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The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon ( , dōdeka, "twelve" + θεοί, theoi, "gods"), in Greek mythology, were the principal god of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympusmarker. The first ancient reference of religious ceremonies for them is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. The classical scheme of the Twelve Olympians (the Canonical Twelve of art and poetry) comprises the following gods: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hestia. The respective Roman scheme comprises the following gods: Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Ceres, Mars, Mercury, Vulcan, Venus, Minerva, Apollo, Diana and Vesta.

There was, however, a great deal of fluidity when it came to who was counted among their number in antiquity. Around 400 BC Herodorus included in his Dodekatheon the following deities: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Hermes, Apollo, Alpheus, Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. Wilamowitz agrees with Herodorus' version of the Twelve.

Herodotus includes Heracles as one of the Twelve. Lucian also includes Heracles and Asclepius as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are left behind. However, Pindar, Apollodorus, and Herodorus disagree with this. For them Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult.

Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and proposed that the final month be devoted to rites in honor of Pluto and the spirits of the dead, implying that he considered Hades to be one of the Twelve. Hades is phased out in later groupings due to his chthonic associations. In Phaedrus Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank.

Hestia is sometimes displaced by Dionysus. Hebe, Helios and Persephone are other important gods, goddesses, which are sometimes included in a group of twelve. Eros is often depicted alongside the other twelve, especially his mother Aphrodite, but is rarely considered one of the Olympians.

The Twelve Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, the Charites, Heracles, Dionysus, Hebe, and Persephone were children of Zeus. Although some versions of the myths state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone, and that Aphrodite was born of Ouranos.


Classical Olympians

Greek Name Roman Name Statue God(dess) Of... Generation
Zeus Jupiter King of the Gods and ruler of Mount Olympus; god of the sky, thunder, and justice. First
Hera Juno Queen of the Gods and of the heavens; goddess of women, marriage, and motherhood. First
Poseidon Neptune Lord of the Sea; god of the seas, earthquakes, created horses. First
Demeter Ceres Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature, and the seasons. First
Hestia Vesta Goddess of the hearth and home (left so Dionysus could be in the twelve). First
Aphrodite Venus Goddess of love, beauty, desire, and fertility. Second [A]
Apollo Apollo The Sun God; god of light, healing, music, poetry, prophecy, archery and truth. Second
Ares Mars God of war, frenzy, hatred, and bloodshed. Second
Artemis Diana Goddess of the hunt, of maidens, and the moon. Second
Athena Minerva Goddess of wisdom, crafts, and strategic battle. Second
Hephaestus Vulcan Blacksmith to the Gods; god of fire and the forges. Second
Hermes Mercury Messenger of the Gods; god of commerce, speed, thieves, and trade. Second

  • A ^ According to an alternate version of her birth, Aphrodite was born of Ouranos — after Cronus threw his castrated genitals into the sea. This supports the etymology of her name, "foam-born". As such, Aphrodite would belong to a generation above, or equal to, Zeus and his siblings. See Aphrodite#Birth

Other definitions

These are not included in the classical list of the Twelve Olympians, but they are sometimes included in other lists of the Twelve Olympians, as noted above.

  • Alpheus - A river-god.
  • Asclepius - God of medicine and healing.
  • the Charites - Goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility.
  • Cronus - Titan; father of Zeus.
  • Dionysus - God of wine, parties, and merriment (became an Olympian when Hestia gave up her seat).
  • Eros - God of lust and desire.
  • Hades - Lord of the Dead; god of the Underworld and earthly (gems and precious metals) wealth.
  • Hebe - Goddess of youth, and cupbearer.
  • Helios - Titan; Personification of the Sun.
  • Heracles - Greatest hero of the Greek myths.
  • Pan - God of the wild, shepherds, nature, and animals.
  • Persephone - Goddess of the spring and death, daughter of Demeter.
  • Rhea - Titaness; mother of Zeus.

Close to the Olympians

  • Anemoi - Wind gods: Boreas (north wind), Notus (south), Zephyrus (west), Eurus (east).
  • Bia - Personification of violence.
  • Cratos - Personification of power.
  • Dione - Mother of Aphrodite by Zeus.
  • Eileithyia - Goddess of childbirth; daughter of Hera and Zeus.
  • Eos - Personification of Dawn.
  • Eris - Goddess of Discord.
  • Ganymede - Cupbearer of the gods palace at Olympus.
  • Horae - Wardens of Olympus.
  • Iris - Personification of the Rainbow, also the messenger of Olympus along with Hermes.
  • Leto - Titaness; the mother of Apollo and Artemis.
  • Morpheus - God of Dreams.
  • Muses - Nine ladies of science and arts.
  • Nemesis - Greek goddess of retribution and revenge.
  • Nike - Goddess of victory.
  • Paean - Universal healer.
  • Perseus - Zeus' son, one of the greatest heroes in all of Greek mythology.
  • Selene - Titaness; Personification of the Moon.
  • Zelus - Emulation.

See also


  1. According to
  2. Herodotus, The Histories, 2. 43-44
  3. Pindar, Olympian Odes, 10. 49
  4. Plato, The Laws, 828 d-e
  5. , Plato: Phaedrus, 246 e-f

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