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Gods of planets of Gods of planets of Gods

Mythology, for centuries indeed, has been on of the most interesting subjects stimulating man’s curiosity about its origin. And Gods form an implicit and indispensable part of mythology. Ever wondered who were these ancient gods. How were they named. And what did their existence portray.

Interestingly, not many of us know that all the planets of our solar system are named after Greek gods and Goddesses. While reading poetry in any modern language, and sometimes also in prose, we are met by the poetic ideas of the Greeks.

They come to us chiefly in the names and the designs of the many gods who to us form the fabric of ancient mythology. Their concept of mythology shows us what the men of old thought, and also their struggle to understand life.

The Greek and Roman mind sought explanations of the world around them through a vivid imagination. Whatever they could not understand, they tought to be the work of a god, and accepted their fancies as a religion. The Greeks dramatized the universe through their family of gods.

The Romans did the same when the time came, but presently Greek ideas and especially Greek art, ruled the Roman mind, and then came a fusion of the mythologies of the two races – the Greeks and the Latins. Greek gods and Roman gods if they represented similar ideas were often identified as the same. There fore we find these gods frequently spoken of as if they were the same beings. Modern research has shown us that this is wrong and that there were often real differences between Greek and Roman gods whom we regard as pairs. For instance, the Greek Pallas Athene is generally accepted now as a counterpart of the Roman Minerva, the Greek Zeus as the Roman Jupiter, Artemis as Diana, Hera as Juno and so through a long list of duplications.

The Greeks peopled the world with a variety of gods corresponding with all the beautiful and terrible sights of the world, with all the powers and all the processes of nature. No star shone in the heavens, no cloud veiled the day light, no wind shook the leaves, but they saw, in imagination, a god presiding over it.

If we do not know the names of these gods, once held to be divine, we shall miss much that is beautiful in both ancient and modern literatures and art. So here is given a number of the most widely used names of gods.

SOIL (Helios), the Sun, had great altars in the ancient world. The Egyptians even consecrated to him a whole city, Heliopolis. It was by the name of the Sun that people used to swear faithfulness to their engagements. Helios is now pictured driving his chariot with the horses breathing fire, or as a fair young man crowned with sunbeams.

MERCURY (Hermes), son of Jupiter, was the gods’ messenger, patron of travellers, of merchants and even of rogues. A splendid talker, omnipresent, omniscient, always ready to help, he played a very important part on Olympus and on the Earth. In his statues his hat and feet are adorned with two little wings as symbols of his swiftness; he holds a purse as an emblem of commerce, or his famous rod entwined with snakes as the emblem of his magic power. (This later became the symbol of the medical profession). Wednesday was consecrated by the ancients to Mercury.
 

VENUS (Aphrodite) used to preside over the pleasures of love, her son (Cupid or Eros) over marriages and births, and especially over love affairs. Venus is beautiful, young and smiling. Sometimes her foot rests on a shell, sometimes she sits in a chariot drawn by two swans. Many sculptors have tried to make statues of Venus, The best known is the famous Venus discovered at Melos in 1820 now in the Louvre in Paris. Friday was her day.

 

TERRA (Ge), the EARTH, our own mother planet was pictured as the mother of all earthly things, married to COLEUM (Uranus), the sky. Man was born from a bit of Earth, saturated with water and warmed to life by the Sun’s rays, and when he died his venerable mother took him, back to her bosom.

MARS
(Ares) was the god of war. Though not invincible, Mars was always accompanied by victory. On ancient buildings he is represented under the somewhat uniform features of a strong man armed with a helmet, a pipe and a buckler. Tuesday was consecrated to him.


JUPITER
(Zeus) son of Saturn and Rhea, was the king of gods and men. He dwelt on (Olympus, and with a nod that could shake the universe. Saved from the cruelty of Saturn by his mother. Jupiter was given to the care of shepherds and fed with goat’s milk. When grown up, he dethroned his father; but before he could take his place he had to fight fearful grants, who threw tremendous rocks at the gods. Some of these, failling down into the sea made the islands, others made the mountains. Jupiter married Juno. Thursday was conscrated to Jupiter. The king of the gods is generally represented as a powerful man sitting on a throne, his right hand holds thunderbolt and his left holds Victory. His sceptre is an eagle.


SATURN
(Cronos) maning Time, son of Terra, married Rhea. Fearing his sons would divest him of his powers, Saturn used to devour them at their birth – a symbol meaning that Time consumes our lives. However, Rhea was able to save Jupiter, Neptue, Pluto and Juno Saturn, dethroned by his son Jupiter found a refuge in a part of Italy called Latimum, where he became the king of mortals and made them so happy that his time, in which freedom and equality prevailed, was celebrated ever after by great festivals, the Saturnalia. Saturn was represented as an old man bent with age, holding a sickle. He is also seen figured on buildings with a veil, probably because Time is obscure and covered with a misty veil.


URANUS
(Coelum) God of sky, uranus married Earth (Terra) and had two children, Tethys (mother of 3000 nymphs) and Oceanus (a huge river surrounding the earth who later married his own sister Tethys).

NEPTUNE
(Poseidon), a son of Saturn and Rhea, was a brother of Jupiter and Pluto. When the three brothers divided the wealth of saturn, Jupiter took the earth, Pluto took the lower region and Neptune was given the sea. Neptune rode over the sea in his chariot drawn by horses. Statues generally represent the god of waters with a long beard, holding a trident. Oceanus was the older god of waters. Neptune belonged to the younger family. He and his brothers Jupiter and Pluto conquered the older gods.


PLUTO
was the third son of saturn and Rhea to whom lower regions had been given. He dwelt in Tartarus. Because of his ugliness he could never find a willing wife, and had to carry off Proserpina, whom he made queen. His attribute is the Cypress, the dark foliage of which expresses melancholy and grief.

LUNA
(Selene) the Moon, was the greatest divinity of the heavens next to the Sun. Selene was identified in later times with Diana. To the Greek poet Pindar she was the eye of night. To the Latin poet Horace she was the queen of silence. Monday was consecrated to her.

These names of gods and goddess, and of other creatures of the vivid imagination of man in the classical lands, are far from exhausting the personnel of the old mythologies. Many writers of modern times draw upon the old myths. Anything that was striking and mysterious was personified as a god, and the varying attributes of the gods became the framework of ancient poetry. A knowledge of mythology is a key that unlocks for us an understanding of the world in its brilliant youth.