The Six Goddesses of Greek Mythology

Published: 17th March 2010
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Six goddesses ruled from Mt. Olympus according to the tales of classical-era mythology. Hera is considered the queen of the Greek Gods, both wife and sister to Zeus according to Greek mythology. Greek mythology holds up the goddesses as protectors and stewards of the feminine side of human existence. They are in control of love, fertility and the fruit of the Earth. Just as the Gods of Mt. Olympus are powerful but imperfect, they can possess great wisdom and be prone to rash decisions.



Hera



The Goddess Hera was wife to Zeus, both born to Cronus and Rhea. She was Goddess of women, marriage and childbirth. Greek mythology is ripe with the stories of the envy, distrust and vengeance Hera plotted against the love interests romanced by Zeus and the offspring who were fathered by her unfaithful and all powerful husband. Herakles, the child of Alceme fathered by Zeus, was just one of many to incur the vengeful goddess' wrath. Juno is the Roman representation of Hera.



Demeter



The second child of Rhea and Cronus, Demeter was goddess of the lands who nourished the soil. Greek mythology cast her as the "bringer" of the seasons. Her central myth involved her daughter Persephone, who was abducted by Hades and forced to become his queen. Demeter was grief-stricken and life came to a halt as her sadness prevented the arrival of the seasons. Zeus was petitioned by the starving people and the other deities and he sent Hermes to return Persephone from the underworld. Although she was returned to her mother, Hades had fooled her, and by the rule of fates Persephone was bound to spend four months of every year as penance for eating the pomegranate seeds that Hades had offered.



Aphrodite



The most beautiful of all the goddesses, she was the deity of lust, sensuality and love. In Greek, her name translates to "risen from the foam" and legend suggests she was created after Cronus severed Ouranos' genitals and discarded them in the ocean. Differing versions of her origin suggest she was daughter to Zeus or Dione. Her unbelievable beauty was cause for concern amongst the Gods, who feared that they would be plunged into all out war in order to gain her favor. Zeus resolved this by making the beautiful goddess marry Hephaestus, God to the blacksmiths who was lame and unattractive according to Greek mythology. This did little to deter Aphrodite's ability to use her beauty to toy with the hearts of Gods and mortals. In Rome, Aphrodite was referred to as Venus. The most popular Aphrodite statue is more commonly known as the Venus De Milo, but she is perhaps the most popular subject of Greek art.



Artemis



The Greek Goddess Artemis was daughter of Zeus and the mortal Leto, and twin sister to Apollo. Artemis was one of the three Virgin Goddesses in Greek mythology. Artemis the Virgin Huntress' rule over nature was absolute and she delivered fertility to the lands of all who sought her favor through worship. The sister of Apollo, God of the Sun, she became connected to the Moon. She is identified with the Roman goddess Diana.



Athena



Athena is another popular subject of Greek art. One of the most famous works is a Greek Goddes Athena Bust from the 4th century that sits in the Lourve, Paris. While there are varying tales of how Athena became a goddess, it's agreed that she is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, a Titan consort of the king of Gods. In the most widely told origin tale; Zeus, fearing the prophecy that claimed Metis' offspring may be more powerful than himself, swallowed the Titan goddess whole. Metis birthed and raised her child inside Zeus and sent her forth, springing from Zeus' head, a fully-formed woman armed for battle. Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge who taught women to sew and weave and men how to tend the lands and metal works. She is one of the three virgin Goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia. She was the patron of the city of Athens and Parthenon was built to honor her.







Hestia



First born daughter of Rhea and Cronus, she was one of the three virgin Goddesses along with Athena and Hera. She was pursued by both Poseidon and Apollo who wished her hand in marriage, but she remained faithful to the vow of chastity she made to Zeus. Hestia was warmly regarded by those who worshipped her who loved her kind spirit and virtue. Hestia remained for eternity at Mount Olympus, never participating in the heroic acts and petty grievances of the other Gods and Goddesses. Hestia was the only deity worshipped in all temples of the Ancient Greeks.

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