The Titans, often called the Elder Gods, were for untold ages supreme in the universe. They were of enormous size and of incredible strength. There were many of them, but only a few appear in the stories of mythology. The most important was CRONUS, in Latin SATURN. He ruled over the other Titans until his son Zeus dethroned him and seized the power for himself. The Romans said that when Jupiter, their name for Zeus, ascended the throne, Saturn fled to Italy and brought in the Golden Age, a time of perfect peace and happiness, which lasted as long as he reigned.
The other notable Titans were OCEAN, the river that was supposed to encircle the earth; his wife TETHYS; HYPERION, the father of the sun, the moon, and the dawn; MNEMOSYNE, which means Memory; THEMIS, usually translated by Justice; and IAPETUS, important because of his sons, ATLAS, who bore the world on his shoulders, and PROMETHEUS, who was the savior of mankind. These alone among the older gods were not banished with the coming of Zeus, but they took a lower place.
The twelve great Olympians were supreme among the gods who succeeded to the Titans. They were called the Olympians because Olympus was their home. What Olympus was, however, is not easy to say. There is no doubt that at first it was held to be a mountain top, and generally identified with Greece’s highest mountain, Mt. Olympus in Thessaly, in the northeast of Greece. But even in the earliest Greek poem, the Iliad, this idea is beginning to give way to the idea of an Olympus in some mysterious region far above all the mountains of the earth. In one passage of the Iliad Zeus talks to the gods from “the topmost peak of many-ridged Olympus,” clearly a mountain. But only a little further on he says that if he willed he could hang earth and sea from a pinnacle of Olympus, clearly no longer a mountain. Even so, it is not heaven. Homer makes Poseidon say that he rules the sea, Hades the dead, Zeus the heavens, but Olympus is common to all three.
The Twelve Olympians Made Up the Divine Family:
( 1 ) ZEUS (JUPITER), the chief;
his two brothers next,
( 2 ) POSEIDON (NEPTUNE),
and ( 3 ) HADES, also called PLUTO;
( 4 ) HESTIA (VESTA), their sister;
( 5 ) HERA (JUNO), Zeus’s wife,
and ( 6 ) ARES (MARS), their son;
( 7 ) ATHENA (MINERVA),
( 8 ) APOLLO,
( 9 ) APHRODITE (VENUS),
( 10 ) HERMES (MERCURY),
and ( 11 ) ARTEMIS (DIANA);
and Hera’s son
( 12 ) HEPHAESTUS (VULCAN),
sometimes said to be the son of Zeus too.