The term Olympian refers to Gods who dwell in Ólymbos (Olympus, Ὄλυμπος), a royal place in the heavens, for it was believed in antiquity that most deities dwelt in various regions of the sky, over which mighty Zefs (Ζεύς) has dominion. In the mythology, Zefs deifies people and positions them in the sky as stars or constellations. This is related to the idea of The Three Zefs, the three sons of Krónos: Ploutôn (Plutô, Πλούτων), who rules the earth; Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν), who rules the sea and the sky up to just below the moon; and Olympian Zefs, who rules all the heavens. Because the palace of Zefs is in Ólymbos and because he places deities in his dominion, the sky, you will sometimes find any such deity legitimately referred to as "Olympian." This is in contrast to deities, for instance, who are said to dwell on Earth, which are referred to as khthonic, or earthy, deities. While this is all certainly true, in this tradition, when we say Olympian, we are generally using the term in a more exclusive way and assigning it to a particular group of twelve Gods, also a very ancient tradition.

The Dôdækáthæon

There are twelve deities who are the cornerstone of worship and understanding in Ællînismόs (Hellênismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. They are known as the Dôdækáthæon (Dôdecatheon, Δωδεκάθεον). The etymology of the word is δώδεκα "twelve" + Θεός "God." These are the Twelve Olympian deities.

In the mythology, the Dôdækáthæon are said to dwell at a location in the heavens. Here were their palaces which were constructed of copper on the outside and solid gold within and were made by the divine coppersmith Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος) himself. This place was represented on earth by the temples of Mount Ólymbos, on the border between Thæssalía (Thessaly, Θεσσαλία) and Makædonía (Macedonia, Μακεδονία), for the simple reason that this area was the highest place in Greece, practically in the sky itself and absolutely awe-inspiring to the ancient people.

Sometimes in ancient literature, authors will include various deities as members of the Dodækáthæon, but in the tradition taught to this author, the members consist of the twelve deities who appear in the list below, these and only these:

Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία)

Árîs (Arês, Άρης)

Ártæmis (Artemis, Ἄρτεμις)

Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος)

Íra (Hêra, Ήρα)

Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν)

Athîná (Athêna, Ἀθηνᾶ)

Aphrodítî (Aphroditê, Ἀφροδίτη)

Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων)

Ærmís (Hermês, Ἑρμῆς)

Zefs (Ζεύς)

Dîmítîr (Dêmêtêr, Δημήτηρ)

The Question of Diónysos

Many online sources include Diónysos as one of the twelve Olympians. Those who promulgate this belief say that Æstía stepped down from her Olympic seat and gave it to Diónysos. This mischievous idea was concocted by the English poet and novelist Robert Graves in his book The Greek Myths. This is a demonstration of how one influential person can cause considerable damage to a large number of people who are innocent of an idea's origin, for this belief has now infected the Internet and is most unfortunately seen everywhere. There is no persuasive evidence of the idea from antiquity and it is not even viewed as worthy of discussion by teachers of the religion in Greece. For many reasons, the idea theologically does not make any sense at all.

The tradition held by this website is Orphic. It could be said that we are the religion of Diónysos; therefore, we would never diminish his importance. While Diónysos is not an Olympian, he is a very special God. His importance can be gleaned from Orphic theogony which reveals his role as critical for mankind, for he is to free mortals from the sorrowful circle of rebirths (κύκλος γενέσεως), to free us from suffering. Diónysos is the great son of Zefs conceived to fulfill this mighty plan of his father, but he is not an Olympian God.

The Twelve Ǽphori

Frequently people are drawn to one or more of the Olympians and there is a tendency to ignore the rest of the pantheon, but all of the Gods and Goddesses of the Dôdækáthæon work in a progression of influence on the soul. Therefore, although one deity may provide a steppingstone to a deeper relationship with the Gods, ultimately we need the support of the entire Dôdækáthæon, for the Twelve Olympians have dominion over every single aspect of life, mortal, divine, vegetative, and beyond the earth. Because of their complete authority, they are known as the Twelve Ǽphori (Ephoroi, Ἔφοροι), the magistrates or rulers who have dominion over the Natural Laws. They exercise ministry over the laws, for the harmonic concordance of these laws, and provide a means by which mortal beings can communicate with these laws. The Laws are divine, but they are impersonal. On the other hand, the Olympian Gods are personal deities with feelings and the ability to sense and respond to us; they provide a much more accessible means to understand and work with the laws of nature. And foremost: only the Olympian Gods can deify the soul, which is the ultimate goal of Próödos (Πρόοδος), Progress.

The Olympians are the Zôdiokrátoræs

An excellent means by which to deepen one's relationship with the Olympian Gods is to establish their worship based on the months over which each deity has dominion. The calendar we use is divided into twelve months, but they do not coincide with the Roman months; it is zodiacal. This is not astrology and has nothing to do with casting fortunes, but is simply the natural times of the year. For instance, the solstices and equinoxes which mark the beginning of each season, fall at the beginning of zodiacal months. The zodiac is simply a map of the sky, imagined as a belt encircling the heavens, extending about 8 degrees on each side of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun in the firmament. The zodiac is the creation of rural societies which used the sky to help them understand and work with the seasons. Each month is ruled by one of the twelve Olympian deities. When one of the Olympians is discussed in this way, this deity is called the Zôdiokrátôr (Ζῳδιοκράτωρ, singular), the presiding zodiacal deity, of the sign over which he or she has dominion. The Olympians are, therefore, known collectively as the Zôdiokrátoræs (ζῳδιοκράτορες, plural), the ruling deities of the Zodiac.

In our tradition, all ritual performed during a particular zodiacal month incorporates the recitation of the Orphic hymn for the Olympian God who has dominion over that month. This is an excellent way to become familiar with the complete Dôdækáthæon. After you have gone through this cycle for several years, you will become very familiar with the epithets and qualities of all the Olympians.

The Older Olympian Gods

The Olympians are sometimes classified in terms of "age." It is, generally, based on genealogy and how they are depicted in art.

The Older Olympian Deities are all Gods of the Kronídai (Cronidae, Κρονίδαι), the progeny of Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος), with the exception of Íphaistos. The explanation usually given concerning the inclusion of Íphaistos is that he is a son of Íra and that he is never depicted in iconography as young; sometimes he is said to be a "wind-child" (ὑπηνέμιον πᾶιδα), a son of Íra alone and, therefore, not progeny of Zefs as are the rest of the Younger Olympian Gods. Ploutôn, (Pluto, Πλούτων), the third Zefs and also a member of the Kronídai, is not listed here because he is not an Olympian deity; he has other functions.

The Older Olympian Deities are:

Æstía and Íphaistos

Dîmítîr and Poseidóhn

Íra and Zefs

The Younger Olympian Gods

The younger of the twelve are sometimes called the Lesser Olympian Gods; lesser, in this case, refers to "age" and not importance. They are all progeny of Zefs. In Orphic theogony, Pándîmos (Pandêmus, Πάνδημος) Aphrodítî is the daughter of Zefs (and Dióhnî, Διώνη) and she is always depicted in iconography as young.

The Younger Olympian Gods are:

Athîná and Ærmís

Aphrodítî and Árîs

Ártæmis and Apóllôn


Ǽphori - (Ephoroi; Gr. Ἔφοροι, ἜΦΟΡΟΙ, plural. Singular is ἔφορος.) rulers, guardians of the Natural Laws.

Krataiós iyæmónæs - (crataeus hegemones; Gr. κραταιός ἡγεμόνες, ΚΡΑΤΑΙΟΣ ΗΓΕΜΟΝΕΣ. Plural. Singular is κραταιός ἡγεμών. Etym. κραταιός “strong” or “mighty;” ἡγεμόνες “leader” or “commander.”) The mighty commanders, i.e. the Olympians who preside over the twelve zóhdia (i.e., the twelve zodiacal months). (Πορφύριος as quoted in Εὑαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευὴ Εὐσεβίου 3.4) Cf. Zôdiokrátôr. Cf. Zôdiárkhîs.

Dôdækáthæon (Dôdecatheon; Gr. Δωδεκάθεον, ΔΩΔΕΚΑΘΕΟΝ. Etym. δώδεκα "twelve" +Θεός "God.") These are the Twelve Olympian deities.

Zôdiárkhîs - (Zôdiarchês; Gr. Ζῳδιάρχης, ΖΩΙΔΙΑΡΧΗΣ = Ζῳδιοκράτωρ. Noun. Ety. ζῳδιακὸς [the zodiac] + ἄρχων [ruler or lord]) Olympian deity who rules over (one of the twelve signs of) the zodiac. Cf. Krataiós iyæmónæs and Zôdiokrátôr.

Zôdiokrátôr - (Zôdiocratôr; Gr. Ζῳδιοκράτωρ, ΖΩΙΔΙΟΚΡΑΤΩΡ = Ζῳδιάρχης. Noun. Plural is ζῳδιοκράτορες. Etym. ζῳδιακός [the zodiac] + κράτωρ [ruler or potentate]) Olympian divinity presiding over (one of the twelve signs of) the zodiac. Cf. Krataiós iyæmónæs and Zôdiárkhîs.

For additional information on the Dôdækáthæon, visit the individual pages for each deity (See the links above)

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation .

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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