Other Gods

Asclepius

A god of healing. His symbol is a snake. His parents were Apollo and Coronis. His birth was accompanied by scandal. While carrying him Coronis slept with Ischys. This was considered an insult. The act was reported to Apollo by a crow. Apollo turned all crows, until then white, to black to mark that they were untrustworthy. Apollo then felt compelled to slay Coronis with his arrows. He rescued Asclepius from her funeral pyre.

Asclepius was raised by Chiron. Chiron taught him healing which he went on to perfect. Athena gave him two vials of Gorgon's blood. Blood from the right side of the Gorgon revived life. Blood from the left killed. Asclepius started using the blood to raise dead mortals. For this overstepping of bounds Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt.

Apollo could not take revenge on Zeus himself. So he killed the Cyclopes that forged the thunderbolt.

Demeter

Demeter is the goddess of corn, grain, and the harvest. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. It is Demeter that makes the crops grow each year. The first loaf of bread from the harvest is sacrificed to her.

Demeter is intimately associated with the seasons. Her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. In her anger at her daughter's loss Demeter laid a curse on the world that caused plants to wither and die, the land became desolate. Zeus became alarmed and sought Persephone's return. However, because she had eaten while in the underworld Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that Persephone would spend four months each year in the underworld. During these months Demeter grieves her daughters absence, and withdraws her gifts from the world, creating winter. Her return brought the spring.

Demeter is also known for founding the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were huge festivals held every five years. They were important events for many centuries. Yet, little is known of them as those attending were sworn to secrecy. The central tenant seems to have been that just as grain returns every spring after its harvest and wintery death, so too the human soul could be reborn after the death of the body.

Persephone

Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. After her abduction by Hades she became his wife and Queen of the underworld.

Dionysus

Dionysus is the god of the vine. He invented wine and spread the art of tending grapes. He has a dual nature. On the one hand bringing joy and divine ecstasy. On the other brutal, unthinking, rage. Thus reflecting both sides of wines nature. If he chooses Dionysus can drive a man mad. No normal fetters can hold him or his followers.

Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele. He is the only god to have a mortal parent. Zeus came to Semele in the night, invisible, felt only as a divine presence. Semele was pleased to be a lover of a god, even though she did not know which one. Word soon got around and Hera quickly assumed who was responsible. Hera went to Semele in disguise and convinced her she should see her lover as he really was. When Zeus next came to her she made him promise to grant her one wish. She went so far as to make him swear on the River Styx that he would grant her request. Zeus was madly in love and agreed. She then asked him to show her his true form. Zeus, was unhappy, and knew what would happen but, having sworn he had no choice. He appeared in his true form and Semele was instantly burnt to a crisp by the sight of his glory. Zeus did manage to rescue Dionysus and stitched him into his thigh to hold him until he was ready to be born. His birth from Zeus alone conferred immortality upon him.

Dionysus problems with Hera were not yet over. She was still jealous and arranged for the Titans to kill him. The Titans ripped him into to pieces. However, Rhea brought him back to life. After this Zeus arranged for his protection and turned him over the mountain nymphs to be raised.

Dionysus wandered the world actively encouraging his cult. He was accompanied by the Maenads, wild women, flush with wine, shoulders draped with a fawn skin, carrying rods tipped with pine cones. While other gods had temples the followers of Dionysus worshipped him in the woods. Here they might go into mad states where they would rip apart and eat raw any animal they came upon.

Dionysus is also one of the very few that was able to bring a dead person out of the underworld. Even though he had never seen Semele he was concerned for her. Eventually he journeyed into the underworld to find her. He faced down Thanatos and brought her back to Mount Olympus.

Dionysus became one of the most important gods in everyday life. He became associated with several key concepts. One was rebirth after death. Here his dismemberment by the Titans and return to life is symbolically echoed in tending vines, where the vines must be pruned back sharply, and then become dormant in winter for them to bear fruit. The other is the idea that under the influence of wine, one could feel possessed by a greater power. Unlike the other gods Dionysus was not only outside his believers but, also within them. At these times a man might be greater then himself and do works he otherwise could not.

The festival for Dionysus is in the spring when the leaves begin to reappear on the vine. It became one of the most important events of the year. It's focus became the theater. Most of the great Greek plays were initially written to be performed at the feast of Dionysus. All who took part writers, actors, spectators were regarded as scared servants of Dionysus during the festival.

Eros

Eros is the son of Aphrodite. Eros is the god of love. In particular erotic, romantic, love. He is often represented blindfolded because, love is often blind. His "weapon" is darts or arrows. In either case the tips have been magically treated to produce either uncontrollable love or insurmountable disinterested in the first person seen be Eros's victim after wounding.

Hebe

Hebe is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the goddess of youth. She, along with Ganymede are the cupbearers to the gods. Hebe is Heracles wife.

Eris

Eris is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the goddess of discord. In addition to her main activity of sowing discord, she frequently accompanies her brother Ares to battles. On these occasions she rides his chariot and brings her son Strife.

Eris is unpopular and frequently snubbed as a guest by the other gods and mankind. This was not always a safe thing to do. The most dramatic example being the Trojan War, which was an indirect result of not inviting Eris to a wedding.

Thanatos

Thanatos was the Greek god of death. He may be thought of as a personification of death. He plays little role in the myths. He became rather overshadowed by Hades the lord of the underworld.

Pan

Pan is the son of Hermes. He is the god of goatherds and shepherds. He is mostly human in appearance but, with goat horns and goat feet. He is an excellent musician and plays the pipes. He is merry and playful frequently seen dancing with woodland nymphs. He is at home in any wild place but, is favorite is Arcady, where he was born. He is always in pursuit of one of the nymphs but, always rejected because he is ugly.

His name is the basis for the word "panic". There are two differing explanations for this. The first is that he was present when Zeus defeated the Titans and claimed that it has his yelling that caused the Titans to flee. However, this seems at odds with his being Hermes son. The second is that he created the noises in the woods at night the scared travelers.

Nemesis

Nemesis means righteous anger, due enactment, or divine vengeance. This god helped to avenge those who were wronged.

The Graces

They are the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. There are three Graces: Aglaia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer). The are known for singing and dancing for the gods.

The Muses

They are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They are known for the music of their song, which brings joy to any who hear it. There are nine Muses, each with her own specialty: Clio (History), Urania (Astronomy), Melpomene (Tragedy), Thalia (Comedy), Terpsichore (Dance), Calliope (Epic Poetry), Erato (Love Poetry), Polyhymnia (Songs to the Gods), Euterpe (Lyric Poetry).

The Erinyes

Also known as the Furies, punish crime. They pursue wrong doers relentlessly, until death, often driving them to suicide. They are particularly concerned with matricide. There are three Erinye - Tisiphone, Megaera, and Alecto. The Erinyes came from the blood of Uranus when he was castrated.

The Fates

The Fates have the subtle but, awesome power of deciding a mans destiny. The assign a man to good or evil. There most obvious choice is choosing how long a man lives. There are three Fates. Clotho, the spinner, who spins the thread of life. Lachesis, the measurer, who chooses the lot in life one will have and measures off how long it is to be. Atropos, she who can not be turn, who at death with her shears cuts the tread of life.

The Fates are old and predate the gods. It is not entirely clear how far their power extends. It is possible that they determine the fate of the gods as well. In any case, not even the most powerful is willing to trifle with them.

[Greek Myth]

J.M.Hunt