Six goddesses ruled from Mt. Olympus according to the tales of classical-era mythology. Hera is considered the queen of the Greek Gods, both wife and sister to Zeus according to Greek mythology. Greek mythology holds up the goddesses as the protectors and manipulators of the feminine side of human existence. They are in control of love, fertility and the fruit of the Earth. Just as the Gods of Mt. Olympus are powerful but imperfect, they can possess great wisdom and be prone to rash decisions.
The Goddess Hera was wife to Zeus, both born to Cronus and Rhea. She was Goddess of women, marriage and childbirth. Greek mythology is ripe with the stories of the envy, distrust and vengeance Hera enacted against the love interests romanced by Zeus and the offspring who were fathered by her powerful, but unfaithful husband. Herakles, son to Zeus and the mortal Alceme, was just one of many to incur the vengeful goddess’ wrath. Juno is the Roman representation of Hera.
Born the second daughter of Rhea and Cronus, Demeter was goddess of the lands who nourished the soil. She as seen as the “bringer” of the seasons. Her central myth involved her daughter Persephone, who was stolen away by Hades and made to become his queen. Demeter was grief-stricken and life stood still as her grief prevented the coming of the seasons. Zeus was petitioned by the suffering people and the other deities and he commanded Hermes to return Persephone from the underworld. Although she was brought back to her mother, Hades had tricked her, and by the rule of fates Persephone was bound to spend four months of every year as penance for eating the pomegranate seeds that Hades had offered.
She was the goddess of love, lust and sensuality and her beauty was unsurpassed. In Greek, her name translates to “risen from the foam” and Greek mythology tells the story of how she was created after Cronus severed Ouranos’ genitals and discarded them in the ocean. Differing versions of her origin suggest she was daughter to Zeus or Dione. Her unbelievable beauty was cause for concern amongst the Gods, who believed it was inevitable that they would be plunged into all out war in order to gain her favor. Zeus resolved this by making the beautiful goddess marry Hephaestus, God to the blacksmiths who was lame and unattractive according to Greek mythology. This did little to deter her desire to use her beauty to toy with the hearts of Gods and mortals. In Rome, Aphrodite was referred to as Venus. The most popular Aphrodite statue is more commonly known as the Venus De Milo, but she is perhaps the most popular subject of Greek art.
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the mortal woman Leto. She is the God Apollo’s twin. Artemis was one of the Virgin Goddesses in Greek mythology. As the Virgin Huntress, her rule over nature was absolute and she delivered fertility to the lands of all who worshipped her. As sister to Apollo, God of the Sun, she became connected to the Moon. She is identified with the Roman goddess Diana.
Athena is another popular subject of Greek art. One of the most famous works is a Greek Goddess Athena Bust from the 4th century that sits in the Lourve, Paris. Tales of the origin of Athena vary, but it’s generally agreed that she is the daughter of Zeus and Metis, a Titan consort of the king of Gods. In the most widely told origin tale; Zeus, fearing the prophecy that claimed Metis’ offspring may be more powerful than himself, swallowed the Titan goddess whole. Athena was raised inside of Zeus by her mother and one day sprang from the King of the Gods head as a fully formed woman armed for battle. She was the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom who taught women to sew and weave and men how to tend the lands and metal works. She is one of the three virgin Goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia. She was the patron of the city of Athens and Parthenon was built to honor her.
First born daughter of Rhea and Cronus, she was one of the three virgin Goddesses along with Athena and Hera. Both Poseidon and Apollo wished for her hand in marriage, but she remained faithful to the vow of chastity she made to Zeus. Hestia was a favorite goddess of the Greek people who loved her kind spirit and virtue. Hestia spent her entire life at Mount Olympus, never engaging in the wars and conflicts that occupied the other gods. She was the only deity to be worshipped in all temples regardless of their affiliation to a specific god.