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Mythology lessons: 4 powerful Greek goddesses from Ancient Greece

Zeus, leader of the Olympian Gods, was even intimidated by one of these goddesses!

Gods and goddesses were the most important cult figures in Greek mythology. Both worshipped and feared, these deities possessed extraordinary skills that influenced the mortal world. They inspired stories that were passed from generation to generation and had a major influence on Western culture.  

In Ancient Greek mythology, there were three types of goddesses: the goddesses of Olympus, the Titanides (or Titanesses), and the primordial goddesses. In each category, there were mighty female deities that were even respected by the rest of the gods.

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Here are four powerful Greek goddesses from Ancient Greece. 

1. Athena

Athena was the wisest of all the Olympian gods. Goddess of wisdom, strategy, and just war, Athena was one of the most revered deities, being venerated with equal intensity both in the Greek lands, the colonies, and even in Rome where they knew her as Minerva.

Athena was also the goddess of mathematics, strength, strategy, artistic ability, courage and bravery, inspiration, law, and justice. She had a very unique birth. After experiencing a strong and overwhelming headache, Zeus, her father, and ruler of Olympus felt his forehead split open from within. From this opening, Athena emerged as an adult woman wearing her iconic armor. 

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This Olympian goddess has been present in many myths, including the myth of the Titan Promise and the Flame of Wisdom, the Trojan War, the birth of Medusa, and her competition with Poseidon to be the protective deity of Athens. 

Athena had the aegis, an unbeatable shield, a spear, armor, and an amulet called a gorgoneion that induced terror in enemies. She’s often considered as one of Zeus' favorite children.

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2. Hecate

Hecate is one of the goddesses with a very ancient origin. There are records of her being already worshipped by the Carians of southwest Asia Minor. Her story is very complex and mysterious since her attributes changed over time. She has also been associated with other goddesses like Artemis. 

In Greek mythology, Hecate was the daughter of Asteria and Perses, a direct descendant of the generation of the Titans independent of the Olympic pantheon. Hecate was the chief goddess of magic, spells, and necromancy, granting her power over heaven, earth, and sea. Zeus even recognized her godlike abilities, earning his respect. 

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She was also worshipped as the goddess of crossroads and doorways, and protector of wild animals. Thus, many travelers, wizards, and witches worshiped Hecate so that she would bestow wealth and her blessing on their daily lives. This goddess was represented as a single woman with a torch, a deity with three bodies (each a woman), or as different animals.

3. Nyx

Nyx was the goddess of the night, one of the primordial gods who emerged as the dawn of creation. She was born directly from Chaos, the first primordial deity and the oldest of the immortals. Nyx took part in the establishment of order in the cosmos.

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As one of the oldest goddesses, Nyx was a very important deity among the ancient Greeks, since she gave birth to important figures like Aether (sky), Hemera (day), Moros (Doom), Nemesis, Thanatos (death), Eris (discord), and Hypnos (sleep). 

The Greeks represented her as a woman of great beauty with gorgeous black wings, wearing a long black cloak full of stars, and driving a carriage drawn by two horses.

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Perhaps her most outstanding myth was the one told by Homer, who described Nyx as the only divinity that Zeus feared because she was older and more powerful than him. 

The myth has it, Zeus was furious with Hypnos after the latter had teamed with Hera to plot against the Olympian king. Chased by Zeus, Hypnos fled to his mother, Nyx. This saved the Hypnos' life since Zeus, fearing to anger the goddess, held back out of respect and avoided displeasing the 'Night.' 

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4. Gaea

Gaea was a primordial goddess; wife of Uranus (heaven), and mother of the titan Cronos. She personified the Earth in Greek mythology. Gaea was considered the fertile progenitor and common ancestor of all gods, men, and living beings.  

Gaea also gave birth to the giants, the furies, the cyclops, the feared 100-headed monster Typhon, and the rest of the titans, such as Rhea (mother of the Olympian gods), Oceanus, and Phoebe (grandmother of Apollo and Artemis). 

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According to the myth of creation, at first, there was only Chaos, which was nothing and empty. But then Gaea was born, and life began to flourish. She was one of the primordial deities, the first gods and goddesses born from Chaos, and the presence of the celestial body on Earth. Some myths also say that Gaea was the worshiped mother goddess in Greece before the Hellenes introduced the cult of Zeus.

Images from: Rawpixel, Pixabay, ZdewikicommonsThe Walters Art Museum

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