The 12 Olympians and the story of Zeus

Greek Gods Explained

At the centre of Greek Mythology is the group of powerful Gods who were said to live on Mt Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece.

Known as the Olympians, they gained control in a 10-year-long war of Gods, in which Zeus led his siblings to victory over the previous generation of ruling Gods, the Titans*.

From their perch, they ruled every aspect of human life. Olympian Gods and Goddesses looked like men and women (though they could change themselves into animals and other things) and were — as many myths described — vulnerable to human feelings, weaknesses and passions.

When things had to be decided about wars, punishments or everyday life, this council of 12 met on Mt Olympus to discuss them.

The Olympians all kept a home on Mt Olympus but Poseidon preferred his palace under the sea.


1. Zeus: the King of all the Gods

2. Hera: the Queen of the Gods and Goddess of women and marriage

3. Aphrodite: Goddess of beauty and love

4. Apollo: God of prophecy, music and poetry and knowledge

5. Ares: God of war

6. Artemis: Goddess of hunting, animals and childbirth

7. Athena: Goddess of wisdom and defence

8. Demeter: Goddess of agriculture and grain

9. Dionysos: God of wine, pleasure and festivity

10. Hephaistos: God of fire, metalworking and sculpture

11. Hermes: God of travel, hospitality and trade and Zeus’s personal messenger

12. Poseidon: God of the sea

Other Gods and Goddesses sometimes included in the roster of Olympians are:

Hades: God of the underworld

Hestia: Goddess of home and family

Eros (also known as Cupid): God of Love