Introduction: Greek Gods and Goddesses and a Woman’s Seat at the Table
Greek gods and goddesses often behaved badly – many times because of their arrogance and conceitedness. The 12 most important gods and goddesses were from Ancient Greece, and were from the same family. They didn’t think very highly of the lesser gods and goddesses, and us mere mortals, they thought even less of us. They resided together in a large palace that was located at the top of Mount Olympus. There were many quarrels and friction among them.
Originally, all these six gods and six goddesses had a seat at the table, which bode well for women, especially when they were discussing issues important to women. Although, there were six gods and six goddesses, the voices were not equally distributed. Zeus was the most powerful. Putting Greek mythology aside, studies suggest that there has to be at least a 30 percent concentration of women on a board for their voices to be heard, and therefore influence decisions.
Have you read?
King Zeus, the Father-god and Queen Hera, the Mother-goddess had a private apartment in the southern end of their palace, behind the Council Hall. In the northern section of the palace, the kitchen, banqueting hall, armory, workshops, and servants’ quarters were all located. In between the northern and southern sections of the palace were private rooms which belonged to the other five gods and five goddesses.
The 12 gods and goddesses held meetings in the Council Hall, where they discussed the affairs of mortals, and decided, who they would allow to win the various wars, and who they would punish for being too proud. Talk about having too much power and abusing it. But the important thing is that a woman had a seat at the table where “important” decisions were made.
12 Greek Gods and Goddesses at the Table
- King Zeus: Has an enormous throne with seven steps leading up to it. He can kill whomever he chooses by throwing a thunderbolt of lightning at them. He got rid of his father, Cronus, so he is always on the lookout for family members who may want to overthrow him.
- Queen Hera: Has an ivory throne with three steps leading up to it. She dislikes being Zeus’ wife. After refusing to marry him for three hundred years, he disguises himself as a bird and tricks her.
- Poseidon: The god of the seas and rivers has the second largest throne. He resents being less important than his younger brother Zeus.
- Demeter: Goddess of all useful fruits, grains and grasses sits opposite her brother Poseidon. Demeter is solemn and unsmiling most of the times.
- Hephaestus: God of goldsmiths, jewelers, blacksmiths, masons, and carpenters is the son of Zeus and Hera. He built all the thrones and sits next to Poseidon.
- Athena: Goddess of wisdom. No one knows as much as her about pottery, weaving, and all other useful tools. She taught Hephaestus how to use his tools, and sits opposite him. Poseidon claimed her as his daughter by a marriage with an African goddess, Libya.
- Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty sits next to Athene. No one knows who Aphrodite’s parents are, but to keep her out of mischief, Zeus took it upon himself to choose his son Hephaestus for her, which she thoroughly resented.
- Ares: He loves fighting and is very handsome. He sits opposite Aphrodite and they get along very well and are constantly holding hands, which makes his brother, Hephaestus very jealous.
- Apollo: God of music, poetry, medicine, archery and young unmarried men. He is Zeus’ son by Leto, a lesser goddess.
- Artemis: Goddess of hunting and unmarried girls. She is the twin sister of Apollo, whom she taught archery and medicine.
- Hermes: God of merchants, bankers, thieves, fortune tellers and heralds. He is Zeus’ son by Maia, a lesser goddess.
- Hestia: Goddess of the home and Zeus’ eldest sister. She is the kindest and most peaceable of all, and hates the family squabbles.
We have 12 gods and goddesses at the table, split equally by gender. Unfortunately, one day, Zeus announces that his son Dionysus – by Semele, a mortal woman – has invented wine and must be given a seat at the table. Now we have a dilemma because 13 is an unlucky number.
To keep the peace, Hestia gives up her seat at the table, and now there are seven men and five women, which creates a problem when they have to discuss issues relating to women – the gods outvote the goddesses. Although in an ideal world, we would like to have an equal split of men and women at the table, the 42 percent representation in Greek mythology is better than what we have today.
- Women Are Approaching Half of New Board Appointments
- For the first half of 2016, women made up 40% of new appointments.
- This is up from 34% in 2015, 30% in 2014, and 22% in 2013.
Final Thoughts: Greek Gods and Goddesses and a Woman’s Seat at the Table
Women are not quite there yet, and it will take years for them to achieve gender parity with men. I think that the story outlined above, about Greek gods and goddesses, sitting at a table to make decisions, is a good illustration of what can happen when some people have more power and influence than others.
And you can see what happens when some people abuse their power. Although the story does not reflect it, there are certain situations where you do not have to wait to be invited to sit at the table. There comes a point when you have invite yourself to the table, so that you can voice your opinions and get heard.
UPDATE: First published April 2013
Treasury of Greek MythologyThe Complete World of Greek MythologyGreek MythologyThe Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (Trophy Picture BooksD’Aulaires’ Book of Greek MythsGreek MythologyGreek Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Explained!Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology