The Younger Olympian Gods and Goddesses

Authored by: Robin Hard

The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology

Print publication date:  June  2008
Online publication date:  October  2003

Print ISBN: 9780415186360
eBook ISBN: 9780203446331
Adobe ISBN: 9781134664061

10.4324/9780203446331.ch5

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Abstract

The great Olympian deities who remain to be considered were all of younger birth than Zeus and the other children of Kronos, with the possible exception of Aphrodite. Zeus fathered three divine sons soon after his rise to power, Hephaistos and Ares by his wife Hera (unless she brought Hephaistos to birth without his involvement, see p. 79), and Apollo by his cousin Leto as the twin 0 brother of Artemis; and he completed the Olympian family during the heroic era by fathering Hermes and Dionysos through liaisons with mortal women. As a radiant god of prophecy, music and healing, Apollo was the most exalted of these younger Olympian gods, and we will start with him accordingly before passing on to the children of Zeus’ marriage. The deities who came to be classed as children of Zeus and Hera were of diverse origin and not of the very highest status; their daughters Hebe and Eileithuia cannot even be included in the present company as Olympian deities of the first rank. Of their sons, Hephaistos was something of an outsider among the Olympians, not only because he laboured as a manual worker in his function as the divine blacksmith, but also because he was partially deformed; 0 and even if war, which was the special concern of his brother Ares, was not regarded as being ignoble in itself, Ares was a vicious and bloodthirsty god who delighted in mayhem and slaughter for their own sake, and was consequently not viewed with much respect by either gods or mortals. The two late-born Olympians, Hermes and Dionysos, were gods of idiosyncratic character, Hermes a divine trickster and messenger who was much concerned with boundaries and their transgression, and Dionysos a god of wine and ecstasy.

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