The gods and goddesses who lived on Mount Olympus were the most famous. But the ancient Greeks also worshipped dozens of other gods and goddesses. Many of them had interesting stories as well.
If they wanted inspiration, the ancient Greeks turned to Calliope. She was chief of the Muses—nine goddesses that inspired art, literature, and science. Some Greeks believed that she inspired Homer’s classic works, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Asclepius and his daughter Hygea supported health, medicine, and cleanliness. His symbol was a snake wrapped around a rod. That symbol is still used in modern medicine. Meanwhile, our modern word “hygiene” comes from her name.
Calypso was a sea nymph. She played a key role in Homer’s epic tale the Odyssey. Calypso captured Odysseus during his long journey home from the Trojan War. She held him captive until ordered to release him by the Olympian gods.
The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Dionysus was the god of wine and pleasure. He also supported the arts and drama. According to Greek legend, he threw wild parties. His followers included the Centaurs. These half-man, half-horse creatures also enjoyed a good party. Some tales include Dionysus among the 12 Olympian gods.
If they were feeling tired, Greeks might turn to Hypnos, the God of sleep. Our modern word “hypnosis” comes from his name.
A winged goddess, Nike symbolized speed and victory. That probably explains why the sports apparel maker Nike named itself after her. Her brother Kratos symbolized power and might. Nike and Kratos helped Zeus defend Mount Olympus against an attack from Typhon, a giant serpent-like monster.
Pan was the god of living in the wild. He had a human body, paired with the tail, hooves, and horns of a goat. A master musician, he played many different woodwind instruments. According to legend, Pan could cause extreme fear in people who disturbed him. Our modern word “panic” comes his name.
Typhon was among the most feared of all Greek gods. He ruled monsters, storms, and volcanoes. The Greeks considered him both a god and a monster. A giant, his head and hands had snakes growing from them. He was so powerful that he challenged Zeus for control of Mount Olympus. In the end, Zeus managed to trap Typhon under a mountain. It is said that Typhon’s fiery breath causes volcanoes.
That’s quite a collection of mighty beings! And there are dozens more. The Greeks had a god or goddess for nearly everything.
Written by John Micklos, Jr.