The Twelve Olympians, in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. There were, at various times, fourteen different gods recognized as Olympians, though never more than twelve at one time.
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis are always considered Olympians. Hestia, Demeter, Dionysus, and Hades are the variable gods among the Twelve. Hestia gave up her position as an Olympian to Dionysus in order to live among mankind (eventually she was assigned the role of tending the fire on Mount Olympus). Demeter was allowed to leave Olympus six months of the year to be with her daughter, Persephone in Hades (causing winter). And, although Hades was always one of the principal Greek gods, his home in the underworld of the dead made his connection to the Olympians more tenuous.
The Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings; all other Olympians (with the usual exception of foam-born Aphrodite) are usually considered the children of Zeus by various mothers (except for Athena, who was possibly born of Zeus alone). Additionally, it is also possible that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone as Hera's revenge for Zeus's solo birth of Athena.
The corresponding Roman god was Pluto, Dis Pater or Orcus; the corresponding Etruscan god was Aita.
Hermēs (Greek "pile of marker stones") is the god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of orators, literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures and invention and commerce in general, of the cunning of thieves, and the messenger from the gods to humans.
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