8 Times Greek Gods Were Super Creepy in Art

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Stories January 29, 2019 8 Times Greek Gods Were Super Creepy in Art

Most of the time, artwork depicting ancient Greek gods and goddess is a beautiful and powerful representation of their strengths and stories. But sometimes an artist will miss the mark and make their paintings look less like “Greek God!” and more like “Eek! God!”

Let’s take a look. 

Apollo and Marsyas

Carpioni, Giulio (1613)

Apollo was the Greek god of music, poetry, art, and, apparently, being a creep. After challenging satyr Marsyas to a musical duel, Apollo stacked the judging deck with muses, won, and…


Creep Level: Game of Thrones

The Abduction of Ganymede

Rembrandt (1635)

Sure, future Greek hero Ganymedes may be getting kidnapped by Zeus (in the form of an eagle) in this painting, but look at that face.

No wonder you were kidnapped.

Creep Level: Baby Creep

Neptune and Amphitrite

Here we see Neptune, the Roman version of the Greek god Poseidon, and Amphitrite, the Greek version of the Roman goddess Salacia, surrounded by the ornaments of their sea kingdom. She’s got her arm around him but seems to be averting her eyes because…

Jacob de Gheyn II  (circa 1565–1629)

…he’s looking at her like this!

He may be ripped but he’s got the steely glare of a subway catcaller. Plus his hands look like this:


Creep Level: Uncle you only see at Thanksgiving who always wants you to sit on his lap

Ludovisi Dionysus

2nd Century AD

In this sculpture, Dionysus, Greek god of wine and fertility, looks like the kind of guy who’s always asking if you bought your tickets to the gun show.

That’s the cocked hip of a man who likes his lovers like he likes his wine: abundant.

Creep Level: Tech bro whose family owns a winery

The Fight Between Mars and Minerva

Jacques-Louis David  (1748–1825)

Mars and Minerva are the Roman counterparts of the Greek gods Ares and Athena, and boy, did these two hate each other. Both gods of war, this painting shows Ares surrendering to Athena, the only warrior who could best him.

And he’s not happy about it.

Creep Level: Guy who pretends not to be pissed when his girlfriend beats him in a video game

Crowned by Apollo

Marcantonio Pasqualini (1614–1691)

Here’s another Apollo, in all his naked glory, crowning a frightening-looking male soprano named Pasqualini. And oh, look:

There’s Marsyas freaking out about his future flaying.

While Apollo just goes on about his day. Naked, did we mention?

Creep Level: Guys who man spread in towels

Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus

Paris Bordone (between c. 1555 and c. 1560)

In this painting, you can just tell the creepiness of Hephaestus, Greek god of blacksmiths and craftsmen, by looking at Athena’s face.

Get off me, bro! In many stories, Athena’s spurning of Hephaestus’ advances causes him to ejaculate on her leg, impregnating another woman. If that’s not creepy, nothing is.

Creep Level: Duh

Rape of Europa

Titian (1562)

You may think we added this painting by mistake. After all, it looks like there are no creepy Greek gods in this painting!

But look again!

The creepy eyes of that bull-devil are those of the mighty Zeus himself who, according to myth, changed himself into a bull to kidnap poor Europa.

Creep Level: Midnight

Thankfully, none of these creeps can jump out of the paintings and creep you out IRL. Probably. Best stay out of museums after dark, just in case…

Notes & Citations 📌

  • College of Arts & Science. (2018). Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus. https://maa.missouri.edu/media-gallery/detail/78/379
  • Kren, E. (1996). Neptune and Amphitrite. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/g/gheyn/neptune.html
  • Marx, D. (1996). Apollo and Marsyas. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/carpioni/marsyas.html
  • Marx, D. (1996). The Combat of Mars and Minerva. https://www.wga.hu/html_m/d/david_j/1/103david.html
  • The Met. (2000-2018). Marcantonio Pasqualini (1614–1691) Crowned by Apollo. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1981.317/
  • Nguyen, M. (2006, September). The Dionysus of the Palazzo Altemps, Rome. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludovisi_Dionysus#/media/File:Dionysos_satyr_Altemps_Inv8606.jpg
  • Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. (2018, April 27th). The Rape of Ganymede. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org/Rembrandt/painting/47377/the-rape-of-ganymede
  • Titian. (2011). Rape of Europa, 1559-62 by Titian. http://www.titian.org/rape-of-europa.jsp
written with 💖 by Kayla Mahoney

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