Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today's Trivia – The Twelve Olympians

Being a descendant of Greeks, there’s no doubt that I would have learned something about the Twelve Olympians (the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus) in my early years. Well, I did learn about them in Sunday school, and in the after-school Greek language classes I attended from the ages of 6 – 12. And although the lessons are fuzzy, I’ve retained some bits and pieces of information from those years, which comes in quite handy in trivia games. Still, it’s not enough information to put together this post, and that’s where Wikipedia comes in.

This week’s useless but interesting information shares a list of the most popular Greek gods and goddesses (their Roman names are included), and what they were gods/goddesses of. Who knows, maybe this information will come in handy if you ever find yourself in the hot seat on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and you’re presented with a question about one of them. You never know. [shrug]

At some point in the future, I will create a separate, detailed post about each God; for now, let’s start with a list of them that includes basic information. Just in case you’ve been invited to be a contestant on a trivia-type game show and you need some information about the Greek gods pronto.

1) Greek name: Zeus / Roman name: Jupiter

King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky and thunder. Youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea.

Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, scepter and scales. Brother and husband of Hera; although he had many lovers.

2) Greek name: Hera / Roman name: Juno

Queen of the gods, and the goddess of marriage and family. Youngest daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Wife and sister of Zeus. Being the goddess of marriage, she frequently tried to get revenge on Zeus' lovers and their children.

Symbols include the peacock, pomegranate, crown, cuckoo, lion and cow.

3) Greek name: Poseiden / Roman name: Neptune

Lord of the seas, earthquakes and horses. Middle son of Cronus and Rhea. Brother of Zeus and Hades. Married to the Nereid Amphitrite, although, like his brother Zeus, he had many lovers.

Symbols include the horse, bull, dolphin and trident.

4) Greek name: Dionysus / Roman name: Bacchus

God of wine, celebrations and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theatre. Son of Zeus and the mortal Theban princess Semele. Married to the Cretan princess Ariadne. The youngest Olympian, as well as the only one to have been born of a mortal woman.

Symbols include the grapevine, ivy, cup, tiger, panther, leopard, dolphin and goat.

5) Greek name: Apollo / Roman name: Apollo

God of light, music, poetry, prophecy and archery. Twin brother of Artemis. Youngest child of Zeus and Leto.

Symbols include the sun, lyre, bow and arrow, raven, dolphin, wolf, swan and mouse.

6) Greek name: Artemis / Roman name: Diana

Virgin goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery and all animals. Twin sister of Apollo. Eldest child of Zeus and Leto.

Symbols include the moon, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree and bow and arrow.

7) Greek name: Hermes / Roman name: Mercury

Messenger of the Gods; god of commerce and thieves. Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. The second-youngest Olympian, just older than Dionysus. He married Dryope, the daughter of Dryops, and their son Pan became the god of nature, lord of the satyrs, inventor of the panpipes and comrade of Dionysus.

Symbols include the caduceus (staff entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork and tortoise (whose shell he used to invent the lyre).

8) Greek name: Athena / Roman name: Minerva

Virgin goddess of wisdom, handicrafts, defence and strategic warfare. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Metis, she rose from her father's head fully grown and in full battle armor after he swallowed her mother.

Symbols include the owl and the olive tree.

9) Greek name: Ares / Roman name: Mars

God of war, violence and bloodshed. Son of Zeus and Hera, all the other gods (excluding Aphrodite) despised him. His Latin name, Mars, gave us the word 'Martial'.

Symbols include the boar, serpent, dog, vulture, spear and shield.

10) Greek name: Aphrodite / Roman name: Venus

Goddess of love, beauty and desire. Daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Dione, or perhaps born from the sea foam after Uranus' blood dripped onto the earth and into the sea after being defeated by his youngest son Cronus. Married to Hephaestus, although she cheated on him frequently, most notably with his brother Ares. Her name gave us the word 'Aphrodisiac'.

Symbols include the dove, bird, apple, bee, swan, myrtle and rose.

11) Greek name: Hephaestus / Roman name: Vulcan

Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. After he was born, his parents threw him off Mount Olympus, and he landed on the island of Lemnos. Married to Aphrodite. Unlike most mythical husbands, he never cheated on her. His Latin name, Vulcan, gave us the word 'Volcano'.

Symbols include the fire, anvil, ax, donkey, hammer, tongs and quail.

12) Greek name: Demeter / Roman name: Ceres

Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. Middle daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her Latin name, Ceres, gave us the word 'cereal'. One of her surnames is Sitos as the giver of food, ('corn').

Symbols include the poppy, wheat, torch, and pig.

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