The Twelve Olympians

The Twelve Olympians

Rotunde – Altes Museum, Berlin

In the Greek Mythology, the Olympians are the 12 greatest gods of the Greek pantheon. They lived at the top the Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece.

ZEUS (Jupter)

  • the most powerful of the Olympian Gods
  • the father of all gods and humankind
  • protector of law and justice
  • totally unfaithful to his wife-sister Hera
  • he is usually holding a hunderbolt


ZEUS – Zeus casting Thunderbolts – Dodona (Greece), sanctuary of Zeus Bronze, around 470 BC Altes Museum, Berlin, Germany.


HERA (Juno)

  • the queen goddess of Olympus
  • wife-sister of Zeus
  • represents the integrity of marriage
  • very jealous, usually punished Zeus’ lovers
  • she usually has a sceptre and a crown
  • her animal is a peacock
HERA – Juno, Park Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany


POSEIDON (Neptune)

  • god of the sea and all waters
  • could bring violent waters and earthquakes on the world
  • he is usually carrying a trident
NEPTUNE – Neptune Fountain (Neptunbrunnen). Built in 1891 and designed by Reinhold Begas. Berlin, Gemany.



  • goddess of love, sex, and beauty
  • she punished those who rejected love and thos who dishonoured her
  • usually depicted with girdles and birds
APHRODITE – The Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820 on the island of Milos In Greece. It was produced around 100 BC. Louvre Museum, Paris, France,
APHRODITE – The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli probably made in the mid 1480s. The painting is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.












  • he is the twin brother of Artemis
  • patron god of music and poetry
  • god of crops and herds
  • god of prophecy and oracles
  • god of purification and healing
  • he is usually carrying a lyre and /or a bow and arrow and wearing hunting outfits
APOLLO – Statue of Apollo Lykeios. Acquired in Rome (Italy) in 1766. Marble, Roman copy around 140 AD (body). The head and body of two different Roman copies were combined in he 18th century. Altes Museum, Berlin, Germany.



  • she was the twin sister of Apollo; one of the three virgin goddesses
  • goddess of the hunt and wildlife
  • protected the hunters and innocent
  • she is usually carrying a bow and arrow and wearing hunting outfits
ARTEMIS – Diana of Versailles. . It is a Roman copy (1st or 2nd century AD) of a lost Greek bronze original attributed to Leochares, c. 325 BC. Located in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.


DIONYSOS (Bacchus)

  • God of the wine and ecstasy 
  • usually depicted with grapes, ivy, and a thyrsos (a wand topped with a pine cone or vine-leaves and grapes or berries)
  • his animal is the panther
Dyonisos – Märkisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.


HERMES (Mercury)

  • the messenger god
  • guide of the souls to death
  • protector of merchants, gamblers, liars, and thieves
  • usually wears winged boots or sandals and a petasus (winged cap), which enable him to take flight.
  • usually carries the caduceus (= herald’s staff) , a short wand entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. 
Hermes carrying a Herald’s staff – National Museum of Bargello in Florenz, Italy.



  • she is the goddess of the grain, agriculture and  harvest
  • the goddess of the fertility of the earth.
  • usually depicted wth cereals and a torch
DEMETER – Ceres, the agriculture goddess, allegory of Springtime. Inspired in the original version from 1714/5. Zwinger Palace, Dresden, Germany.



  • God of fire, metallurgy
  • the workman of the gods
  • the only ugly god, lame
  • he is usually carrying an axe, blacksmith’s tools and an anvil (large block of metal)

    HEPHAISTOS – Fire (copy), François Gaspard Adam, 1753. Venus watches Vulkan doing a shield for Aeneas. Park Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany.


ATHENA (Minerva)

  • she is the war-goddess, the female counterpart of Ares
  • goddess of intelligence and militar strategy 
  • one of the three virgin goddesses
  • she usually wears a helmet and carries a spear and the Aegis ( a snake-fringed shield decorated with Gorgon’s head)
  • her animal is the owl
ATHENA- Head of Athena in the Velletri Type on a Modern Bust. Marble, Roman, after an original from around 400 BC. Altes Museum, Berlin, Germany.


ARES (mars)

  • god of war, the male counterpart of Athena
  • he often represents the violent aspect of war, in contrast to his sister, Athena
  • a dangerous force, insatiable in battle, destructive
  • he usually wears a helmet and carries a spear and shield
ARES – Mars (copie), FRançois Gaspard Adam, 1760. Sanssouci Park, Potsdam, Germany.