The Greek and Roman pantheon are actually essentially the same. They have many of the same gods, just with different names. In this post, I will describe the twelve main gods and goddesses of the Greek and Roman pantheons. The first name will be their Greek name, and the name in parentheses will be their Roman name. This is by no means a complete list. This is just the major gods and goddesses.
Zeus is the king of the Greek and Roman gods and rules over the heavens. Husband of Hera. Youngest brother of Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter. Fathered too many children to count and caused countless issues this way. Best known for never keeping his toga on.
Hera is the queen of the Greek and Roman gods and goddess of women and marriage. Wife of Zeus. Sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia. Best known for flying into an uncontrollable rage when her husband didn’t keep his toga on.
Poseidon is the god of the sea, horses, and earthquakes. Brother of Hades, Zeus, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. Best known for also never being able to keep his toga on (although he didn’t cause quite as many issues as his brother did) and for almost being the patron deity of Athens.
Hades is the god of the underworld. Brother of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. Husband of Persephone. Most loyal to his wife and probably the nicest Greek/Roman god. Got stuck with the underworld when the three brothers drew straws for realms, even though he was a nice guy and let them draw straws to begin with. Being the eldest, he technically should have had first pick and gotten the heavens, but he was too much of a nice guy and “let the Fates decide”. Best known for his scary wife and his dog.
Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. Sister of Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, and Hestia. Best known for being the mother of Persephone and for demanding her daughter back from her brother, thus resulting in the seasons of the year.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. Wife of Hephaestus. “Daughter” of Kronos (Saturn). And by that I mean that, when Zeus fought his Titan father, Kronos, and was about to throw him into Tartarus, he castrated him and tossed his genitals into the sea. There’s also a version of this with her coming from Kronos castrating his father, Ouranos (Uranus). From this bloody froth came Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. So, technically, one would be perfectly correct in calling Aphrodite a dick. Best known for sleeping around with Ares, being the mother of the Adonis and Aeneas, and being petty.
Athena is the goddess of battle, wisdom, strategy, and crafts. Daughter of Zeus. When she was born, she sprang from his forehead in full armor. Has a cute pet owl. One of the three virgin goddesses. Best known for being the patron deity of Athens. When Poseidon offered the people horses; she offered them the olive tree. She won. Much to Poseidon’s chagrin.
Artemis is the goddess of the moon, the hunt, the wilderness, and virginity. She also was the protector of young girls. Daughter of Zeus and Leto. Twin sister of Apollo. Often equated with Selene. One of the three virgin goddesses. Best known for fiercely guarding her chastity and for her brutal punishments, which fell on those that threatened her pride or chastity.
Apollo is the god the sun, music, healing, poetry, truth, and prophecy. Son of Zeus and Leto. Twin brother of Artemis. Often equated with Helios. Best known for his Temple of the Oracle at Delphi in Greece.
Hermes is the god of messengers, travelers, herdsmen, thieves, roads, transitions, and boundaries. Son of Zeus and Maia. Best known for his flying shoes, his tricks, and that one time he stole half of Apollo’s cattle as a child.
Ares is the god of war. Son of Zeus and Hera. Brother of Hephaestus. Father of many children born by Aphrodite. Represented both valor and an insatiable need for destruction. Like his father and his uncle, Poseidon, Ares had issues keeping his toga on and fathered many children by many mothers. Best known for his children, his bloodlust, and his many affairs with Aphrodite, his brother’s wife.
Hephaestus is the god of craftsmen and the smith of the gods. Brother of Ares. Husband of Aphrodite. Hephaestus was born with deformities and was rejected by his mother, who threw him off of Mt. Olympus. Hephaestus made some of the best works of the gods, including Zeus’ shield, Aegis, and Hermes winged shoes. Best known for his crafted items and for using his inventions to constantly catch and embarrass his wife, Aphrodite, and her lover, his brother Ares.
Hestia is the goddess of the family and the hearth. Sister of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hera. One of the three virgin goddesses. Best known for giving up her throne to Dionysus, and for the fact that, in Rome, her priestesses were buried alive if they ever ceased to be virgins.
Dionysus is the god of wine, grapes, theater, ritual madness, fertility, and religious ecstasy. Son of Zeus and the mortal woman, Semele. He married Ariadne after Theseus abandoned her on the island of Naxos, after she had helped the hero survive the labyrinth and Minotaur. Best known for his love of wine, women, and song, his debauchery, and his love of wild parties that often involved orgies.