Ancient Greek Gods for Kids
The Twelve Olympians
Roman Name: Council of 12 Gods
The ancient Greek mystical world was ruled by a small group of powerful gods called the Olympians. When things had to be decided, the council of 12 gods met on Mount Olympus to discuss things.
The 12 Olympian gods all kept a home on Mount Olympus. Unless they were off traveling somewhere, that's where you could find most of them. Hades preferred his home in the Underworld. Poseidon preferred his palace under the sea. But the rest of the Olympians lived on Mount Olympus year around.
Hestia was the goddess of hearth and home. She used to be one of the Olympians, but she grew tired of all their fighting and bickering. She gave her seat to Dionysus, the god of wine. Actually, once Dionysus settled down and got married, he was a very good choice. (But she kept her home on Mount Olympus. The view was magnificent!)
Aphrodite was on the council. But her husband, Hephaestus, who built all the gods' homes on Mount Olympus, was not on the council, not according to most Greek myths. However, if you visit the famous temple, the Parthenon, in Greece, you'll find a statue of each of the 12 Olympians. Hades, king of the Underworld, is not represented with a statue, but Hephaestus is.
So who were the 12 Olympians? When Hestia resigned, Dionysus took her place, so that was a swap. But no one knows whether Hades or Hephaestus was the 12th Olympian. It depends on the storyteller - some says Hades, some insist it was Hephaestus.
That's the thing about myths. Many myths were retold over and over, because the story was so good. But any storyteller might create a new adventure for the gods or might change a story slightly to make it more interesting to his listeners. What was important is that the gods' personalities remained the same. Everybody in ancient Greece knew the gods' personalities! There was no changing that.
Here are the twelve Olympians: