By Tim Lambert
The Ancient Greeks were polytheists (they worshipped many gods). The Greeks imagined that gods and goddesses were like human beings.
Acamas was the son of the hero Theseus. He fought in the Trojan War.
Achilles was a Greek warrior who fought in the Trojan War. His mother was a nymph named Thetis. When Achilles was a child she dipped him into the River Styx in the underworld to make him immortal but she held him by his heel and that part of his body remained mortal. During the Trojan War, the Trojan Paris fired an arrow at Achille’s heel and killed him.
Actaeon was a hunter who saw the goddess Artemis bathing. She turned him into a stag and he was killed by his dogs.
Aeneas was a Trojan and a great warrior. He survived the Trojan War and fled to Italy.
Agamemnon was the commander of the Greeks during the Trojan War
Ajax was a great Greek warrior who fought in the Trojan war
The Amazons were a mythical race of women warriors
Ambrosia was the food of the Greek gods
Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon the sea god
Andromeda was a princess. Her parents unwisely boasted that she was lovelier than the Nereids. Poseidon flooded the land and to appease him Andromeda was chained to a rock to be sacrificed to a sea monster. Perseus turned up just in time to kill the monster.
Apollo was the Greek god of music and poetry. He was also the god of prophecy.
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love
Arachne was a Greek woman who was very good at weaving. The goddess Athene turned her into a spider.
Ares was the Greek god of war
Argus was a giant with 100 eyes
Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and she helped Theseus to kill the Minotaur
Artemis was the goddess of hunting and wild animals
Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine and healing
The Asphodel Fields were a part of the underworld where people who were not particularly good or bad went after their death
Athene was the Greek goddess of wisdom and crafts
Atlas was a titan (a human-shaped giant) who held up the sky to prevent it from falling to earth
Augeus owned stables with cattle that had not been cleaned for years. One of the tasks of Hercules was to clean them. he did so by diverting a river through it.
Auster was the god of the south wind
Bellerophon was a Greek hero who killed the chimera. However, he tried to ride Pegasus the winged horse to Mount Olympus (dwelling place of the gods). Zeus sent a gadfly that stung the horse and threw its rider to the ground.
Boreas was the god of the north wind
Calliope was the muse of epic poetry
Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam of Troy. The god Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy but he later added a curse that nobody would ever believe her prophecies.
Centaurs were mythical beings. They were half human and half horse.
Cerberus was a dog with 3 heads who guarded the underworld and prevented the dead from escaping
Ceres was the Greek goddess of agriculture and the harvest
The Cerynean hind had golden antlers and bronze hooves. It was caught by Hercules.
Charon was the boatman who ferried the dead across the River Styx
Charybdis was a huge whirlpool that wrecked ships
Chimera had the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and a snake’s tail
Chiron was one of the centaurs
Chloris was the Greek goddess of flowers
Circe was a sorceress who met Odysseus
Clio was the muse of history
Cronos was the leader of the Titans. He was overthrown by his son Zeus.
The Cyclops were one-eyed giants. The most famous was Polyphemus who was outwitted by Odysseus. The Cyclops were children of Gaia the earth goddess and Uranus the sky god.
Daedalus was the first man to fly with his son Icarus
Danae was the mother of the hero Perseus
Demeter was the Greek goddess of harvests and fertility
In the Greek version of the flood story Zeus sent a terrible flood. Deucalion built an ark and survived with his wife Pyrrah.
Diomedes was a Greek hero who fought in the Trojan War
Dionysus was the Greek god of wine
Dryads were female spirits who lived in woods and groves
Echidna was part woman and part snake
Echo was a nymph. The goddess Hera cursed her so she could only repeat what other people said. Unable to speak to her lover Echo faded away till only her voice remained.
The Elysian Fields were part of the underworld. They were a paradise for the righteous after death.
Endymion was a handsome man. Zeus put him into an eternal sleep in which he never grew old.
Eos was the goddess of the dawn
Erato was the muse of love poetry
Eris was the goddess of discord
Eros was a Greek god who made people fall in love by piercing them with his arrows. He was the son of Aphrodite.
The Erymanthian boar was a ferocious beast captured by Hercules
Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus
Euris was the god of the East wind
Europa was a princess of Tyre. The chief god Zeus appeared to her in the form of a bull and took her to Crete. She was the mother of King Minos.
Euterpe was the muse of music
The fates were 3 goddesses who decided each person’s destiny
Gaia was the first goddess. She was the earth goddess and she gave birth to Uranus the sky god. Later she gave birth to the Cyclops and the Titans.
Galatea was the statue made by Pygmalion who became a woman
Ganymede was a boy who was abducted by the gods and became their cupbearer
A gorgon was a female monster with snakes for hair. Gorgons were so hideous they turned anyone who saw them into stone.
Harmonia was the goddess of harmony
Harpies were evil creatures, part women, part birds
Hector was a Trojan warrior. He was killed by Achilles.
Hecuba was the queen of Troy and the mother of Paris
Helen was the wife of Menelaus. A Trojan prince called Paris took her to Troy.
Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire and craftsmen
Hera was the wife of Zeus and the goddess of marriage
Hercules was a hero. He was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman and he performed a series of heroic tasks known as the labours of Hercules.
Hermes was the messenger of the Greek gods
Herperides were nymphs who looked after the golden apples that belonged to Hera
Hestia was the Greek goddess of the hearth (the centre of family life)
Hippolyta was a queen of the Amazons (women warriors)
The hydra was a snake-like monster with 9 heads. It was eventually killed by Hercules.
Hypnos was the god of sleep. Our word hypnosis comes from him.
Icarus was the son of Daedalus the first man to fly. Unfortunately, Icarus flew too near the sun and the wax holding his feathers melted.
Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon. She was sacrificed by her father.
Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow
Ixion was an evil man who was punished by being tied to a wheel of fire that rolled forever
Jason was a hero who led a group of heroes in a quest to obtain the golden fleece. They were called the Argonauts after their ship the Argo.
The Labyrinth was an underground maze in Knossos in Crete. The Minotaur lived there.
Leda was the queen of Sparta and the mother of Helen
Maenads were female followers of the god Dionysus
Medusa was a gorgon. She was killed by Perseus.
Melpomene was the muse of tragedy
Menelaus was a Greek king. His wife was Helen.
Midas was king of Phrygia (in what is now Turkey). He foolishly wished that everything he touched would turn to gold.
The Minotaur was a monster with a human body and a bull’s head. He lived in a labyrinth in Crete. Every 9 years 7 young men and 7 young women from Athens were sent to be devoured by him. He was killed by Theseus.
Morpheus was the Greek god of dreams
The muses were goddesses of the arts and branches of knowledge. They inspired human artists and thinkers.
The Naiads were freshwater nymphs who presided over streams, rivers, and lakes
Narcissus was a young man who fell in love with his reflection
Nectar was the drink of the Greek gods
The Nemean Lion was a ferocious beast with skin so tough no weapon could penetrate it. Hercules managed to strangle it.
Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance and retribution
Nereids were nymphs of the sea
Nymphs were minor goddesses
Odysseus was king of Ithaca. He fought in the Trojan War and on his journey home he had many adventures, which are told in the Odyssey.
Olympus was the dwelling place of the main Greek gods
Orpheus was a musician. He was one of the Argonauts.
Orthus was a two-headed dog
Paris was a Trojan prince who killed Achilles
Patroclus was a Greek warrior in the Trojan War. He was killed by the Trojan Hector.
Pelops was the son of Tantalus. His father killed him and served him at a feast for the gods. They brought him back to life. The goddess Demeter had eaten one of his shoulders but they replaced it with ivory.
Penelope was the wife of Odysseus
Pentheus was king of Thebes. He tried to stop the worship of the god Dionysius and was torn limb from limb.
Pan was the Greek god of shepherds. In appearance, he was half man, half goat.
In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman
Pegasus was a winged horse
Persephone was the daughter of the gods Zeus and Demeter. For part of the year she lived in the underworld with Hades and during that time Demeter refused to let anything grow.
Perseus was a hero who killed Medusa and rescued Andromeda from a sea monster
Phyllis was a woman who was turned into an almond tree
Pirithous was king of the Lapiths and a friend of Theseus
Plutus was the Greek god of wealth
Polydeuces was a Greek hero. He was one of the Argonauts.
Polyhymnia was the muse of sacred poetry
Poseidon was the Greek god of the sea
Priam was king of Troy
Procustes offered hospitality to travellers. He then made them fit a bed by stretching their limbs if they were too short and cutting off parts if they were too long. Procrustes was killed by the hero Theseus.
Prometheus was a Titan. He stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mankind. As a punishment Zeus chained him to a rock and an eagle ate his liver each day. (It regrew each time it was eaten).
Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue of a woman he had carved. The goddess Aphrodite turned the statue into a real woman.
Psyche was a mortal woman but Zeus made her immortal so she could marry Eros
Pyrrha was the wife of Deucalion, the hero who survived the flood
Rhea was one of the titans. She married Cronos, ruler of the Titans. She had 6 children, the gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, and the goddesses Hestia, Hera, and Demeter.
Satyrs were creatures who looked like young men but they had horse tails and ears
Semele was the human mother of the god Dionysus. (Zeus was his father).
Silenus was a satyr. He was usually drunk!
The Sirens were part birds and part women. They lived on an island with a rocky shore and they sang a song so beautiful that passing sailors would sail towards them and be shipwrecked on the rocks.
Sisyphus was a king who, after his death was punished by being made to roll a huge boulder up a hill. Every time he did it rolled back down again.
In Greek mythology, the sphinx had the body of a lion, the head of a woman, and wings like an eagle
In Greek mythology, the River Styx was the boundary between the world of the living and the underworld. The dead had to cross it in a boat.
Talos was a giant living, bronze statue that guarded Crete.
Tantalus was an evil man who invited the gods to a feast and served them his son as food! As a punishment, Tantalus was made to stand in a pool of water but whenever he tried to drink the water receded from him. Over his head were the branches of fruit trees but whenever he tried to eat fruit the branches moved out of his reach. This myth gave us the English word tantalise.
Tartarus was a place where evil people were punished after death
Telemachus was the son of the hero Odysseus
Terpsichore was the muse of dancing
Thalia was the muse of comedy
Thanatos was the god of death
Theseus was the Ancient Greek hero who killed the Minotaur
Thetis was a nereid or sea nymph. She was the mother of Achilles
Tiresias was a blind seer (a person who could see the future)
The Titans were a race of giants who ruled the Earth until they were overthrown by the gods of Olympus
Triton was a sea god. He was the son of Poseidon and he acted as his herald.
Tyche was the Greek goddess of fortune
Typhon was a giant monster. There are different versions of how he looked but he is usually described as having a human upper half and snake coils instead of legs.
Urania was the muse of astronomy
Uranus was the sky god. He was the son and husband of Gaia the earth goddess. He was the father of the Cyclops and the Titans. Uranus was overthrown by his son Cronos.
Zephyr was the god of the west wind
Zeus was the ruler of the Greek gods. He also controlled lightning, thunder, and rain.