Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. It is located near the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean sea. The highest peak, Mytikas, is one of the highest mountain ranges in all of Europe.
It also holds a very core position in terms of ancient Greek mythology. It is stated that mount Olympus was the home and the abode of the ancient Greek gods and that Mytikas was where the Gods dwelt atop the mountain.
Due to the magnificence, the difficult accessibility during ancient times, and the mystifying, splendorous appeal the mountain had and still has: it was considered to be divine by the ancient Greek people, and they were convinced it was the home of the Olympian gods, and that the Gods ruled over the world from atop this mountain, a place which was considered to be inaccessible to beings of human origin.
The 12 Olympians
The twelve principal Greek Gods were said to be the ones who inhabited the peaks of Mount Olympus, where Zeus commanded and ruled over both the mortals and the immortals while sitting atop his Throne.
The 12 Pantheon Gods
The children of Cronus and Rhea – Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia.
Although Hades was also their son and the sibling of the original Olympians, he became the God of the underworld when the siblings split the heavens, seas, and the Earth among themselves. So Hades resided in the underworld in a domain of his own, while his siblings lived atop Mount Olympus. It is also stated that Poseidon preferred living in his palace under the seas rather than at Olympus because of his minor dislike of the power his brother Zeus commanded over even the immortal Gods.
|Zeus||God of the sky, Supreme ruler of the Gods|
|Poseidon||God of the seas, Earthquakes, and Horses|
|Hera||Goddess of Women, Marriage, Family, and Childbirth|
|Demeter||Goddess of Agriculture, Grains, and harvest|
|Hestia||Goddess of the Hearth (Maintained the burning fire at the Hearth in Mount Olympus and also maintained the burning fire in the homes of the Greek people)|
The children of Zeus and Hera – Ares and Hephaestus.
|Ares||God of Courage and War|
|Hephaestus||God of Fire, Smithing, carpenters, craftsmen, sculptures, metalworking|
The children of Zeus – Apollo, Artemis, Athena, and Hermes.
|Apollo||God of Archery, Music, and dance, Healing and diseases, Truth and Prophecy, Sun and light, Poetry|
|Artemis||Goddess of wild animals, Hunting, Chastity and Childbirth|
|Athena||Goddess of war, Handicraft and practical reasoning|
|Hermes||God of Trade, Luck, Fertility, animal husbandry, language, thieves, travel and held the title of the Messenger God|
Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was also one of the 12 olympian Gods, and she was said to be born from the seas of white foam formed from the genitals of Uranus, which were thrown into the sea by his son Cronus.
On certain later dates, Hestia is said to have surrendered her position to Dionysus.
Although Mount Olympus was originally home to only the 12 original Olympians (13 in certain records), it was also home to many of the lesser gods in Greek mythology.
One of the most famous examples may be that of Heracles, the demiGod. After his death and divination at the hands of Zeus, Heracles came to live alongside the other Olympian Gods. There he married another Olympian God, namely Hebe, the goddess of youth.
According to the Iliad (The ancient Greek poem), Themis, the Titan, became a resident of mount Olympus which made her the only resident of Olympus where she was a Goddess as well as a titan.
The children of Styx, namely Zelus, Nike, Kratos, and Bia, were also considered to be residents of the Olympian mount.
The Origin of the Myth of Mount Olympus
According to Homer’s Odyssey, Mount Olympus was said to be a place where only the purest of air was present and an ever radiating ray of light glowed out of it. It is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey that the peak would never see anything akin to a storm and was basked in cloudless Aether (Ether) – a term used for pure air.
Due to the height of the peaks, it was always visible under a very low belt of clouds. In any ancient mythological texts, the heavens are always said to be where the clouds are or above the clouds. As the clouds were visible and the peak of Mount Olympus was always above it and could be easily seen by the ancient Greeks, the myth came into being that the top of the mountain was where the Gods lived, even above the skies and heavens and would observe the activity and the lives of the mortals who inhabited the Earth.
The Lives of the Olympian Gods
Although it was initially the abode of the Twelve (Thirteen) Olympian Gods, there were many other deities who inhabited the folds of Mount Olympus.
During the time the immortal Gods spent on Olympus, much of the time was spent drinking Ambrosia(nectar), which was the food and drink that granted the Gods their power of longevity and immortality.
The Gods also would take a deep interest in the happenings in the lives of the mortals, which would bring interventions from the Gods in the lives of the mortals. The entirety of Greek Mythological history revolves around the Gods taking interest in certain mortals and bringing about intervention in their lives in one form or another, resulting in a mythological tale or epic being formulated behind the incident of the intervention.
The Gods would often quarrel amongst themselves about the lives of the mortals, and that would bring about certain friction between the Gods, which would directly impact the lives of the mortals. One of the greatest examples of the Factionism between the Gods would be that of the Trojan war that took place between the Trojans and the Greeks. As the mortals fought their battles on the ground, the Gods would watch from above.
During the entirety of the war, the Gods had their own preferences between who should win the war and who they would personally support, which resulted in factions being formed, and was one of the rare cases mythologically where the world of the mortals would influence the balance of power at Olympus.
According to Hesiod’s description of mount Olympus, it was a sort of footstool to heaven from which the blessed Gods would arise.
The Tale of Bellerophon Trying to Scale Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus was nearly inaccessible to every single mortal living on the Earth. No mortal or human being could dare scale or go near it.
Legend says that the son of Eurynome and Poseidon, named Bellerophon, attempted to reach Mount Olympus. Bellerophon is considered a hero in Greek mythology. He was the grandson of Sisyphus and the husband of Philonoe. Isandros, Hippolokhos, Laodameia, and Deidameia were his children. And he was symbolized by the Pegasus as well as the Chimaera.
Bellerophon managed to tame Pegasus, the horse, and was also successful in killing the fire-breathing beast called Chimaera with a sharply pointed spear that pierced through the throat of the monster. Bellerophon was widely recognized after these daring adventures and was then honored as the son of God.
However, he was overly ambitious and went too far to achieve more fame and recognition. So, he flew to the peak of Mount Olympus with Pegasus, which angered Zeus to the point of sending a deadly fly to sting Pegasus in order to assassinate Bellerophon, who was riding the horse.
After getting badly bitten by the fly, Pegasus bucks to get rid of Bellerophon off his back, throwing him rolling away back to the land of the mortals, that is, back to the Earth.
Mount Olympus is currently located in a National park situated between present-day Macedonia and Thessaly in the Olympus range. Dion, a city in Macedonia, was believed to be at the foot of the mountain and had great houses with fancy theatres specially designed for conducting various ritualistic sacrifices and offering ceremonies to please the Greek gods.
Marathons and other athletic events were also a part of such ceremonies. So, in modern times, the Prometheus festival kicks off with the running event wherein the participants sprint up along Mount Olympus wearing costumes resembling the Greek armor suits, sporting spears, and shields, traditionally used as weapons of attack and retaliation in the ancient wars and battles.
The event is known for organizing multiple events under its umbrella, honoring all the twelve Olympian gods. The people or the participants not only commemorate the values propagated or symbolized by these gods but also inculcate them in their daily lives, embellishing their houses with several Greek mythology antiques and traditionally used accessories as well as furniture items.
Talking about the contemporary relevance associated with Mount Olympus, in the present day, the “Return of the Hellenes” group attempts to bring back to life lost parts of Greek mythology. It is believed that the members of this group celebrate the Prometheus festival at the foothills of Mount Olympus in order to revere the fire-wielding Titan hero and the master craftsman in Greek mythology, called Prometheus.