Why Are Greek Gods So Popular?


Greek mythology is more than just a series of old tales. Something about them connects with audiences still today, inspiring a wide range of versions and retellings.

Greek gods are popular because it’s easy to relate to their behaviors and feelings. Their stories feel universal, and they’ve been a central part of Western culture since ancient times. Artists have been depicting Greek gods and writing their own versions of myths, keeping them relevant to this day.

Greek mythology is so widespread that sometimes people don’t even notice how present they are in human consciousness. This article will explain why Greek gods are still popular and where modern humans can find them. 

Also see Why Were Greek Gods Blonde? to learn more.

Zeus Greek god
How is Greek mythology relevant to today? See below (Image: Zeus)

Reason Why Greek Gods Are So Popular

Greek myths tell stories to which anyone can relate. They touch on things that feel universal, and they’re still relatable even thousands of years after being written. [1]

The behaviors and feelings of Greek gods are the same as those of humans. And because of how powerful these myths are, they help people make sense of their own feelings and emotions.

The fascination for Greek mythology is anything but new. Literary works like The Odyssey and the tragedies of Sophocles have been upheld as landmarks for many centuries.

Meanwhile, people like Aristotle and Plato, founders of Western philosophy, made references to mythology all the time.

Romans liked Greek gods so much that they based their entire pantheon on them. This is why there are Roman names for many Greek gods: Zeus became Jupiter, Athena became Minerva, and so on.

But the period that truly started to make Greek mythology common knowledge was the Renaissance.

During the Renaissance, artists, architects, writers, playwrights and musicians looked to Greek mythology for inspiration. They painted scenes from famous tales and wrote their own versions of myths.

Thanks to a myriad of great works since then, many people have been exposed to Greek mythology, and it’s always been a hit.

Also see Were Greek Gods Immortal? to learn more.

Eros Greek god
Who are the most popular Greek gods? See below (Image: Eros)

How Is Greek Mythology Relevant to Today?

Originally, myths were a way to explain why the world is the way it is and how one should behave.

Greek mythology is kept alive today through movies, fantasy books, paintings, and other similar works. It’s still relevant to today’s culture, although not in the same way it once was. In the time of the Greeks, it was a way of life for people; now, people share these myths for entertainment only. 

First of all, it’s a lot of fun to play around with Greek mythology. It’s a great place to draw inspiration for original stories.

That’s why the easiest place to find Greek mythology is in media and art. There are countless books based on Greek mythology, like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and Madeline Miller’s books.

Moreover, many people still read Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, two of the main sources for the affairs of Greek gods. The same can be said about Ovid’s retellings of Greek myths in Metamorphoses.

Greek gods also appear in many popular video games, like Hades and the God of War saga. It isn’t hard to find movies and shows about Greek mythology, either.

But the presence of Greek gods goes beyond that. Storytellers have been taking Greek myths as a template for centuries, and it still happens today. A movie or TV show may not have any gods in it but still be a reimagination of an ancient Greek myth.

With all the depth and richness of their personalities, Greek gods are a perfect playground for artists. But it’s not just art that has taken advantage of that.

Today’s idea of personality archetypes, whether in the Meyers-Briggs test or pop astrology, can be traced back to Carl Jung’s work on archetypes. And, in turn, he based his work mainly on the Greek pantheon.

So, Greek gods don’t just appear in today’s stories. They influence how people tell those stories. Knowing Greek mythology opens the door to understanding where popular stories come from and how they work.

Also, as thousands of Greek-mythology obsessed people around the world can attest, Greek gods are incredibly fun.

Also see Why Do Greek Gods Look Like Humans? to learn more.

Greek god Poseidon
Is Greek or Norse mythology more popular? See below (Image: Poseidon)

Who Are the Most Popular Greek Gods?

The most popular Greek gods are the twelve Olympians, or the major Olympian gods:

  • Zeus
  • Poseidon
  • Hera
  • Apollo
  • Athena
  • Aphrodite
  • Ares
  • Artemis
  • Dionysius
  • Demeter
  • Hephaestus
  • Hermes

Hades and Persephone are not Olympian but are just as popular.

Greek mythology is full of gods. There are the Olympian gods, the underworld gods, the daemones or spirits, the titans, the primordial gods, and deified mortals. All in all, there are a few hundred deities in Greek mythology.

And that doesn’t even count other supernatural beings, like beasts, demigods, and each of the many different nymphs.

However, a group of gods has a dominant presence in Greek mythology. For classical Greeks, some gods were more powerful than others and thus were more fleshed out in their stories and art.

These are the major Olympian gods, who are at the center of the Greek pantheon. However, there are also a couple of special guests.

Hades and Persephone are as popular as many of the gods on the previous list. But as rulers of the underworld, they aren’t part of Olympus.

Other popular gods include:

  • Chronos
  • Atlas
  • Hécate
  • Hypnos

However, they aren’t as characterized as the others are.

Also see Did Greek Gods Marry Humans? to learn more.

Is Greek Mythology More Popular Than Norse Mythology?

Greek mythology is more popular than Norse mythology. It’s been a cornerstone of the culture for centuries, and Greek myths are more widely read and known. However, many places and characters from Norse mythology have become very popular in the last decades, thanks to books, video games, and movies.

Norse mythology has gained popularity in the last few decades. Just like in Greek mythology, its stories are inspiring and relatable.

The cosmology of Norse mythology is perhaps what fascinates people the most. It offers an amazing scenario for fantasy and science-fiction stories, and it’s just as fun to read about it by itself.

Several places and characters of Norse mythology have been popularized by movies, books, and video games.

Thor and Loki are the most popular figures of Norse mythology right now, mainly thanks to the Marvel comics and cinematic universe. Thor’s series of movies has also brought other elements of Norse mythology to a wide audience, like Ragnarok and the realms of Midgard and Asgard.

Of course, Marvel’s stories are only loosely inspired by Norse mythology. For those who want a more faithful take on the old religion of the Vikings, there are books like Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman has written many books inspired by Norse mythology, like the American Gods series. Another very popular book series we can’t forget about is Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series.

The latest God of War game took the series from a Greek mythology background into the world of Norse mythology. Kratos and his son travel across Midgard, encountering mythical creatures like Jormungand, a gigantic snake that surrounds the entire world.

But as recognizable as many elements of Norse mythology are, they’re still scattered and few compared to the place Greek gods have in the human imagination.

After all, Greek mythology still inspires many incredibly popular series. But what’s even more meaningful is how many people read some of the sources for what people know of Greek mythology. Even if someone hasn’t read all 15,693 verses of The Iliad, chances are that person still knows about the Trojan War and who Achilles and Odysseus are.

There are even words to describe traits associated with a specific god, like “apollonian” or “dionysian.”

As popular as Norse mythology has become recently, it still can’t compete against the hundreds of years of presence Greek myths have had in the human consciousness.

Conclusion

Greek gods have been and will likely continue to be some of the most popular gods that people know, learn about, and enjoy studying.

References:
[1] Source

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