Most of us have heard of famous Greek Gods such as Zeus and Apollo a well as demi-gods such as Heracles and Perseus and many others from myths and legends. Their stories move the imagination and have captivated people for thousands of years. However, there are many lesser-known Greek Gods that are just as interesting, sometimes even more so, than the popular kids.
10. Astra Planeti
The Astra Planeti are the Gods of the wandering planets. Stilbon is known as the “Sky God,” and presides over the wandering planet Mercury. Eosphorus is also known as Phosphorus and is the God of Venus during the morning; however, Venus also has a God specifically for the evening star, known as Hesperus. The other two are Pyroeis, the God of Mars and Phaeton, the God of Jupiter, who is believed to have been fathered by the great God Apollo. Legend has it that Phaeton is unsure of who sired him and, believing it is the God Helios, attempts to drive his fiery chariot to prove his birthright. Unfortunately, it looks to Zeus as if he may crash and cause great harm to Earth, so Zeus destroys him with a well-placed thunderbolt.
While some may debate Chiron’s status as a Greek God, he was much more than just a centaur in Greek Mythology. In most legends, Centaurs were crude, violent, barbaric people who drank way too much liquor and were considered uncultured. However, Chiron was wise, civilized and, according to legends, didn’t even have any relation to the other centaurs in the world. Some legends claim he is the son of the God Cronus, who had sex with a woman while in the shape of a horse. Further, Chiron was said to be immortal, but willingly rescinded his own immortality in order to die. Some believe that he then became one of the constellations; however, there is some debate as to whether that constellation is Centaurus or Sagittarius.
In Greek lore, Dionysus is the God who oversees booze, being responsible for a good grape harvest, and making wine in general. He is also considered the God of Ecstasy. More interestingly, he had a human mother and was the only Greek God in such a position who was ever allowed into Mt. Olympus. Many credit the booze festivals celebrated in his name as helping create the Greek theater. Also, he was destroyed by the Titans but returned to life later, which has made him an example in legend of death and rebirth.
The story of Demeter says that her daughter Persephone was taken by Hades and forced to live with him as his wife in the underworld. When this happened, Demeter, who was responsible for the growth of life on Earth and the harvest, stopped doing her job while looking for her daughter. Zeus saw this problem, and had Hermes command Hades to let Persephone go. Before she went, Hades gave her a pomegranate. After eating it, she had to return once a year. Whenever Persephone was in the underworld, her mother did not let anything grow, and that is the Greek explanation for how winter came to be.
6. The Horae
The Greeks had a God for pretty much everything, and the seasons and even the hours were no exception. These Greek Goddesses presided over the seasons, and also helped keep the stars and constellations properly in line. The three well-known ones were: Eunomia who helped keep things in good order; Dike, who represented Justice; and Eirene, who presided over Spring. Interestingly though, the Greeks only had three seasons: spring, summer and winter. These Goddesses not only controlled the seasons, but also kept society stable in general. The Greeks also had another set of deities who represented all twelve hours of the day.
5. The Judges of the Dead
The Greeks had three Gods — Aeacus, Minos and Rhadamanthus– whose sole job was to judge those who had died, usually deciding upon their punishment as well. According to legend, they were originally men but were related to Zeus. Zeus is said to have credited them with law and order on Earth while human, so when they died they were made demigods and allowed to preside over much of the underworld. Aeacus was supposed to be the one who judged souls who came from Europe, and Rhadamanthus judged those who came from the continent of Asia. Their fellow judge Minos had the final vote in all cases. While we know that after death they guarded Hades, there is little known about what happened during their lives on Earth.
Hecate is a fascinating Goddess from ancient Greek lore, usually associated with witchcraft, necromancy, the Moon, and pretty much all other similar subjects. Legend says that Hecate assisted Demeter when she was searching the Earth for her daughter Persephone, before she found out that she had been taken by Hades. For this reason, Hecate is often pictured holding two torches. Strangely enough, she has seen a sort of revival today, with many Wiccans worshipping her as a Goddess. Hecate is also known for having three distinct selves and is thus often shown in “triple form,” she is known as being a “mistress of animals.”
The Anemoi are one of the coolest sets of Gods in Greek mythology. The Greeks believed that all of the winds had a distinct personality, and assigned each of them a separate God. The Gods are Zephyros of the west wind, Euros of the east, Boreas of the north, and Notos of the south wind. Sometimes in the stories, the Anemoi look like men with enormous wingspans; other times, they are shown in the form of incredible horses of breathtaking majesty. Sometimes the Anemoi were represented as being controlled by Aiolos, who was known as the “Horse Reiner” and had the ability to control the wind Gods to unleash horrible storms whenever the Gods wanted him to. The God Euros, associated with the East wind, was often believed to be a sign of bad luck.
While some may not consider Tartarus a God, but more of a place, Tartarus is considered in Greek mythology to be a primordial God. In other words, he is essentially a concept that has had a deity created for it. Tartarus is considered to be way down below the Earth, surrounded by a great wall of bronze. Usually Hades is the main place for punishment, with Tartarus being reserved for the Titans, but in some later myths it becomes more of a general place of punishment. Tartarus is the place where all of the Titans where imprisoned after Zeus defeated them and took over. The great God Uranus also utilized Tartarus, sending some of his children down to the pit because he believed that they could potentially defeat him someday.
When most people hear the name Morpheus, they think of the character from The Matrix. However, Morpheus is actually one of the coolest Greek Gods ever. Morpheus was originally a child created by the original night Goddess, Nyx. However, along with several others, he worked for the head God of sleep, Hypnos, which is the root word behind hypnosis. It is said that Morpheus looked up to Hypos as if he were his father. Morpheus was the head God of dreams, and was sent as a messenger in the dreams of mortal men when the Gods needed to give them important information. Some people believe that when Agamemnon had a dream with a message from Zeus himself, it was Morpheus who was sent to deliver it.