In Greek mythology, demigods were defined as half-mortals, half-gods, and were a result of the romantic union of a Greek deity and a mortal or human being belonging to the earth. They were believed to be immensely powerful and had virtuous qualities such as courage, strength, and great skills to lead from the front.
Although they were the descendants of a divine god or goddess and a regular earthly human, they possessed exceptional abilities and powers. There are many incredible things to know about these underrated Greek minor gods.
List of Greek Demigods and Their Powers
Let’s take a look at the ultimate list of Greek demigods.
Achilles was the son of the sea nymph Thetis and the King of Myrmidons, Peleus.
He was a fearsome and mighty warrior who chose a short and glorious life over an undistinguished and mundane existence.
As the legend goes, after his birth, his mother Thetis brought him to the River Styx, which separated the living land from the dead. She then dipped Achilles in the river, as it was said; anything that touched the river would become invulnerable. She held Achilles by his left heel and dipped his entire body in the river, which made him invulnerable except for his heel. The term Achilles heel comes from this mythological reference and is often used to denote the critical weakness of a person in a particular aspect.
He was destined to be the hero of the Trojan War, and fate had proclaimed that the Greek victory would only happen in the Trojan war with Achilles by their side. During the war, he showed great valor and expertise, slaying hordes of enemies, but due to an argument with the Achaean king Agamemnon, he refused to continue to fight the war.
When Hector, the Trojan prince, rampaged and turned the tides of the war in favor of the Trojans, the Greeks begged Achilles to rejoin the war, but he refused. His best friend Patroclus wore the armor of Achilles to boost the morale of the troops and fought the Trojans but was slain by Hector in battle. Achilles, livid at the death of his best friend, rampaged around the battlefield and finally slew Hector and dragged his body around tied to his chariot.
It was during the sacking of Troy that Achilles met his demise at the hand of Prince Paris and the arrow of Apollo. Apollo gave Paris the arrow and pointed him towards the heel of Achilles, which Paris aimed at and shot, resulting in the death of one of the most beloved Greek heroes of all time.
Hercules was the son of the Greek God Zeus and a mortal woman called Alcmene. He was regarded as both hero and God and is the most famous and greatest of the Hellenic Greek Heroes.
During his youth, Hercules was visited by two allegorical figures: vice and virtue. They gave him a choice between a leisurely, pleasant, and uneventful but happy life, else, a challenging, adventurous, glorious but chaotic and dangerous life; for which he chose the latter.
Hercules married Megara, the daughter of King Creon.
Unfortunately, in a fit of madness that was induced by Lyssa, the spirit of chaos and madness ( she was instructed by Hera to do so), he killed his wife and children. To atone for his sins, the Oracle of Delphi instructed him to go to King Eurystheus and abide by his words. The king then set Hercules on the path to complete 10 labors but cheated him by adding two more to it once Hercules was done with the initial set of labors. This resulted in the famed tale of the 12 labors of Hercules.
The 12 Labors
- To slay the Nemean lion
- To Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra
- To capture the Ceryneian Hind
- To capture the Erymanthian boar
- To clean the Augean Stables in a single day
- To slay the Stymphalian birds
- To capture the Cretan bull
- To steal the Mares of Diomedes
- To obtain the bridle of Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazonians
- To obtain and herd the cattle of the monster Geryon
- To steal the golden apples of the Hesperides
- To capture and bring back Cerberus, the three-headed guardian dog of the underworld.
Chiron was a Centaur, the son of the titan Cronus and the Oceanid Philyra. After his birth, he was abandoned by his mother out of embarrassment and disgust and was found and nurtured by the God Apollo. Apollo taught him the art of music, archery, medicine, and prophecy.
Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, taught him archery and hunting as he had been trained and raised by Apollo and Artemis. Unlike the other Centaurs, who were said to be violent and nasty, he was gentle and cultured. He was considered the wisest amongst his kind and a great healer and astrologer. He was the first amongst centaurs, a teacher, and a mentor to many of Greece’s greatest heroes. His pupils included the likes of Jason, Achilles, Perseus, and even Hercules.
Even in death, his nobility is reflected as it was said that when Prometheus sacrificed himself so that mankind could have the gift of fire. Hercules went to bargain with Zeus for a barter. As Chiron was the son of Cronus, he was an immortal and was killed by the poisoned arrow of Hercules, and died in return for the return of Prometheus.
He willingly gave up his immortality, a trait, and gesture that was so noble that Zeus took pity on him and placed him amongst the stars in the sky to be honored for eternity. That is where the constellation Centaurus emerged, according to the Greeks.
Perseus was the son of Zeus and the mortal Danae, the half-brother and great grandfather of Hercules, and the founder of the great city of Mycenae. He was a legendary Greek hero and the slayer of monsters and beasts long before the Trojan war and the emergence of the legendary Hercules. One of the greatest stories to be told and revered in Greek mythology is the story of how Perseus slew Medusa, the Gorgon.
Polydectes, the king of the island of Seriphos, sent Perseus on the quest to bring back the head of Medusa. Athena instructed Persues to approach the Hesperides, who were rumored to have the weapons to defeat the Gorgon. He then approached the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, and demanded the whereabouts of the Hesperides.
The Hesperides then provided Perseus with the weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon, Medusa, which consisted of a Knapsack to keep the head of Medusa. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword, Hades gave him the helm of darkness, Hermes gave him winged sandals to fly, and Athena gave him a polished shield to save him from the stone gaze of the Gorgon.
Upon defeating the Gorgon, he went on to slay the sea serpent Cetus and married Andromeda, the daughter of the king of mythical Ethiopia, who was meant to be the sacrifice for the Cetus. He then proceeded to hand over the decapitated head of Medusa to the Goddess Athena. It is sometimes stated that Perseus is the founder of the ancient kingdom of Persia.
The son of Oeagrus, a Thracian king and the muse Calliope. Some records suggest he was the son of the God Apollo himself. He was a Thracian bard, a musician, and a great philosopher in ancient Greece. He had a mighty role to play in the journey of the Argonauts and their quest for the golden fleece.
Chiron the Centaur had advised Jason to take Orpheus along with them on their quest as, without his presence, they would never be able to pass the Sirens of the sea. The sirens sang bewitching songs which enticed sailors to come towards them, after which they would be dragged to the depths of the sea, never to be seen again.
When the Argonauts encountered the sirens, Orpheus drew his lyre and played music that was louder and far more beautiful and pleasing to the ears. It drowned out the siren’s song, and this allowed the Argonauts to pass through the waters unharmed.
One of the most famous tales in Greek mythology is that of Orpheus and his wife, Eurydice.
On his wedding day to Eurydice, she was bitten by a viper on her heel and succumbed to the venom, and upon discovering that his beloved is no more, Orpheus wept to no ends.
He was so overwhelmed with sadness that he played the most beautiful and mournful songs that all the Nymphs and Gods wept. It was so beautiful yet sad that it even melted the heart of the God Hades and Persephone.
They told Orpheus that they would allow his beloved to return to the world of the living on one condition. The condition was that he would have to guide her out of the underworld to the upper world. But if he turned back and looked at her before the both of them reached the upper world (The world of the living), then she would disappear. And he would have to return to the upper world alone.
Orpheus played beautiful songs to keep any trouble at bay while he guided Eurydice through the underworld to the world of the living. But as soon as he stepped into the upper world, he could not resist the urge to look back and make sure his beloved was with him, and she was alright, and here he broke the agreement, and Eurydice disappeared this time, forever.
Orpheus was so heartbroken that he dedicated the rest of his life to composing and singing songs about his beloved. And enlightening the world about the importance of love and the sorrows of heartbreak. A group of women called the Maenads were infatuated with Orpheus but were spurned in their advances by him. They could not comprehend that a man who wrote such beautiful songs would not bother to even look at them. So, they became livid and one day ripped Orpheus to shreds ending his life once and for all.
However, Orpheus, unlike most others, was not sad that he was no longer amongst the living. His soul had traveled to the underworld where he finally was united with his beloved Euridice, and the legend also has it that they still stroll along the banks of the River Styx, with Orpheus always with her or behind her. And when he would be in front, he would always look back to make sure that he did not lose her again while they spent the rest of eternity together.