Avoid certain negative behavioural patterns by learning from the mistakes of the Gods of ancient Greece!
Discover ancient wisdom
The gods loomed large in the lives of the citizens of Ancient Greece. Interestingly, these immortal and powerful deities were not portrayed as infallible or perfect, like the supreme beings of other faiths. Instead, stories told about the Greek gods showed them to be flawed, humanlike characters - prone to pride, jealousy and anger - and often making mistakes. It is possible that the gods were presented in this way so their actions might show worshippers the far-reaching consequences of certain courses of action - like a morality lesson on an epic scale. The stories of the Greek gods are timeless, still holding interest and containing relevance for today. By looking at the meaning behind the myth, you can delve into the wisdom of the ancient gods. Here we examine the life lessons demonstrated by seven of the twelve Ancient Greek gods.
Zeus, king of the gods
The myth: Zeus is the ruler and father figure of the Ancient Greek gods, who legend told lived on Mount Olympus. He represents supreme strength and power. A thunderbolt is his mighty weapon with which he strikes down the wicked. He is called the god of justice, who was believed to expose liars and punish dishonest traders. Weakness: Zeus' weakness is love (or rather lust). He is married to Hera but has countless affairs with mortal and immortal women. This sows seeds of hatred and drives his wife to murder as she seeks to wreak revenge upon his many mistresses by killing them and their illegitimate offspring. Your lesson: The king of the gods teaches you that strength and power must be balanced with justice and clemency. His comical pursuit of women often makes him look foolish but also sometimes has devastating consequences. This illustrates the folly and danger of being a slave to lust.
Hera, queen of the gods
The myth: Protector of women, the regal figure of Hera was thought to bless marriages and guard women during the, then, very dangerous time of childbirth. Opinionated and strong, she was the only god who regularly dared to challenge Zeus. Weakness: Later mythology describes her as a jealous and conniving character, driven mad with rage over her husband's constant infidelities. Your lesson: Her earlier depictions show her as an example of a strong woman who is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. But later she allows hatred and jealousy to dominate her. This, perhaps, shows the perils of obsessive love.
The myth: God of the sea and the brother of Zeus. He had to submit to the power of his sibling. A shake of his trident was said to flood cities or cause earthquakes. Sailors believed they were at his mercy - if he was calm so were the seas but when he was enraged the waters were perilous. Weakness: He has a temper fiercer than the stormiest of seas. His propensity for bad moods, anger and holding grudges was legendary. Poseidon was more feared than loved; his terrible temper isolated him from the other gods. Your lesson: Anger and resentment will drive people way from you until these two emotions are all you have left.
The myth: Goddess of wisdom and strategy in war. She was chosen by the citizens of Athens as their patron. Although a war goddess, Athena preferred to solve conflict without bloodshed. Weakness: Despite her wisdom, vanity got the better of Athena when she fought with Hera and Aphrodite over the right to claim a golden apple inscribed with the words, 'I am the fairest'. Aphrodite won the contest and Athena was humiliated. Your lesson: Even the wisest people make mistakes. Keep your vanity and pride in check.
The myth: The beautiful and graceful goddess of love. Guardian of the natural cycles of life and symbol of fertility, she was possessed of a magic girdle whose power could make anyone fall in love with her. Unfaithful to her husband, the fiery god, Hephaistos, he captured her and her lover, Ares, in a net and ridiculed them in front of the other gods. Weakness: She was capricious and fickle with her affections, leading to heartbreak and strife among her many lovers. Your lesson: Trifling with people's affections will end badly for you and for them.
The myth: Bold and brave, muscle-bound Ares was a physically fit, bristling masculine archetype. He embodies the idea of a fearless warrior. Driven to win, Ares sometimes changed sides during a battle to ensure he was on the conquering side. Weakness: He represents brute force over planning and forethought. Ares encourages conflict as he enjoys the excitement of fighting and destruction. But when he clashes with the other gods, his brute strength is always defeated by their wisdom and cunning. Your lesson: Strength is meaningless without the wisdom to use it well.
The myth: A gentle mother goddess, presiding over the harvest and the fertility of the land. Although she is portrayed as benign, Demeter is no push-over. She showed her strength in her relentless quest to free her daughter, Persephone, back from the clutches of Hades, god of the underworld. Weakness: In her grief over the abduction of her daughter she neglected the earth and, according to myth, this caused the season of winter, when no crops will grow. Your lesson: Being a gentle person is not a sign of weakness. Don't fixate on just one hope in life or you may miss other opportunities.