The Olympian Gods

Grecian, Roman and their Imitators

» FIRST APPEARANCE:
Pre-Crisis: All-Star Comics #8 (Dec. 1940)
Post-Crisis: Wonder Woman v.2 #1 (Feb. 1987)
The Roman Gods:
War of the Gods #1 (Sept. 1991)

With Text from Who's Who Update '87 #3

History

In the Beginning

When a Godwave spilled forth from the creation of the Fourth World, the Earth was seeded with great power. It first manifested in the form of old gods, then of metahumans. Some of the oldest of these gods were hidden from the universe until the time of ancient Greece by the sorceress, Hecate. Hecate reasoned that the Olympian gods (as they would eventually be called) were greatly weakend after usurping power from their father Cronus and the Titans of Myth. She feared that other powerful gods in the universe (notably Darkseid of Apokolips) would seize Earth for himself. Because of Hecate's enchantment, Darkseid wrongly believed that he and the other New Gods pre-dated the Olympians. (Action #600, Wonder Woman v.2 #19)

The Olympian Gods are the chief deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon. After the six children of Cronus and Rhea had overthrown the Titans, the three brothers among them cast lots for three domains: Poseidon drew the sea, Hades the netherworld of the dead, and Zeus the sky. But the Earth and high Olympus were left common to all. Hades, however, keeps to his shadowy realm and is not one of the Olympians.

Zeus is father of the gods, god of the sky and thunder. Hera, his consort, is queen of the gods and patroness of marriage. She is among the goddesses most often invoked by the Amazons. Poseidon is the sea god. According to Plato, his children founded Atlantis, and he was its chief god. Demeter is the goddess of agriculture. Hestia, most modest of the goddesses, is goddess of home and hearth. The above are all children of Cronus and Rhea.

Aphrodite was born from the sea-foam and became the goddess of love. She is mother of Eros, god of love. Pallas Athena was born fully grown and fully armed from the brow of Zeus. She is goddess of wisdom and defensive ware. She gets no pleasure from war but prefers to settle things peaceably. Yet in battle she is undefeatable, even by Ares. Athena is one of the chief Amazonian gods. Ares (right) is god of war. Hephaestus is god of metalworking and fire. It is he who forged Wonder Woman's golden lasso from the girdle of the earth-goddess Gaea. Hermes is god of commerce, herdsmen, and thieves, as well as herald of the gods. It was he who first brought the Princess Diana to Man's World. Phoebus Apollo and his twin sister Artemis are both experts with the bow. He is god of light, poetry, and music; she is goddess of the hunt.

Dionysus is the god of vineyards and wine. Pan, son of Hermes, is god of the countryside and nature. He is also a consummate schemer. Persephone is daughter of Zeus and Demeter and is goddess of Spring.

Centuries ago, an argument between Artemis and Ares led to the creation of the Amazons, who have been guided and protected by the goddesses ever since.

New Gods, New Champions

One day, the young Uxas of New Genesis came to Rome. There he spread tales of the great Olympian gods. Their following grew tremendously in Rome and so they created avatars of themselves; they were worshipped under different names. Uxas knew that each half of the pantheon would be less powerful than the original gods. Later, as the god Darkseid, Uxas would use this knowledge to crush Zeus himself. (Wonder Woman v.2 #132-133)

Ares' recent schemes to destroy the Amazons and his fellow gods led to an Amazon champion being chosen. (Wonder Woman v.2 #1) This champion was the Princess Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta, whom Hermes escorted to Man's World. There she was called Wonder Woman. While the Olympian gods were her patrons, other gods were her foes. Ares and his progeny, Deimos and Phobos, quickly set about challenging the princess in her quest. Phobos created the creature Decay from the "heart of the Gorgon," which Diana quickly dispatched. Meanwhile, Deimos recruited humans on opposing sides, inciting them to war. (#3-4)

Ares' daughter, Harmonia, chose to help the Diana, however. She gave her a powerful amulet with the power to transport across dimensions. Diana slayed Deimos with her razor sharp tiara, and from him acquired the other half of Harmonia's amulet. Finally, Ares stepped in to claim the talisman, but Diana bound him with her lasso of truth. He realized that to allow humans to war would leave no kingdom for him to rule. In failure, Ares declared that he would no longer trifle with the affairs of man, and also forbade his offspring from appearing on Earth. He also took the amulet and all the power which had been collected therein. (#5-6)

In defeating Ares, Diana was greatly injured. The gods were so pleased with her that they took her into the sea and healed her. Then, Hermes gifted her with winged sandals which would enable her to travel freely between Themyscira and Man's World. (#7) At some point, the god Pan was killed and replaced by a Manhunter android. It was this impostor who began a feud among the gods. The feud began when Zeus turned an amorous eye towards Diana. When Diana and her mother opposed the great god, he was angered and punished Diana. She would have to complete a task for each of the gods, culminating in the defeat of the monsters beyond "Doom's Doorway." This doorway was the Amazon's charge for millennia and if Diana was unsuccessful, the Amazons would be destroyed. (#10)

Diana succeeded in her trials, defeating numerous monsters including Echidna, the Chimera, the Cyclops, the Hydra, the Harpies and the Minotaur. Eventually, Pan's bones were discovered on Olympus but it was too late to save Diana from her labors. Joined by her mother, Diana did indeed destroy the demons beneath Themyscira with the help of the amulet of Harmonia (these demons were funneled into Ares). Diana also freed Heracles, who had borne the weight of Themyscira for eons. Heracles was accepted into Olympus. (#11-14)

Soon thereafter, the gods secreted themselves away for a conference. At this time, Darkseid attacked Olympus. The dark god ceased hostilities, though, as soon as he realized the place was deserted. (Action #600) When the gods returned, they had decided upon destroying Mount Olympus and undertaking a "cosmic migration" to the stars. Over Hermes' objections, they took several steps: First, The three elder brothers made a new pact to replace the original pact which divided Earth among them. Then, they combined the will of all the gods (minus Ares) and the strength of Amazon prayer, and used Diana's bracelets to amplify that power. (The bracelets are all that remained of Zeus' Aegis; this Aegis was made from the hide of Amalthea, the goat which reared him.) Thus, the old home was demolished and New Olympus was created. In order to properly establish this new home, it was necessary for the Gods to sequester themselves indefinitely. (#16-19, 21) Note: Darkseid actually could have destroyed Olympus because his power is derived from the fear of an entire planet (surpassing the Olympians).

Hermes defected from his brethren and would not join the migration. He had already involved himself in Man's World by stopping the evil Circe. (#19) Hermes elected to remain on Earth and joined Diana in her mission. (#23-24)

Wars of the Gods

Phobos returned alongside his sister Eris in alliance with Circe. Circe had amassed great power by bringing gods of various pantheons together. Among them were the Roman gods, who challenged the Olympians for their domain. It took much strength for Zeus to summon Hermes and Diana to New Olympus, where the gods had been trapped. Earth's heroes were able to turn the tide against Circe, but three gods died: Circe killed Hermes; Harmonia was killed by her sister Eris; and Eris herself was slain by Son of Vulcan. Zeus and Olympians decided then to follow the call of Cronus and the Titans to help guide other worlds in the universe. New Olympus was left to the Roman gods. (War of the Gods #1-4, W.W. #58-60)

For unexplained reasons, Heracles struck a deal with a mortal man, Harold Campion, whereby the two would exchange places (Earth for Olympus) Heracles used the mirror of Circe to conceal his identity and adventured under the name Champion. (#110-112) He cast a love spell on Diana and accompanied her for a time, until Diana discovered his true identity. (#115-117)

In the Gods' absence, the Amazons began to revert to clay. To justify the Olympians' return to Earth, Zeus summoned Diana and several of her friends to testify before him. It was Hippolyta who tipped the scales, however. She played a secret card which greatly swayed them. (In truth, she simply reminded Ares that before her reincarnation, Hippolyta had been Ares' daughter, and thus Zeus' granddaughter). At this time, Zeus also granted strength and flight to Cassandra Sandsmark (Wonder Girl II; conflicting reports suggest that Zeus is Cassie's father). (#122) Soon, Highfather of the New Gods summoned Zeus and Heracles to once again battle Darkseid. To this end, Zeus, Odin, Ares, Jove and Highfather merged into one being and entered the Source. When cast out, Zeus was gravely injured and remained bonded to Jove. Heracles returned with him to Olympus. (#126, Fourth World #8)

Their greatest champion, Princess Diana soon lost her life against the devil, Neron. (#125) Hera (now presiding over Olympus) transfigured Diana into a goddess of truth and welcomed her to live with the gods. Diana was told she could not interfere with the daily lives of mortals, unless prayed to. Hera sits on the throne; Diana admonished (#127-129) The gods shared the secret of their division with Diana and decided to reunite their essences with those of their Roman counterparts. (#130-133) Diana could not be prevented from interfering with the mortal world and so she was banished to Earth. (#136) She was soon also stripped of her immortality. (#139)

Zeus' father, Cronus returned with an army of new Titans: Arch, Disdain, Harrier, Oblivion, Slaughter, Titan. Their power had grown from the faith of a cult on Earth. The Titan heralded the coming Cronus (#139-140) Cronus sought to capture all power of the godwave. He began by defeating the Olympians and casting Zeus down to Earth. He then conquered the Hindu pantheon and headed for Heaven. But Wonder Woman freed the Olympians and united with the Hindus and the Pax Dei (heavenly host). Diana trounced Cronus but the god still managed to touch the power of the Presence. In doing so, he gained perfect clarity. Humbled, he returned to mother Gaea. Afterwards, Zeus formed an alliance with the other pantheons. (#147-150) Indeed, Zeus soon appeared to Superman with several allies under the banner of I.D.C.A.P. (Interfaith Deity Council of Active Polytheistics; Superman: Man of Steel #127)

The merger of the Greek and Roman pantheons did not sit well with the Roman goddess Diana. She accepted an offer of power from the old "Shattered God," separated from Artemis and betrayed the Olympians. Diana died in battle with Wonder Woman when she was crushed by a statue of Zeus. The Olympians were incapacitated, but Wonder Woman eventually found a way to awaken them in time for them to strike decisively at the Shattered God. (W.W. #189-194)

Revolution

For millennia, the goddess Athena waited patiently for the chance to prove herself worthy of the crown of Olympus. As Earth society developed, the goddess of knowledge grew in power and cunning, and ultimately challenged her father Zeus for the throne. To win this challenge, Athena sent for her champion, again Wonder Woman, to face that of Zeus — Briareos of the Hekatonkheires. Though she was still blind, Diana was aided by the winged Pegasus but fell to Briareos. Athena agreed to forfeit if Zeus would spare Diana's life, but he denied her. This prompted the other goddesses deliver the head of Medousa unto Diana, which she used to turn Briareos to stone. Athena took the throne at last, but Zeus immediately began plotting a coup with his brothers in Tartarus. (#212-213)

Athena immedaitely set Diana on a quest into Hades to free the god Hemes. She descended beneath Doom's Doorway with Wonder Girl and Ferdinand the Minotaur and was confronted Zeus' alliance. Ironically, she might not have succeeded but for the machinations of her constant nemesis, Ares. (#215) Ares played a double agent, and gained Zeus' trust, but when the opportunity arose, he killed his uncle Hades and assumed control of the netherworld. Diana then used Hermes' caduceus to revive him. Back on Olympus, Zeus asked for Athena's forgiveness, which she granted. Athena then also restored Diana's sight, but bound it to her own. (#216-217)

It was on this quest that Cassandra Sandsmark finally learned of her own godly origins. Her mother had indeed lain with Zeus, but Helena forbade Diana or anyone from revealing the truth to Cassie. (#217)

Not long after this, Athena sensed a dark destiny for the gods amidst the cosmic mechanations of Alexander Luthor. In the crisis created by his chaos, Diana was forced to kill Maxwell Lord, and incurred the ire of the world's public. (#219) The U.S. government responded by mobilizing against Themyscira, and Diana realized that as long as she was a target, the Amazons would never be safe. Diana prayed to the gods to take the Amazons to safety, but got more than she bargained for. (#224) On Olympus she pleaded against Athena's decision to remove the gods from Earth's affairs. Regardless, the gods departed, leaving Diana bereft of family and faith. (#225)

Subjugation

In this time of weakness, the New Gods of Apokolips struck at the Olympians. Granny Goodness, founder of the Female Furies, imprisoned the Gods of Olympus on Apokolips and assumed the guise of Athena. As "Athena," Granny manipulated the Amazons into waging war on the United States. (Amazons Attack) After the Amazons were defeated by Earth's heroes, Granny banished them to live among humans. She then raised a new island of Themyscira off the coast of Washington D.C. and revealed for the first time that the Olympians were her captives. Hippolyta was banished to the new island, with no subjects to rule. (#6)

With the real Amazons removed from the playing field, Granny founded a series of shelters across America in order to recruit a new band of Amazons — an Earth-based band of Furies. The most notable of these were former adventurers Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn) and Holly Robinson (Catwoman II). (Countdown #44, 40, 39, 30, 21) Harley and Holly eventually met Hippolyta on Themyscira and together they revealed Granny's disguise to all the new Amazons. Granny fled home to Apokolips but the girls followed her, along with Mary Marvel. (#19, 15, 12) The three of them managed to locate and release the Olympians from their prison. The gods granted the girls their own powers as thanks for their heroism. Harley was gifted by Talia, the Muse of Comedy; Holly received hunting skills from the goddess Diana. Appropriately, Granny met her end on this same day; she fell to the "god killer" who was stalking the New Gods. (#10)

The Gods, Elsewhere

Aquaman and the Olympians

Aquaman has also had run-ins with the Olympian sea deities. Poseidon had long relinquished the title of "Sea King" to Orin of Atlantis, but when Aquaman's subjects lost faith in him, Poseidon arranged a challenge with his son Triton. (Aquaman v.5 #34) Aquaman bested Triton and the godling fell from grace with his father. In anger, Triton slayed Poseidon and claimed his power. (#42) Aquaman freed Poseidon by appealing to Lord Hades, and when they returned from the dead, Poseidon slew his son in turn. Disgusted with mortal affairs, Poseidon bequeathed his trident to Aquaman. (#45-46)

Years before, a being from another dimension took the name of a Titan god, Oceanus. This man followed Aquaman's wife, Mera, to Earth from her home dimension and terrorized the couple just before their wedding. (Aquaman v.1 #18) Oceanus met his end shortly thereafter when he was possessed by the evil magician Megistus. (Brave & the Bold v.3 #10) The real Titan, Oceanus, is currently in purgatory with his wife, Tethys, and the other Titans.

The Power of Shazam

The Hercules who contributes magic to Shazam and the Captain Marvels — like all their patrons (Mercury, Zeus, Achilles, Atlas and Solomon) — is not the Olympian Hercules. These gods have been described as magical avatars, or archetypes, and are not necessarily those of the Olympian pantheon. This revealation may be a post-Infinite Crisis development, and was explained in the Trials of Shazam! series (2006). Issue #2 explained that the gods have millions of avatars, and that "Zeus" is more a station than a name.

Hercules / Heracles

When the Olympians were imprisoned by the New Gods, Heracles became powerless. Still, his father Zeus bade him to gather champions on Earth to help the gods. Again preferring the name Hercules

During this time, Hercules Ares approaches Wonder Girl in Smallville, claiming to want to connect with her as a sibling, and wanting a tether to the mortal world. He mentions that only a "brute of a son" from Olympus remains on Earth; presumably Herakles. The find it near Vancouver (Teen Titans #33)

Notes

In pre-Crisis continuity, there was a character called Hercules who was bound until the time of the "Great Disaster" — some time in the future. This was the same reality as the Atomic Knights and OMAC. An Olympian Hercules appeared on the pre-Crisis Earth-One in Wonder Woman v.1 #259-261 (1979). There was also a mortal who also took the name Hercules in Adventure Comics #257 (1959). See links below.

» SERIES:
Hercules Unbound, 12 issues (1975-77, not in continuity)
Wonder Girl, 6-issue limited series (2007)

» FEATURED APPEARANCES: Wonder Woman v.2 #110-112, 115-117

» SEE ALSO: Obscure Characters: Hercules (all) Hercules IIHercules (Unbound)

The Greek God Morpheus

The Greek God Morpheus was an aspect of Dream of the Endless. He was also called Oneiros (or leader of the Oneiroi). He took the Muse, Calliope as his wife, and bore the child Orpheus. In modern times, the Greek Morpheus appeared in Wonder Woman #11 (1987). This appearance preceded the creation of Dream in the Sandman series (1989). In Sandman continuity, Morpheus/Dream would have still been captive at the time of the Wonder Woman appearance. In classical Greek mythology, Orpheus is generally considered the son of Calliope and Apollo.

Other Ancient Beings

Wonder Woman also met the Lamia of myth, who laid with Zeus and bore his children. Hera changed her into a snake-like creature and killed her children. She now lurks in the American sewers, acting as a benevolent caregiver to troubled children. She attempted to commit suicide using Diana’s lasso, but Diana stopped her and Lamia disappeared. (Showcase '93 #11) Later, Wonder Girl also the Empousai called "Lamiai." Lamiai bit into Cassie but recoiled when she discovered that she had god's blood. Before she could reveal Cassie's father, she was slain by Ares. Lamiai's brother, Mormolykeia also battled Ferdinand the Minotaur during this quest. (W.W. #216)

Pantheon Members and Champions

Citations are Wonder Woman v.2 (1987-2006) unless otherwise noted.

Greek Name
(Roman Name)
God of... Born of... 1st app. (post-Crisis) Status
FIRST GENERATION
Note: The Olympians merged with their Roman counterparts in Wonder Woman #132
Zeus (Jupiter, Jove) skies Cronus & Rhea
W.W. #1
Active; lends power to Shazam
Hera (Juno) marriage, atmosphere Active
Poseidon (Neptune) oceans Active
Hestia (Vesta) hearth/home Active
Demeter (Ceres) harvest Active
Hades (Pluto) underworld, afterlife W.W. #12 Killed by Ares, Wonder Woman #217
SECOND GENERATION
Aphrodite (Venus) beauty Zeus & Dione W.W. #1 Active
Phoebus Apollo (Apollo) sun Zeus & Leto Active
Ares (Mars) war, death Zeus & Hera Active
Artemis hunt Zeus & Leto Active; separated from Diana, who died in W.W. #192
Hermes (Mercury) commerce Zeus & Maia Killed by Circe, War of the Gods #3; succeeded by Mercury in the pantheon, W.W. #132; rescued from Tartarus W.W. #217; lends power to ShazamMercury first appeared in W.W. #51
Pallas Athena (Minerva) wisdom Zeus' brow Active, leader of the Olympians
Hephaestus (Vulcan) fire/forge Zeus & Hera W.W. #2 Active. Died in War of the Gods #4, but resurfaced in the Godwar storyline.
Persephone (Proserpine, Kore) spring Zeus & Demeter W.W. #5 Active
Dionysus (Bacchus) wine Zeus & Semele W.W. #7 (background), W.W. #10 (speaking) Active
Pan (Faunus) herd/countryside Hermes & nymph W.W. #7 (Manhunter) The Manhunter who impersonated Pan was killed in Millennium #7; Pan's death was shown in flashback in W.W. Annual #2
Morpheus (Oneiros, Dream) dreams n/a W.W. #11/Sandman #1 Ceased to exist, Sandman #69
Hebe cupbearer of the gods Zeus & Hera W.W. #17 Active
Diana moon, hunt n/a War of the Gods #1 Separated from Artemis and betrayed the Gods; died in W.W. #192
THE CHILDREN OF ARES
Deimos dread Ares & Aphrodite W.W. #2 Killed by Wonder Woman, W.W. #5
Eris discord Ares & Aphrodite W.W. #37 (shadow), W.W. #38 (full) Killed by Son of Vulcan, War of the Gods #4
Eros (Cupid) love Ares & Aphrodite W.W. #11 Active
Harmonia harmony Ares & Aphrodite W.W. #2 Killed by Phobos, War of the Gods #3
Phobos fear/alarm Ares & Aphrodite W.W. #2 Suffers torture in Tartarus, W.W. #166
Lyta   Ares & Circe W.W. #? Under Ares' care
DEMI-GODS + LESSER DEITIES + GODLY CHAMPIONS
Achilles a hero Peleus & Thetis Starman v.1 #38 Slain by Paris in the Trojan war; lends his power to Shazam; reappeared during the War of the Gods (#4)
Atlas shoulders the world Poseidon & Cleito W.W. #58 Active; lends his power to Shazam
Captain Marvel (Billy and Mary Batson) a champion n/a Power of Shazam Graphic Novel Active; receives power from Zeus, Mercury and Atlas
Charon ferryman of the River Styx n/a W.W. #1 Active
Circe a sorceress Helius & Perseis W.W. #17; pre-Crisis W.W. v.1 #305 Active. Bore a child, Lyta, with Ares. NOTE: She also appeared in 1945, Greece (Weird War Tales #65)
Decay   Medousa & ?? W.W. #3 Killed by Wonder Woman, W.W. #4
Devastation a champion n/a W.W. Secret Files #2 Receives her power from Cronus' new Titans
Eos dawn Hyperion & Thia W.W. #10 Active
The Furies/Erinys (Tisiphone, Alekto & Megaera) pursuers of evil Cronus & Eurymone Secret Origins #12 Tisiphone lends power to Helena Kosmatos (Fury)
The Gorgons — Euryale, Medousa, Stheno crones with snake-hair Phorkys & Keto Euryale: W.W. #23; Stheno W.W. #164/165??; Medousa W.W. #200 ?? Euryale killed in W.W. #24; returned W.W. #201
Medousa killed by Perseus (the Pegasus was born of Medusa & Poseidon); revived by Circe W.W. #205; killed again by Wonder Woman #210
Stheno
killed by Nightwing, W.W. #165; returned W.W. #201
Hecate a sorceress Perses & Asteria W.W. #19 (in flashback) Her spirit arose from Circe's ashes in War of the Gods #4 and was thereafter apparently destroyed
Heracles (Hercules, Harold Campion, Champion) a demi-god Zeus & Alkmene
W.W. #1
Active on Earth; accepted into Olympus as one of the gods, W.W. #14; referred to as a "new god" in W.W. #17; lends power to Shazam
Thanatos death Poseidon & Amphitrite Aquaman v.5 #34 Killed by Poseidon, Aquaman v.5 #46; reappeared and killed by Wonder Woman, W.W. #??
Triton seas Poseidon & Amphitrite Aquaman v.5 #34 Killed by Poseidon, Aquaman v.5 #46; reappeared and killed by Wonder Woman, W.W. #??
Troia (Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, Darkstar) a champion
n/a
Brave & Bold #60 (Troia in New Titans #55) A magical duplicate of Wonder Woman; deceased Titans/Young Justice #3; received power from the Titans; returned Outsiders v.3 #25
Wonder Girl II (Cassandra Sandsmark) a champion Zeus & a mortal Wonder Woman #111 (as Cassie, W.W. #105) Active; receives power from Zeus
Wonder Woman (Diana of Themyscira) truth; a champion n/a W.W. #1 Granted godly powers; active in adventuring; lost her godly immortality, W.W. #139

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • Action #600
  • Amazons Attack! #6
  • Aquaman v.5 #34, 42, 45-46
  • Countdown #44, 40, 39, 30, 21, 19, 15, 12, 10
  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World #8
  • War of the Gods #1-4
  • Wonder Woman v.2 #1-7, 16-19, 21, 115, 117, 120-122, 126-134, 136, 139, 147-150, 152

Children of Ares only:

  • Wonder Woman v.2 #164-167

» SERIES:

  • none

» SEE ALSO:

You can read the Greek Classics online at various sites:

Much of our understanding originates in Hesiod's Theogony and Works of Days

Works by Aeschylus (Agamemnon, Eumenides)