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Olympian,in Greek religion and mythology, one of the 12 important gods who succeeded the Titans as rulers of the universe. The divine family of the Olympians was headed by Zeus, who ruled the heavens and earth, and his queen, Hera. Zeus' brothers, Poseidon and Hades (also called Pluto), ruled the sea and underworld respectively. The divine children were Ares, Hermes, Apollo, Hephaestus, Athena, Aphrodite, and Artemis. It was said that Zeus' sister Hestia, who was also an Olympian, resigned her place to Dionysus. The Olympians, whose honors and attributes have come down to us almost entirely through Homer and Hesiod, lived in majestic splendor on Mt. Olympus. Similar to human beings in both physical appearance and character traits, the gods feasted on ambrosia and nectar and took special delight in their mortal loves. About the 6th cent. B.C. the Olympian gods began to yield in importance to the mystery cults (see mysteriesmysteries,
in Greek and Roman religion, some important secret cults. The conventional religions of both Greeks and Romans were alike in consisting principally of propitiation and prayers for the good of the city-state, the tribe, or the family, and only secondarily of the person.
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1. of or relating to Mount Olympus or to the classical Greek gods
2. of or relating to ancient Olympia or its inhabitants
3. a god of Olympus
4. an inhabitant or native of ancient Olympia
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005