I'm utterly flummoxed by people's dismay about the event cards having the names of Roman gods on them. Truly and utterly.
I am basically with you - I consider them as player-controlled events (e.g Mercury = force march) whose success is attributed to a god for period flavor. The only one that is a bit hard to explain that way is Vulcan. What would that be? Tactical air strike?
As for the OP's question about replacing the gods with people: I think it would be quite hard to identify individuals that can a) be connected to the card effect and b) could reasonably be assumed to support either side.