Did Greek Gods Marry Humans?


Stories about the Greek gods have been instructing, educating, and entertaining humans for centuries. People love reading books and watching movies about the gods to learn something about the ancient Greeks’ beliefs. Over the years, though, these stories have been changed and modified into many different versions, leaving people confused about the original stories. For example, did any Greek gods marry humans in the original myths?

There are a few myths in which Greek gods married humans. These include Dionysus’ marriage to Ariadne and Eos’ marriage to Tithonus. More often, though, the Greek gods fell in love with, seduced, impregnated, or even raped humans. They usually didn’t marry them afterward.

This article will examine the relationships between Greek gods and humans more closely, particularly those relationships of Zeus and Poseidon. It will also explore the children of mortal-god relationships and discuss why some people think the gods married humans.

Also see Why Are There So Many Gods In Greek Mythology? to learn more.

Greek god Zeus
Why did Greek gods marry people? See below (Image: Zeus)

Why Did Greek Gods Marry People?

There were very few instances of Greek gods marrying human beings. Far more often, Greek gods and goddesses fell in love with and seduced mortals without marrying them. There were, however, a few instances of Greek gods wedding people, and in those cases, it was for the same reasons most people get married. 

The Greek gods that married humans did so because they loved those humans. In these rare cases, the gods or goddesses would see a beautiful mortal, fall in love, and marry the mortal, usually granting them immortality afterward so that they could live together forever.

The following few sections will look at some of the rare instances in which mortals and gods married.

Dionysus and Ariadne

Though he started life as the half-mortal child of Zeus and Semele, Dionysus became the god of wine, revelry, and ecstasy. As a god, he was immortal, but he fell in love with a mortal woman named Ariadne

There are various stories on how the two met and fell in love, but they all end the same way: Dionysus brings her with him to Mount Olympus and makes her immortal so that they can live together forever.

Selene and Endymion

As is true with most Greek myths, there are a few different versions of Endymion’s story. The most commonly told one claims that he was a handsome prince who caught the eye of the moon goddess, Selene

She fell in love with him because of his beauty, and he also loved her. However, their story didn’t end on an entirely happy note. Zeus offered to grant Endymion immortality so that he and Selene could spend eternity together, but there was a catch. 

Endymion would retain his youth and beauty, but he’d never be able to wake up again. Endymion agreed to this, and Zeus placed him in a cave on Mount Latmus. There, he slept eternally, but his lover, Selene, would visit him every night.

Also see Why Are Greek Gods So Cruel? to learn more.

Eos and Tithonus

Eos, goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus, the son of a Trojan king. [1] She wanted to spend eternity with him, so she petitioned Zeus to grant him immortal life. Zeus agreed, and the two entered into a marriage-like relationship. 

However, Eos had neglected to ask Zeus to grant Tithonus eternal youth as well as eternal life, and eventually, Tithonus became so old and decrepit that he couldn’t even move. At that point, Eos transformed him into a grasshopper to relieve his suffering. 

Eros and Psyche

Eros, more commonly known as Cupid, and Psyche fell in love and wanted to marry and spend their lives (Psyche’s mortal and Eos’ immortal) together. However, Eros’ mother, Aphrodite, disapproved of the relationship. 

Aphrodite gave Psyche three tasks to prove herself worthy of her son, hoping that she would fail. The goddess reminded Psyche that she would never be allowed to see Eros again if she did fail. Surprisingly, Psyche completed the tasks and returned triumphantly to Aphrodite. 

The goddess, however, was furious and locked Psyche away, telling her she’d be her servant forever and never see Eros again. The gods intervened and sent word to Eros of Psyche’s plight, and he came and rescued her. Grudgingly, Aphrodite granted Psyche immortality, and the two lovers remained together forever. 

Heracles and Hebe

Heracles, or Hercules, was one of the most famous Greek heroes, but Hera hated him because he was the child of Zeus and one of Zeus’ mistresses. She practically tortured Heracles, even driving him mad and causing him to kill his wife and children.

Eventually, he died, and the gods elevated him to Mount Olympus and made him immortal. He then married the goddess of immortality, Hebe. 

Heracles’ story was a bit different from the others because he was a demigod, not a mortal, but it is another example of a god, or goddess, marrying someone who wasn’t a god.

Also see Why Are Greek Gods So Muscular? to learn more.

Greek god Poseidon
Did Poseidon marry a human? See below (Image: Poseidon and Amphitrite)

Did Poseidon Marry a Human?

Poseidon didn’t marry a human. Instead, he married a sea nereid named Amphitrite. He did have a relationship with a human named Canace, and the two had five children: Nireus, Aloeus, Hopleus, Triopas, and Epopeus. He is also credited with being the father of Theseus with the human woman Aethra.

Poseidon had many other lovers and consorts, including the following: 

  • Alcyone: a goddess of the sea and one of the Pleiades
  • Aphrodite: the Greek goddess of beauty and love
  • Larissa: a sea nymph who bore Poseidon three sons
  • Demeter: Poseidon slept with (or possibly raped) her in the form of a stallion after she transformed herself into a mare to get away from his advances
  • Amymone: one of the Danaides
  • Medusa: once a beautiful maiden; turned into a snake-haired monster after sleeping with (or possibly raped by) Poseidon in a temple of Athena

In recent years, the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan – and the subsequent movies – have depicted Poseidon as being in love with a mortal woman, Percy Jackson’s mother. For this reason, many people with limited exposure to the actual Greek myths think Poseidon married a mortal. 

Also see Why Are Greek Gods No Longer Worshiped? to learn more.

Greek goddess Hera
Did Zeus Have a Child with a Human? See below (Image: Hera)

Did Zeus Have a Child with a Human?

Zeus had many children with many women – both goddesses and humans alike. He is famous for having seven wives, and he had children with all of them. He also had children with other women and beings not listed among his wives. Several of those women were human.

The list of Zeus’ children is impressive. However, not all of them were with human women. For example, none of Zeus’ seven wives were mortal women. [2] They were:

  • Hera: Zeus’ sister and most famous wife; queen of the gods
  • Demeter: Zeus’ sister; goddess of the harvest
  • Leto: A titan; mother of Artemis and Apollo
  • Themis: The titan goddess of divine right and law
  • Metis: Zeus’ first wife; one of the titans
  • Eurynome: A titan and an Oceanid
  • Mnemosyne: The titan goddess of time, remembrance, and memory

Because all of these women were goddesses or titans, none of the children were half-human. Zeus did have half-mortal children, though. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Heracles
  • Tantalus
  • Perseus
  • Achaeus
  • Dionysus
  • Argus

Conclusion

A few Greek gods married humans, but mostly, they seduced, fell in love with, or raped humans without marrying them. 

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source

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