephone.
Aphrodite is not a sister to Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, as she was born out of Uranus’ sperm which spilled into the Aegean Sea when Cronos defeated him, cutting off his genitals and throwing them into the waters. She is the goddess of love, lust, and beauty. She is responsible for a lot of strife, jealousy, and even war by directly impacting the hearts of gods and mortals alike. She is often depicted with doves, in a scallop shell, or holding apples.
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera, and he is the god of war. Often, Ares represents the grim elements of war, and as such his personality is often volatile, not very perceptive, violent, and even uncouth, with a propensity for blood lust and gore. Because of that, he is the god that enjoys the least acceptance from his peers and is often looked at as the black sheep of the family.
Athena is the daughter of Zeus and the titan Metis, his first wife. Metis was the goddess of wisdom and intelligence, so when she became pregnant, Zeus was told that her offspring would be stronger than him.
Afraid that he would suffer the same fate as Cronos, instead of waiting for the baby to be born and eat it, Zeus absorbed Metis into him (how he did that varies across legends). After nine months, he felt great pain coming from his head, which kept growing and growing. When the pain became unbearable, he asked Hephaestus to crack his head open with his mace (or axe).
From Zeus’ head sprung Athena, in full armor and fully grown!
Athena is the goddess of war, but it’s the noble side of war that she represents, the strategies, the honor, and the valor. She is also the goddess of wisdom and she is depicted with an owl, with a shield and spear.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. He is the twin of the goddess Artemis. Apollo is the god of the arts and especially music. He is also the god of prophecies and occasionally is said to be responsible for plague, if he curses a city. He is often depicted with a lyre, or with a laurel tree.
Artemis is the goddess of the hunt. She is of the few goddesses in the Greek pantheon that remains a vehement virgin. She is the protector of women as well as the one usually credited with a woman’s sudden death. She is Apollo’s twin sister, and she is often depicted with a deer or with bow and arrows.
Hermes is the son of Zeus and a nymph called Maya. He is the god of commerce and travel, but he is also the god of thieves and is known for being great at fraud and cheating. He is depicted wearing a hat with wings, winged sandals, or holding the caduceus. The caduceus was a thin rod that had intertwining snakes and a pair of wings at the top over the snakes’ heads.
Hephaestus was the god of fire and crafts. He is the son of Hera who conceived him on her own. When he was born, she found him to be hideously ugly and she threw him from the top of Mt. Olympus to the sea below, which made Hephaestus permanently lame in one leg.
Eventually, Hephaestus returned to Olympus after he became a master craftsman and took revenge on Hera for her injustice. He is often depicted with a hammer and anvil.
Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele, the princess of Thebes. He is the god of wine, partying, active sexuality, madness, and ecstasy. His birth, too, was adventurous as Semele fell victim to Hera’s trick, and asked Zeus by oath to manifest himself in his full glory and thunder. Bound by his oath, Zeus had no choice but do it, which burned Semele to death.
Zeus retrieved the fetus growing in her and sewed it in his leg until it came to term, and that’s how Dionysus was born. He is depicted with grapes and vines.
While not an Olympian, Hades had access to Olympus and is quite important to the Greek gods chart, so he gets a mention! Son of Cronos and Rhea, Hades is the god of the underworld and death.
Despite popular iterations in current entertainment, originally Hades is depicted as a calm, assertive god that has no real streak of retaliations or crippling vices. He eloped (or he kidnapped, depending on the version of the legend) Demeter’s daughter Persephone whom he married and made his queen. He had a cap or cape called “the dog-skin of Hades” which, when worn, made the wearer invisible. It was also said to be a helmet, depending on the legend.
He is often depicted sitting at a throne with the three-headed dog Cerberus at his side.
Hestia is the firstborn child of Cronos and Rhea. She is another virgin goddess, like Artemis. She is the goddess of the hearth, of domesticity, of the home, family, and the state.
In every household there would be a hearth dedicated to Hestia, who also would receive the first offering from every sacrifice. For state purposes, fire from the hearth in the most prominent public building would be transported to every daughter city or colony of that city-state.
Hestia is depicted as a veiled, demurely dressed goddess.
Why are there 14 and not 12?
Although the Olympian gods are twelve, the Greek gods’ family tree is a lot more extensive and complicated than that. The two extra gods in your Greek gods chart, Hades and Hestia, are listed because they are often present or residing in Olympus, even if it’s not their main residence.
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