Are These Roman, Greek or Norse Gods?

By: Patrick Hyde
Image: Jacob Jordaens / Museo del Prado / Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

The ancient gods from long-ago mythologies may be gone but they are far from forgotten. A look at popular media shows that their stories are still alive and well, with Norse gods populating Marvel superhero movies and Greek deities appearing in shows like American Gods. Mythology tells a gripping story about human origins and allows us to feel ourselves among gods, who have flaws just like us. That's why these folklore stories have such an enduring legacy. 

In the ancient world, civilizations would borrow from one another to create their pantheon of gods. When the Romans were ascendant, they combined their own myths with those of conquered civilizations, such as the Minoans and Etruscans. But the civilization they took the most from was the Greeks. A casual examination of both mythologies shows that in each pantheon there are exactly 12 gods with the same story and characteristics.

Then when the Roman legionnaires marched into the Germanic lands, they brought their gods and temples. Roman mythology blended with the German gods, giving birth to some similar tropes spun in a new way in Norse mythology. The poets of each culture sang the songs of these gods, which is how their memory preserves today. Now through all the ages, it's time for you to take this quiz to see if you are a master of mythology!

Ares is the prodigal son with a bad attitude and a bloody spear. Which pantheon does he belong in?

Ares hails from Mount Olympus, where he serves as the god of war and is the son of Zeus and Hera. He is a violent and unpredictable god, ruled by caprice and depicted as a boar, the nastiest and wildest of animals.

Athena was a total headache to her father. She is a _ goddess of which civilization?

Athena had it all: brains, brawn, and beauty. While she is best known as the Goddess of Wisdom and War, her origin story is also noteworthy. She popped out of Zeus's forehead fully dressed for combat after the big guy had a bad headache.

The pleasure-seeking Freya is known for her great beauty and sensual demeanor. Where does she belong?

The Old Norse goddess Freya is the wild child of the Vanir tribe. Known for her great beauty, passion, and materialism, Freya is associated with love and fertility. She rules over Folkvang in the afterlife.

Juno was the queen of _ gods and protector of women. Where did she rule?

The great Juno was Regina, or queen, of Roman gods and the guardian of Roman women. Her animal is a peacock and she was not afraid of war, evidenced by the fact that she is often depicted as carrying a goatskin shield.

A raucous Saturnalia was held each year in _ to pay homage to the god Saturn.

Saturn ruled over Rome during the Golden Age, which is why he is associated with wealth, luxury, bountiful harvests and all the other treasures of plenty. The Romans thanked him by holding a Saturnalia each December where they would feast in his honor.

Hermes is a great trickster, pulling pranks on other gods in which mythology?

When he wasn't ferrying souls into the afterlife, the Greek god Hermes passed his days playing tricks on the other gods in Mount Olympus. Hermes was the patron god of travelers, tricksters and tradesmen.

Drink up with Dionysus, if you want to honor which god of wine?

Every harvest season, Greek vintners would pray to Dionysus for a good grape harvest. This fun-loving Greek god was also associated with the theater, religious ecstasy and fertility.

Loki tricked other _ gods and would shape shift into different animals.

Loki is the trickster god of Norse lore, using his ability to shapeshift into a fish or bird to pull a fast one on the other deities. When the other gods finally had enough of him, they bound him to a tree with his son's entrails and dripped snake venom onto his head.

Would you be surprised that in _ mythology, Hel was the god of the underworld?

The 13th century Poetic Edda introduces us to the Norse god Hel, who rules the underworld of the same name. Hel is similar to hall in Norse, with slain warriors going to halls like Valhalla.

Keep your goods under lock and key with Portunus, the god of keys, doors and ports in which civilization?

Every August, Romans would line up and throw a key into the fire for good luck. Unlike other celebrations, this procession was done with seriousness and a total lack of frivolity. They did this to honor Portus, their god of ports, locks, and warehouses.

Even though he was a _ god, Hephaestus still worked, smithing weapons for his compatriots in which pantheon?

Hephaestus lived in Olympus, smithing weapons for the other Greek gods. That was until he was cast off by either his father Zeus or his mother, Hera. Blacksmiths, sculptors and other artisans in the trades sought his favor.

Minos ruled as a king on earth. When he died, he ruled the afterlife of what people?

In life, Minos served as Crete's first king. His name is the basis for the Minoan civilization, which was the first advanced European civilization to build large palaces with sophisticated plumbing. He would go on to judge the dead in Hades following his death.

Your friend who is interested in the tarot and witchcraft probably knows about Hecate, who is the goddess of magic and sorcery in which mythology?

Hecate was the Greek goddess of all things magical, ranging from plants to necromancy to magic. She often is depicted as having three connected bodies. Today, she has been incorporated into occult and Wiccan rituals.

Bragi had a real way with words, which is why he was the _ god of poetry and eloquence.

The Norse god Bragi would not be caught without his harp. The Æsir god was the creative in Odin's hall, singing poetry and strumming his harp. Skalds, or Norse poets, would look to him for inspiration.

The goddess Idun represented youth and vitality in which mythology?

If you were a Norse god who wanted apples, you had to talk to Idun. The wife of Bragi was also the goddess of youth and fertility and loved apples. Unfortunately, that allowed Loki to trick her outside with the promise of interesting apples, which led to her kidnapping.

Orcus presided over the underworld. Who believed in him?

While Orcus had no cult in Rome, he had followers throughout the Italian countryside. He punished oath-breakers in an underworld that shared his name. His appearance matched this role, commonly portrayed as a hairy giant.

All the gods fawned over the ever-popular Baldur in what pantheon?

Odin's son Baldur was the most popular of the Norse gods, with songs describing him as so charismatic and handsome that he actually radiated light. The whole world (save one mean giantess) cried when he went to Hel.

Sailors in need of wind would pray to Aeolus, a minor god in what pantheon?

Ancient sailors would be at the mercy of the Greek god Aeolus, who controlled the winds. Odysseus famously met him on his journey home, only for his sailors to squander the gift he gave them.

Phoebe was not only a main character on the show "Friends," she is one of the original characters in which mythology?

Phoebe belonged to the ancient group of deities referred to as Titans in Greek mythology. The Titans preceded the Olympians, who included more well-known gods such as Zeus and Thor.

The goddess Flora was in charge of, you guessed it, nature and flowers. You would find stories of her in which mythology?

Romans cheered the arrival of spring by thanking Flora, a goddess associated with fertility, nature and flowers. The Romans celebrated spring by throwing a Floralia celebration in her name with costumes and drinking.

The fire of the goddess Vesta warmed the hearth and home of families. Who built temples in her honor?

The virgin goddess Vesta is more often portrayed as a pure fire in the hearth. She is a friendly and amicable goddess who has never quarreled with other gods. She also represents family and marriage.

Next time you are at the farmer's market, thank Pomona, the _ goddess of fruit, for your apples.

Pomona is the Roman goddess of fruit and abundance, popularly depicted in the orchard with a nice fig or juicy orange. Ovid wrote a tale about her and Vertumnus, the god seasons and plants.

The deity Cronus had a big bone to pick with his father, the head honcho of which mythology?

Cronus was the youngest and head of the ancient Greek Titans, coming to power after he castrated his father with a stone sickle at the behest of Gaia, his mother. Cronus would go on to suffer at the hands of his son, Zeus.

The goddess Sif has golden hair and a famous husband. What people would be familiar with her?

The beautiful goddess Sif is Thor's second wife and is most famous for her golden hair, which may have been meant to symbolize fertility, as it is the color of wheat. The trickster Loki manages to cut off her golden hair.

Other gods and goddesses rest easy knowing that Heimdall is watching over them in which realm of gods?

The mighty Heimdall is the gatekeeper between Asgard, the realm of the gods, and Midgard, the realm of mankind. There is a rainbow bridge that connects these two areas, and Heimdall keeps vigilant sentry between the two realms.

Which kind of warrior would ask for the favor of Victoria before a fight?

We all know about the goddess Nike from the famous shoe company. But her Roman counterpart Victoria was much more famous in her own time. Returning generals would give lavish thanks to her at one of the many temples throughout the city dedicated to her.

When you look to the east for the rising sun, you will find the deity Eos. Who does she light the sky for?

Eos holds the impressive-sounding title of "Goddess of the Dawn" in Greek mythology. Homer described her as rosy-fingered and wearing an embroidered gown, bringing light to the mortals.

The god Pan is easily recognizable from his horns and goat legs. Rustic people in which civilization honored him?

The god Pan is among the oldest and most distinctive of the gods. He was worshiped in rustic areas and was said to be ruler of nature, rustic music, and wooded areas. He is often portrayed with a flute and associating with wood nymphs.

The moon goddess Selene can be found driving her chariot across the sky over what people?

The Greek goddess Selene would dash across the heavens in her chariot, symbolizing the passage of the moon. Though she was the daughter of a Titan, she had a mortal lover named Endymion with whom she had 50 daughters.

Odin sat atop which pantheon as the most important of all gods?

Odin sat atop the throne of Norse mythology. He created the universe after slaying the frost giant named Ymir and then went on to make the first humans. He had numerous offspring, including Thor and Baldur.

Ruler of death and suffering, Skadi was one __ goddess you did not want to mess with.

The Norse goddess Skadi was a giant and ruler of winter, death and injustice. Sometimes known as the snowshoe goddess, she also looks after skiing and the mountains. She cannot stand injustice and marched into Asgard seeking revenge for a wrong committed against her by the other gods.

If you were in a cult worshipping Prosperina, you would be honoring a goddess of wine, agriculture and the underworld. Where were these cults?

Cerces' daughter Prosperina was honored by Roman women as the goddess of fertility, wine and agriculture. This respectable goddess was kidnapped by Pluto and whisked to the underworld, where she reigned thereafter.

A popular depiction of the _ god Neptune shows him with a trident and a seahorse-drawn chariot.

While the Greeks worshiped Poseidon as the god of the seas, the Romans put their faith in Neptune. As one of the 12 principle Roman deities, Neptune presided over fresh water, horses and the ocean.

Valkyries are female helpers who brought fallen soldiers to the afterlife in which mythology?

Vikings believed that if they died in battle, a Valkyrie would fly their body to Valhalla so that they could join the company of Odin. These winged female maidens brought Odin fighters to help him during Ragnarok.

Uranus is not only the butt of tired astronomy jokes, but is the god of the sky in which mythology?

Uranus and Gaia were the two primordial Greek gods who gave birth to the Titans, making them the grandparents of the Olympians. He is symbolized by the Zodiac and is the ruler of the sky.

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