Ancient Greek Gods
The Greeks had a belief system that included twelve main gods and goddesses who lived on Mt. Olympus. Later, the Romans adopted the same gods but changed their names. If you want a really cool adventure about Greek gods and a little half-god boy, check out the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan.
Aphrodite was one of the most sought-after Greek goddesses, for she was the goddess of beauty and love. Herself one of the most beautiful figures in Ancient Greek mythology, she was married to Hephaestus and the lover of Ares. Her symbols, for each god and goddess had them, were the scepter and dove. If you've got a crush, then you definitely want Aphrodite on your side.
Apollo is the sun god, the deity of light and truth. He also dabbled in music, poetry, archery and being the god of prophecies. Apollo was the twin brother of Artemis and was said to be the most beautiful male god on Mount Olympus. His symbols were the bow, the lyre, which is a musical instrument, and the laurel plant.
Ares, the god of war, mayhem and bloodshed, was not a friendly guy. Even though his sister was Athena, goddess of wisdom, he often acted in a bloodthirsty manner fitting for the son of Zeus. He even had the most beautiful Greek goddess, Aphrodite, as a mistress. His symbols are the boar, spear and vultures.
Artemis was a virgin goddess and Apollo's twin sister. She was associated with the hunt and with the protection of new animals, as she would not let them be killed in the forest. She also became associated with the moon and with beauty. Just like her brother Apollo, who was the god of archery, her symbol is the bow, but she is also symbolized by dogs and deer.
Athena is the Ancient Greek goddess of wisdom. She is the daughter of Zeus and the sister of Ares, the war god. Zeus is said to have given birth to her right out of his head, so it is no surprise that her highest power is her intellect. She is the wisest of the gods and goddesses, and also rules reason and warfare, both things that take a lot of intelligence. Her symbols are the owl and the olive branch.
Demeter, Zeus' sister, provided a very important service indeed. She was the goddess of fertility, harvest and grain. Many farmers prayed to her and gave her offerings, as their crops were seen as very closely tied to her moods. To go with her farmer motif, her symbols are a torch and corn.
Dionysus was one Greek god who really knew how to party! He was the god of festivals, wine, merriment and laughter, and got the reception of a rock star everywhere he went, complete with his own entourage of screaming women. The ancient Greeks thought wine had many beneficial powers, so his work wasn't just all play. He is symbolized by, what else, the grape vine!
Hades is a very popular character in a lot of fantasy fiction because he is the god of the underworld. His symbols are the bident and his Helm of Darkness, and his subterranean kingdom is watched over by Cerberus, a three-headed dog. He is the brother of Zeus, who rules from Mt. Olympus on high.
Hephaestus was the god of fire and the forge, which is a tool that blacksmiths use. Son of Hera and Zeus, he was thrown off of Mt. Olympus as a child and his legs got deformed as a result. Though he is married to Aphrodite, she doesn't enjoy his company and starts to date Ares instead. Hephaestus provides the armor for the gods and heroes like Achilles.
Hera was an important character on Mount Olympus, and not just because she was Zeus' wife. She was the goddess of family, children and childbirth and, in ancient Greece, where women had to give birth naturally and without hospitals or medicine, every family depended on her to grow. Her symbol is the peacock, though her pride must have taken a hit when Zeus had any number of his many affairs.
Hermes shows up in more myths than any other god... that might be because he travels so much! He is the god of travelers and thieves and is the messenger for Mt. Olympus. He also has the job of taking souls from their lives to the underworld and escorting them to the River Styx. His symbol is the caduceus, or the medical symbol you sometimes see, and winged shoes.
Posideon is the god of the sea and was said to have created horses out of sea foam. He not only controls storms, but earthquakes, also, so people called him the Storm Bringer and the Earth Shaker. His symbols are water, horses, foam and the trident, which is a three-pronged fork that he is very often depicted with, along with a long white beard.
Temperamental Zeus, the main god in Ancient Greek mythology and ruler of all the other gods on Mt. Olympus bore many grudges and liked to arrange quests for his heroes for fun. He could also, very easily, create thunder or throw down a lightning bolt on any unsuspecting mortal, god or hero. Lightning, thunder and eagles are his main symbols.