When the structure of the Greek Pantheon is analyzed, we see that male gods and female goddesses are equal in number and constitute important parts of a whole. In the historical background, in addition to the fact that a male-dominated politics is now valid in social life, the importance of women in daily life and traditional work is great.
Beauty is the most valuable quality for Ancient Greece. In the myths involving female goddesses, their beauty has always been legendary. These myths are full of stories of beautiful goddesses and women who changed the fate of the Greeks. In fact, it is difficult to fit the most beautiful goddesses or women into a single article, but we will try to share these beauties as much as we can.
Aphrodite (Greek: Ἀφροδίτη) is known as the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology. The ancient Greeks, who distinguished between the love of body and soul, had two goddesses named Aphrodite: One Aphrodite was the goddess of “body love” and the other of “soul love”.
In Hesiodos’ book, Aphrodite was born from the foam in the waters of Paphos on the island of Cyprus. According to Homer’s Iliad, however, Aphrodite was born from the union of Zeus and Dione, daughter of Okeanos. As with many Greek gods, there are many stories about Aphrodite’s origins.
Many gods believed that Aphrodite’s beauty and rivalries over her would lead to a war between the gods. For this reason, Zeus married Aphrodite to Hephaestus. Despite her marriage to Hephaestus, Aphrodite had many lovers. (Those who fell in love with her included both gods and humans.) Aphrodite is known to have given troublesome loves to those who neglected to worship her or gave up worshipping her. To the women of Lemnos who do not worship her enough, she gives them an odor that even their husbands cannot stand.
Gaia (Greek Γαῖα) was the goddess of the Earth. She both created and became the consort of the sky god Uranus. Together they had many children. Gaia, goddess of the earth and mother of all things, is the matriarchal figure of the Greek gods.
Without the help of any other element, she gave birth to Ouranos (the sky) and Pontos (the sea), and then united with Ouranos to give birth to Okeanus, Koeus, Kreius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rheia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Thetys, Kronos, the Cyclops, Brontes, Steropes, Arges, Kottus, Briareus and Gyges, all gods.
Gaia was the embodiment of all natural beauty and the Greeks held her in high esteem and reverence. However, although she was worshipped throughout Greece, her importance diminished over time. The equivalent of Gaia in Roman mythology was Terra or Tellus.
Elements of the “mother earth” figure are found in many other belief systems, and her presence in Greek mythology may be a mythological remnant from earlier times.
Artemis was the goddess of hunting, wild nature and chastity. She was the daughter of Zeus and sister of Apollo. She was the patroness of young women and their births. Like her brother Apollo, she was depicted armed with a bow and arrow, and she is also known as the goddess of the moon. She also has the power to send epidemics, sudden deaths or cure diseases to mortals. She also ruled stagnant waters and humid areas such as rivers, lakes and swamps. Especially coasts, harbors and seafaring constituted her special domain.
This feature of the goddess is also described at the beginning of the Trojan War. As the navy, led by Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon, was preparing to set sail, the wind suddenly stopped blowing. The oracle tells them that the stillness is due to Artemis’ anger and that Agamemnon has committed the crime of killing an animal dedicated to Artemis. Artemis’ anger will be appeased only if Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigeneia to her. Agamemnon cannot withstand the pressure and is forced to sacrifice his daughter. After Artemis’ anger subsided, the ships were able to set sail again.
Artemis was a goddess who was worshipped extensively in Anatolia and Greece. However, her most famous cult site is the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Although she was the daughter of Zeus and sister of Apollo, the name Artemis is not a Greek designation. Many etymologists have given different explanations for this word, but none of them have been confirmed by others.
Hera (Ήρα in Greek) is known as the queen of the goddesses in Greek mythology. She is the wife of the chief god Zeus. Zeus and Hera are also two natural siblings born to Kronos and Rhea. Zeus wins a war against his father Kronos, rescues his other siblings from Kronos and marries Hera, declaring his dominance in the pantheon of gods.
Hera was the queen among the Olympian goddesses. Responsible for all female dynamics such as marriage and childbirth, Hera was the patron goddess of marriages. Depicted with cow eyes and white arms, often seated on a throne, she is the most powerful and influential goddess in mythology. The second most beautiful goddess after Aphrodite, she never betrayed Zeus and always remained loyal to him. In Roman mythology she is known as Juno (Latin: IVNO).
Hera’s personality is jealous, ill-tempered, disagreeable and stubborn. She tormented Maia, who had a relationship with Zeus, set a trap for Semele and harassed Leto. Because she was not chosen as the most beautiful goddess by the Trojans, her grudge against them was never exhausted.
Helen (Greek Ελένη) is, according to legend, the only daughter of Zeus by a mortal woman. She was born from the tryst between Leda, queen of Sparta, and the god Zeus. She is one of the main heroes of the Iliad.
Many men fought to marry Helen. Finally she chose her stepfather, Menelaus, King of Sparta. When Paris of Troy visited Sparta, he fell in love with Helen. Together they fled Sparta and came to Troy.
The kings of Greece united on the orders of Menelaus’ brother Agamemnon and sailed to Troy. For 10 years the armies of Greece and Troy fought, exhausting both sides. Finally Odysseus came up with the idea of the Trojan horse. The wooden horse was left in front of the gates of Troy and the best soldiers hid in its belly. As a result of the plan of the Achaean army and the spy Sinon, they entered the city of Troy and set it on fire.
With the destruction of Troy, Menelaus and Helen were reunited. Menelaus had vowed to kill Helen, but the idea melted away when he looked at her beauty again. They returned to Sparta. Other kings in Greece also forgave Helen. Although she was originally from Sparta, she always wanted to be known as Helen of Troy and is still known as Helen of Troy today.
It is rumored that the last words out of Helen’s mouth as she was dying were Paris and Father (Zeus as her father). She is an example of beauty for the Greeks.
Psyche (Greek ψυχή) was a mortal and the youngest daughter of a powerful king. She was also the wife of the god Eros and mother of Hedone.
Her beauty was said to outshine all other women. Although she fascinated many men with her beauty, no one was willing to marry her for fear of losing her. When Aphrodite, herself a famous beauty, heard this claim, she became jealous.
So Aphrodite sent Eros, known as the god of love, to shoot an arrow at her so that she would fall in love with a pig. However, Eros’ arrow scratched him and as a result he fell in love with Psyche. Eros kidnapped her and they were secretly married.
When the girl saw the wings of her lover, whom she had promised not to look at in the daylight, in the light of the lamp, the god ran away. Arriving at a temple of Venus (Aphrodite), the young girl desperately performed impossible tasks assigned by the jealous goddess, but eventually fell into a trap and died. Eros, on the other hand, climbed to the sky to join his lover. The couple reunited and had two children.
Cover Photo: History Extra by Elinor Evans