The Greek pantheon is by far, the most studied religious pantheon in the world. Every Greek god and goddess bears a set of his/her unique symbols, by which he/she can be identified.
The Greek mythology is rich with many myths and legends. According to the Greek mythology, there were fourteen Olympian deities who ruled the world from their heavenly abode on Mount Olympus. The king of these divine beings was Zeus, the most powerful of them all. He overthrew the rule of the Titans by winning a war against his own father, Cronus.
Each of the deities were related to one another in some way or the other. Moreover, they were known to have an animate or inanimate symbol, associated with them. With the help of these symbols, it is possible to identify the deity, we may be referring to. Needless to say, these attributes or symbols also held an equally sacred status in the ancient Greek religion as the gods themselves, so much so that in the absence of the idols, the symbols of the deities were also worshiped by the people.
The Greek Olympians and their Symbols
Symbols : Thunderbolt, Royal Scepter, Eagle.
Zeus is believed to be the king of Gods. He was the ruler of Mount Olympus, and was also known as the God of sky, weather, thunder, fate, and law and order. He is always depicted as a mature man, having a regal and sturdy posture. The weather depended on his temper, and according to some stories, if he got angry he would strike with his thunderbolt.
Symbols : Diadem, Lotus-staff, Peacock, Cuckoo, Pomegranate.
Legend says that Hera was the queen of the heaven, and the wife of Zeus. She was said to be the Goddess of marriage, women, children, kings, and empires. She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, which also makes her Zeus’ sister. She is often depicted as a very beautiful women, wearing a crown and holding a lotus-tipped staff. Hera was very jealous of the many lovers of Zeus.
Symbols : Trident, Dolphins, Horses.
Poseidon was the God of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, earthquakes, and horses. He was the brother of Zeus and Hades. He is often depicted as a mature man with a dark beard, and having a trident in his hand. He lived under the sea in a very beautiful palace, and was known for his temper that shook the earth.
Symbols : Cerberus, Helm of darkness, Cypress, Narcissus and Key of the Underworld
Hades was the king of the underworld, and the God of the dead. He is said to have hidden the wealth of the earth under its surface, and is, therefore, also known as Plouton (the rich one). He was the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea, and had helped Zeus and Poseidon defeat the Titans.
Symbols : Dolphin, Rose, Scallop Shell, Myrtle, Dove, Sparrow, Girdle, Mirror, Swan.
Aphrodite was the Goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, seduction, and pleasure. She was the wife of Hephaestus, and had many lovers including Ares. Her beauty was the cause of jealousy, and numerous wars among Gods.
Symbols : Lyre, Laurel wreath, Python, Raven, Bow and Arrows.
Apollo was the God of music, healing, plague, prophecies, poetry, and archery. He was the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. He was said to be the most handsome of all Greek Gods.
Symbols : Bronze tipped spear, Helmet, Dog, Chariot, Vulture, Venomous Snake.
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera. The Greek mythology depicts him as the God of war and bloodlust. He was both cruel and coward, at the same time, and not liked much by both of his parents.
Symbols : Bow and Arrows, Stags, Hunting Dog, Moon.
Artemis was the Virgin Goddess of the hunt, protector of women in childbirth, and of wild animals. She was the twin sister of Apollo, and is said to have asked six wishes from Zeus.
Symbols : Owl, Olive Tree, Snake, Aegis, Armor, Helmet, Spear.
Athena, too, was a Virgin Goddess, and she presided over wisdom, civilization, strength, strategy, warfare, crafts, justice, and skill. She was the daughter of Zeus and Metis, and was born from the head of Zeus, fully grown and armored. She is also said to have been the favorite child of Zeus.
Symbols : Cornucopia, Sheaf of Wheat, Acorns, Bread, Hone, Torch.
She was the Goddess of agriculture, natural vegetation, the sanctity of matrimony. She was primarily worshiped at Eleusis.
Symbols : Grapes, Wineskin, Winecup, Scepter.
Dionysus or Dionysos was the Greek deity of winemaking and wine, of ecstasy and madness. He was a God with a dual nature. The son of Zeus and the mortal princess Semele, he was married to the Cretan princess, Ariadne. He was worshiped by all winemakers, and the residents of the island of Naxos.
Symbols : Hammer, Anvil, Tongs.
Hepaestus, the God of fire and forge, was a lover of peace. He was the son of Zeus and Hera, and husband of Aphrodite. He is said to be the God of blacksmiths, craftsmen, sculptors, metals, etc.
Symbols : Hearth, Kettle, Cauldron, Torch, Candle, Sacred Eternal Flames, Broom, Crane, Pig, Donkey.
Hestia is the Virgin Goddess of hearth, architecture, home, and cooking. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and the sister of Zeus. She was said to be the most gentle of all deities. She is figured in very few myths, and her cult was also considerably smaller than the other deities.
Symbols : Caduceus, Talaria, Tortoise, Lyre, Rooster.
Hermes was the messenger God, a trickster, and a friend of the thieves. He was said to be a master of cunning wiles, writing, diplomacy, and athletics. He was the son of Zeus and Maia.
The ancient Greek deities, and their symbols stood for the kind of powers they had, and the things they ruled over.