Gods and Heroes
What are Gods?
The Greeks believed that gods and goddesses watched over them. The gods were like humans, but immortal and much more powerful. A family of gods and goddesses lived in a cloud-palace above Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. The gods did not always behave very well. Their king, Zeus, was always being unfaithful to his wife Hera.
Zeus and his family
Zeus was king of the Gods. He threw thunderbolts to punish anyone who disobeyed him. His brother Poseidon was God of the sea. Another brother, Pluto (or Hades), ruled the underworld.
Zeus had many children, though four stood out the most, they were: Apollo, he was the sun God. He was also the God of arts, medicine, music and poetry. His twin sister Artemis was goddess of the moon, childbirth and of all natural things. She is often shown as a hunter with a bow and arrow. Athena was goddess of wisdom and crafts such as spinning, weaving and pottery. Ares was a bad tempered God or the God of war, he was dislike by most Gods including his own father!
Perseus was a hero because he killed Medusa, whose gaze turned you to stone. Perseus used his shield as a mirror, so he saw only her reflection and was not turned to stone. He then killed Medusa and be therefore ever known as a Greek hero. Perseus also rescued a princess named Andromeda from a sea serpent by using Medusa's head to turn the monster to stone!
The most famous Greek hero was Heracles. Zeus was his father, and he was so strong he could kill a lion with his bare hands. He was on a quest to find the golden fleece and performed 12 impossible tasks, and was only killed by a trick he put on a poisoned robe. Zeus liked Heracles so much he took the dead hero to Mount Olympus to live for ever with the Gods.
The hero Perseus killed Medusa. This picture on a vase shows Perseus carrying the monster’s head in a bag.
This is a small bronze copy of the huge statue of Zeus that stood in his temple at Olympia.
The god Apollo with his sister Artemis