Goddess of the corn and harvest, Demeter is Persephone's mother, and she grieves every time her daughter goes down to Hades--these times correspond to earth's winter.
Demeter's daughter, Persephone is kidnapped by Hades to become the wife of the underworld.
Hades is king of the underworld. He lives by the river Styx and kidnaps Persephone to become his queen.
Metaneira is a kind woman who takes in Demeter when the goddess comes down to earth in search of Persephone.
Son of Zeus and a mortal princess, Dionysus grows up in a verdant land and becomes god of wine.
Semele is a mortal woman with whom Zeus falls in love. She bears him Dionysus but dies when, at her wish, Zeus shows himself in all his glory.
Penthus rules Thebes and dislikes Dionysus. In return, Dionysus arranges for women to tear him apart, limb by limb.
Gaea is Mother of Earth. She marries Ouranos and gives birth to the first generation of earthly life: monsters and Titans.
Father Heaven marries Mother Earth and fathers the giants and Titans. A malicious god, Ouranos loses his power to his own son, Cronus.
The son of Mother Earth and Father Heaven, Cronus is a Titan who rebels against his wicked father and takes power.
Daughter of Mother Earth and Father Heaven, Rhea becomes her brother Cronus's queen when he takes power. Rhea swallows each of their children to prevent a prophecy that Cronus will be overthrown by his own son. She successfully sends away her sixth son, Zeus, but he fulfills the prophecy.
Son of Rhea and Cronus, Zeus leads his siblings in a war against their father. When he wins, he becomes king of the gods.
A Titan who loses in the war against Zeus and his siblings. His punishment is to hold the world on his shoulders for eternity.
Prometheus brings fire to humans and is punished greatly for doing so.
Prometheus's brother, Epimetheus grants the animal kingdom so many gifts (fur, wings, shells, etc.) that there is about nothing left for man.
Pandora opens a box she was supposed to leave closed. It releases all negative things into the world.
Hera turns Io into a cow because Zeus is in love with her. Tied to his rock, Prometheus meets Io when she is a cow.
Hera is the wife of Zeus. She is a strong and wise goddess who is often jealous of her husband's interest in other humans.
Argus is a monster with one thousand eyes. Hera puts them in the peacock's tail.
Son of Zeus and Hera, Hermes is the smartest god.
The god of love, Cupid has magic arrows that make anyone fall in love with the next person he or she sees.
Europa is a mortal woman whom Zeus desires. Disguised as a bull, he carries her across an ocean to Crete, where she bears him two sons.
Polyphemus is a Cyclops who traps Odysseus and his men in a cave. Polyphemus eats many of the men. He is immense and strong, but Odysseus proves more crafty and escapes.
Known for his beauty, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection in a pond.
Echo is a beautiful nymph whom Zeus desires. Hera punishes her by deciding that she shall never speak first; she only shall repeat what others say.
God of anger, Nemesis punishes Narcissus by making the beautiful boy fall in love with his own reflection.
Apollo's best friend. Apollo accidentally kills him with a discus. The hyacinth flower grows on the ground where he died.
A beautiful man, Adonis wins the affections of both Aphrodite and Persephone.
A stunningly beautiful girl, Psyche wins the attention of Cupid but cannot resist seeing him in the light.
Goddess of love, Venus is also the mother of Cupid.
Pyramus falls in love with Thisbe, but when she arrives at their meeting spot, she sees a tiger and runs away. When she returns, she sees her lover, Thisbe, dead and then kills herself.
Thisbe falls in love with Pyramus. When he arrives at their meeting place, he finds her bloody shawl and kills himself. He does not realize that she dropped her shawl while running away from a tiger with blood in its mouth.
Orpheus is a talented musician who goes down to the underworld to save his lover, Eurydice. Unfortunately, he breaks his agreement and turns around to make sure she is following behind him on the way back up. She vanishes.
Eurydice is Orpheus's lover. She dies, goes down to the underworld, and almost returns to the living--but Orpheus fails to properly bring her back up.
Ceyx is happily married to Alcyone, but he decides to take a journey that ends with his drowning.
Alcyone, married to Ceyx, sees his body floating in the water. When she dives in after him, she turns into a bird.
Somnus is the god of sleep, father of Morpheus.
Son of Somnus, Morpheus is known for telling Alcyone, in a dream, that her husband Ceyx has died.
Pygmalion falls in love with his own art, a sculpture of a woman. Just when he accepts the hopelessness of the situation, Venus pities him and turns the sculpture into a woman.
Venus turns Pygmalion's sculpture into a real woman, Galetea.
Baucis, married to Philemon, welcomes Jupiter and Mercury into their home and thus is saved from a terrible flood.
Married to Baucis, Philemon welcomes Jupiter and Mercury into their home and is thus saved from a terrible flood.
Endymion is a beautiful man who, thanks to Selene, is in a magical slumber in which he sleeps forever.
Selene, a moon goddess, falls in love with Endymion and puts a magical spell on him so that he sleeps forever.
A beautiful wood nymph, Daphne tries to outrun Apollo and turns into a laurel tree.
The river god who desires Arethusa.
A huntress who tries to run away from Alpheus, but Artemis turns her into a spring of water.
The son of Apollo, Phaethon asks his father to ride his chariot across the sky. He dies because the ride is too challenging.
Bellerophon's loyal, winged horse.
In the city of Corinth, Glaucus is an evil king who feeds his horses human flesh.
Son of Poseidon, Bellerophon tames Pegasus with a golden bridle. After killing his brother by accident, Bellerophon takes Pegasus on many adventures in order to cleanse himself.
After Bellerophon kills his brother by accident, he goes to King Proteus for purification. But when Proteus's wife makes advances on the young man, Proteus sends Bellerophon away to be killed.
The monster whom the Lycian king commands Bellerophon to kill.
Otus, twin to Ephialtes, considers himself better than the gods and eventually dies after he and his twin throw spears at each other.
Ephialtes, twin to Otus, considers himself better than the gods and dies when he and his twin throw spears at each other.
A brilliant architect, Daedalus constructs the Labyrinth and escapes from it on a pair of home-made wings.
Son of Daedalus, Icarus escapes from the Labyrinth on a pair of home-made wings. Unfortunately, he flies too high to the sun, the wings melt, and the boy plummets to his death.
King Acrisius is told he will never have a son and that the son of his daughter will kill him. He tries to prevent the prophecy from coming true, but he cannot change fate, and his grandson Perseus kills him.
Daughter to King Acrisius, Danae lives in a bronze house because Acrisius does not want her to have the son who, according to prophecy, would kill him. Zeus, however, bears Danae a son named Perseus.
A common fisherman, Dictys takes Danae and Perseus into his home when they wash up on on his island.
Brother of Dictys, King Polydectes falls in love with Danae and asks Perseus to kill Medusa.
One of the greatest heroes, Perseus is best known for killing Medusa. He also kills his father, King Acrisius.
The Gray Women
In order to get the correct sword to kill Medusa, Perseus goes to the Gray Women, three gray sisters with one eye to share among the three.
Perseus finds Andromeda chained to a rock and rescues her. She marries him.
The great Athenian hero, Theseus is best known for killing the Minotaur with his bare hands.
King of Athens, Aegeus is father to Theseus. He jumps into the sea when his son returns from Crete sporting a black sail instead of a white one.
King Minos of Crete demands that every year, youths from Athens should come to Crete and be killed by the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. His daughter is Ariadne.
Daughter of King Minos, Ariadne helps Theseus find his way through the Labyrinth. She marries him but dies on the return to Athens.
Sister to Ariadne, Phaedra marries Theseus and falls madly in love with his son. She causes drama by claiming that he made advances on her, and she then kills herself.
Son of Theseus, Hippolytus refuses advances from his step-mother, Phaedra. Believing him guilty, Theseus banishes him, and he dies at sea.
A half bull, half human, the Minotaur lives inside the Labyrinth and kills innocent Athenian youth until Theseus kills him.
One of the greatest Greek heroes, Hercules is known for his unmatched strength and amazing achievements.
Married to Hercules, Megara bears him three sons. Hercules kills his sons after Hera sends him insanity.
Eurystheus sends Hercules on many journeys so that Hercules can cleanse himself from the guilt of having killed his own sons.
The three-headed dog who lives in Hades.
Raised by a she-bear, Atalanta is faster than all her suitors. She races them and is winning, but she loses because she is distracted by golden apples.
Known as both Melanion and Hippomenes, this crafty character beats Atalanta in a race by dropping golden apples along the way.
The wife of Athamas. Once he gets sick of her, she lands in jail.
A Greek king, Athamas jails his wife Nephele when he becomes sick of her. He marries a young princess, who convinces him to offer his son, Phrixus, as a sacrifice to the gods.
Son of Athamas and Nephele, Phrixus almost dies as a sacrifice to the gods, but instead a ram with a golden fleece saves him and his sister.
Saved by the ram with golden fleece, Phrixus arrives at the country of Colchis and gives the fleece to King Etes.
Pelias steals the crown from his brother and sends his nephew, Jason, on many adventures. Eventually, his own daughter kills him.
Jason overcomes many obstacles, most notably winning the golden fleece, in order to win back the crown from his wicked uncle Pelias. He marries Medea but later marries another woman.
Medea helps Jason get the golden fleece and marries him. But when he later marries someone else, she kills the new wife as well as the two sons she bore to Jason.
Son of Zeus, Tantalus murders his own son, Pelops, and tries to feed him to the gods without their knowing. The gods punish him by "tantalizing" him with food and water for eternity.
Tantalus's son, murdered by his father and served to the gods as food. The gods bring him back to life, and he eventually has a daughter, Niobe.
Daughter to Pelops, Niobe believes herself to be better than the gods, specifically the goddess Leto. Artemis and Apollo, therefore, shoot deadly arrows into all fourteen of Niobe's children. Niobe becomes a stone, always covered in tears.
Sister of Orestes, Iphigenia almost dies as a human sacrifice, but she is saved by Athena. She is finally reunited with her brother and lives happily.
Orestes, brother to Iphigenia, comes to her island and almost dies at her hand. Thanks to Athena, he lives with her happily.
Orestes's friend, who travels with him to Iphigenia's island.
Father of Oedipus, King Laius tries and fails to change the prophecy that his own son will kill him.
Son of King Laius and Jocasta, Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.
Oedipus's mother, Jocasta unknowingly marries her son. Horrified when this truth is revealed, she kills herself.
Son of Oedipus and Jocasta, Antigone is known for her loyalty to her brother, Polyneices, whom she buries against the king's law. She dies for this noble act.
Daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta.
Son of Oedipus and Jocasta, Polyneices dies by fighting the illegitimate king, Creon. His sister, Antigone, buries him against Creon's order.
One of Jocasta's and Oedipus's four children. He and his brother, Polyneices, kill each other.
Jocasta's brother, Creon becomes king after Oedipus exiles himself to an island and Jocasta dies. He kills Antigone for burying her brother.
Mythology Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Mythology is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Achilles left the battle because he was forced to return the beautiful, young woman he'd taken as a prize of war. Agamemnon demanded the woman, and as a result, Achilles withdrew. Achilles rejoined the battle in order to avenge the death of his...
The Mythology study guide contains a biography of Edith Hamilton, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of the major Greek myths and Western mythology.