The Greek Gods, Distraction On Olympus
At the school I work in, I sometimes provide extra classes after school on a variety of interests for the children. They include Computer classes on PowerPoint and Photoshop, Journalism club, T-ball, softball and Art classes in painting, sculpting but mostly drawing. I would teach the children how to draw cartoon or comic book characters.
One such class I was teaching them how to draw comic book characters. Not just the characters themselves, but how to draw and create their own characters, so I taught them the basic skills. In our last few classes we had to draw a scene with multiple characters and a background based on a theme. I told them they could decide on what theme they wanted to draw and I would help the group draw it. One idea was a camping scene the other Harry Potter, but the majority of the group wanted to draw a scene based on the Greek gods.
I told them they had to look up some information on the gods and come up with some ideas, but most of them came up with just Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Athena. I told them some of the other gods and they wanted me to draw each one of them as one of the gods. We started with a pencil drawing but then I drew the final product on the computer to better help them get the lines, shapes and small details they needed to add. The result was inspiring and the children loved it.
Below are a few examples of the Greek gods we used in the project. I also added some background information on the god.
The Muses are the children of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They are the patron goddesses of intellectual and creative pursuits. Many early Greek writers such as Hesiod or Homer would say they were inspired by the Muses to tell us the tails of the gods and such classic works. There are nine Muses or children but on many occasions they are shown in threes, usually the first three. Below is a list of all the Muses:
Calliope, epic poetry
Erato, love poetry
Euterpe, lyric poetry
Terpsichore, choral dancing
Polyhymnia, sacred music
(Hesiod, Theogony 75–103, 915–917)
For this piece I used the first three of the Muses and they represent three girls in the class. From left to right they are Calliope, Clio and Erato. The three girls asked why I choose them and I said because they are very creative in many different fields. I thought it would suit the three you the best. They are also friends and all three wanted to be Aphrodite. I did not want them to have a competition on who would be Aphrodite and then have hurt feelings. Typical guy thinking, give the girls something different to avoid them getting mad at each other or you.
Anyway they loved it. I used their different hairstyle to help create the characters. If you look closely you can see a pin on their dress that is a symbol of the goddess’s patronage.
I hope you enjoy it as much as the children did.
Hermes is the son of a union between Zeus and a beautiful nymph Maia. An extremely gifted baby it was said that he was born at dawn, created and played the lyre by midday and stole the cattle of Apollo by the evening.
The main and important attributes of Hermes are that he was the quintessential trickster and a master of persuasion. He had many duties but the two main were the divine messenger of the gods and the god that guides the souls to the underworld.
Here is a list of the many qualities of Hermes.
– Divine Messenger of the gods
– Guides the souls to the underworld
– Guide of dreams
– A prince of thieves and a spy in the night
– Slayer of Argus, the hundred-eyed giant
– Devious, ingenuity and a clever talker
– Lord of flocks and Mt. Cyllene and Arcadia
Every god has his or her own accessories and Hermes is no exception.
– The Petasus, a broad-brimmed hat with wings
– Sandals with wings
– The Caduceus, a herald’s staff that was entwined with two snakes.
I drew Hermes with all three of his accessories and of course flying over Olympus. With the children, we focused on the gods and their drawing before tackling the background. I will be presenting a god or to every week until I unveil the final version. I hope you enjoy the latest god drawing as much as the children.
Poor Hephaestus was a lame god and the son of Hera and Zeus, or sometimes the son of Hera alone. His mother, ashamed by his disfigurement, cast him out of Olympus. On another occasion his Zeus hurled him down from Olympus because he interfered in a fight between Zeus and Hera.
He was married to the gorgeous Aphrodite, but she would always go to Ares and had “encounters” with him. This enraged Hephaestus and he built ways of capturing the two in the act. On one occasion he created unbreakable chains that was as fine as spider silk. He caught the two and displayed them for his amusement.
Hephaestus was reinstated to Olympus and became the great artisan and blacksmith of the gods. He had the 3 Cyclopes help him in his workshop and he created wonderful masterpieces including the following.
– The Shield of Achilles
– The silver Bow and Arrows of Artemis and Apollo
– A chain net of unbreakable chains as fine a spider silk.
– The Spear of Athena
– The Breastplate of Hercules
– The Specter of Zeus
– The battle armor of the gods
– The first robots that helped him get around.
I drew Hephaestus working on a sword and with a forge that looked like the top of a volcano. In many stories he uses volcanoes as his forges. If you think about it, Hephaestus is the only Greek god that is in manual labour. Poor Hephaestus is just a working Joe like many of out there. However, he works hard for his craft and makes the most amazing creations. A true artisan to be revered for his talents.
Dionysus is the son of Zeus and a mortal Semele, daughter of Cadmus. Hera was jealous and convinced her to trick Zeus into revealing his full divinity to her. Of course she burst into flames when he did so but Zeus retrieved the unborn child and placed it into his thigh until it matured. He was raised by nymphs and Semele’s sister Ino on the mountain of Nysa.
Dionysus is the god of vegetation but most particularly fruit of the vine or grape and the making and consumption of wine. He represents the emotional and irrational side in humans. The violence, fanaticism or extremism and the ecstasy and religious experiences; he is both the yin and yang.
A famous poem, the Homeric Hymn of Dionysus, recounts the story when pirates captured him. They kidnapped him and tried to tie him to the mast but the ropes would not stay on. Only the helmsman realized they have captured a god, but his warnings to the crew were ignored. He created miracles on the ship that astonished the crew. He creates a vine that twisted around the mast that produced flowers and grapes. He created a ferocious bear and he also turned into a lion. The sailors were so frightened they jumped off the ship and were instantly turned into dolphins. He revealed to the helmsman his true identity and he took pity on him. He spared his life, one of the few gods to show mercy.
I created Dionysus lying under and apple tree sleeping. I also added a wine urn to say that our buddy here is just sleeping off a good few hours of drinking. A reference to his wine which he is associated with. The child liked the idea and I told him that Dionysus was the original party animal. He liked that idea too.
Hope you enjoy.
Aphrodite (or Urania) was born when Uranus’s genitals were cast into the sea and she arose from the foam as the beautiful and irresistible goddess we see today. Her name comes from the Greek word for foam (aphros) because she arose from the sea-foam where she was born, yet she was also described by other terms. Since her father was Uranus, god of the heavens, she was also known as Urania meaning Heavenly and Celestial.
As you may have gathered, Aphrodite is known as the goddess of beauty, love and marriage. She was a very powerful goddess. She was also worshiped for many things ranging from marriage to prostitution. She has inspired many artists to create works of art, music and literature.
Many deities also attended Aphrodite. Some include:
- The Three Graces – the Charites are females that represent the aspects of charm and loveliness.
- The Hours or Season – the daughters of Zeus and Themis: Horae meaning hours, then time and then seasons. There are four that represent the beautiful qualities of the different times of the year.
- Eros – in Greek Myth he is named Eros but many today know him by his other name, Cupid. In Greek Myth he came out of Chaos and then attended Aphrodite when she was born. In the Roman or other texts he was the son of Aphrodite and Ares. He was a handsome god of love and desire, but in either case he was Aphrodite’s closest friend and confidant.
I drew Aphrodite with long curly blonde hair as many have done. The good fortune is that the girl I modeled her after had the same type of hair. She is mainly drawn in the nude or partially nude but with the children, I drew her with a dress, with the colour of light blue like the sea she was born from. If you look carefully she is wearing sea shells as jewelry also from the birth from the sea. She has her hand on her heart and looking down at someone, looking very pleased. You’ll see why in a few weeks.
The girl was very pleased with the drawing and enjoyed it tremendously. I hope you enjoy irresistible Aphrodite as many have.
Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera. He is the virile and brutal god of war. He personifies the blood lust, strength and brute force in battle and in masculinity.
He is very much like his father Zeus, as he had over 30 lovers with many children. However he had many adulterous trysts with Aphrodite that has been documented in Greek Myth. The symbolic union of war being conquered by love was a big idea in the ancient world. Their union produced several children but the two famous ones are Phobos (meaning ‘Fear’ or ‘Terror’) and Deimos (meaning ‘Dread’). You may have heard of them because Mars’ (Roman name for Ares) two satellites are named after these two children.
Ares had many symbols associated with him. Some include:
- Chariot of Ares – a golden-reined chariot drawn by four fire-breathing horses.
- Spear of Ares – a bronze-tipped spear in battle.
- Armour of Ares – golden armour (helm, cuirass, war-belt, shield and greaves) that shone with a burning light.
I decided to draw Ares as an athlete, big brutish, like a football player. The child I modeled it after was very athletic and liked the idea. He has his helmet and I coloured him blood-red for obvious reasons. I added the dogs as a tribute to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.” Act 3, Scene 1. The child liked the two bulldogs. In the final image you will see why he is not happy.
I hope you enjoy Ares god of war, as much as the children did.
Athena’s birth is one unlike any other in antiquity. Her father Zeus had relations with her mother Metis (meaning “wisdom”) and she became pregnant. Zeus, fearing that she would give birth to a son that would eventually over through him devoured or swallowed Metis.
Soon after Zeus began to have a terrible headache. Since aspirin wasn’t invented then, he instead got Hephaestus to split his head open with an axe. Talk about your spitting headaches. Once the head was open, a full-grown, beautiful woman dressed in full armor and carrying a spear, came out and yelled out a fierce war cry at her birth.
From her birth we can see her divine characteristics. She was the goddess of wisdom but also the goddess of war. However unlike Ares, Athena was the honorable side of war that had tactics, strategies and glory from war and combat. She also had a strong relationship with her father. Probably because she was born of him and not from the traditional woman born. Also another aspect of her character is she remained a virgin.
Her accomplishments and symbols were numerous but I will touch on a few.
- Her animal symbols where the owl and snake. Hmm. wise owl interesting.
- Her other symbols include her armor, helmet spear and aegis or shield that had the head of Medusa on it.
- She was also seen with a small winged female with a crown of garland of success. Her name was Nike meaning victory. Hmm Nike – victory. Fascinating!
- One of her incredible tails include a contest with Poseidon for the control or patronage of Athens. The contest had both deities give a gift to Athens and the people would decide. Poseidon struck a rock with his trident and a salt-water spring or horse came out. Athena touched the ground with her spear and an olive tree came out. Upon seeing the tree they proclaimed Athena the winner. In the Acropolis, across from the Parthenon, the marks of where the trident struck can be seen, as well near by the olive tree. This began the bad blood relationship between the two deities. This was also the catalyst for the tragic story of Medusa.
I decided to draw Athena like the other female characters with an hourglass figure. Yet you usually see Athena dressed in a long dress or robe, so I did the same. I did not add the owl, it seemed too Harry Porterish, but I did draw her with her helmet, spear and aegis with the head of Medusa on it.
I told the story of Athena to the class, abridged of course and they were very pleased with the results. The girl particularly love her character.
I hope you enjoy Athena, goddess of Wisdom and War, as much as the children did.
Artemis is the daughter of Leto and Zeus she was the first to be born of twins. They say that she was first to be born and then she helped to deliver her twin brother, Apollo. Thereby, landing her the role as the goddess of childbirth, whom she shares with Hera. Interesting that she would be a divinity of childbirth but was a fervent virgin.
Even though she had this responsibility, she is also known for being the goddess of the hunt and her realm or sphere of influence is the night sky/moon. However, her hunting side was the most depicted in mythology but sometimes they would crossover.
One of the many stories about Artemis involves a hunter named Orion. Orion was charged with clearing the island of Chios from wild beasts when he came upon Artemis. When seeing her he tried to rape her. She was so angry and protective of her virginity she brought forth a scorpion from the ground that killed Orion by stinging him to death. He and the scorpion are seen every evening in the night sky with the constellations Orion and Scorpio. They also say that the Dog Star Sirius is Orion’s hunting dog.
She would almost always stay in the company of women, but there are times when she would team up with her brother Apollo. Such as on one occasion when Queen Niobe insulted their mother by saying she was a better mother then Leto because she was rich and she had seven sons and seven daughters. Therefore, because of Niobe’s hubris, excessive pride, Artemis and Apollo shoot their arrows killing all of the children through disease. Before Artemis killed the last daughter, Niobe tried to shield her child but was turned to stone then transported by a whirlwind to a mountaintop where tears trickled down her face.
Some of Artemis’ accomplishments and symbols include:
- The goddess of the hunt and childbirth
- Hera granted her six wishes;
I. Chaste for eternity
II. Never to be confined by marriage
III. Hunting hounds
IV. Stags to lead her chariot
V. Nymphs to be her hunting companions, 60 from the rivers and 20 from the ocean
VI. A silver bow like her brother Apollo.
3. The temple to Artemis in Ephesus was burnt to the ground 356 because, they say, she was attending the birth of Alexander the Great.
I drew Artemis in the same style as I did Aphrodite and Athena. Though I made her appear more athletic. Tough but feminine, like the girl that she is modeled after. I added the silver bow and the archer’s glove and wrist protector. I could not show all the wishes from Hera but I did add a hunting dog to counter Ares dogs.
The girl was very pleased with the results and I hope you are too.
Please enjoy Artemis the goddess of childbirth and the hunt.
In the process of creating the scene, the children asked to be represented as the gods in the project. They would choose whom they wanted to be drawn as from the Greek gods. One boy in the class was an athlete yet also had artistic talents. I told him and the class about Apollo. He had no objections on being drawn as Apollo so we proceeded.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin brother of Artemis. Hymns were sung of Apollo’s birth but unfortunately, no mention of his sister Artemis is made. The hymn describes Leto’s roaming in search of a place to give birth. She came to the island of Delos and only after assuring the people if she gave birth there, the island would become a place of wealth and prosperity.
On the island Leto suffered nine days and night of labour and then gave birth. After nursing on nectar and ambrosia he became a mighty god and took up the lyre and bow. His mother was very proud of her son and Delos did indeed prosper.
Apollo was a complex god with many different stories and titles. Here are a few:
- At Delphi he slew a dragon or serpent called a Python. There a temple would be built with a famous Oracle called Pythia who would come to play key roles in prophesying to many Greek Heroes such as Oedipus and his father Laius. Even Socrates went to the Oracle.
- Apollo had many lovers but most famous is Daphne. She promised to be a virgin but Apollo loved her deeply because of Cupid’s arrow. Daphne ran away from Apollo but he caught up and when he was about to have her, she was transformed into a laurel tree right in his arms. Apollo, heartbroken embraced the tree saying if he could not have her as his wife; he will have her as his tree. This is where the wreath around his head originated. A symbol of love, honor and glory forever.
- Apollo as a musician had no rival. There are two musical contests where Apollo is challenged. The first by Marsyas a satyr who played the flute but lost. The terms of the contest was the victor could do what they wanted to the loser, so Apollo flay Marsyas alive. The second contest was with Pan who played the pipes. Tmolus declared Apollo the winner but King Midas said the contest was unfair and preferred Pan’s music. As punishment Apollo gave him the ears of an ass
- Apollo was also the god of shepherds, the protector of flocks. He was associated with music and the god medicine and the god of light. He had many moods and passions yet he was also worshiped as the classical male, handsome, strong and intelligent.
I decided to draw Apollo with his famous lyre singing to Aphrodite with the Muses as back up. He is the ultimate male with looks, strength and brains and he was trying to woo Aphrodite. Just like any rock star or musician would do to a beautiful woman. I know I have. That is why Ares is not happy in the scene.
The student loved his portrayal of Apollo and so did the class.
Please enjoy Apollo the god of music, poetry, plague, oracles, medicine, light and knowledge. Oh and manly beauty.
The story of Prometheus is my favourite mythical story. He is the creator of humans and our champion. He brought us fire and began teaching us how to use the fire and provided the building blocks of our civilization, in short, the very first teacher. Being a teacher myself you can probably see the appeal. The class wanted to know about Prometheus so I told them as I draw the character.
Prometheus was not an Olympian God but a Titan. He is one of four sons of the Titans Iapetus, his father and Themis his mother. His brothers were Atlas, Menoetius and his twin Epimetheus.
During the Titanomachy, the war against the titans, Prometheus and his mother Themis sided with Zeus and the Olympians gods. Prometheus’ name means “forethought”, therefore seeing that there was a new force rising, took the side of the Olympians. After the war Prometheus was allowed to stay with the Olympians and this would have great impact.
For you see, man was not created by Zeus; he was created out of clay and molded by Prometheus. It was the task of Epimetheus and Prometheus to give traits that would give the animals on earth an advantage. Epimetheus gave out all the traits but when it came to man there was nothing left because Epimetheus name means “afterthought”. So Prometheus gave man the traits of knowledge from Athena and the craftsmanship from Hephaestus.
Prometheus is seen as the champion of humans, which then put him at peril. He is placed in direct conflict with the gods, particularly Zeus, when it comes to making a sacrifice to the gods. In his pursuit to assist humans, he prepares a sacrifice of an ox, to Zeus. He makes two sacks for the sacrifice. The smaller has the rich meat parts and in the larger, the bones and discarded parts of the ox.
Prometheus wants to trick Zeus into choosing the bones, therefore he offers him the small sack and Zeus says that Prometheus has divided the sacrifice unfairly. He then offers Zeus a choice of which sack he so desires. Zeus chooses the larger sack with the bones and is enraged by Prometheus’ deception. Zeus them takes fire away from humans, thereby having the humans eat their meat raw. Prometheus resorts to thievery and steals fire from the gods and gives it to humans. Upon discovering the truth of the thief, Zeus is set to punish the humans and Prometheus.
For the humans, Zeus makes a woman named Pandora, who is bestowed with gifts from the gods to make her desirable to men. She is then presented to Epimetheus, as a gift. However, Prometheus warns his bother not to accept the gift, but he does not heed his bother’s warning. She carries with her a jar, which contains all the evils and plagues of the world, yet she is told not to open it. Of course when someone is told not to do something they inevitably do that thing. She opens the lid and releases the evils and plagues onto the earth, but holds back hope that is still in the control of humans.
Prometheus’ punishment, for the thief of fire, is more excruciating and without end. Zeus has Hephaestus chain Prometheus to a rock with the help of Force and Power/Strength. There, an eagle everyday would visit him and feed on his liver. However, because Prometheus is an immortal, his liver would grow back or regenerate and therefore the suffering would continue with the return of the eagle the next day. Eternal punishment for stealing fire from the gods and teaching humans how to use it.
But there are indications in other literature in antiquity that Prometheus is freed from his bonds. Prometheus has a powerful weapon against Zeus, knowledge. He knows a secret that will bring the downfall of Zeus. Prometheus won’t tell Zeus and not until Zeus’ son Hercules comes and kills the eagle and breaks the bonds does Prometheus tell the secret.
The secret is that if Zeus mates with Thetis a sea-nymph, he will produce a son greater than the father. So with this information Thetis is married off to Peleus and they do have a son that is greater than the father, Achilles.
This is basically the story of Prometheus. Many also see him as the first teacher of humanity. Placing humans on the path of discovery in science, art, literature and ultimately our entire civilization.
I drew Prometheus bigger than the Olympian gods because his is a Titan. I gave him the same basic clothing and looks except I gave him a Van Dyke. Prometheus was modeled after me, I am taller than the children and I have Van Dyke. I did add the fennel stalk that had the fire in his hands and he is trying to conceal it from the rest of the gods. If you look closely he is wearing a necklace with the symbols of man and woman, a tribute to his creation of humans.
Whenever I do mythology with the children, I usually recite the basic story I wrote. The children in the class loved the story and the depiction of Prometheus.
Please enjoy Prometheus the Titian God. The creator of humans, stealer of fire, champion of humans and the first teacher.
With all the different characters in place then came the task of creating a background. These are the Olympian gods therefore we created what we thought was mount Olympus. Mostly it was just a hill with apple trees on it but there was one element that I added and the children liked. The floating palace of the Gods.
I started with a floating rock or island idea and then I added the Parthenon and the Oracle at Delphi. I told the children a little about the Parthenon that it is in Athens and part of the Acropolis. It is the Temple to Athena the patron god of the city.
I also added the Oracle at Delphi on the left side of the Parthenon. The Oracle at Delphi was a very prominent figure in the Ancient Greek world. She was woman, a high priestess devoted to Apollo. It has been mentioned in several sages including:
- The Theban Saga with Oedipus
- The Mycenaean Saga with Orestes
- Trojan Sage and Iliad with Telephus
- Jason, Medea and the Argonauts with Pelius
- Even the Might Hercules went to the Oracle at Delphi
I added this as a way to say that even though humans have been to Olympus there is still one part on the gods can get to. The children loved it and it added a lot to the final project.
I hope you enjoy Olympus, Palace of the Gods.
The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Final Product
For the past three months, I have shown you the different parts or elements of a project I worked on with the children from my Drawing Club class. Below is the final work from the fruits of our labours.
We put all these different elements into a scene. We added the grassy mountaintop, sky and the clouds to give it that final touch. The children asked me what is the story behind the scene. I told them…
It is another day on Mount Olympus. There is beauty everywhere and the gods are engaged in their pursuits. In the background you see the Palace of Olympus floating, Hephaestus is busy making armor and arms, Dionysus has indulged in some wine and is sleeping it off, Hermes is delivering a message but stops to see the commotion below. The Muses are singing with Apollo as he sings to Aphrodite. Athena and Artemis are enjoying the music as is Aphrodite and she is moved by Apollo’s singing. However Ares is not too happy with this wooing of Aphrodite by Apollo. His dogs of war are not too happy either but are distracted by Artemis’ hunting dog.
While this is going on, a large Titan named Prometheus is concealing a fennel stalk, which has fire. He is intending to give the fire to humans for he is their champion. He is grateful for the gods distracting one-in-other to make his escape with the fire. Therefore the title of the scene is “Distraction on Olympus”.
The children, as did the parents, all loved the scene, however they also enjoyed the stories about the Greek Gods.
I hope you enjoy “Distraction on Olympus”.
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Hermes (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: The Muses (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- What Is Your Favourite Ancient Myth? (clairecatacouzinos.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Hephaestus (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Dionysus (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Aphrodite (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Hephaestus (catiejferguson.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Ares (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Athena (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Greek gods and goddesses (catiejferguson.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Ares (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Art Inspiration: The Greek Gods Distraction on Olympus: Athena (paulgauchi.wordpress.com)
- Greek gods and goddesses (catiejferguson.wordpress.com)