Mythology is something that, at some point, influenced cultures and history in all countries. All the myths and legends affect not only customs and arts but morals and development of nations. As a matter of fact, studying the fundamental mythological beliefs, symbols, and their meaning is an efficient approach to analyzing a history of a foreign civilization.


Understanding symbolism is an essential part of learning about mythology. Since ancient times symbols signified ideas and mysteries of nature, which were yet to be explained by scientists. Symbols gave powerful meanings to those things and represented them in art.

The pantheon of ancient Greek gods is one that is studied the most. Every Greek divine entity has one or even a set of symbols that embody a special meaning and identify a God or a Goddess.

The ruler of all Gods, Zeus, is considered to be the main God of Mount Olympus. He is also a God of skies, lighting, and thunder. That is why a lightning bolt is the most famous symbol of Zeus. Moreover, to represent his superior position above all the other Gods, sometimes he is pictured with another symbol, and that is a proud eagle. Eagles and also bulls are known as sacred animals for Zeus.

His brother Poseidon, however, is the God of the oceans, rivers, and storms. Therefore, his well-known symbols are Trident and dolphins. The Trident is his main weapon, which helps Poseidon to hold power over all the water. The dolphins are his companions and, just like eagles and bulls, are sacred animals.
Hades is the third child of Cronos, the brother to Poseidon and Zeus. He is the God of the underworld, and, although he does not have defined symbols like the other gods, Hades is often pictured with his three-headed dog the Cerberus. He could also be associated with standard symbols of death, for example, skulls and skeletons. His ferryman Charon has a symbol as well, and that is a pole, which reflects his role as a boatman for dead souls going across the river Styx.

Hera, the wife of Zeus, is the queen of Mount Olympus, that is the reason she is often illustrated with a diadem on her head. Moreover, as the Goddess of childbirth, she is often portrayed with a pomegranate in her hand, which symbolizes fertility. Her sacred animal was the peacock, because according to the legend, Hera out of jealousy turned Io, one of the Zeus many lovers, into a peacock.

Hephaestus is a kind and hard-working God. People believe he is a God of fire, metalworking, and blacksmiths. Therefore, his main symbols are a hammer and an anvil. Other symbols, like tongs and volcanoes, are not so popular, but they are as important as the mentioned above. The volcano symbol speaks for itself, as in the mythology of ancient Rome, Hephaestus is called Vulcan.

His wife Aphrodite is associated with beauty, sexuality, love, and procreation. Her symbols, which are a red rose and a dolphin, are correlated with femininity and gentleness. The scallop shell also has significant meaning to her story, as some theories believe that she was born from a shell. Such an event was depicted in a famous painting “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. Moreover, the “Aphro” in her name means “seafoam”, thus making the foam the symbol of Goddess as well.