Greek Goddesses - A
Every Greek Goddess You've Heard Of - And A Bunch You Haven't
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Aceso was a goddess personifying the healing process. She was the daughter of Epione and Asclepius (the main healer dude) and sister to Aegle, Hygeia, Panaceia, and Iaso. Like the other members of her family, she was a Goddess of Healing. She shared an altar with her sisters and Aphrodite and Athena at Epidauros.
Achelois means "she who drives away pain". She was a Moon Goddess, which wasn't really that uncommon. The Dodonian Oracle ordered sacrifice to her. But according to Tzetzes (this old Roman dude), Achelois was one of the seven Muses said to be the daughters of Pierus.
She was the personification of Eternal Night, what was believed to have presaged Chaos. There was another who personified Misery, and Hesiod described her in the Shield of Heracles: "And beside them [the Keres and the Moirai] was standing Akhlys, dismal and dejected, green and pale, dirty-dry, fallen in on herself with hunger, knee-swollen, and the nails were grown long on her hands, and from her nostrils the drip kept running, and off her cheeks the blood dribbled to the ground, and she stood there, grinning forever, and the dust that had gathered and lay in heaps on her shoulders was muddy with tears." How pleasant.n
Adicia was the female personification of injustice. According to Pausanias there was this picture of the beautiful Dike dragging the ugly Adikia and beating her with a staff.
The name means something like, "unyielding," and is a surname of Nemesis. Another chica named Adrastea was the daughter of Amaltheia (a nymph) and King Melisseus of Crete, and she took care of the infant Zeus with her sister, Ida, and the Curetes (these guys - whom some say were her brothers - who danced around and beat their weapons really loudly so that Cronos wouldn't hear Zeus' cries). Adrastea was a good babysitter and kept baby Zeus occupied with a pretty globe. n
She was the personification of Modesty or Shame. She is often mentioned alongside Nemesis, who was goddess pretty big on conscience. Penelope's dad, Icarius, built a statue of Aedos about 6 miles outside of Sparta after his darling daughter left him for Odysseus.
Aega was a lot of people. I will mention the more important ones. In one version she and her sisters suckled the infant Zeus and she was put in the sky later as the constellation Capella. In another version, she was chosen to suckle Zeus but couldn't cut it, so Amalthea came in to take her place. In another version she was a daughter of Helios who was so bright that when the Titans were attacking Olympus they had to ask Gaia to hide her - then she was stuck in a cave, where she ended up suckling Zeus. Zeus got the aegis from the goat version of Aega. Aega is mostly translated as "goat," but can also be said to be "gale of wind."
One of the daughters of Aesclepius and Lampetia, or, more commonly, Epione. Like her sisters she was a Goddess of Healing. But she, like Iaso, is very rarely considered to be above demi-goddess level. Human Aegle was a couple of different people. There was also a nymph Aegle. Her name means "Brightness" or "Splendor" and she personified the "glowing health of the human body."n
Aergia is the personification of laziness. Her parents, as if these details really matter, were Gaia and Aither (the Upper Air).
Aesa was a (not the) personification of destiny. She is described sometimes as one of the Fates, but others say that she is from Argive only, and others say that she should be viewed in tandem with Ate. She had a sword. Yes.
See the Litae.
Aetna was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus. She was the personification of Mt. Etna, you know, the one Zeus threw on Typhon? What? You don't? Well, then you should keep looking for the new myths page filled with creation stories! Anyway, back to Aetna. She was a volcano (thanks to the fire-breathing Typhon, who lives underneath her). When Demeter and Hephaestus were arguing over Sicily (land of volcanoes and corn) Aetna stepped in to arbitrate. She is regarded in Sicilian myth as the mother of the Palici (twin Sicilian gods of geysers, no not fogies, like water geysers).n
Agdistis was a totally awesome figure in mythology, and I'll probably move her to the goddess section soon, because she's really not so monstrous. It all started when Zeus had a wet dream and came on Gaia - that is, the ground. Gaia, fecund as we all know, got pregnant, and Agdistis soon emerged. She was born a hermaphrodite, but her bi-sexed body totally intimidated the gods, who feared that her body made her so powerful that she'd take over the world. So they cut off her penis. They buried it in the ground and it grew into an almond tree (think about THAT the next time you eat a handful of almonds) and the daughter of the Sangarius river came along and, according to Pausanias, put one of the almonds between her breasts (whatever floats your boat ...). Although this may seem a little unorthodox, the almond disappeared and - surprise surprise - Nana (the nymph) found out that she was pregnant. She had a child named Attis - who grew up to be a major hottie, and then Agdistis fell in love with him. Agdistis, apparently, was still pretty intimidating, and Attis' relatives weren't down with her, so they sent him off to marry a princess, but Agdistis showed up at the wedding in true romantic style. The only thing is, when she stood up to say, "Wait! You can't marry that girl, I love you!" (or whatever), instead of everything working out happily ever after, Attis went completely nuts. He ran into the wilderness and castrated himself and, as this story goes, bled to death. His spirit entered a pine tree, but Agdistis was less worried about the soul, and more worried about the body, and she asked Zeus if he could preserve the body eternally for her. It's a little kinky, if you ask me, but as we all know, Zeus is down with kink, so he agreed and they put the body in a tomb in the sanctuary of Cybele (Rhea). Eventually, Agdistis became an epithet of Cybele's. There were ceremonies replaying the whole Attis myth every year, and I hope to get the whole Attis myth in the Myth Pages one of these days. n
I'm not sure I should put her up here in her own entry. Aglaia was, as you can probably figure out from the entry above, the personification of bright splendorous magnificence. She was the wife of Hephaistos and the mother of some Graces, but the reason I don't think she should get her own entry is because she WAS one of the three Graces (Charites). The reason she ultimately got her own entry is because despite her inclusion in that number, she was also sometimes referred to as The Grace, the one who embodied all three. Also, an important note, apparently she had large breasts.n
AlalaThe female personification of the war-cry.
In Greek mythology, Alcmene was the mother of Heracles who, after she died, was worshipped as a Goddess in Thebes and Athens. The story goes that after she died, Zeus got Heracles to steal her body and put a stone in her coffin in her place. Then Zeus brought her to the Isles of the Blessed where she was revived and married Rhadamanthys (he was cool, trust me).n
Alcyone, also said "Halcyone," is the Goddess of the Sea, the Moon, Calm, and Tranquility. There was also a Pleiade named Alcyone (check out the Nymphs page for that). She was the daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. She and Ceyx were a very happy couple, but then Ceyx died in a shipwreck and Alcyone threw herself into the sea (what can you do? She was a silly young girl then). The gods took pity and turned the two into birds (Alcyone became a halcyon, or a kingfisher, and Ceyx became a ceyx, or a gannet). Alcyone made her nest on the beach, and waves were big and scary, but the gods made the sea calm so she could lay her eggs. Therefore, "halcyon days," when storms never occur. Ahhhhhhh. It is she who brings life to death and death to life.
Alectrona was an early Goddess of the Sun, who became a daughter of Helios once classical myth, ie, patriarchal myth, came along.
Alethia was the Goddess of Truth. She was born of Zeus and Apollo's nurse.
She was the personification of Sorrow and Grief. She was the daughter of Eris.
Alphito was the Arcadian White Grain Goddess as a Sow. But by Classical timesshe was barely remembered. She was given sole rights over the ability to inflict leprosy. Scary. But she was kind of scary, so . . . Again, I have lost my source, so I can't verify this at all. What I CAN say for sure is that "alphito" is the Greek word for "barley."n
Amphictyonis, now there's a mouthful, she was the Goddess of Wine, and of Friendship Between Nations. I could see how she could come in handy, but I don't see how anyone drunk on the Wine that she's the Goddess of could say a toast in her name! Actually, Amphictyonis was just a surname of Demeter, to whom sacrifices were offered at the beginning of every meeting (in Thermopylae).n
Amphitrite was a Nereid (or possibly an Oceanid, depending on who like better) and she married Poseidon. She was the Goddess of the Mediterranean Sea. Her symbol is the dolphin. The stories say that she was not a jealous wife, and didn't care if her husband slept with anyone else (except for Scylla, who she poisoned and turned into a sea-monster, unless of course that was Circe). Her children were Triton, Benthesicyme, and Rhode. Her name means, "the third one who encircles," how mysterious. She and her sister, Thetis, shared the surname Halosydne, which means "sea-born." Okay, this description blows. She sounds totally boring, and the thing is that I don't think she was. In fact, I find her a lot closer to how a "normal woman" would be than in fact many of the human women listed here. She didn't immediately go for her husband, but fell for him after he tried really hard. She generally put up with his shenanigans, but got pissed every once in a while (like when she turned Scylla into a monster). She had a job, she did it, but didn't get that much worship for it (Poseidon tended to get that), however people did like recognizing her for her beauty and image. A virtual paradigm of womanhood in a patriarchal world this goddess! You could even claim to see the self-perpetuating cycle of women in patriarchal power in her demand for a sacrifice of virgin girls from the first settlers of Lesbos. Heh.
Anaitis was an Asiatic goddess who represented the creative powers of nature. She had slaves from famous families - the women she made temple prostitutes, the men she made were made protectors of the land surrounding the temple. The Greeks associated her with both Aphrodite (obviously) and Artemis (not so obviously).
Ananke was the divine personification of Fate and Necessity. Her nature was extremely unalterable so she didn't have very many temples. I guess people figured that they wouldn't change her mind. She was also the mother of the Fates and Adrastea (though some people say that their mother was Themis).
Anchiale was a Titaness and the mother of the Dactyls (Five brothers who were masters of metallurgy and sorcery). Since the Dactyls are also considered the children of Rhea, perhaps Anchiale is just another name for that Goddess.
Antheia was the Goddess of Vegetation, Lowlands, Marshlands, Gardens, Blossoms, the Budding Earth, and Human Love.
Apate was the Goddess of Deceit, she was one of the Spirits in Pandora's box. Her parents were Nyx and Erebus.
Aphrodite was the Goddess of Love and Beauty. She's definitely important enough to have her own page. According to The Odyssey she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, other myths speak of her as springing from the blood of Uranus after Cronus castrated him, and floating on the sea to Greece, where she was met by the Three Graces (who will be discussed later). The latter is the more accepted version. Personally I dislike her because she is exceedingly vain and thinks only of herself. I like to laugh at her eternal beauty and loveliness because she was a great grandmother of another God, Dionysus (who she also had a child by). She was married to Hephaestus, the Smith God, but she lusted after Ares, the much disliked God of War. She was also the patron Goddess of Prostitutes. Read more about Aphrodite.
AraeThe personifications of curses. They were invoked during the spells of witches.
The sister of Iris. Before the Olympian Gods took over, she was the Messenger Goddess for the Titans. When Zeus took the throne, he cast Arce into Tartarus.
AreteArete was Heracles' teacher and a Goddess of Justice.
She's definitely my favorite goddess, and so, of course, has her own page. Artemis was the Goddess of the Hunt. She had 50 hounds and 50 Dreiads (wood nymphs) and a quiver full of painless silver arrows. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto as well as being last of the Three Maiden Goddesses. She was also a part of the Triple Goddess. The Triple Goddess was the Moon in three forms. Artemis didn't carry the moon across the sky, yet she was still known as the moon. Although she was stunningly beautiful, she was very cold and she swore never to marry. She had only one love, a hunter named Orion (and even that's debatable). She was the Protector of Young Women. She was incredibly cool (coming from a young woman). The picture is copyrighted by Hrana Janto, who is the painter - with whose kind permission I am using the painting. You can check out some of her other Goddess (and other) paintings on her site. Read more about Artemis.
Astarte was the Fertility Goddess, she was helpful whether one wanted to bear a child or plant a garden.
Asteria was a daughter of Phoebe, a sister of Leto. She hurled herself into the Sea after being abducted by Zeus. She became the island of the same name.
Astraea was a Goddess of Justice, Innocence, and Purity. It is generally accepted that she was the daughter of Themis and of Zeus. She was the last immortal to withdraw from the Earth after the Golden Age. It was she that held aloft the scales weighing the opposing parties claims. When she joined the rest of the Gods in the stars, she became the constellation Virgo.n
She was the Goddess of Evil and Misfortune and also the personification of Infatuation - "the rash foolishness of blind impulse, usually caused by guilt and leading to retribution. She was, (surprise surprise) the daughter of Eris (see below) and Zeus. She was a temptress, and lead humans toward evil. She actually trapped Zeus once, but he would have none of that, and threw her (literally) off Olympus. She has sisters, the Litai (or Prayers), who follow her around and clean up her messes.
Auxesia was a Goddess of Growth.
I could talk about Athena forever, but I'll attempt to be brief. She's definitely important enough to have her own page. Athena was the Patron Goddess of Athens, the Goddess of Wisdom, and the Goddess of Weaving. She was the Goddess of lots of other things, too, but I'm being brief. She was also a warrior and another of the Three Virgin Goddesses. Her father was Zeus. Technically her mother was Metis (Goddess of Prudence), but it is generally accepted that she had no mother. Athena was Greece's favorite Goddess, and there are many stories about her. Read more about Athena.
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Last Updated July 16, 2011