Who were the Twelve Olympians and what were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

I’m more than halfway through The Immortals, Book 1 of Jordanna Max Brodsky’s new fantasy series and I’m excited to read more about her strong heroine, Selene DiSilva, known more than 2,000 years ago as the Greek goddess Artemis.

The Immortals
Here’s the premise of Book I:  Imagine if the Twelve Olympians from ancient Greek mythology were living among us, using modern names and working at modern jobs.  They have observed the passage of time in a way mortal beings cannot comprehend.  But time has taken its toll on these deities and some of their powers are beginning to fade.

When a crime spree resembling the cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries takes over New York, Selene (Artemis) wonders if the crimes have anything to do with the original twelve.  As Selene and a Columbia University professor investigate the death of a female historian, they find themselves caught in a series of mysterious and dangerous situations.

Who were the Twelve Olympians?

Twelve Olympians wikipedia.org.png
Source: wikipedia.org

Right away, I needed to know all about the Twelve Olympians and how they fit into Greek Mythology.  These twelve became leaders of Mount Olympus when they defeated the Titans in a war of the gods.  While its members varied somewhat, the thirteen gods listed below are generally considered the main players and are the ones listed on Wikipedia.  I’ve included a brief description, but you can get the full story and see alternate lists by visiting the links at the bottom of this post.

Zeus:  King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus, brother and husband of Hera.  Zeus had many lovers.  Also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.

Hera:  Queen of the gods, wife of Zeus.  Often tried to get revenge on Zeus’ lovers and children.

Poseidon:  God of the seas, earthquakes and tidal waves.  Brother of Zeus and Hades.

Demeter:  Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons.

Athena:  Goddess of wisdom, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts and science, defense and strategic warfare.  Daughter of Zeus.  She came out of Zeus’ head fully grown in full battle armor.

Apollo:  God of light, prophecy, inspiration, poetry, music and arts, medicine and healing.  Son of Zeus and Leto.  Twin brother of Artemis.

Artemis:  Goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals.  Daughter of Zeus and Leto.  Apollo’s twin.

Ares:  God of war, violence, and bloodshed.  Son of Zeus and Hera.  Hated by all the other gods except Aphrodite.

Aphrodite:  Goddess of love, beauty, and desire.  Daughter of Zeus and possibly the Oceanid Dione.

Hephaestus:  Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone.  Married to Aphrodite.

Hermes:  Messenger of the gods; god of commerce, thieves, eloquence and streets.  Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia.

Hestia:  Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family.  She is sometimes replaced by Dionysus as one of the Twelve, and the story is that she gave her throne to him to keep peace.  She is oldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.

Dionysus: God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theater. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.

What were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

Source: esotericonline.net
Source: esotericonline.net

The Eleusinian Mysteries were secret religious initiations held yearly for the cult of Demeter and Persephone.  Persephone was Demeter’s daughter and was kidnapped by her uncle, Hades and forced to be his wife.  After the original kidnapping, Zeus ordered Persephone to spend part of the year in the underworld and part of it with her mother, Demeter and the four seasons resulted from this arrangement.  Those initiated into the cult believed they would be rewarded in the afterlife.

You don’t have to do any extra studying to enjoy The Immortals.  Brodsky does a great job explaining all the gods and their myths.  But I always like to know who’s who and what’s what, so a little extra research is making it fun for me!

I’ll be reading for the rest of the weekend.  Check back soon for my review of The Immortals.

You can find out more about the Greek gods and goddesses and the Eleusinian Mysteries by visiting the following links:

Wikipedia article on the Twelve Olympians
Wikipedia article on the Eleusinian Mysteries
Enclclopæadia Britannica
Info Please – Hades Takes a Wife

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

5 thoughts on “Who were the Twelve Olympians and what were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

  1. Greek mythology has always intrigued me. This may sound a bit childish, but I got intrigued even more after I read the Percy Jackson series 😆I think I’ll have to give this a try 😊

  2. You forgot Jim Thorpe. (You’re either smiling as you remember this blast from our past or frowning as you fear for my mental health.)

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