As you are digging more and more into the Ancient Greek Mythology, it is unavoidable to notice patterns and symbols that accompany mythological scenes and heroes. In this blog post, we start to clear up the symbols that are associated with the Olympian Gods.


The king of the Gods and ruler of the Olympus goes the most times together with his sceptre (in Ancient Greek: skeptron), which was a long staff headed by a bird. It came to be used by respected elders, judges, priests, and in general people in authority, as well as by kerykes (heralds). A typical example is that of Agamemnon sending Odysseus to the leaders of the Achaneans, lending him his sceptre.

However, the most famous symbol of Zeus is the thunderbolt. According to Greek mythology, It is a weapon given to him by Cyclopes, the giant, one-eyed creatures. Considering that Zeus was the big one God, above all the rest of the Olympian Gods, we understand the connection between the depictions of Zeus holding the thunderbolt and the description in Heraclitus’ fragment talking about ‘the Thunderbolt that steers the course of all things’.

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God Zeus DP - credits: Zwiebackesser/depositphotos

Other frequent -animal- symbols are the eagle and the bull, the former expressing pride and Zeus’ power over the skies and the latter referring mainly to the form he took when raping Europa -a scene depicted on the Greek 2-euro coin.


Poseidon, the sea and oceans God, brother of Zeus, was also known as the ‘Earth Shaker’ believed to cause earthquakes. How? By using his trident -a three-pronged spear divine weapon, also said to have been produced and given by the Cyclopes, before the war commenced between the Titans and the Olympians. The word ‘trident’ comes from the Latin word tridens or tridentis: tri meaning ‘three’ and dentes meaning "teeth", referring specifically to the three prongs. The Greek equivalent is ‘τρίαινα’ (triaina), from Proto-Greek trianja, meaning ‘threefold’. The Greek term is vague about the shape.

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Apart from striking the earth, if he was offended or angered, he used the trident to show his power over the seawater. For example, in his attempt to conquer the city of Athens, he struck the ground with his trident and caused a spring of salty water to bounce up. However, it is believed he always carried his trident everywhere. Being the king of the seas, Poseidon’s messengers were the dolphins. That’s why in all the depicts of the sea, Poseidon is always surrounded by dolphins, which were considering benevolent animals and a good omen for the fishermen. Not forget to mention that it was a dolphin who persuaded the sea nymph Amphitrite to marry Poseidon.

There are also many myths stating the reason why the horse is regarded as his symbol. One suggests that Poseidon was the first God who created the first horse, while hippocamps were the horses who pulled his chariot on the sea. 

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Poseidon - credits: Andrij Ter/depositphotos


The 3rd of the three big Olympian Gods is connected to specific symbols, some of them today could be rated as ‘creepy’. The Helm of Darkness made for Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, by the Cyclopes, allowed the person wearing it to become invisible. As you see, Cyclopes helped very much the Olympian Gods to win the rest of the war against the Titans by creating weapons of different attributes, when they freed. However, Hades kept his own after the war and lent it out to other Gods or demigods on several occasions. Such was when he lent it to Perseus who was hunting Medusa. Wearing it, he was invisible, so Medusa’s gaze has no effect on him. Hades is also strongly connected to Cerberus (in Greek: Κέρβερος, Kerberos), the three-headed dog, offspring of the monsters Echidna and Typhon, which guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. In Greek mythology, Cerberus, was often called the ‘hound of Hades’.

Other symbols of Hades are the cypress tree, that in the classical tradition was associated with death and the Underworld, and the screech owl. 

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Hades - credits: Zwiebackesser/depositphotos


In ancient Greece the pomegrante was a symbol of fertility. So, it became a symbol synonymous with Hera, wife of Zeus and Goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth! In some Greek dialects, the pomegranate was called rhoa, thought to be connected with the name of the earth goddess Rhea, mother of Hera. As the wife of Zeus, she was an Olympian Queen. So, it is clear why diadem (an ornamental type of crown) is one of Hera’s symbols together with the sceptre. ‘Proof’ of the above symbols is the sculpture of Polykleitos depicting Hera in the Argive Heraion, portrayed with a sceptre in one hand and offering a pomegranate in the other.

Her sacred animals were the peacock and the cow. So, if you are wondering why Zeus decided to turn Io, his mortal young lover, into a cow to hide her from Hera, the answer is obvious: it was a strategic move to appease the anger of Hera with an animal that's sacred to and symbolic of her.  

320 front Hera DP Magryt Artur NEW!Hera - credits: Magryt Artur/depositphotos


The Goddess of wisdom, courage, and inspiration, Athena is associated with many different symbols. First of all, her sacred animal is considered to be the owl, as the source of her wisdom and judgment. It is said, also, that the owl’s exceptional night vision symbolizes Athena's ability to ‘see’ when others cannot!

In some depictions, including the famous statue Athena Parthenos, the massive but lost chryselephantine sculpture of Parthenonas, made by Phidias, carries or wears arms and armor, including a lance, a shield, and a helmet. Sometimes, this shield was goatskin emblazoned with the head of Medusa or the aegis of her father, Zeus. 

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Goddess Athena statue - credits: vverne/depositphotos

Last but not least, it is widely known that the olive tree is a symbol of Athena, and, as a result the city for which Athena was a protector, Athens. According to the myth, Zeus hold a contest between Athena and Poseidon in which he asked from the two to offer the people of Athens a gift. Athena achieved to win by producing a beautiful and fruitful olive tree to the Athenians, who turned down the salty water sprung from the striking of Poseidon’s trident on a rock, as, despite its beneficial attributes, the salty water wasn’t good for the boarding system of the citizens. 

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The God of trade, communication, heralds, and sports, as well as the youngest one of all the Olympians, Hermes, was mostly associated with the winged sandals that were symbolizing in general, the idea of transfer in all aspects of life. Actually, it was believed that Hermes was the messenger of the Gods (together with Iris), and that was able to move freely between the world of the Gods and the world of the mortals. Some stories describe him as a trickster that used to tease the rest of the Gods, or even the humans, for his own satisfaction. 

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Hermes - credits: gilmanshin/depositphotos


She was one of Zeus’ sisters and her daughter was Persephone. Her grain sheaf explains the relation to harvest and agriculture, as she was the protector of the fertility on earth and the cultivation of grains. In most depictions, she is accompanied by elements such as flowers and fruits, and often by her one and only daughter. It is also believed that the bees were her priestesses, and that makes senses about why humans used to worship her with offerings like honey and honey products. Another strong element associated with her was the serpent, which, since ancient times, has been a sacred symbol for primal life force energy -a head and spine that follow a spiral movement consist an image mostly appeared in east cultures and philosophies. Her character as mother Goddess is identified into the second part of her name, ‘meter’ which in Greek means 'mother'. 

Apollo & Artemis

Apollo and Artemis were two twins born by the king of the Olympian Gods, Zeus and Leto, under a palm tree in Delos island.

Apollo was considered to be the God of the sun & light and the protector of the Arts, known for his close relations to the 9 Muses. His most common attributes were the lyre, as well as the bow and arrow. One of the most famous depictions of him is that of Bernini’s marble sculpture portraying him at the moment he catches Daphne (Laurel) and she starts to being transformed into the homonym bush. It’s also worthy to mention that Apollo represents the harmony and the order, while Dionysus, the God of wine (not included in the main 12 Olympian Gods) represents the ecstasy and disorder, points that are reflected in the ancient greek descriptions 'Apollonians' & 'Dionysians'. 

His twin sister, Artemis, was the protector of young girls and the Goddess of the hunt. When hunting, she was accompanied by her hunting dogs -offered to her by Pan- able to catch even lions. 

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Apollo - credits: gilmanshin/depositphotos

She was armed with golden bow and arrows, weapons made by the Cyclopes (the masters of manufacturing weapons for the Gods!). As for her sacred animals, these were the deer, four of which had golden horns and were pulling her golden chariot. 


Being the blacksmith of the Olympian Gods, Hephaestus was worshipped in the manufacturing centers of Greece, particularly Athens, and was believed to have taught men the arts alongside Athena. Hephaestus is described in some mythological stories as a strong and vigorous man, and in some others as a wise craftsman with obvious the marks of his hardship due to the kind of craft he was a master. For example, his crippled feet made him need the aid of a stick to walk. Similarly is depicted on vase paintings, while a kind of solution to his problem seemed to be a wheeled chair or a chariot that is believed he manufactured for himself to move around, demonstrating his skills to the other Gods. Apparently, Hephaestus' symbols are connected to the smithing, that is they include a smith’s hammer, a pair of tongs and other crafting tools. Apart from being the Ancient Greek God of smiths, metalworking, and artisans, he was associated also with the volcanos and fire. 


Love, passion, and pleasure are all ideas connected to Goddess Aphrodite. In western art and literature she is a symbol of female beauty. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born from the foam (in Greek: aphros), in the waters of Paphos in Cyprus island. Being inseparably associated with the sea, in Greek art she goes always with a different type of waterfowl, such as a swan or a goose, while she is also accompanied by dolphins and the Nereids. However, her prominent avian symbol is the white dove, an image depicted frequently in ancient Greek pottery when related to Aphrodite. Together with sparrows, doves staff her chariot. Other symbols of the most charming Goddess of the Olympus include conch shells, roses, myrtle flowers and fruits such as apples and pomegranates.

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Aphrodite - credits: Zwiebackesser/depositphotos


Last but not least, Ares -the Greek God of war. His resilience, physical strength, and military intelligence were unparalled and the main reasons that in Sparta he was viewed as a model soldier. Ares, contrary to Athena, represents the physical (and violent) aspect of the war, points that were closer to the temperament of Spartans than the Athenians. According to the Odyssey, he was also a lover of Aphrodite, although she was married to Hephaestus. His symbols are war weapons such as a sword, a spear, and a helmet. 

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Ares - credits: santi0103/depositphotos