Friday, 7 September 2012

The Lesser Gods of Ancient Greece

Although the Olympian gods were the most important and powerful of the Greek gods, there were many others. Some were worshipped only in a small area, others were known across all the Greek world.

Themis was a female Titan who had helped Rhea hide Zeus from Kornos (see page 178). She acted as the judge in disputes between the various gods, and so became the goddess of justice.

Iris was the servant of the Olympian deities, especially of Zeus and Hera. She brought messages from the gods down to earth by sliding down the rainbow.

Hebe was the god of young women before they married. Together with her handsome young brother Ganymede she carried out the tasks on Olympos that were the job of unmarried girls in Greek families.

Boreas was the god of the north wind, who loved creating storms to lash the houses of men. Zephyros was the god of the gentle west wind, while Notus was the god of the south wind and Eurus the god of the east wind.

The Harpies, of which there were several, were greatly feared. They had the faces of old women and the bodies of birds. They destroyed crops with disease and brought famine to the earth.

The Tritons and Nereids were the male and female servants of Poseidon (see page 182). These supernatural beings were generally friendly to sailors and fishermen.

Nymphs were the beautiful female spirits who guarded rivers, springs and other sources of fresh water. Every water source had its one nymph, but the names of nearly all of them have been forgotten.

The three Horae were Eunomia, Dike and Irene. Together they controlled rainfall on the earth and did their best to ensure that fruit trees were laden down at harvest time.

The Greeks thought that there was one thing more powerful than all the gods put together: Destiny. Even Zeus did not argue with destiny.

from 100 Facts About Ancient Greece by Rupert Matthews

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