“We Olympians are a curious breed. We stand above the mortals that run about our ankles like lost children, but we do little to deserve their praise. My brother, Ares, is an unstable warmonger and my uncle, Poseidon, drowns entire cities beneath his waves. Dionysus and Hermes lead innocents to death and stupor. All the while, Athena watches them like pieces on a gameboard. What there is worthy of worship, I wonder?“
– Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt –
The current Olympian Ascendant, Ares is the god of violence, brutality and unrestrained war.
His victory in the last Pantheon was secured by his daughter, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons; a fact that Ares seems keen to gloss over with a slew of bloody conflicts against his rival gods.
His devout share his penchant for conflict, and his cities are defended by some of the most fearsome armies in the entire world. None of the Olympians, save for Poseidon and Artemis, dare challenge Ares openly while he still reigns ascendant.
He has taken huge swathes of Greece for his own in the past twelve years, and the ranks of his devout have swelled with a huge number of mortals eager to share his power. Ares is desires nothing more than to hold on to his crown, and marches on the Sixty-Ninth Pantheon with every inch of his might.
Many mortals believe he will retain his ascendancy. Some pray for his end.
One thing is for sure: there will be blood.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, passion and beauty. She currently holds the title of Eleventh Olympian, second only in weakness to Apollo.
Aphrodite does not see herself, nor her devout, as weak however. She is a fiercly strong goddess; bringing love to her allies and swift wrath to her enemies. Open war is a distasteful thing, and Aphrodite’s devout have conquered many forums and courthouses across Greece.
Her followers are blessed with forms that would make the finest of sculptors blush and possess a preternatural grace that disarms and misleads the unwary or foolish.
Aphrodite’s gifts do not suit the Pantheon. Indeed, she has never once become the Olympian Ascendant, but the goddess is not to be underestimated. A careless word here, an uncovered secret there, and some well placed blades everywhere, and Greece could be welcoming a new master.
Apollo, the most blessed son of Zeus, god of the sun, prophecy, music, youth and untold other facets, and the current Twelfth Olympian, is suffering.
Since the first Pantheon, Apollo has reigned among the upper echelons of the Olympians. No Olympian has been crowned the Ascendent more than he, and yet for the past one hundred and sixty years Apollo has watched more of his power slip away. He has watched his cities, his people and his faith crumble and disappear like grains of sand in the wind.
Before, his devout could navigate the future itself, but now they are scattered across Greece, branded as cursed by other mortals, forced to live out their lives as little more than pariahs. At one time past, Apollo could call on 700,000 devout. But now, his faithful number a little under one thousand.
Weakened he may be, but Apollo is no fool. The Sixty-Ninth Pantheon is to be like no other and Apollo is quick to set a grand scheme in motion. One that would see him standing atop the summit of Olympus.
After all, not even Zeus himself can stop the sun from rising.
There are few being on this earth that inspire universal respect, and Artemis, the current Second Olympian, is one such being.
Among her own devout, Artemis is revered as a force beyond even Zeus, and amongst her enemies is whispered as the embodiment of death, sent by the Moirae to ensure nothing escapes their due. Whether this is true or not, not a soul knows save Artemis herself, and she is not forthcoming.
The goddess of the hunt, childbirth and guardian of women is rarely seen, preferring to stalk the great forests that make up her hunting grounds, away from the wars and petty squabbles that occupy the other Olympians. It is rumoured that Artemis perennially ranks as the second and third simply because Zeus wills it. Without her presence hanging over the Olympian Ascendant, there would be little to deter dangerous ambitions from bearing fruit.
It is just as well that Artemis stays in her realm; for when lady Artemis departs on a hunt, there is nothing in this world or the next that can save her target.
Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and for reasons even she cannot quite understand, olives, Athena is an Olympian beyond reproach.
Gifted with a peerless mind and the will to use it, Athena is the greatest tactician to have ever stood beneath the stars. Every mortal general in Greece could pool their collective knowledge and they would be holding a mere candle compared to Athena’s knowledge. She uses this monolithic intellect to act as Zeus’ closest advisor. Many of the Lord of Olympus’ decisions have been engineered by his daughter, and Athena arguably holds more power than all of her siblings, but the goddess has never once been guilty of misusing her power.
Her armies are the undisputed masters of defensive warfare, and in the past her generals have served as advisors to the forces of other Olympians. Even now, as the Olympian scendant, Ares hesitates to challenge Athena on an even footing.
The goddess currently stands as the Sixth Olympian, a rank she does not bemoan. War is a marathon, not a sprint, and only Athena knows where the finish line is placed.
Even amongst gods, there are those with the lust for power, and those without. Demeter, goddess of the harvest and agriculture, is of the latter.
Demeter dislikes all manner of conflict, a trait that confuses many of the other Olympians. She often occupies the lower rungs of the Olympian hierarchy, but commands more devout than many of those who outrank her.
Demeter, along with her sister Hestia, represents much of what Greek’s secretly crave. Safety, warmth and a way to grow old. A vast majority of Greeks meet violent ends, and Demeter is a possible escape from all that. Tired soldiers, weary hunters, the flow of devout into Demeter’s open arms is quiet but relentless.
Residing in the islands seperating Ares, Poseidon and Artemis, Demeter functions as an intermediary, diffusing budding conflicts and budding grievences between the two most ambituous Olympians, and watching over the goddess of the hunt with a wary eye.
Dionysus, the youngest and newest Olympian, occupies a strange place amongst the Pantheon. A demigod from long ago that ascended the slopes of Mount Olympus to demand justice from his father, Zeus, Dionysus founded himself elevated to godhood, and was tasked with filling the void left by Hades’ departure.
He is the god of wine, fertility, fruit and increasingly, ritual madness and insanity. Dionysus’ heralds, the satyrs, rollick across Greece, spreading the good word and an ample supply of fine wine. While a revel with satyrs can be a life affirming, joyous occassion, mortals are frail. A hangover is often the least of the morning after’s worries.
These newest areas of his rule are worrying to Zeus, who regards his son with increasing disdain. Other Olympians, such as Ares and Hestia, are actively denouncing him. Whether Dionysus is a threat to the integrity of godhood remains to be seen, but his popularity cannot be denied.
Dionysus currently sits upon a tinderbox, and the Sixty-Ninth Pantheon has the potential to be the spark.
Balanced between shame and virtue, the god Hephaestus is an Olympian like no other. Crippled for an unknown, ancient crime, Hepheastus resides in the space between Zeus and Hades, toiling inside enormous, sleepless subterraean forges that ring with the crash of metal and stink of burning coal.
Hephaestus is the god of the forge, blacksmiths, fire and volcanoes. A creation of Hepheastus’ is a thing of untold beauty. Mortals have been known to burst into tears at the sight of his sculptures, and have killed at the mere rumour of obtaining a weapon crafted by his silver hands.
The fifth Olympian, Hephaestus stands apart from his brethren, sharing Artemis’ preference for solitude. However, when Hephaestus does leave his forge, the burning heart of Olympus goes with him.
Hera is a goddess driven by vengeance.
It was not always this way. The wife of Zeus is the goddess of women, marriage and family, but Zeus is a being beholden to none but himself, and his frequent visitations with mortals have twisted Hera into a conflicted Olympian who does not believe in the values she champions.
Every couple of years, a mortal with no memory of their father will die. Taken by dyrads, struck down by disease, crushed by masonry. A sudden, tragic death. None dare voice their suspicions; that it was yet another child of Zeus, revenged upon the wrath of an Olympian unable to punish the one responsible.
Because of this painful existence, Hera values the lives of her faithful with a fanatical devotion, going above and beyond to protect those who swear loyalty to her. This behaviour has thrown her into many unfavourable wars, especially against Ares, who has claimed over half of Hera’s land these past thirty years, but Hera does not care. Loyalty is hard to find in Greece, and she will protect it, wherever it may be.
Hermes, god of travellers, thieves, tricksters and messengers, is a strange Olympian. Some of his siblings say that the previous Herald of Olympus is unhinged, too prone to irreverence towards any mortal suffering, dismissive of the plights Hermes himself is immune to.
Whether Hermes lacks compassion, understanding or simply deems the lives of mortals beneath him, it is not certain, nor relevant. Mortals are drawn to him all the same. Hermes was once the Olympian Herald, but abandoned his post many centuries past. This rebellion before Zeus’ power sticks in the minds of those unwelcome in society. The bandits, the thieves, the conmen and the criminals.
The disenfranchised and the lost converge on the god who never stops moving, finding themselves in his shadow. Hermes currently casts a narrow silhouette, but it is widening.
Hestia, goddess of the hearth and family, is the oldest Olympian, and first daughter of the Titans. Her people are proud, insular and display much less reverence for the Pantheon than other Greeks. Hestia wishes it was not so, but her attentions are often elsewhere.
Hestia’s dominion includes one of the most chaotic locations in the world: Kronos’ Fingers. A jagged coastline reaching out into the sea, where the severed left hand of Kronos, lord of the Titans and primogenitor of the Olympians, fell from the heavens after he was slain in the Titanomachy. The remains of the long dead Titan still thrum with barely contained energy, and preventing its escape is a task that takes much of Hestia’s power and concentration. If the raging energies were allowed to escape, the resulting cataclysm would bring likely tear Greece asunder. Thus, Hestia rarely tries to advance her own position, exhausting herself eternally for the sake of all Greece. None, save for several of the Olympians, know this truth, and secretly have sworn to shield Hestia and her people from the severest consequences of the Pantheon.
As such, Hestia’s empire is rarely threatened by conquest from other gods, and her people enjoy the safest living conditions of any devout. If only they knew the fragility of their foundations.
If there would ever be a successor to Zeus as Lord of Olympus, it would be his brother Poseidon. As the god of the sea, storms, horses and earthquakes, Poseidon commands a truly magnificent degree of power. And, now that his son Bellerephon is returning to Greece at last, his power can only grow.
Poseidon has not strayed from outside the top 3 Olympians in over 288 years, a feat only surpassed by Apollo at the height of his power, many centuries ago. As it is, Poseidon can lay claim to the title of most favoured Olympian, even with Ares and Artemis currently outranking him, as Ascendant and Second respectively.
Ares may be the god of conquest, but Poseidon arguably challenges that status. The two Olympians, neighbouring as they are, are more often at war than not, and the southern penisulas of Greece are a broken land, ravaged by centuries of near endless war. Poseidon seems to take pleasure in ridding other gods of their followers, most flagrantly was the recent annihilation of Corinth during a previously thought minor skirmish. 6,000 of Apollo’s devout were drowned beneath a colossal tidal wave, and 1,000 more were forced into slavery. A near fatal blow to Apollo’s power, Poseidon was unrepentant. “A necessary act”, he called it.
What else will be “necessary”, before the god of the sea is satisfied?
Zeus, god of the sky, lightning and thunder, Lord of Olympus and the first among the gods of Greece.
Functioning outside of the Twelve Olympians, Zeus acts as the supreme judge of the Pantheon; deciding the rules, the events and the eventual victor.
Zeus is an enigma, a force unknown to his siblings save the goddess Athena. The mortals devoted to him are equally so, rarely conducting any business with the devout of other gods save for official Pantheon business. Despite this mystique, Zeus is revered or feared by all. By his hand the fate of entire generations are decided. For many, their reverence and fear are mutual.
The power of the Lord of Olympus is beyond contestation, but to what end this power is being used for, none dare to wonder.
The Twelve Olympians were not always so. A thousand years ago, there was Hades. The brother of Zeus and Poseidon, Hades was given the world beneath the earth to rule. For a while, there was peace and the world flourished.
Whether caused by betrayal, sibling rivalry or long fostered hatred, no one can say, but Hades rose up against his brother Zeus, and tried to take the world beneath the clouds for his own. The histories are divided on what transpired between the two brothers, but they can all agree on one thing. Hades broke first.
The years passed, and now Hades’ name is only a curse to be spat at one’s enemies. But tucked away in dark, silent corners of the world, there are still those that remember.
“The night is thicker and deeper than you could ever imagine, mortal. Why don’t you take a look?”
– Hermes, God of Thieves –