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Greek Pantheon

QUESTION: How many gods were in the Greek pantheon?


In spite of all the research and inquisition, historians have been unable to document an exact number of gods in the Greek pantheon. This is both surprising and not surprising, seeing how many records exist and yet how diverse and incongruent the Greeks were in their religious practices. Whatever the case, the number of gods in the Greek pantheon can only be estimated by hundreds or thousands. The number of gods in the Greek pantheon can be estimated, based on how many other gods they interacted with on a regular basis.

A few of the more familiar gods that would have been depicted in the Greek pantheon would be the following:

  • Zeus, in any of his many forms (such as thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree) would have been included as the one who oversaw and ruled the weather, guest friendship, and suppliants.

  • Hera (as peacock, life of women or matron) would appear as the symbol of marriage and family.

  • Aphrodite and Eros (emblems of attributes pertaining to either gender) rendered themselves as doves, seashells, nude, wings, and represented falling in and out of love, human fertility, etc.

  • Of all the gods in the Greek pantheon, Athena and Apollo are among the most diverse. Coming in the odd forms of a goatskin, helmet, olive, youth or laurel, these two were signs of defensive warfare, wisdom, disease, rational and arts and crafts.

  • Hermes, god of commerce, travel, trickery, and escort of the dead, was shown as a staff of snakes and a winged hat and sandals.

  • Poseidon and Ares, on the other hand, seem very distinct as they make their presence known in the form of a beard or trident that often rides over the sea, showing the power of the sea and earthquakes and as a shield, sword, or spear to indicate warm violence.

  • To be sure of appeasing even those of less significance, Asclepius (as a staff with snake or a beard) demonstrated medicine. He would have been included in the number of gods in the Greek pantheon.

  • Persephone, who was the emblem of new crops, was often shown as a young woman with her mother, Demeter. This mother often made her own appearance along side animals as the moon or ears of corn. Demeter was the god of harvests.
The gods in the Greek pantheon are not all confusing or odd. Some are quite reasonable, such as Pan, who rules wild animals and shepherds in the shape and size of goat legs, pointed ears, and panpipes.

Learn More about Greek gods!

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