The Olympian Gods and their symbols | Vol. 2
The twelve Olympian Gods

Following our latest post related to the Olympian Gods’ symbols, we continue talking about what attributes and symbols the Ancient Greeks had connected to them.

Hermes

The God of trade, communication, heralds, and sports, as well as the youngest one of all the Olympians, Hermes, was mostly associated with the winged sandals that were symbolizing in general, the idea of transfer in all aspects of life. Actually, it was believed that Hermes was the messenger of the Gods (together with Iris), and that was able to move freely between the world of the Gods and the world of the mortals. Some stories describe him as a trickster that used to tease the rest of the Gods, or even the humans, for his own satisfaction. 

Demeter

She was one of Zeus’ sisters and her daughter was Persephone. Her grain sheaf explains the relation to harvest and agriculture, as she was the protector of the fertility on earth and the cultivation of grains. In most depictions, she is accompanied by elements such as flowers and fruits, and often by her one and only daughter. It is also believed that the bees were her priestesses, and that makes senses about why humans used to worship her with offerings like honey and honey products. Another strong element associated with her was the serpent, which, since ancient times, has been a sacred symbol for primal life force energy -a head and spine that follow a spiral movement consist an image mostly appeared in east cultures and philosophies. Her character as mother Goddess is identified into the second part of her name, ‘meter’ which in Greek means ‘mother’. 

Apollo & Artemis

Apollo and Artemis were two twins born by the king of the Olympian Gods, Zeus and Leto, under a palm tree in Delos island.

Apollo was considered to be the God of the sun & light and the protector of the Arts, known for his close relations to the 9 Muses. His most common attributes were the lyre, as well as the bow and arrow. One of the most famous depictions of him is that of Bernini’s marble sculpture portraying him at the moment he catches Daphne (Laurel) and she starts to being transformed into the homonym bush. It’s also worthy to mention that Apollo represents the harmony and the order, while Dionysus, the God of wine (not included in the main 12 Olympian Gods) represents the ecstasy and disorder, points that are reflected in the ancient greek descriptions ‘Apollonians’ & ‘Dionysians’. 

His twin sister, Artemis, was the protector of young girls and the Goddess of the hunt. When hunting, she was accompanied by her hunting dogs -offered to her by Pan- able to catch even lions.

God Pan
God Pan – credits: Giorgio G / Shutterstock.com

She was armed with golden bow and arrows, weapons made by the Cyclopes (the masters of manufacturing weapons for the Gods!). As for her sacred animals, these were the deer, four of which had golden horns and were pulling her golden chariot. 

Hephaestus

Being the blacksmith of the Olympian Gods, Hephaestus was worshipped in the manufacturing centers of Greece, particularly Athens, and was believed to have taught men the arts alongside Athena. Hephaestus is described in some mythological stories as a strong and vigorous man, and in some others as a wise craftsman with obvious the marks of his hardship due to the kind of craft he was a master. For example, his crippled feet made him need the aid of a stick to walk. Similarly is depicted on vase paintings, while a kind of solution to his problem seemed to be a wheeled chair or a chariot that is believed he manufactured for himself to move around, demonstrating his skills to the other Gods. Apparently, Hephaestus’ symbols are connected to the smithing, that is they include a smith’s hammer, a pair of tongs and other crafting tools. Apart from being the Ancient Greek God of smiths, metalworking, and artisans, he was associated also with the volcanos and fire. 

Aphrodite

Love, passion, and pleasure are all ideas connected to Aphrodite Goddess. In western art and literature is a symbol of female beauty. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born from the foam (in Greek: aphros), in the waters of Paphos in Cyprus island. Being inseparably associated with the sea, in Greek art she goes always with a different type of waterfowl, such as a swan or a goose, while she is also accompanied by dolphins and the Nereids. However, her prominent avian symbol is the white dove, an image depicted frequently in ancient Greek pottery when related to Aphrodite. Together with sparrows, doves staff her chariot. Other symbols of the most charming Goddesses of Olympus include conch shells, roses, myrtle flowers and fruits such as apples and pomegranates.

Aphrodite
Aphrodite – credits: Markara / Shutterstock.com

Ares

Last but not least, Ares –the Greek god of war. His resilience, physical strength, and military intelligence were unparalled and the main reasons that in Sparta he was viewed as a model soldier. Ares, contrary to Athena, represents the physical (and violent) aspect of the war, points that were closer to the temperament of Spartans than the Athenians. According to Odyssey, he was also a lover of Aphrodite, although she was married to Hephaestus. His symbols are war weapons such as a sword, a spear, and a helmet. 

 

 

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