DemeterGoddess 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.
PersephoneDemeter's daughter, Persephone is kidnapped by Hades to become the wife of the underworld.
HadesHades is king of the underworld. He lives by the river Styx and kidnaps Persephone to become his queen.
MetaneiraMetaneira is a kind woman who takes in Demeter when the goddess comes down to earth in search of Persephone.
DionysusSon of Zeus and a mortal princess, Dionysus grows up in a verdant land and becomes god of wine.
SemeleSemele 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.
PenthusPenthus rules Thebes and dislikes Dionysus. In return, Dionysus arranges for women to tear him apart, limb by limb.
GaeaGaea is Mother of Earth. She marries Ouranos and gives birth to the first generation of earthly life: monsters and Titans.
OuranosFather Heaven marries Mother Earth and fathers the giants and Titans. A malicious god, Ouranos loses his power to his own son, Cronus.
CronusThe son of Mother Earth and Father Heaven, Cronus is a Titan who rebels against his wicked father and takes power.
RheaDaughter 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.
ZeusSon of Rhea and Cronus, Zeus leads his siblings in a war against their father. When he wins, he becomes king of the gods.
AtlasA Titan who loses in the war against Zeus and his siblings. His punishment is to hold the world on his shoulders for eternity.
PrometheusPrometheus brings fire to humans and is punished greatly for doing so.
EpimetheusPrometheus's brother, Epimetheus grants the animal kingdom so many gifts (fur, wings, shells, etc.) that there is about nothing left for man.
PandoraPandora opens a box she was supposed to leave closed. It releases all negative things into the world.
IoHera turns Io into a cow because Zeus is in love with her. Tied to his rock, Prometheus meets Io when she is a cow.
HeraHera is the wife of Zeus. She is a strong and wise goddess who is often jealous of her husband's interest in other humans.
ArgusArgus is a monster with one thousand eyes. Hera puts them in the peacock's tail.
HermesSon of Zeus and Hera, Hermes is the smartest god.
CupidThe god of love, Cupid has magic arrows that make anyone fall in love with the next person he or she sees.
EuropaEuropa 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.
PolyphemusPolyphemus 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.
NarcissusKnown for his beauty, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection in a pond.
EchoEcho 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.
NemesisGod of anger, Nemesis punishes Narcissus by making the beautiful boy fall in love with his own reflection.
HyacinthusApollo's best friend. Apollo accidentally kills him with a discus. The hyacinth flower grows on the ground where he died.
AdonisA beautiful man, Adonis wins the affections of both Aphrodite and Persephone.
PsycheA stunningly beautiful girl, Psyche wins the attention of Cupid but cannot resist seeing him in the light.
VenusGoddess of love, Venus is also the mother of Cupid.
PyramusPyramus 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.
ThisbeThisbe 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.
OrpheusOrpheus 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.
EurydiceEurydice 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.
CeyxCeyx is happily married to Alcyone, but he decides to take a journey that ends with his drowning.
AlcyoneAlcyone, married to Ceyx, sees his body floating in the water. When she dives in after him, she turns into a bird.
SomnusSomnus is the god of sleep, father of Morpheus.
MorpheusSon of Somnus, Morpheus is known for telling Alcyone, in a dream, that her husband Ceyx has died.
PygmalionPygmalion 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.
GaleteaVenus turns Pygmalion's sculpture into a real woman, Galetea.
BaucisBaucis, married to Philemon, welcomes Jupiter and Mercury into their home and thus is saved from a terrible flood.
PhilemonMarried to Baucis, Philemon welcomes Jupiter and Mercury into their home and is thus saved from a terrible flood.
EndymionEndymion is a beautiful man who, thanks to Selene, is in a magical slumber in which he sleeps forever.
SeleneSelene, a moon goddess, falls in love with Endymion and puts a magical spell on him so that he sleeps forever.
DaphneA beautiful wood nymph, Daphne tries to outrun Apollo and turns into a laurel tree.
AlpheusThe river god who desires Arethusa.
ArethusaA huntress who tries to run away from Alpheus, but Artemis turns her into a spring of water.
PhaethonThe son of Apollo, Phaethon asks his father to ride his chariot across the sky. He dies because the ride is too challenging.
PegasusBellerophon's loyal, winged horse.
GlaucusIn the city of Corinth, Glaucus is an evil king who feeds his horses human flesh.
BellerophonSon 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.
ProteusAfter 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.
ChimaeraThe monster whom the Lycian king commands Bellerophon to kill.
OtusOtus, twin to Ephialtes, considers himself better than the gods and eventually dies after he and his twin throw spears at each other.
EphialtesEphialtes, twin to Otus, considers himself better than the gods and dies when he and his twin throw spears at each other.
DaedalusA brilliant architect, Daedalus constructs the Labyrinth and escapes from it on a pair of home-made wings.
IcarusSon 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 AcrisiusKing 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.
DanaeDaughter 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.
DictysA common fisherman, Dictys takes Danae and Perseus into his home when they wash up on on his island.
King PolydectesBrother of Dictys, King Polydectes falls in love with Danae and asks Perseus to kill Medusa.
PerseusOne of the greatest heroes, Perseus is best known for killing Medusa. He also kills his father, King Acrisius.
The Gray WomenIn 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.
AndromedaPerseus finds Andromeda chained to a rock and rescues her. She marries him.
TheseusThe great Athenian hero, Theseus is best known for killing the Minotaur with his bare hands.
AegeusKing 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.
MinosKing 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.
AriadneDaughter of King Minos, Ariadne helps Theseus find his way through the Labyrinth. She marries him but dies on the return to Athens.
PhaedraSister 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.
HippolytusSon of Theseus, Hippolytus refuses advances from his step-mother, Phaedra. Believing him guilty, Theseus banishes him, and he dies at sea.
MinotaurA half bull, half human, the Minotaur lives inside the Labyrinth and kills innocent Athenian youth until Theseus kills him.
HerculesOne of the greatest Greek heroes, Hercules is known for his unmatched strength and amazing achievements.
Princess MegaraMarried to Hercules, Megara bears him three sons. Hercules kills his sons after Hera sends him insanity.
EurystheusEurystheus sends Hercules on many journeys so that Hercules can cleanse himself from the guilt of having killed his own sons.
CerebrusThe three-headed dog who lives in Hades.
AtalantaRaised 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.
Melanion/HippomenesKnown as both Melanion and Hippomenes, this crafty character beats Atalanta in a race by dropping golden apples along the way.
NepheleThe wife of Athamas. Once he gets sick of her, she lands in jail.
AthamasA 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.
PhrixusSon 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.
King EtesSaved by the ram with golden fleece, Phrixus arrives at the country of Colchis and gives the fleece to King Etes.
King PeliasPelias steals the crown from his brother and sends his nephew, Jason, on many adventures. Eventually, his own daughter kills him.
JasonJason 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.
MedeaMedea 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.
TantalusSon 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.
PelopsTantalus'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.
NiobeDaughter 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.
IphigeniaSister 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.
OrestesOrestes, brother to Iphigenia, comes to her island and almost dies at her hand. Thanks to Athena, he lives with her happily.
PyladesOrestes's friend, who travels with him to Iphigenia's island.
King LaiusFather of Oedipus, King Laius tries and fails to change the prophecy that his own son will kill him.
OedipusSon of King Laius and Jocasta, Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.
JocastaOedipus's mother, Jocasta unknowingly marries her son. Horrified when this truth is revealed, she kills herself.
AntigoneSon 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.
IsmeneDaughter of Oedipus and Jocasta.
PolyneicesSon of Oedipus and Jocasta, Polyneices dies by fighting the illegitimate king, Creon. His sister, Antigone, buries him against Creon's order.
EteoclesOne of Jocasta's and Oedipus's four children. He and his brother, Polyneices, kill each other.
CreonJocasta's brother, Creon becomes king after Oedipus exiles himself to an island and Jocasta dies. He kills Antigone for burying her brother.
Mythology Essays and Related Content
- Mythology: Major Themes
- Mythology: Questions
- Mythology: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Edith Hamilton: Biography
- Mythology Summary
- About Mythology
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Persephone; Dionysus (Bacchus)
- Summary and Analysis of The Creation of the Earth
- Summary and Analysis of Prometheus; Pandora; Prometheus and Io
- Summary and Analysis of Europa; the Cyclops Polyphemus
- Summary and Analysis of Narcissus; Hyacinth; Adonis
- Summary and Analysis of Cupid and Psyche
- Summary and Analysis of Pyramus and Thisbe; Orpheus and Eurydice; Ceyx and Alcyone; Pygmalion and Galetea
- Summary and Analysis of Baucis and Philemon; Endymion; Daphne; Alpheus and Arethusa
- Summary and Analysis of Phaethon; Pegasus and Bellerophon
- Summary and Analysis of Otus and Ephialtes; Daedalus
- Summary and Analysis of Perseus
- Summary and Analysis of Theseus
- Summary and Analysis of Hercules; Atalanta
- Summary and Analysis of The Quest for the Golden Fleece
- Summary and Analysis of Tantalus and Niobe; Iphigenia Among the Taurians
- Summary and Analysis of Oedipus; Antigone
- What Is True about a Myth?
- Related Links on Mythology
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources