I was wondering if there were any deities whose roles had been greatly diminished by the Greek pantheon after being assimilated into it?

  • I studied under scholars much more conservative than Graves who made the case the entire cycle of Greek Mythology can be understood in the context of the suppression of feminine power. I'm posting an answer on some undeniable examples.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 10, 2017 at 17:57
  • @Gibet I respectfully disagree, and find your examples quite problematic, but I am aware that many hold the position you espouse. However there is a distinct strain of misogyny in Greek myth, beginning with Hesiod and reinforced strongly by Aeschylus. I recommend focusing on Euripides if you want a better sense of this position, because it derives largely from his work, and is not merely a modern interpretation.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:50
  • @DukeZhou I don't understand what you mean by "the entire cycle of Greek Mythology can be understood in the context of the suppression of feminine power." When Artemis asks Zeus for permission never to marry and to be a huntress Zeus says yes and although the main war god is Aries the god of tactical fighting is Athena.
    – Chaim
    Apr 13, 2017 at 16:20
  • @Gibet Pan?!?? And in India??? Never heard of that. Plesase elaborate
    – user1385
    Apr 14, 2017 at 4:27
  • @Chaim There are serious scholars who hold this view, but you can certainly dismiss it as being merely one perspective. My answer on the Erinyes is an example of this perspective.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 14, 2017 at 19:30

3 Answers 3


This answer will be evolving as I add to the list, but first I'll start with the most striking example:

  • Artemis: A primal form of Artemis, the Lady of Ephesus, was a mother goddess believed to be related to Cybele. Under the Olympian hegemony, Artemis may be said to have transformed from a "Great Goddess" with unrestrained power to the virgin daughter of the king of the gods. (This may be a reflection of the curtailing of the power of Gaia by casting down her offspring in the Titanomachy and Gigantomachy, and extends to all Olympian goddesses, with some small exception for Aphrodite in still having power over Zeus per his licentiousness.)

  • Cybele can certainly be regarded as having lost stature in that her original form was a "Great Mother Goddess", surely a central figure, but on incorporation into the Greek Pantheon, she became more of a peripheral figure--still respected but not central.

In terms of loss of status, also worth looking at:

  • The Erinyes: The Orestia of Aeschylus is a recounting of the pacification of the Erinyes in service of the advancement of civilization. Nevertheless, their transformation to the Eumenides is demotion both in terms of status and power, in that their ancient domain and prerogatives are stripped from them.

Solsdottir wrote a great article on them: The Avenging Furies. I think there's a case to be made that their stature is diminished in the Greek conception when you compare Hesiod's description to Aeschylus' description.

The Myceneans (a pre-Greek civilization) saw Erinus (singular) as a goddess, listing her along with Atana Potnija (Athena), Eluthia (Eileithyia), Paiawon (Apollo), and the Mistress of the Labyrinth, Potnija Dapurito. Tablets in the Linear B language list her alongside the others without making any distinction, and one records offerings of oil to all of them.
SOURCE: The Avenging Furies

Note that in the Mycenean conception, Erinus had equal status with a proto-Athena and proto-Apollo.

  • Were there any male gods as well. From your comments, I'm assuming you are going to write mostly on goddesses as they were dimnished due to patriachy but are there any male gods who also had the same fate?
    – user1385
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:31
  • @KVickneshvara I will think about it. The problem there, as I see it, is it would be mostly speculation, less supportable than the two examples I've listed so far.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:51
  • Thank you but from which acient mythology was he from?
    – user1385
    Apr 14, 2017 at 23:42
  • @KVickneshvara I've linked Kronos. Interestingly, Kronos overthrew his own father Ouranos, but I don't mention Ouranos in the answer because his loss of status was at the hands of his titan son, not the Olympians.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 15, 2017 at 22:55
  • Have you come across any new answers? Also, I would really appreciate if you could find out if any(or all) of the Olympians(and/or popular monsters like Charbyodris) are offshoots of other gods
    – user1385
    Sep 22, 2017 at 23:23

First off, this page you linked to cites Robert Graves as her main source, and Graves' Greek Mythology is not exactly a reliable text. (He believed that a goddess religion had been pushed out by a male-dominated pantheon, and was not above inventing evidence to prove his point. He called it "poetic truth".) You will notice that even the page's author admits that Graves is a dodgy source.

For more reliable evidence about who Eurynome was, check out Theoi.com or Greek Mythology. I suspect Graves based his ideas on the Euryome who was the daughter of Okeanos, the primeval Ocean, and was cast out of heaven with her husband, Ophion, by Kronos and Rhea.

This is a different story-line than the standard one from Hesiod's Theogony, which goes straight from the first ruler Ouranos through Kronos to Zeus. Since Euryome's husband in this version is Ophion, it probably comes from the Orphics, a mystery cult that was supposedly founded by the legendary muscian Orpheus.

That seems to be as close as she gets to any creation myth. She did have a cult centre in Arcadia, where a wooden image of her (in mermaid form) was kept, and sacrifices offered once a year.

Several different figures also share the name, one of whom nursed Hephestios when Hera cast him out of heaven, and another who married Zeus and was the mother of the Charities.

  • Okay i editred the qns but are there actually any deities like the ones mentioned above?
    – user1385
    Apr 9, 2017 at 6:39
  • I'm glad you did because it is an interesting question. I can suggest one, or one possibility. Apollo has the title Paion, or Healer, but in early Linear B lists the name Paion appears, but never Apollo. Homer also mentions him as a distinct deity. Some scholars think that Apollo took over Paion's name and functions, but of course with such slender evidence, they can't pin it on him.
    – solsdottir
    Apr 9, 2017 at 17:18
  • Was Piaon's role dimnished or was he already a minor god?
    – user1385
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:29
  • Could you add that as an answer?
    – user1385
    Apr 12, 2017 at 8:57
  • OK, I'm not sure what the etiquette is, but if I do it wrong someone will be sure to tell me.
    – solsdottir
    Apr 12, 2017 at 22:43

Paion or Paean, a healing god who appears in Linear B god lists from Knossos and was later mentioned by Homer and Hesiod as a healing deity. (One Knossos list mentions him alongside the Lady Athena, a form of Ares (Enyalios) and Posedion. So he was important enough to be listed with three future Olympians. As Fritz Graf puts it: "in Homer Paeon seems an independent mythological person, whereas in later Greek, Paean was epithet of Apollo the Healer to whom the paean was sung and danced." (Apollo: 110)

  • Are you aware of any other gods?
    – user1385
    Apr 13, 2017 at 12:45
  • I think you also mentioned Medusa as being a sun and horse goddess in your blogs. Could you add that to your answer?
    – user1385
    Apr 16, 2017 at 5:48
  • 1
    Medusa is an interesting case. Her main myth (a horse-goddess who gives birth to twins, and suffers) links her to Demeter, so it could very well be that she was absorbed, especially since both goddesses are impregnated by the same god, Poseidon. (Also, the Indian goddess Saranyu, and the Irish Macha and Welsh Rhiannon fit this pattern, which suggests an Indo-European dimension. But it's unprovable, it just seems likely. Over time, popular gods and goddesses hoovered up less popular ones. I've answered this question twice, so someone else should have a go.
    – solsdottir
    Apr 16, 2017 at 15:09

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