ancient ableism

Greek Mythology: All Things Beautiful

Per request, here is a list of gods, goddesses, and others who embody art, beauty, creativity, imagination, etc:

Apollo (Ἀπόλλων): The big one on this list, Apollo is about as versatile a god as you can get. Healer and god of the Delphic oracle, Apollo was seen as one representing all aspects of “modern” civilization: arts and literature, creativity, music, philosophy, and more.

Apollo is well-known in mythology for his failed pursuit of various women (some might call it something else), as well as for his love of the lyre and his bow. 

The Charites (Χάριτες): Also known as the Graces, these goddesses represent different aspects of love, art, nature, beauty, creativity, and more. Although classically represented as three figures, there are many goddesses and spirits (and nymphs) names as members of this group, and each one is responsible for a slightly different kind of beauty.

Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη): Everyone’s favorite fertility goddess, Aphrodite is synonymous with sex and love (but particularly lust). Often pictured in art as if she were attempting to cover her nude body (a tradition exemplified in the Aphrodite of Cnidus), in art she is thus identified with a kind of voyeurism, an unattainable beauty which all covet. 

In the Roman tradition, Venus is the goddess analogous to Greece’s Aphrodite. However, Venus was traditionally much more connected to fertility and motherhood than purely to lust and longing, a tradition which Augustus in particular fostered during his reign, as an important political tool along with the rest of his now-famous propaganda.

The Muses (Μοῦσαι): Goddesses of the arts and music, the Muses are some of the more well-known Greek figures (apart from the Olympian gods) today. Probably because of…


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Anyway, the Muses represented a variety of topics in the arts, including drama, poetry, music, rhetoric, philosophy, history, and more. They were worshiped by poets in particular but also by craftsmen, scholars, and others.

Techne (τέχνη): Literally meaning “art” or “skill” in Greek, Techne is the embodiment of craft and  technical skills, a goddess associated with both the Muses and Hephaistos, the god of metalwork.

Hephaistos (Ἥφαιστος): The god of fire, the forge, metalwork, and sculpture, Hephaistos is one of the few “ugly” gods. He was called thus because of his legs, which were crippled, or possibly because of a club foot (ancient ableism). However, he was renowned for his skill as a craftsman, making incredible works of metal, even living automatons!

And last but not least by any stretch of the imagination, the god who puts the D in Delights… 

Dionysus (Διόνυσος): Although not specifically related to arts or to beauty, Dionysus is an important part of this list because of his ability to inspire. Yes, his maenads are depicted as beings without self control and prone to riot, but Dionysus himself is generally shown to be a beautiful young man in complete control of his senses (NOT always so with Bacchus). 

His most famous divine associations are with wine and madness, though he has also been called a god of creation and had connections to agriculture early on in his cult.

(And, as I’ve been reminded, Dionysus was famously related to theater, as plays were traditionally put on during festivals and the largest one for Dionysus, the Dionysia, was the most famous of tragic competitions.) I don’t know how I forgot that.

That’s all, folks!

(Not really all, but the highlights, at least.)