In Greek myth three bothers Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were each rules of their worlds.
1. Zeus – ruler of the sky
2. Poseidon – ruler of the sea
3. Hades – ruler of the underworld
Their equivalents in Roman myth were Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.
The Graces / Charities
In Greek myth they were called the three Charities and were followers of Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love. In Roman mythology she goes by the name Venus.
The three Graces gave beauty to the world.
Every attractive human being could thank the three Graces for the gift of beauty. They chose the humans who would receive the gift of physical beauty.
In Roman mythology the Moeraes were called the Fates.
1. The first was known as “The spinner”. She spun the life web of the humans. Her name was Clotho in Greek Mythology and Nona in Roman Mythology.
2. The second was known as” The Apportioner”. She decided how long each human was to live. Her name was Lachesis in Greek Mythology and Decima in Roman Mythology.
3. The third was known as “The Inevitable”. She cut the thread of life when it was time for someone to die. Her name was Atropos in Greek Mythology and Morta in Roman Mythology.
In Norse mythology there are parallel goddesses called the Norns.
The ancient Romans and the ancient Greeks believed that the first seven vowels were invented by the Moeraes/Fates.
The Three Erinyes were goddesses of revenge. In Roman myth they were called “the Furies”.
They were greatly feared as they showed no mercy.
They were particularly upset with anyone who killed a family member.
In some versions of the myth there are Three Hesperides. In other versions of the myth, there are Seven Hesperides .
They were the daughters of the Evening Star, Hesperus. Together with the serpent, Ladon, they guarded the tree with the golden apples.
The garden with the tree was located far west, beyond the sunset.
Atlas carried the celestial globe on his shoulders close by the garden.
“The Garden of the Hesperides” 1892 Painter: Frederic Leighton
The tree with the golden apples was a gift from Gaia (mother Earth) to Hera (queen goddess) when she married Zeus (chief god). The three Hesperides were: Hespera – Ægle – Erythea
The Sacred Tripod of Ancient Greece
In the Oracle of Delfi the priestess, Pythia, would take her seat on the tripod before going into trance.
Tripods were also widely used by ordinary people as alters.
His job was to stop anyone trying to get back to the land of the living.
Cerberus was the offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna.
“Cerberus” by William Blake (1757-1827)
The Judges of the Underworld
The three judges of the Underworld were the three sons of Europe and Zeus. Their names were Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon.
Europe was the granddaughter of Poseidon (the Sea god). Zeus saw her on the beach in Phænicia (Lebanon). He changed himself into a beautiful bull.
Europa climbed on the back of the bull (Zeus). The bull jumped into the water and swam across the sea all the way to the island of Crete. Zeus revealed who he really was on the shores of Crete.
“Abduction of Europe” Rembrandt, 1632. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA.
From their union three sons were born. These three sons ended up as the judges of the Underworld, after they died.
Hecate, the three-faced goddess
(Hecate – Greek myth, Trivia, Roman myth)
She was also said to have offered protection to travelers, because she could see in all directions at dangerous junctions.
Three-faced statues of Hecate were often found at forks in the road looking in three directions.
At night she was a moon-goddess. During the night she was associated with magic and witchcraft.
She was the protector of witches, sorcerers and wizards. Hecate could appear quite sinister. She was accompanied by a pack of ghostly and scary dogs.
The ancient Greeks would offer food at these places to please Hecate or if they needed to do some magic act which needed her approval and blessing.
Hecate was associated with the three phases of the moon.
Painting: Hecate by William Blake, 1795. Tate Galley, London