Perseus

 

Is one of the most celebrated of the Greek heroes. His story was as follows:--Perseus' mother Danae was locked in a bronze chamber by her father Akrisios, where she was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden shower. Akrisios put both mother and child in a chest and set them adrift in the sea, but they washed safely ashore on the island of Seriphos.

 

Later when Perseus was grown, King Polydektes, command he bring back the head of Medousa. With the help of the gods, Perseus first obtained an invisible helm, magical sword, and winged sandals. He then stole the single eye of the Graiai, three ancient hags, who told him where to find the Gorgones. The hero approached the sleeping Medousa, and beheaded her with eyes turned away, to avoid her petrifying visage.

 

On his way back to Greece, he spied the princess Andromeda chained to the rocks as a sacrifice to a sea-monster. Perseus slew the monster, and rescued the girl, bringing her back to Greece as his bride. On Seriphos, he turned King Polydektes to stone, then travelled to his grandfather's kingdom to claim the throne. The old man fled, and was later accidentally killed by Perseus at some Games with an awry discus throw.

 

Perseus was the ancestor through his sons and daughter of the royal houses of Mykenai, Elis, Sparta, Messenia, and distant Persia. His most famous descendant of all was Herakles.

Perseus was usually depicted in classical art wearing the winged boots and cap of the god Hermes and armed with a sickle-sword.

Hestia

 

Is the virgin goddess of the hearth (both private and municipal) and the home. As the goddess of the family hearth she also presided over the cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. Hestia was also the goddess of the sacrificial flame and received a share of every sacrifice to the gods. The cooking of the communal feast of sacrificial meat was naturally a part of her domain.

 

Hestia was the first born child of Kronos and Rhea who was swallowed by her father at birth. Zeus later forced the old Titan to disgorge Hestia and her siblings. As the first to be swallowed she was also the last to be disgorged, and so was named as both the eldest and youngest of the six Kronides. When the gods Apollon andPoseidon sought for her hand in marriage, Hestia refused and asked Zeus to let her remain an eternal virgin. He agreed and she took her place at his royal hearth.

 

Hestia was depicted in Athenian vase painting as a modestly veiled woman sometimes holding a flowered branch (of a chaste tree ?). In classical sculpture she was also veiled, with a kettle as her attribute.

Gaea

 

 

Is the Protogenos (primeval divinity) of earth, one of the primal elements who first emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea and sky. She was the great mother of all : the heavenly gods were descended from her union withOuranos (the sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos (the sea), the Gigantes from her mating with Tartaros (the hell-pit) and mortal creatures were sprung or born from her earthy flesh.

 

In myth Gaia appears as the prime opponent of the heavenly gods. First she rebelled against her husband Ouranos (Sky) who had imprisoned her sons in her womb. Then later, when her son Kronosdefied her by imprisoning these same sons, she assisted Zeus in his overthrow of the Titan. Finally she came into conflict with Zeus, angered with him for the binding of her Titan-sons in the pit of Tartaros. In her opposition she first produced the tribe of Gigantes and later the monster Typhoeus to dethrone him, but both failed in both attempts.

Hekate

 

Goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy. She was the only child of the Titanes Perses and Asteria from whom she received her power over heaven, earth, and sea.

Hekate assisted Demeter in her search for Persephone, guiding her through the night with flaming torches. After the mother-daughter reunion became she Persephone's minister and companion in Haides.

 

Two metamorphosis myths describe the origins of her animal familiars: the black she-dog and the polecat (a mustelid house pet kept to hunt vermin). The bitch was originally the Trojan Queen Hekabe, who leapt into the sea after the fall of Troy and was transformed by the goddess into her familiar. The polecat was originally the witch Gale who was transformed into the beast to punish her for her incontinence. Other say it was Galinthias, the nurse of Alkmene, transformed by the angry Eileithyia, but received by Hekate as her animal.

 

Hekate was usually depicted in Greek vase painting as a woman holding twin torches. Sometimes she was dressed in a knee-length maiden's skirt and hunting boots, much like Artemis. In statuary Hekate was often depicted in triple form as a goddess of crossroads.

Demeter

 

Goddess of corn, grain, and the harvest. She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. It was believed that Demetermade the crops grow each year; thus the first loaf of bread made from the annual harvest was offered to her. She was the goddess of the earth, of agriculture, and of fertility in general. Sacred to her are livestock and agricultural products, poppy, narcissus and the crane.

 

Demeter was intimately associated with the seasons. Her daughterPersephone was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. In her anger at her daughter's loss, Demeter laid a curse on the world that caused plants to wither and die, and the land to become desolate.Zeus, alarmed for the barren earth, sought for Persephone's return. However, because she had eaten while in the underworld, Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that Persephone would spend four months each year in the underworld. During these monthsDemeter would grieve for her daughter's absence, withdrawing her gifts from the world, creating winter. Her return brought the spring.

 

Demeter was also known for founding the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were huge festivals held every five years and very important events for many centuries. Yet, little is known about them as those attending were sworn to secrecy. It is thought that the central tenet around which the Mysteries revolved was that just like grain returns every spring after its harvest and the winter lull, so does the human soul after the death of the body, reincarnated in a next life.

Persephone/Kore

Is the goddess queen of the underworld, wife of the godHaides. She was also the goddess of spring growth, who was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This agricultural-based cult promised its initiates passage to a blessed afterlife.

 

Persephone was titled Kore (the Maiden) as the goddess of spring's bounty. Once upon a time when she was playing in a flowery meadow with her Nymph companions, Kore was seized by Haides and carried off to the underworld as his bride. Her mother Demeter despaired at her dissappearance and searched for her the throughout the world accompanied by the goddess Hekate bearing torches. When she learned that Zeus had conspired in her daughter's abduction she was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Persephone was returned. Zeus consented, but because the girl had tasted of the food of Haides--a handful of pomegranate seeds--she was forced to forever spend a part of the year with her husband in the underworld. Her annual return to the earth in spring was marked by the flowering of the meadows and the sudden growth of the new grain. Her return to the underworld in winter, conversely, saw the dying down of plants and the halting of growth.

 

In other myths, Persephone appears exclusively as the queen of the underworld, receiving the likes of Herakles and Orpheus at her court.

 

Persephone was usually depicted as a young goddess holding sheafs of grain and a flaming torch. Sometimes she was shown in the company of her mother Demeter, and the hero Triptolemos, the teacher of agriculture. At other times she appears enthroned beside Haides.

 

 

 

Prometheus,

 

Prometheus is one of the Titans, son of Iapetus (also a Titan) and Clymene, an Oceanid. His brothers were EpimetheusAtlas and Menoetius. The name derives from the Greek word meaning 'forethought'.

During the Titanomachy, the war between the Titans and the Olympian gods, Prometheus sided with Zeus, helping to overthrow the old gods. Siding with the winning side, Prometheus avoided being punished with the rest of the Titans and was therefore not sent to Tartarus, the Underworld.

In all accounts, Prometheus was presented to be the protector and benefactor of mankind. In an event called Trick at Mecone, he tricked Zeus by asking him to choose between two offerings; beef hidden inside an ox's stomach (something pleasing hidden inside a repelling exterior) or bones wrapped in glistening fat (something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior). Zeus chose the latter and hence, a precedent was created in what humans could sacrifice from that moment; so, they kept the meat for themselves and sacrificed bones to the gods.

As a result of the trick at Mecone, Zeus was infuriated and decided to hide fire from mortals as punishment. Prometheus, in an effort to help humanity again, managed to steal fire back and give it to humans. More enraged, the father of gods asked Hephaestus to create Pandora, the first woman, who according to Hesiod, would bring troubles to mankind. He also punished Prometheus by having him chained to a rock, where an eagle ate his liver during the day, and the liver was regenerated during the night due to Prometheus' immortality. He was later saved by the demigod Hercules.

 

Source

 

http://www.theoi.com/