Greatest Heroes and Mortals from Greek Mythology

Heroes and Famous Mortals of Greek Mythology

The world of ancient Greek mythology is rather captivating, from its omnipotent gods to its most revered heroes. Below we will explore the legendary sagas of the iconic figures of the Greek Mythos, those who left an indelible mark on both human history and imagination. From valiant warriors to wise seers, and from powerful leaders to mysterious consorts, these individuals continue to inspire us with their divine power and their human flaws. 

As a mythology enthusiast and someone who has extensively studied the masterpieces of Ancient Greek literature in an academic setting, compiling this list gave me a unique opportunity to revisit personal beloved stories and characters – as well as others that upset me. For instance, writing about Clytemnestra and Orestes brought to mind Aeschylus’ extraordinary trilogy of Greek tragedies, “Oresteia”, as well as my own feelings about Orestes’ unpunished matricide. On the other hand, this list reminded me of powerful yet tragic love stories, like the death of Hyacinthus. 

Greek Mythology’s Greatest Heroes and Significant Mortals

Most of the characters on this list have legacies that attest to their significance. Many of us have “met” Sisyphus through Albert Camus’ famous quote “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”. Others have met the Trojan War heroes through popular films, songs, and novels. Other characters, such as Andromeda and Orion, are best known for the asterisms and galaxies that bear their names.

Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the stories or the names, I hope this list will evoke nostalgia for those who are, while also introducing newcomers to the timeless wisdom and allure of Greek mythology’s most intriguing characters.


Achilles, among the Trojan War’s greatest heroes, was a man of extraordinary strength and combat prowess. He was the son of King Peleus and the nymph Thetis, and when his mother dipped him in the Styx River, he became nearly invincible. His heel was his only vulnerable spot, and it ultimately cost him his life. Achilles fought valiantly during the Trojan War, seeking vengeance for Patroclus’ death, as praised in Homer’s Iliad.


Actaeon, the famous but unlucky hunter, is best remembered for his tragic encounter with the goddess Artemis. He is the son of Aristaeus, the god of hunting, and Autonoe, Cadmus’ daughter, and descends from a distinguished lineage. Aristaeus, while hunting, came across the goddess Artemis bathing naked. In retribution, the goddess transformed him into a stag, and his own hounds attacked and killed him. His tragic story serves as a reminder of the dangers of crossing the line between mortal and divine.


Theseus’ father, Aegeus, was a king of Athens known for his tragic death. He descended from a renowned lineage and was a beloved king. The most famous myth concerns Theseus’ return from Crete after defeating the Minotaur. Due to a misunderstanding, Aegeus mistook him for dead and committed suicide by throwing himself into the Aegean Sea, which was named after him.


Aegisthus was responsible for the murder of Agamemnono, the Mycenaean king . The Aegisthus lineage is one of betrayal, the cursed house of Atreus. Aegisthus had an affair with Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra. They were linked by love and their shared hatred for cruel Agamemnon. Aegisthus and Clytemnestra murdered the king after he returned from Troy, but they both met their end at the hands of Agamemnon’s son, Orestes.


Aeneas, the ancestral founder of Rome, was a Trojan hero of great strength and will. Son of mortal Anchises and goddess Aphrodite, his lineage is quite extraordinary, as depicted in Virgil’s “Aeneid.” Many myths surround the Trojan hero: he saved his elderly father, Anchises, by carrying him on his back, he had a brief but eventful affair with Dido, the Queen of Carthage, and he went on to found Lavinium, Rome’s ancestral root.


Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and a central figure in both the Trojan War and Greek mythology in general. A descendant of the cursed house of Atreus, lhe ed the Achaean forces during the Trojan War. In Homer’s “Iliad,” he is known for his leadership and strategic prowess, as well as his arrogance and entitlement. He died at the hands of his wife, Clytemnestra, who avenged his wrongdoings.

Ajax the Great

Ajax the Great (Aias) was a towering figure in the Trojan War. The son of Salamis’ king Telamon and brother of the renowned archer Teucer, he was a warrior destined for greatness. Ajax and Hector dueled, and when neither could claim victory, they parted ways and exchanged gifts. Achilles’ death and the dispute over his armor had a significant impact on Ajax’s mental health, and he tragically ended his life with the same sword Hector had gifted him.


Alcestis is the epitome of self-devotion and self-sacrifice. Born to King Pelias and Queen Anaxibia of Iolcus, Alcestis married King Admetus, and their stories intertwine. Admetus desired to spend eternity with Alcestis, and with Apollo’s assistance, he could, if someone were to take his place after death. Alcestis was the only one who offered, and Heracles rewarded her selflessness with a second chance to live eternally with her beloved Admetus.


Alcmene was the mother of the famous hero Heracles. She was the daughter of Mycenae’s royalty, Electryon and Anaxo. Her fiancé, Amphitryon, accidentally killed Electryon, and the two went into exile. Zues deceived and seduced the mortal woman, who eventually gave birth to the famous demigod Heracles.


Anchises, the mortal beloved by the goddess Aphrodite, is the main character in a story about divine love. Amidst the heroic narratives, his affair with Aphrodite is a soft yet powerful whisper. The divine romance birthed Aeneas, who would go on to become a hero and the founder of Rome.


Andromache, the Trojan War’s unsung heroine, exemplifies resilience, sacrifice, love, and loss. During the Trojan War, she lost her seven brothers and her beloved husband, Hector, to Achilles. She lived her life as a war prize for Neoptolemus, the murderer of her son Astyanax. The retribution occurs when she and her son, Molossus, gain control of a part  of Epirus.


Andromeda, the powerful princess of Aethiopia and Perseus’ spouse, is best known for the constellation/galaxy that bears her name. The daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, she was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster in order to atone for her mother’s hubris. Perseus killed the monster, and Andromeda followed him back to Greece.


Antigone is the tragic heroine who represents unwavering resilience and commitment to justice. Born to the ill-fated couple Oedipus and Iocasta, her life was shadowed by their sins. Her myth is one of loyalty and defiance, as she attempts in vain to fight her uncle Creon’s injustice following the civil war brought on by her two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices. She stood firm in her beliefs, even if it meant sacrificing her own life to honor her brother.


Arachne was a skilled weaver who dared to challenge a goddess. She was just a mortal, however she was incredibly talented at weaving. She challenged Athena to a weaving competition and produced a tapestry mocking the Gods by depicting their wrongdoings. For this, Athena transformed her into a spider, as the name Arachne implies.


Ariadne, the Cretan princess, is best known for being Theseus’ guide through the Minoan Labyrinth. Daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae, she was born into glorious royalty. She assisted the Athenian hero Theseus in navigating the labyrinth and killing the monster Minotaur, which terrified Crete. Abandoned by Theseus on Naxos, she found herself in Dionysus’ arms, and their divine union produced several children.


Asclepius, the divine healer of Ancient Greece, was the demigod of medicine and healing. Asclepius was Apollo and Coronis’ son, and he fathered lesser medical deities such as Hygieia, Panacea, and Iaso. Zeus killed Asclepius after resurrecting Hippolytus for violating the natural order of life. Zeus resurrected him but limited his power.


Astyanax, the tragic child of Troy, is a testament to the disastrous aftermath of war. Son of prince Hector and Andromache, Astyanax was the embodiment of Troy’s future hope. In one of the cruelest scenes in Greek mythology, Neoptolemus, Achilles’ son, killed Astyanax by throwing him from the city walls. His tragic death represents the human cost of war and the loss of innocence.


Atalanta, the swift-footed huntress, represents defiance of traditional gender roles. She was the daughter of Iasus and the oceanid Clymene. She became the goddess Artemis’ protégé after her father abandoned her on a mountainside because she was not male. Atalanta went on to become a better huntress than all the men around her, winning the Calydonian boar hunt and defying gender stereotypes.


Atreus, the legendary king of Mycenae, was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus. His lineage’s curse was passed down from his grandfather Tantalus, and he aggravated it when he exacted revenge for his brother Thyestes’ affair with his wife Aerope, by feeding him his own sons. During the Trojan War, Atreus’ greatest descendants would suffer from the ancestral curse that he had enhanced.


Bellerophon is best known as the hero who tamed Pegasus. Born in noble lineage, son of Glaucus and Eurymede, Bellerophon was guided by the goddess Athena in taming Pegasus. Bellerophon and Pegasus battled the monster Chimera. The hero is also known for attempting to ascend to Olympus and being punished by Zeus.

Briseis (Hippodameia)

Briseis, Troy’s enigmatic beauty, was a noblewoman who served as Achilles’ war prize. She was married to Myrnes, the prince of Lyrnessus, who died in the Trojan War. After becoming Achilles’ war prize, the two developed a strong bond. Briseis was also discovered caught between Agamemnon’s and Achilles’ power struggles. Her story provides a unique perspective on the Trojan War.


Cadmus, the renowned founder of Thebes, was the son of Agenor and Telephassa. On his quest to save his sister Europa from Zeus, he was led to establish the city of Thebes by sowing the Dragon’s teeth and creating the Thebans. Cadmus married Harmonia, and her necklace became a terrible curse for Cadmus’ descendants, including Semele and Agave.


Calchas was the foremost seer of the Trojan War. He played a very important role in the Trojan War, predicting that it would last for a full decade. He is also the one who prophesied that Iphigeneia should be sacrificed, and that Troy would not fall, unless Achilles fought in the war.


Cassandra, the doomed prophetess of Troy, is among the most tragic figures in Greek mythology. She was a prominent figure during the Trojan War, having been born to King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy and being the sister of Hector and Paris. Apollo bestowed upon her the gift of prophecy, but cursed her with the inability to be believed, she attempted and failed to warn the Trojans of the Greeks’ advances numerous times. Cassandra was taken as a war prize by Agamemnon, who predicted her tragic death at the hands of Clytemnestra.


Cassiopeia was the Queen of Aethiopia and the mother of Andromeda. Her vanity led her to boast about being more beautiful than the Nereids. Poseidon became enraged and sent a sea monster to destroy Aethiopia. To save her kingdom, Cassiopeia offered her daughter Andromeda as a sacrifice to the monster. Fortunately, Perseus killed the monster and rescued Andromeda.


Cephalus was a tragic, love-stricken figure from Greek mythology. The son of King Deioneus and Diomede, he had a passionate and eventful relationship with Procris.  Cephalus was deeply saddened after accidentally killing Procris as a result of a serious misunderstanding. Only through his encounter with Clymene did the tragic figure who murdered his beloved find some comfort.


Clytemnestra, one of Greek mythology’s most powerful women, was the daughter of Leda and Tyndareus. Clytemnestra’s lineage is especially noteworthy. She is best known for her hatred for her husband, Agamemnon, who sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, to win the Trojan War, her affair with Aegisthus, Agamemnon’s murder, and for being the victim of matricide at the hands of her son, Orestes.


Creon was the unyielding King of Thebes, Eurydice’s husband, and Jocasta’s brother. He gave up his throne to Oedipus after the latter defeated the Sphinx, only to return after Oedipus’ tragic exile. He was a strict ruler, best known for his cruel punishment of his niece, Antigone, who attempted to defy him and bury her brother, Polynices, following the tragic Theban civil war.


Daedalus, the famous craftsman and architect, designed the Minoan Labyrinth. Coming from a noble family, he quickly became a skilled craftsman. He built a labyrinth to trap the Minotaur, who terrorized Crete. King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus, preserving the secret of the labyrinth, and the two attempted to flee by air, resulting in Icarus’ tragic demise.


Danae was an enigmatic heroine and the mother of the hero Perseus. Her father, Acrisius, imprisoned her to prevent her from bearing children. Acrisius had received a prophecy that his grandson would kill him. Zeus reached Danae, and she became pregnant with Perseus. The two were exiled, and Perseus went on to defeat dangerous monsters and rescue his mother from King Polydectes, who wanted to marry her against her will.


Deucalion, the son of Prometheus and Clymene, was the second creator of humanity. As instructed by his father, he built an ark to save himself and his partner, Pyrrha, from a flood sent by Zeus to destroy the earth. Once safe atop Mount Parnassus, the couple threw stones behind them, which formed men and women.

Diomedes (Tydeus’ son)

Diomedes, the son of Tydeus and Deipyle, was a valiant Trojan War hero. Among other legendary figures, he wounded Aphrodite and Ares under Athena’s supervision. He is best known for stealing the Palladium, a sacred statue of Athena from Troy. He was close friends with Odysseus. Not to be confused with the philosopher Diomedes.

Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux)

Castor and Pollux, also known as the Dioscuri, are the celestial twins from Greek mythology. They are Zeus and Leda’s sons, as well as Helen and Clytemnestra’s brothers. In various myths, they assisted Helen in returning to Sparta following her abduction and sailed with the Argonauts. When Castor died, Pollux decided not to live without him and divided his time between Earth and Hades.


Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, is a tragic heroine from Greek mythology. Although she was devastated that her father had sacrificed Iphigeneia, her sister, she took the side of her father when Clytemnestra plotted against Agamemnon. She was exiled and later reunited with Orestes, after which the two siblings committed matricide to avenge their father’s murder. Electra struggled with the moral consequences of her actions.


Endymion was a mortal who was blessed with eternal slumber by Selene, the Moon goddess. Selene fell in love with the man and begged Zeus to keep him in eternal sleep, forever young, so she could look at him every night. Their union produced fifty daughters.


The serpent-born hero, Erichthonius, was an Athenian king. He was the son of Hephaestus and Gaia (Mother Earth). Erichthonius’ serpentine form as a baby drove the daughters of Cecrops, king of Athens, to madness. He eventually became one of Athens’ most innovative and beloved kings. His lineage leads to Theseus.

Eteocles and Polynices

Eteocles and Polynices, two brothers bound by fate, were responsible for Thebes’ catastrophic civil war. As the sons of Oedipus and Jocasta, the two brothers were doomed from the start. They agreed to share the throne of Thebes, but Eteocles wanted it for himself. Polynices was exiled, resulting in a devastating civil war. Both brothers were killed, and Antigone, their sister, was punished for wishing to bury Polynices, who was deemed a traitor.


Europa was a captivating heroine from Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Agenor and Queen Telephassa of Phoenicia, and her life was uneventful until Zeus set his eyes on her. Smitten by her beauty, Zeus transformed into a majestic white bull and kidnapped her, transporting her to the island of Crete. This romantic yet turbulent relationship produced three children: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon.


Eurydice was the tragic muse for Orpheus’ descent. Although little is known about her life, she is immortalized through her love story. On her wedding day with Orpheus, she was bitten by a snake. Following the Nymphs’ suggestion, Orpheus descended to the Underworld to save him. However, he ignored the order not to turn back to look at her, and when he did, Eurydice was forever bound to the Underworld.


Ganymede was a Trojan prince and the son of Troy’s king, Tros, whom Zeus chose to be the gods’ cupbearer. Ganymede was tending his father’s sheep when Zeus, enthralled by his beauty, transformed into an eagle and carried him to Olympus. He gave him immortality and transformed him into a demigod, as well as appointing him as the gods’ cupbearer.


Glaucus was a mysterious figure, a mortal transformed into a sea deity. Glaucus was a fisherman who discovered a magical herb that revived a fish and decided to eat it. He was transformed, gaining sea-green hair, a fishtail, and the ability to prophesy. His new form prompted him to seek companionship, which led to his obsession with the nymph Scylla.


Hector, the noble Trojan prince, was considered one of the Trojan War’s greatest heroes. The son of Priam and Hecuba, and the husband of Andromache, Hector was a revered prince, a fierce warrior, and a devoted father. He fought bravely in the Trojan War, killing Patroclus. Achilles, in retaliation, killed him and desecrated his body. Hector’s tragic death resulted in his father recovering and burying his body, as the warrior code dictates.


Hecuba was the tragic Queen of Troy during the Trojan War. Mother of Hector, Paris and Cassandra, Hecuba experienced an omen that would foreshadow the doom of Troy, which would be her own child, Paris. Hecuba not only faced the fall of Troy and the deaths of many of her children, but the death of her son, Polydorus, drove her to seek vengeance. Because of this, the gods transformed her into a dog.


Helen, the most beautiful woman in Greek mythology, is best remembered for her pivotal role in the Trojan Wars. The Queen of Sparta was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and the wife of Menelaus. She was seduced by Paris, a Trojan prince, and abandoned Menelaus, resulting in the infamous Trojan War. She had previously been kidnapped by Theseus before being rescued by her brothers, Castor and Pollux.


Heracles, the most powerful hero in Ancient Greece, was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. He is the most powerful and popular hero to have ever lived. Hera tried to avenge him her entire life. Heracles married Megara, a Theban princess, but Hera drove him to murder her and their children. To atone for his actions, he had to complete twelve difficult tasks known as the “Heracles Labors.” He was also a member of the Argonauts.


Hippolytus, the son of Theseus and Hippolyta, is a tragic figure from Greek mythology. He was a young hunter who promised chastity to Artemis. Phaedra, his stepmother, attempted to seduce him but was met with devastating rejection. She lied to Theseus, who asked Poseidon for a favor and had his own son brutally killed by his own horses. Phaedra was unable to bear the guilt and took her own life.


Hippolyta, the fierce and revered Queen of the Amazons. She was the queen of Ares, the god of warmth, and Otrera, the founder of the Amazonian tribe. She had a relationship with Theseus, and they had Hippolytus together. Hippolyta bore a girdle, a symbol of her authority as Queen of the Amazons, which Hercules took during one of his labors. Hippolyta was killed in the battle.


Hyacinthus, Apollo’s young lover, died tragically. He was the son of Spartan King Amyclas and Diomede. Apollo, the sun god, and Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, fell in love with the young man. Apollo won Hyacinthus over, making Zephyrus jealous. One day, he sent a gust of wind, causing Apollo’s discus to strike and kill Hyacinthus. Apollo, inconsolable, transformed his young lover into a flower to always remember him.


Icarus, son of Daedalus, is a symbol of ambition and hubris. After King Minos trapped Daedalus and Icarus in the labyrinth Daedalus had made to trap the Minotaur, they decided to leave by flying with wax wings. While Daedalus had calculated the height at which they had to fly, Icarus wanted to touch the sun. As he flew closer to the sun, his wings melted, and he lost his life in the Icarian Sea.


Inachos was a primordial river God, the son of Oceanus and Tethys. Other than a river god (daemon), he was also the first King of Argos. In addition to being a river god (daemon), he was Argos’ first king. His most notable consort was the nymph Melia, with whom he had several children, including Io, Amymone, and Mycene. His daughter, Io, became a central character in several myths.


Io was one of Zeus’ mortal lovers. She was an Argive princess, the daughter of Inachos, and ancestor of many kings and heroes, including Perseus, Cadmus, Heracles, Minos, Lynceus, Cepheus, and Danaus. Zeus fell in love with the young maiden and transformed her into a cow to keep her safe from Hera. Hera discovered this and sent a gadfly to sting Io continuously until she reached Mt. Caucasus. Io escaped to Egypt and married King Telegonus.


Iphigenia was Agamemnon and Clytemnestra’s sacrificial daughter. Before the Trojan War, seer Calchas advised Agamemnon to sacrifice his daughter if he wanted the Greeks to win. In some accounts, Iphigenia was sacrificed, but in others, she was saved by the goddess Artemis. Clytemnestra, distraught over the loss of her daughter, later murdered Agamemnon in retaliation.


Jason was a legendary Greek hero who led the Argonauts. He was the son of Aeson and Alcimede, and as a child, he was taken away from his mother for his own safety. Unaware of who he was, he set out to discover his roots. Jason’s adventures include the gathering of the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece, which is one of the most fascinating stories in Greek mythology. Jason’s relationship with sorceress Medea was tumultuous and did not end happily.


Jocasta was the Queen of Thebes and a tragic figure from Greek mythology. She was Laius’ wife and the unfortunate recipient of a curse placed on him. As prophesied, their son, Oedipus, murdered Laius and married Jocasta without knowing who they were, and they had four children. When they found out, Oedipus blinded himself, and Jocasta took her own life. Their family would be cursed for generations to come.


Laertes ruled Ithaca before his son Odysseus. He was the husband of Anticlea, the daughter of the notorious thief Autolycus. Laertes is best known as an elderly man who waits for his son to return safely home. Despite his age, he assisted Odysseus in fighting the suitors until and after he returned to Ithaca.


Leda was the wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta. She is best known for being seduced by Zeus, who appeared to her as a swan. Through this union, Leda gave birth to some of Greek mythology’s most famous characters, including Helen, Clytemnestra, Castor, and Pollux. Through Helen, Leda’s lineage was central to one of Greek mythology’s most epic wars.


Linus was a renowned musician and eloquent speaker. He was the son of Apollo and possibly Muse Calliope or Muse Urania. Linus personified a particular type of lament. He was the first to play the harp while singing. He taught Heracles, Musaeus, Orpheus, and Thamyris. It is said that he was killed by Apollo for being his rival in a musical contest. 


Meleager was the leader of the Caledonian Boar Hunt. He was the son of King Oeneus and Queen Althaea, and he led the hunt for Artemis’ boar. He and Atalanta, the huntress, fell in love. When Atalanta killed the boar, he wanted to give her the righteous skin of the boar, which required him to kill his uncles. Althaea was devastated and destroyed the log that sealed her son’s fate. Meleager is also known for taking part in the Argonauts’ voyage.


Menelaus was Sparta’s king and a Trojan War hero. When his wife, Helen, abandoned him in favor of the Trojan prince Paris, he began the Trojan War in search of honor. After the Greeks won the Trojan War, Menelaus and Helen returned to Sparta to rekindle their love while caring for their daughter, Hermione. Menelaus represents perseverance, love, and honor.


Midas was the King of Phrygia, best known as the man with the Golden Touch. One day, Midas came across Silenus, a satyr and friend of Dionysus. Silenus rewards Midas for his kindness by bestowing upon him the ability to turn anything he touches into gold. Midas transformed all food into gold, rendering him unable to eat, and eventually his own daughter. Dionysus felt sorry for the man and let him go of his blessing, which had turned out to be a curse.


Minos was the legendary King of Crete. He was the son of Zeus and Europa, and married Queen Pasiphaë. Minos ordered Deadalus to build a labyrinth to imprison the monster Minotaur, but then imprisoned and pursued him to keep the secret. After his son, Androgeos, died in Athens, he waged and won a war there, demanding a yearly tribute of 14 Athenians to be fed to the Minotaur.


Narcissus, a man of unparalleled beauty, became the embodiment of vanity. He was the son of Cephissus, the river god, and Liriope, a nymph. After rejecting countless admirers, including the nymph Echo, he became obsessed with his own reflection and fell into despair. He stayed with his reflection until he transformed into a beautiful yellow flower.


Nausica represents the love that was never to be. She was the daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete, and she resided on the island of Scheria. Nausica is best known for her encounter with Odysseus and the bond they formed. She had a prophetic dream before meeting him and was wise enough to turn down his advances. Nausica helped Odysseus recover from his shipwreck and resume his journey.


Neoptolemus was Achilles’ son and fiery successor. He was a fierce warrior in the Trojan War. Menelaus had persuaded him to fight by promising his daughter, Hermione, who was previously betrothed to Orestes. Neoptolemus had also entrapped Andromache, Hector’s widow, and they had a child, which caused significant conflict with Hermione and resulted in Neoptolemus’ arranged murder by Orestes.


Niobe tells the tragic story of a mother’s pride. She was the daughter of Tantalus and Dione and the sister of Pelops and Broteas, created her own myth. Niobe married Amphion and had 14 children, 7 daughters and 7 sons. She boasted about being superior to Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, and the gods killed all of her offspring. Niobe was consumed in unending grief and was transformed by the gods into a statue, frozen in her grief.


Odysseus was the cunning hero of the Trojan War and the central figure in Homer’s Epos. He was the son of King Laertes and Anticlea, and he married Penelope. Odysseus played a significant role in the Trojan War and was the mastermind behind the Trojan Horse. His 10-year journey home, the “Odyssey,” took him through numerous adventures, including Calypso, Polyphemus’ blinding, the Bar of Aeolus, Scylla and Charybdis, and fending off Penelope’s suitors.


Oedipus is the most tragic hero in Greek mythology. He was the son of King Laius and Jocasta, and a prophecy foretold that he would kill his father and unknowingly marry his mother. The devastating information drove Oedipus to blind himself and flee into exile, while Jocasta committed suicide. They had four children (Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles, and Polynices), and their lineage was cursed, resulting in years of civil war in Thebes.


Orestes is best known as tormented hero who killed his mother. Son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, he felt injustice when his mother plotted to kill his father for sacrificing their daughter Iphigeneia. Nonetheless, Orestes resolved to commit matricide with the assistance of his sister, Electra. He was tormented by the Furies, but the goddess Athena decided to help him and bend the rules so that Orestes would not be punished because he allegedly understood the crime he had committed.


Orion was the celestial hunter of Greek mythology. His father, Hyrieus, gave birth to Orion from the hide of a sacrificed ox. Orion had a passionate affair with Eos, the goddess of dawn, and an unrequited love for Merope. He had a close relationship with the goddess Artemis, who, blinded by Apollo, accidentally killed young Orion. She transformed him into a constellation that will shine for eternity. Another myth describes Zeus transforming Orion into a constellation while fighting the formidable Scorpius.


Orpheus, son of Muse Calliope and Oeagrus, was an accomplished Greek bard. He played a significant role in assisting and guiding Jason and the Argonauts through treacherous waters on their quest for the Golden Fleece. Orpheus is best known for traversing the Underworld in search of his beloved Eurydice and bringing her back, only to lose her again when he disobeyed divine orders and returned to see if she had followed him.


Pandora was the first mortal woman created by the Greek gods. She received a variety of gifts from the gods, both good and bad, earning her the title “all-gifted”. Pandora was given a box that she was not supposed to open, but she did because the gods had made her curious and shameless. All of the evil spirits emerged, but Pandora was able to seal “hope” in the vessel as the final spirit to bring comfort to people.


Paris was the ill-fated prince of Troy who stole Helen from the Greeks. The son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, he was the main character in numerous stories. He was the one who gave Aphrodite the golden apple, because she promised him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. He kidnapped Helen from Sparta and was the reason for the Trojan War. Paris, guided by Apollo, was responsible for the death of the famous warrior Achilles.


Pasiphae, the Queen of Crete, was enticed by divine desire. Daughter of the sun god Helios and Perse, she married King Minos. Minos refused to sacrifice a bull to Poseidon, so the God cursed him, which caused Pasiphae to fall in love with the bull. Their union produced the Minotaur, who became a symbol of shame for King Minos.


Patroclus was a famous hero in Greek mythology. Born to Menoetius, he had no divine or royal lineage. He had a very close, possibly romantic, relationship with Achilles, which contributed to his death. Achilles saved Patroclus from exile, and Patroclus sacrificed his life for him during the Trojan War. Patroclus, wearing Achilles’ armor, was killed by Hector, and Achilles sought vengeance for his death.


Peleus was the mortal husband of Thetis and father of the great hero Achilles. He was the son of King Aeacus and Endeis. The gods chose Peleus to marry the sea nymph Thetis. Peleus appears in several well-known myths, including the Quest for the Golden Fleece and the Calydonian Boar Hunt, which demonstrate his strength and heroism.


Pelias was the king of Iolcus and oversaw the Argonauts’ quest. He banished the former king Aeson and killed all of his sons except Jason. When Jason returned, he had no idea who he was, so Pelias sent him on a quest for the Golden Fleece, hoping that he would die trying. When Jason and Medea returned, Medea directed Pelias’ daughters to kill him.


Pelops is a king who had a pivotal role in the curse of the House of Atrreus. He was Tantalus and Dione’s son, as well as the father of Atreus and Thyestes, both of whom play important roles in betrayal stories. Tantalus, in a twisted attempt to test the gods’ omniscience, killed and served Pelops to the gods. The gods punished Tantalus and resurrected Pelops. He later became the target of a curse after killing his opponents in a race to win Hippodameia’s love. The Olympic Games are considered to be his legacy.


Perseus was the legendary slayer of Medusa. The son of Zeus and Danae, he is well-known for his roles in various mythologies. He killed Medusa and used her head to defeat a massive sea monster in Aethiopia, all while saving Princess Andromeda. Following the prophecy, he assassinated his grandfather, King Acrisius, who had exiled him and his mother, and became ruler of Argos.


Phaedra was a Cretan princess known for her unrequited love for her stepson, Hippolytus. The daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae and sister of the famous Ariadne, she was born into royalty. Phaedra, who was rejected by young Hippolytus despite giving him a love potion, falsely accused him of violating her. Theseus cursed Hippolytus, and his chariot horses dragged him to his death. Phaedra, overwhelmed by grief and guilt, took her own life.


Philoctetes was a well-known archer during the Trojan War. He was the son of Poeas and had no divine or royal lineage. While on his way to Troy, he was bitten by a snake, and his companions abandoned him on Lemnos. He was brought back because they couldn’t win without him, and he killed Paris, marking a turning point in the war. Philoctetes, despite being left behind, gave his all for his companions.


Psyche, a Sicilian princess, became the personification of the human soul. Psyche was a stunningly beautiful woman, and everyone admired her. Aphrodite, jealous, sent Eros to make her fall in love with a hideous monster, but he ended up falling for her instead. Their relationship was tumultuous, culminating in Psyche being immortalized by Zeus.


Pygmalion, a sculptor, fell in love with his own work, an ivory statue. Believing that mortal women were all flawed, he created a statue representing his ideal woman. Aphrodite granted his wish, bringing the statue, Galatea, to life. They had a child named Paphos.


Pyrrha was the wife of Deucalion, the second creator of humanity. The daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, she married Deucalion. Pyrrha and her husband were the only survivors of Zeus’ catastrophic flood on Earth. Once safe atop Mount Parnassus, the couple threw stones behind them, which spawned men and women.


Semele was Dionysus’ mother and the princess of Thebes. She was King Cadmus’ daughter. Zeus seduced and impregnated Semele, and Hera befriended her before forcing her to prove Zeus’ divinity. Zeus appeared in front of her, and Semele was consumed in a lightning-ignited flame because mortals could not see gods in their divine forms. Dionysus was saved by Zeus by sewing him to his thigh.


Sisyphus was a famous character who evaded death. He was the king of Ancient Corinth, and he constantly caused problems for the gods. He deceived death several times, by chaining Charos to Tartarus and instructing his wife not to bury him. Finally, the Olympian gods punished him by making him roll a rock up a hill over and over again, hence the term “Sisyphean punishment”.


Tantalus, the ancestor of the House of Atreus, was punished with eternal famish. He wanted to test the gods’ omniscience, so he killed his son Pelops and fed him to the gods. When they realized what he had done, they condemned him to eternal thirst and hunger in Tartarus by not being able to grasp things right in front of him, hence the term “Tantalean punishment.”


Telemachus was the son of Odysseus and Penelope. Although overshadowed by his legendary parents, he was a brave young man. He demonstrated extraordinary strength and courage by fending off Penelope’s suitors in Ithaca while his father was away fighting in the Trojan War.


Teucer was a well-known archer and half-brother of Ajax the Great. The son of King Telamon of Salamis and Hesione, a Trojan princess, his lineage was both regal and complex. During the Trojan War, he fought for the Greeks, often alongside his brother Ajax. Teucer’s family was outraged by Ajax’s death, and his own father, Telamon, put him into trial and ostracized him. He founded a new city in Cyprus and named it Salamis.


Theseus was the founding hero of Athens. The son of King Aegeus and Aethra, he went on many adventures before reuniting with his father. Theseus is famous for defeating the Minotaur, marrying Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, and unsuccessfully kidnapping Helen, Zeus’ daughter. He also joined Heracles on his campaign against the Amazons, where he fell in love and kidnapped Queen Antiope.


Tiresias was the infamous blind seer who knew everything. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo. Legend has it he was transformed into a woman for seven years, allowing him to understand both perspectives. He played an important role in the Odyssey, providing Odysseus with invaluable advice that helped him return to Ithaca.


Triptolemus was the divine agriculturist from Greek mythology. He was either a mortal born to King Celeus and Metaneira or the son of gods Gaia and Oceanus. Demeter blessed Triptolemus, taught him the secrets of agriculture, and gave him a serpent-drawn chariot. Using the chariot, Triptolemus embarked on a divine mission to teach agriculture throughout the world.

Feature image courtesy of DALL-E

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Vasiliki Moutzouri

Vasiliki has been a professional author, editor, and academic researcher since 2018. She currently lives in Athens, Greece. She has studied Philology and Computational Linguistics at the University of Athens. She is interested in literature, poetry, history and mythology, and political philosophy. Other interests include playing music, traveling, and playing pen-and-paper games. She has written a children’s book and a few poems. She is currently working as a content writer, translator, and editor, as well as an academic researcher in the field of linguistics.