Zeus, in Greek mythology, the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods. Zeus corresponds to the Roman god Jupiter. Zeus was considered, according to Homer, the father of the gods and of mortals. He did not create either gods or mortals; he was their father in the sense of being the protector and ruler both of the Olympian family and of the human race. He was lord of the sky, the rain god, and the cloud gatherer, who wielded the terrible thunderbolt. His breastplate was the aegis, his bird the eagle, his tree the oak.
Zeus presided over the gods on Mount Olympus in Thessaly (Thessalian). His principal shrines were at Dodona, in Epirus, the land of the oak trees and the most ancient shrine, famous for its oracle, and at Olympia, where the Olympian Games were celebrated in his honor every fourth year. The Nemean games, held at Nemea, northwest of 'Argos, were also dedicated to Zeus. Beginning with the writings of the Greek poet Homer, Zeus is pictured in two very different ways.
He is represented as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punished of the wicked. As husband to his sister Hera, he is the father of Ares, the god of war; Hebe, the goddess of youth; Hephaestus, the god of fire; andEileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. At the same time, Zeus is described as falling in love with one woman after another and resorting to all kinds of tricks to hide his infidelity from his wife. Stories of his escapades were numerous in ancient mythology, and many of his offspring were a result of his love affairs with both goddesses and mortal women.
Zeus's image was represented in sculptural works as a kingly, bearded figure Hera, in Greek mythology, queen of the gods, the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and the sister and wife of the god Zeus. Hera was the goddess of marriage and the protector of married women. She was the mother of Ares, god of war; Hephaestus, god of fire; Hebe, goddess of youth; and Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth. Hera was a jealous wife, who often persecuted Zeus's mistresses and children. She never forgot an injury and was known for her vindictive nature. Angry with the Trojan prince Paris for preferring Aphrodite, goddess of love, to herself, Hera aided the Greeks in the Trojan War and was not appeased until Troy was finally destroyed.
Hera is often identified with the Roman goddess Juno. Aphrodite, in Greek mythology, the goddess of love and beauty and the counterpart of the Roman goddess Venus. According to Homer, Aphrodite is the wife of Hephaestus, the lame and ugly god of fire. Her lovers include Ares, god of war, who in later mythology was represented asher husband. She was the rival of Persephone, queen of the underworld, for the love of the beautiful Greek youth Adonis. Venus, in Roman mythology, originally a goddess of gardens and fields but later identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
In imperial times she was worshiped under several aspects. As Venus Gene trix, she was worshiped as the mother of the hero Aeneas, the founder of the Roman people; as Venus Felix, the bringer of good fortune; as Venus Vic trix, the bringer of victory; and as Venus Verticordia, the protector of feminine chastity. Venus was the wife of Vulcan, god of metalwork, but she was often unfaithful to him. Among her many lovers were Mars, the god of war; the handsome shepherd Adonis; and Anchises, the father of Aeneas. Venus was also the mother of Cupid, god of love. Poseidon, in Greek mythology, god of the sea, the son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus and Hades.
Poseidon was the husband of Amphitrite, one of the Nereids, by whom he had a son, Triton. Poseidon had numerous other love affairs, however, especially with nymphs of springs and fountains, and was the father of several children famed for their wildness and cruelty, among them the giant Orion and the Cyclops Polyphemus. Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa were the parents of Pegasus, the famous winged horse. Poseidon plays a prominent part in numerous ancient myths and legends. He contended unsuccessfully with Athena, goddess of wisdom, for the control of Athens. In art, Poseidon is represented as a bearded and majestic figure, holding a trident and often accompanied by a dolphin.
Every two years the Isthmian Games, featuring horse and chariot racers, were held in his honor at Corinth. The Romans identified Poseidon with their god of the sea, Neptune.