Greek Mythology is a group of stories written by the Ancient Greeks. They wrote many stories about their gods, their heroes, and about the world that they lived in. Scholars today study the myths in an attempt to learn about religious and political institutions of the Ancient Greek civilization. Greek mythology is typically found in writings such as narratives and many artworks such as paintings, and pictures, and artifacts such as pottery. These in large detail describe their heroes, gods, and mythical creatures. There are many well known pieces of Greek Literature such as the Trojan War, and The Iliad and the Odyssey. As can be seen today, Greek mythology has had vast influence on the arts and in literature of Western Civilization. We have studied it in college, and some even in high school. We have been told the poems and studied the heroes and heroines of Ancient Greece. We have come to know them, and welcomed them into our culture.
The oldest myths have been traced back to three sources; Homer, Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns. By the time they had been recorded they had survived almost 400 years of revising. What we now call Greek myths is our only window into a distant world that existed to many Greek poets and writers, and also in the people of Greece.
There were three main types of people in Greek History.
1.Gods and Goddesses
2.Heroes and Heroines
Gods and Goddesses
After the overthrow of the Titans, the pantheon of the gods and goddesses was established. This is where we learn about the Greek deities or the Olympians. Zeus was the ultimate God under which everyone else resided. There were gods of the rivers, gods of trees, and many others. The defining characteristics of Greek Gods are “fantastic abilities.” Gods are abnormally like today’s superheroes; they don’t get sick and aren’t easily wounded or killed. Immortality was extremely important in Greek Mythology which was obtained and maintained by “nectar and ambrosia.” Each god or goddess is a prodigy of her own genealogy with many different interests. They also were believed to be expert in one specific area; strength, beauty, etc. Some of those well known gods and goddesses are:
Aphrodite- Goddess of love
Ares- God of war
Hades- God of the dead
Some had sophisticated personalities, and others were mere personifications.
Heroes and Heroines
This is known as the heroic age. Many stories and forms of literature were written during this time. Gods and Heroes were often found together and many Greeks prayed to the Gods. The difference between a God and a Hero is that heros can be raised from the dead, whereas Gods cannot. Heros also became the center of group identity. Heracles is a well know Hero in Greek Mythology.
Monsters in Greek Mythology
Otherwise known as Centaurs, Giants, Sirens, Cyclops, Minotaurs, Gorgons, Pegasus, and a Sphinx (to name a few).
•Cyclops was a large monster with one single eye in the middle of its forehead. They made thunder and lightning bolts for Zeus.
•Gorgons were terrifyingly ugly monsters that lived on the very edge of the world. Their hair was made of snakes and it was known that if a Gorgon was to look upon you, you would be turned to stone. Medusa was a Gorgon.
•Minotaurs were man-eating monsters with the head of a bull, used to frighten enemies
•Sirens were winged animal creatures that had a head of a woman. They lived by the rocks just off the sea. They were known to have beautiful singing voices that lured sailors into shipwreck.
As you can see there is a rich history of Greek Mythology that has barely been touched. There are many pieces of literature and art that can be found with stories in them; many different characters have their own story to tell.
Click here for recommended Greek Mythology websites.