Ancient Greek Gods
Welcome to our Greek Gods and Goddesses page here on History for Kids. We have some fun facts and pictures for you to color. You will learn some interesting facts about each God as you read down the page. Take your time there is a lot of information on this page, check out the quick facts also if you just need a quick understanding and characteristics of each one.
Athena was tall, strong, graceful, gray-eyed, and she liked owls. From the beginning, she was a pretty amazing goddess. In fact, even her birth was most unusual.
Zeus, the father of gods and goddesses, was also Athena’s father. Her mother was a mortal woman named Metis. Older gods had warned Zeus that he would be in trouble if Metis gave birth to a daughter. So he swallowed Metis whole.
When it came time for Athena to be born, she sprang full grown out of Zeus’s head. She was completely dressed in armor, as she always would be. She also carried a shield and a spear. As you might guess about a woman in armor, she was a great warrior.
Athena didn’t get along with the sea god Poseidon. For one thing, they were often rivals over one thing or another. Once the people of a new city were looking for a god to watch over and protect them. Athena and Poseidon both wanted the job.
To impress the city’s citizens, the two gods gave them gifts. Poseidon struck the ground with his three-pointed spear, and water poured out. The water turned into a river that flowed into the sea. Poseidon told the people to build ships to sail to the sea. He said that they could travel everywhere. They could become the most powerful people on earth.
The citizens were indeed impressed. But then Athena told them to taste the water. It tasted awful. It was saltwater, which is impossible to drink.
Then Athena gave the citizens her gift. When she hit the ground with her spear, a tree magically grew up within seconds. She explained that it was a special tree—an olive tree. Its wood was good both for building houses and for heating those houses in winter. Better still, the tree’s little green fruits, called “olives, ” were delicious. And oil made out of the olives was useful for cooking.
The citizens liked Athena’s gift better than Poseidon’s. Not only did they choose Athena to watch over them, they named the city after her. They called it Athens. Poseidon left in a huff, causing a serious flood on his way. But the Athenians weren’t bothered very much. With Athena’s help, their city grew to be strong and wealthy. Athens became one of the greatest cities of all time. Today it’s the capital and the largest city of Greece.
Here are some historical facts about the city of Athens:
•Athenians did their best to make their city live up to its name. Inspired by their tales about Athena’s wisdom, Athens became a center of civilization.
•Athenians turned their city into the world’s first democracy.
•Athenians wrote the world’s first plays, both comedies and tragedies. Those plays were performed in an open-air theater. They are still popular today.
•Some of history’s greatest thinkers were Athenian. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were the city’s most famous philosophers.
•The world’s first historians, Herodotus and Thucydides, lived in Athens.
•Athenians created some of the world’s most beautiful buildings. The ruins of its most famous temple, the Parthenon, are still standing today. The Parthenon once held a large statue of Athena.
•The Athenian Hippocrates is said to be the father of medicine. He wrote a famous oath that is still spoken by doctors today.
The brothers Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon were the most important gods of all. Zeus was the strongest and wisest of the three and ruled over the earth. Hades ruled the Underworld, the world of the dead. Poseidon ruled the seas. He was also the god of earthquakes and horses.
Poseidon had a beard and long blue hair. He drove a golden cart called a chariot.
It was pulled by strange beasts that were half-horse and half-snake. Fish and dolphins always swam along beside the sea god’s chariot.
Poseidon carried a three-pointed spear called a trident. He used this to start earthquakes or bring water out of the ground.
Like the sea he ruled, Poseidon could be either calm or stormy. As you might guess, the god of earthquakes had a short temper. He didn’t get along with other gods. He didn’t always get along with mortals, either.
The people of Troy once asked Poseidon to help build a wall around their city. He helped, but then he got angry when he didn’t get paid for his work. He was Troy’s enemy ever after that. When Troy fought a terrible war against Greece, Poseidon supported the Greeks.
Each god had a city to protect and watch over. The city showed its thanks by honoring that god especially. Maybe because he was ill-tempered, Poseidon had trouble finding a city to honor him. The people of Athens chose Athena instead of Poseidon as its protector. The people of Naxos chose Dionysus. The people of Aegina chose Zeus. Finally, all the gods had special cities except Poseidon. He was very unhappy and disappointed.
But at long last, the people of Atlantis chose Poseidon. Atlantis was a huge island, and its people loved and honored him. There he fell in love with a mortal princess named Clito. He built a palace for her, and they had ten sons. The sons grew up to be kings who ruled different parts of Atlantis. Those kings ruled wisely, and Atlantis became the greatest civilization in the world. Poseidon was proud and happy.
But bad times came. The first kings of Atlantis died, and their sons were bad rulers. And the sons who came after them were worse yet. Years passed, and Atlantis was no longer the world’s greatest civilization. It was actually the worst. It had become both wicked and foolish.
Finally, the people of Atlantis forgot to worship Poseidon. The sea god became angry and used his trident to start a terrible earthquake. Atlantis sank beneath the waves, never to be seen again.
Here are some historical facts about Poseidon’s story:
•Horses were very important in the ancient world. Poseidon’s earliest worshippers may have been the people who first brought horses to Greece.
•There are many earthquakes in Greece. Not surprisingly, a god of earthquakes was taken very seriously there.
•The sea was very important to the Ancient Greeks. They were great explorers whose ships sailed to distant places.
•Fishermen in the ancient world caught tuna with a trident.
•Atlantis was thought to have been in a faraway ocean. Today we call that ocean the Atlantic.
•Atlantis was probably imaginary. Even so, some people still believe that it once was real. And people keep looking for it.
•Atlantis may have been based on a real place. There once was a large island called Thera. It was destroyed by a huge volcano. Like Atlantis, it sank into the sea.
Hermes was the messenger god. He was young and intelligent-looking. He wore a winged hat and winged sandals, and he carried a magic wand. (We know what he looked like because so many sculptors made statues of him.)
Hermes was said to be the god of the marketplace. Oddly, he was also said to be the god of thieves. He himself was a clever thief. He started stealing early in life—actually on the day he was born.