Who Were the 12 Olympian Gods?

The 12 Olympian gods were Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, and Hestia or Dionysus, depending on who is listing the gods. The Olympians were the major gods of the Greek pantheon and were also referred to as the Dodecatheon.

When Zeus and his siblings overthrew and imprisoned Cronus and the Titans, they established a home on Mount Olympus. Five of the six involved in the revolt — Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter and Hestia — were the first gods of Olympus. They were later joined by the most powerful of Zeus's children: Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis and Hermes.

Later accounts displace Hestia, goddess of the hearth, with Dionysus, god of wine and celebration. When the Romans adopted most of the Greek pantheon, they put Hestia back among the 12 Olympians, renaming her Vesta and honoring her in every home.

Of Zeus's siblings, only Hades did not become an Olympian, according to the major traditions. Instead, he was given dominion over the world of the dead and never visited Olympus. However, some accounts still include him as an Olympian. Other lesser gods who are sometimes included in the count of Olympians are Heracles, Asclepias, Persephone, Eros, Hebe and Pan. Many other lesser gods and mythological figures were also reputed to live on Olympus, but they were never included in the counts of major gods.