The Greek pantheon encompasses many human characteristics and places. It is the twelve Olympians, however, that receive the most attention, as they are often embroiled in scandal, heroic adventures, and religious rites. In addition to having enormous cultural, artistic, and literary significance, Zeus and the other Olympians' stories are simply fascinating!
The influence of the ancient Greek myths remains after many centuries in art, architecture, language, literature, and modern television and film. The stories in Greek mythology have universal themes and archetypes that are applicable across cultures, but are also memorable narratives by themselves. The Olympians often take a center role in these Greek myths because they are the twelve major gods of the Greek pantheon.
The Olympians also important influences to various heroes on their quests. Some influences may be positive, like Athena guiding Hercules or Odysseus, but some can also be major obstacles for heroes. Poseidon inhibits Odysseus from making it home to Ithaca, Hera tries to foil Hercules' Labors whenever she can, and Zeus sends the Argo way off course on its way home. Learning more about the personalities, areas of influence, and symbols of the Greek gods and goddesses is beneficial for understanding various allusions in literature, music, art, architecture, astronomy, marketing, and more.