Greek Mythology for kids: Greek Gods, their Symbols and Temples in Greece
In Greek Mythology there are dozens of gods, each of them with different symbols and powers. In this article of our series on Greek Mythology for kids we present you with a guide, that will help you learn how to recognize the most important Greek gods and goddesses.
Did you know that in the Greek Mythology there were more than 12 Greek Gods? In fact, there are four alternative gods, Hestia, Hades, Dionysus and Demeter, depending on the location.
Do you love a certain god or goddess? We will tell you which sites are mostly associated with that god and how you can visit them.
Zeus is the most powerful of the gods of Greek mythology. He is the father of many Olympian gods and the ruler of the world. His seat is the heavenly throne on the Mount Olympus, from which he can see the whole earth. Zeus is usually depicted as a strong, majestic bearded man with curly hair. Ηis main symbol is the thunderbolt, which he uses to destroy his enemies. Zeus was believed to be in total control of the weather and all-natural phenomena such as storm, earthquakes and droughts. He is the father of many lesser gods and heroes and the husband of Hera.
According to Greek Mythology when they defeated the Titans, Zeus and his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, divided the world in three, each taking control of one kingdom. Poseidon was appointed in charge of the seas, the ocean and all rivers. Hades was made lord of the Underworld and Zeus was made King of all gods and lord of the sky. Therefore, Zeus’ sacred animal is the eagle, the bird that flies higher than all the other birds in the sky.
Did you know that Zeus’ most famous temple was in the Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games took place?
The archaeological site had more than 50 buildings, but without a doubt the most significant of all was the Temple of Zeus. Inside the Temple was a giant chryselephantine statue of Zeus that was made by Phidias, the most talented sculptor of ancient Greece. Unfortunately, both the temple and the statue of Zeus were destroyed by an earthquake.
To visit the archaeological site of ancient Olympian and learn all about Zeus and his connection to the Olympic Games: Olympia With KidsCheck availability
Poseidon is a brother of Zeus and the god of the sea. He is usually depicted as a mature, but muscular man with long hair and a long beard. The symbol, that unmistakably identifies this god is a long trident, a symbol of his rule over the seas. Poseidon is known to send storms and high waves to anyone who displeases him. He is also the father of many Greek mythological monster, such as the Cyclopes and the Giants. His sacred animals are bulls, horses and dolphins.
Did you know that Poseidon and Athena once almost went into was against each other?
Their rivalry began when both gods wanted to be the patron of Athens. To avoid the devastating war, it was decided that the city’s king, Cecrops, should choice the city’s patron based on who would offer Athens the best gift. Poseidon, Athena and Cecrops went up to the Acropolis and there Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and water sprang from the rock. The king was amazed but soon realized that the water was salty.
Athena then gifted the city an olive tree, which was more useful to the Athenians and soon became the symbol of their city. Therefore, Athena became the city’s patron and this mythical contest was carved into stone on The Parthenon’s pediment.
Learn all about how you can visit the Parthenon in Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum: Acropolis and Acropolis Museum for KidsCheck availability
The Athenians however didn’t want to make Poseidon their enemy and they build an amazing temple near a cliff at Cape Sounion, near Athens. The temple that was dedicated to Poseidon was constructed in 444-440, and it is one of the most significant monuments of the Golden Age of Athens.
To visit the magnificent Doric Temple that overlooks the Aegean: Temple of Poseidon for KidsCheck availability
Aphrodite’s unparalleled beauty makes her the most charming of all the Greek goddesses. She was the goddess of love and beauty and was very famous in the Greek and Roman world. Aphrodite was born from the sea foam and she drifted for some time is a seashell near the island of Cyprus, and thus a seashell is her symbol. Other symbols for Aphrodite are an apple, a rose and a chariot harnessed with doves. Aphrodite was the wife of another Olympian god, Hephaestus.
Did you know that the most famous statue of Aphrodite was discovered in the island of Milos?
To visit the amazing Greek island, click Milos for Families
Do you want to know more about Aphrodite?
The most famous temple dedicated in Aphrodite is Aphrodisias, in Turkey. Aphrodisias was named after Aphrodite and the temple of Aphrodite dates back to the 3rd century BC. Aphrodite was also very loved in Cyprus and thus the island was known from the ancient times as Aphrodite’s island. The goddess was also named Cyprian, since she was born near Cyprus.
According to the Greek myths Hephaestus was a son of Zeus and Hera. As an ugly child he was thrown down from the Olympus by his father and he broke his leg in the landing. Since then he had a limp. After nine years he was welcomed back on amongst the gods thanks to Dionysus. He had an inclination to handicraft, and he became gods’ smith, making Zeus’ thunderbolts, and many legendary armors and weapons. He was working in the fiery Mount Etna, and his symbol as a blacksmith was a hammer. Due to his limp he is mostly depicted sitting on a chair or a stool.
Did you know that Hephaestus was celebrated with Athena in the Ancient Agora?
In the heart of Athens lies the best preserved ancient Greek temple of all time. In contradiction to popular belief that temple is not the Parthenon. It is the Hephaestion, a temple dedicated to Hephaestus and Athena. The temple is an excellent example of the Golden Age of ancient Greece since its construction began around 450 BC. The temple was never destroyed and it operated as a church until 1833 when it was turn into a museum.
To organize your visit to the Temple of Hephaestus: Visit the Ancient Agora for KidsCheck availability
Apollo is a god of many interests. He is associated with culture, music, poetry and theatre, but also with fortune telling, plague and the sun. He was the most handsome of all the gods. The is the son of Zeus and Leto and he can be recognized mostly by his lyre, a Greek musical instrument similar to the harp. Another symbol of Apollo is the bow in his hand and the quiver on his back. Apollo is Artemis’ twin and the celebrated god of Delphi and Delos.
Where is the temple of Apollo located in Greece?
Apollo is the most loved gods of ancient Greece. His biggest temple is located at Delphi, in central Greece and it’s dated back to the 4th century BC. Delphi was the sacred land of Apollo and the place where his major oracle was located. According to the ancient Greek Mythology Delphi was the center of the world also known as the omphalos (navel). Greeks from all around the world would travel to the oracle to ask Pythia for advice to their problems.
The archaeological site of Delphi is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
To plan your visit to Apollos’ Oracle: Delphi with KidsCheck availability
Artemis, Apollo’s twin, is the goddess of nature, vegetation, animals and hunting. According to the myth when Leto gave birth to Artemis, she stood up and proceeded to help her mother who was giving birth to her twin. Therefore, Artemis was thought to be the patron goddess of women in labor. She was usually depicted as a young woman running in the woods, dressed in a short tunic. Her main attributes are the bow and arrows, and a young doe on her side.
Are you a fan of Artemis?
Artemis was very loved in ancient Athens and thus Athenians build a magnificent temple dedicated to Artemis in Brauron, near Athens. The sanctuary of Artemis was very important to ancient Greeks. The temple was built in the 5th century BC and it was destroyed by the invading Persians in 480 BC. A few decades later the Athenians restore the temple to its previous glory and build a new statue of Artemis inside the temple.
If you love Artemis and want to visit the archaeological site and museum of Brauron. Just contact us and request a customized trip to Athens Riviera.Check availability
Among the gods and goddesses of the Greek mythology only Athena was born without a mother, but she came directly from Zeus’ head. This way she took his wisdom and became the wisest of all gods and goddesses. Her symbols are the olive tree and the owl. The moment Athena was born she already wore full armor and a helmet on top of her head. In her hands she was holding a spear and a circular shield with an image of Medusa.
Did you know that the Athena was celebrated in the Parthenon?
Without a doubt the Parthenon was the center of religious and political life in Athens. The construction of the Parthenon, began in 477 BC, after the Persian invasion and destruction of the Old Parthenon (a temple dedicated to Athena that was built on the Acropolis hill on the late 6th century BC). The new temple was decorated with the most excellent statues ever made. Inside the temple was a 39 feet tall statue of Athena. The statue was sculpted by Phidias and it was covered in gold and ivory. Today the Parthenon is one of the most symbolic buildings of the world.
To plan your tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum as well as other important sites in Athens: Athens with Kids
Hermes is the messenger of the Olympian gods and the patron of traders, travelers and -surprisingly- thieves. He was a great trickster who would often play tricks on the other gods, but he also had the very serious job of accompanying the souls of the dead to the kingdom of Hades.
Hermes is depicted as a youthful man with three characteristics. The most famous of Hermes’ symbols are the winged sandals, that allowed him to fly and travel very fast. He is also depicted wearing a traveling hat with wings. Both of those were gifts from his father, Zeus. Hermes also carries the caduceus, a winged staff with two snakes entwined on it.
Are you a fan of Hermes?
Did you know that the most famous statue of Hermes was found in Ancient Olympia? In 1877 during excavations in the temple of Hera in Olympia a magnificent statue of Hermes was discovered. It is believed to be a statue created by Praxiteles, the most famous sculptor of his time.
Today visitors can admire this amazing statue at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia in Greece. To plan your visit in Olympia and the Museum, if you are a Percy Jackson Fan: For Percy Jackson Fans: Olympia with KidsCheck availability
Hera is a powerful Goddesses according to Greek Mythology as she was the wife of Zeus. Hera was the goddess of marriage, childbirth and the family. One of Hera’s key personality traits was the fact that she jealous, mainly because of her unfaithful husband, Zeus, Hera had a vengeful nature, mainly against the lovers of her husband and his illegitimate offsprings.
Hera’s powers included the super-human strength, immortality, eternal youth, and the ability to bless and curse. Women considered Hera as their patron and protector.
Hera’ symbols were the diadem, the scepter and the pomegranate, a symbol of fertility. Her flower was the lily and Hera’s sacred animals were the peacock and the cow.
Are you a fan of Hera?
In Olympia, there is the Temple of Hera, or Heraion, dedicated to Hera and is considered to be one of the oldest monuments in Greece.
Originally, the temple was for both Zeus and Hera and originally was thought that the temple was built of wood. The wood eventually was replaced by stone. The Temple of Hera became solely dedicated to the goddess when the great Temple of Zeus was constructed nearby. During excavations on the site of the temple, a marble head of Hera was discovered.
Although today the Temple stands in ruins, the Temple of Hera is famous because at its altar the Olympic flame is lit and carried to all parts of the world where the Olympic Games are being held.
To plan your visit in Olympia and the Museum if you are in the Peloponnese: Olympia with KidsCheck availability
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera and one of the 12 olympian Gods. He is considered to be the god of courage and war. Ares was not the most unpopular God of all because of his quick temper, aggressiveness, and interest in conflict.
Ares was noted for his beauty and famously seduced Aphrodite. One of the most popular myths involving Ares was his unsuccessful fight with Hercules.
As the God of war, the symbols of Ares were the sword, spear, shield, helmet, as well as chariot.
Are you a fan of Ares?
In the Northern part of Ancient Agora in Athens, there used to be the Temple of Ares, a sanctuary dedicated to Ares. The ruins of the Temple are still visible today and they of interest because of its complex history. Specifically, the Temple of Ares is one of several examples of so-called ‘wandering temples’.
The architect of the Temple of Ares is not known and is also thought to have been responsible for the building of the Temple of Hephaistos in the Agora and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion.
Visit the Ancient Agora if you are interested in learning more about Ares.Check availability
Demeter is one of the Twelve Olympian gods that live on Mount Olympus and is the goddess of the harvest, grain, and fertility.
Farmers and peasant people of Greece worshipped her as she was the protector of agriculture. Because of her special powers, Demeter could control the harvest and also the weather. Her special symbols were wheat, cornucopia, torch, as well as bread.
Are you a fan of Demeter?
If Demeter is your favorite Greek Mythology Goddess, we recommend that you visit Naxos. On the island of Naxos, you will find The Temple of Demeter, in the village of Sangri. The temple is made of the finest quality of Naxian marble and dates back to the 6th century BC.
We highlight recommend that you visit Naxos with your family and explore the island of Naxos with your kids. You can customize your Naxos tour according to the interests of your family.Check availability
Dionysus is also the son of Zeus and the youngest of the Olympian gods. He was thought to be a patron of grape-harvest, wine and theater. Greek myths describe him as a beautiful young man with a wreath of grape leafs on his head, holding a bunch of grapes and riding a chariot harnessed with panthers. He is often accompanied by satyrs – half men – half goats.
Do you want to know more about Dionysus?
Dionysus is said to origin from the East by there was a particular Greek island associated with this god. The island of Naxos. The Naxians believed that Dionysus was born on the island and therefore they built a marble temple for him. A gigantic marble statue of Dionysus was also discovered on the island.
To plan your vacations in Naxos: Naxos for Kids
Was Dionysus much loved in ancient Greece?
Dionysus was universally loved in the ancient world since he was the patron of grapes and wine. In Athens however Dionysus was more associated with theater. On the south slope of the Acropolis a big theater was built in the 5th century BC. The theater was used for 4 centuries and it was dedicated to Dionysus the Liberator. It is said that the theater could sit up to 17.500 people.
Book your tour to the Acropolis hill and the theater of Dionysus: Acropolis and Acropolis Museum for Kids and request a stop at the theatre of Dionysus.Check availability
Hestia, one of the original Twelve Olympians, is the goddess of the hearth. The meaning of Hestia’s name is “hearth” or “fireplace,” and her responsibility was to preserve fire. Interestingly, Hestia is not involved in many Greek myths, possibly because she had to stay at home, devoted to the family well-being and warmth as well as home.
Hestia was modest and was described as an introvert. She was against the idea of marriage and rejected any type of lovers, among them important Gods, such as Apollo and Poseidon.
Are you a fan of Hestia?
If you are a fan of Hestia, you should visit Delphi with the kids, where you will see Hestia’s altar. In the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi, the altar of Hestia was a very sacred place of respect. The sacred fire of the Temples was lit from Delphi, which never went out.Check availability
Hades (the God of the underworld)
Although Hades was a major ancient Greek god his realm was the underworld, far from Olympus, and thus was not usually considered to be one of the Olympians.
Hades in Greek mythology is the son of Cronus and the lord of the underworld. It was there where the human souls traveled after leaving their bodies. The name Hades quickly became a synonym for the world of the dead. Therefore, Hades was not a beloved god in the Greek world therefore there aren’t many ancient temples dedicated to him. In Greek mythology he was an older man with a dense beard and hair, wearing a himation. He is often depicted with the three-headed guardian dog Cerberus by his side.
Did you know that Hades was mostly famous for abducting Persephone, the daughter of Dimitra?
According to the myth, Persephone was living six months on the earth with her mother and six months with Hades as the Queen of the Underworld. King Hades and Queen Persephone were worshiped in the ancient Greek Temple of Necromancy. This temple, also known as the Necromanteion of Acheron was in Epirus, near the Acheron river.
According to Greek Mythology there lied the door to Hades, which was guarded by the Cerberus. This temple also served as an Oracle of the Dead and was even mentioned by Homer when Odysseus went to the underworld.
To visit Epirus: Epirus with Kids
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