The Greek Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses includes over 300 different deities, with the 12 main ones who resided on Mount Olympus known as the Olympian Gods. Temples and cities were built in their honour all over ancient Greece, many of which survive today.
Gods and Goddesses of Greece
The best way to fully appreciate the connection between the Greek Gods and ancient Greek society is by taking a Greek Mythology Tour. This way, you will be able to better understand the connection between the myths and the landscape, and how either one may have influenced the other. Here’s just a few of the gods you can discover on a Greek Mythology Tour.
The city of Athens gets its name from Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom and courage. The story behind how Athens got its name, revolves around a competition between Poseidon and Athena on who should be the patron deity of the city. Zeus decided that each of the two Gods should present the city with a gift, and the gift the citizens of the city most preferred would be how the winner was chosen.
Poseidon, the mighty God of the Sea, stood on top of the Acropolis and hit the ground with his trident, bringing forth a fountain of water. The citizens rightly thought this was a miracle, but they quickly discovered that the water tasted of salt, and would be of no use to them.
Then, it was Athena’s turn. She held out her hand where the citizens could see a tiny seed, which she then threw to the ground. Immediately, an olive tree grew, and Athena promised that if she won the competition, she would plant olive trees all over the region. The citizens knew that this would be of great benefit to them, and so they proclaimed her the winner, naming the city after her.
Find out more: Our Greek Mythology Tour to the Acropolis in the company of a knowledgeable guide will reveal the myth in more detail. You will find out about water sources on the Acropolis, the history of olive trees and of course see this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a look at the tour here.
Poseidon was the brother of Zeus, and the Greek God of the Sea. He was said to live in an underwater palace, although he frequently visited Mount Olympus where the other Olympian Gods lived. Poseidon had many temples dedicated in his honour, most of which had coastal locations.
Poseidon was a very important God to the ancient Greeks, who frequently traveled around the Mediterranean area trading in ships. Many ceremonies would have been carried out both before and after a journey over the water, and whilst Poseidon might not have actually been worshipped, he was certainly to be feared, respected, and placated. The best known temple dedicated to him can be visited on a day trip from Athens, or as part of a large Greek Mythology Tour.
Find out more: Our Greek Mythology Tour to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion can be visited as an an afternoon tour, which also includes seeing the sunset. From this remarkable location you can truly appreciate the respect ancient Greeks would have had for him!
Zeus was of course the powerful ruler of the Olympian Gods. After overthrowing his father Cronus, he drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades to see who would rule on the throne. Zeus was quite a complicated character. Sometimes known as the Father of Men, he would walk amongst men, have numerous affairs, and occasionally wield his thunderbolt of people had done wrong. Seen as something as a father figure, he acted as a constant reminder that people should act fairly, and follow rules.
A number of temples and events were held in honor of Zeus, as you might expect. The Temple of Zeus in Athens is thought to have been dedicated to him, and this is easily visited when staying in the city.
Find out more: The best place in which to truly see how well respected Zeus was, is ancient Olympia. The games were dedicated in his honor, and at one point a giant statue was in place on the site. Visiting ancient Olympia is part of the 5 day family Greek Mythology Tour package.
Apollo was one of the more complicated Gods. Recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, he is also thought of as a god of healing, sun and light. Represented as a youthful character, he embodies vigour, hope and development. Like the other gods, many temples were dedicated to him, with perhaps the most famous one being at Delphi.
Apollo was considered the patron deity of Delphi. Although it was the Oracle that gave prophecies to visitors, these messages were brought to her by Apollo himself. A second cult center dedicated to Apollo is found on the Greek island of Delos.
Find out more: Visit the Delphi on a Greek Mythology Tour in order to find out more about this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site and the myths that accompany it. You will discover that the Temple of Apollo is very different in shape and design to other temples in Greece!