Ancient Greek Mythology filled with folktales, fiction and historical tales about the origins of the world, gods, goddesses, heroes, mythological creatures and rituals were initially spread in an oral-poetic tradition from the 18th century BC.
Ancient Greeks passed on these tales to their families and friends over many generations and despite their mythical nature, important morals are relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.
Ancient Greek Mythology reflects historical events and cultures, relationships, alliances justice, politics, marriage and battles that have had a tremendous influence on the culture of Western civilization.
Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology themes that remain true today in human life experiences of catastrophic events, reversals of fortune and random events that teach valuable lessons to change peoples lives.
We find references to Greek mythological figures in modern-day literature and examples such as "Chocolate cake is my Achilles heel."
The allusion to "Achilles' heel," refers to the Greek hero Achilles and how his heel was his one weakness - he was killed by an arrow, shot by the Trojan prince Paris.
The earliest known myths date back more than 2,700 years with the works of the Greek poets Homer and Hesiod.
Both, Homer and Hesiod are credited by ancient authors with establishing pre-Christian, Greek religious customs.
Homer (Greek: Ὅμηρος - 8th century BC) was the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems of ancient Greek literature from one of the most revered and influential authors in history.
Hesiod (Greek: Ἡσίοδος) was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC is regarded as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought, astronomy and ancient time-keeping.
Myths are also preserved in lyric poems from tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age and in texts from Roman Empire writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Pictorial representations of gods, heroes, and mythic episodes are featured prominently in ancient Greek vase paintings and Geometric designs on pottery of the 8th century BC depicting scenes from the Epic Cycle (epic poems related to the Trojan War) as well as the adventures of Heracles (Hercules).
In ancient Greek religion, there were 12 Olympian gods called Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Hestia.
Over the years, the Demi-god Dionysus became part of the group on Mount Olympus.
They were immortal but looked and behaved like humans.
The big three gods are the brothers, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.
According to the Theogony of Hesiod (Greek: Θεογονία - 8th–7th century BC) before the Olympian gods, there were twelve Titan gods who were the children of Gaia, Mother Earth, and her husband, Uranus, the god of the sky.
The brothers were:
Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Cronus
The sisters were:
Thea, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, and Tethys
Zeus and his brothers and sisters defeated the Titans after 10 years of fierce battles (the Titanomachia).
Goddess of beauty, love, desire, and pleasure.
Aphrodite was the most beautiful of all the Goddesses.
God of music, arts, knowledge, healing, plague, prophecy, poetry, manly beauty, and archery.
Apollo is the god of the sun and light.
God of courage, war, bloodshed, and violence.
Ares is known for the spirit of battle.
Virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, the Moon and young girls.
The twin sister of Apollo, she is often depicted with her bow and arrow and a short tunic, running through the woods.
Goddess of reason, wisdom, intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy, and handicrafts.
Athena was the patroness of Athens where culture, wisdom and beauty flourished to lay the foundation of western civilization.
Goddess of grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment.
Demeter was goddess of the harvest.
God of wine, fruitfulness, parties, festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, vegetation, ecstasy, and the theater.
Dionysus is depicted carrying a thyrsus (a staff surmounted by a pine cone), which symbolized his power.
God of the dead and the underworld.
Hades is also a god of wealth.
God of fire, metalworking, and crafts.
Hephaestus had the power to create the most exquisite pieces of metalwork ever seen.
Queen of the gods, and goddess of women, marriage, childbirth, heirs, kings, and empires.
Hera could bless the people with clear skies or curse them with storms.
God of boundaries, travel, trade, communication, language, writing, cunning and thieves.
Messenger of the gods who famously wore winged sandals so he could fly between the heavens, the earth and the underworld.
Virgin goddess of the hearth, home, domesticity and chastity.
Hestia was regarded as one of the kindest and most compassionate amongst all the Gods.
Queen of the Underworld, wife of Hades and daughter of Demeter and Zeus.
Persephone's symbols are the pomegranate, seeds of grain, flowers and the deer.
God of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, and earthquakes.
Poseidon is known for holding his trident (three-pronged spear).
King of the gods, ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky, weather, thunder, lightning, law, order, and justice.
Zeus is the strongest of the gods because he has both power and intelligence to ensure that he is not replaced by another, more powerful deity.
He is also able to ensure the allegiance of many other gods by giving them rights and privileges.
Ancient Greek Mythology also had many other minor gods.
Nike (Greek: Νίκη) was the winged goddess of victory in all fields of endeavor.
Her powers are the ability to fly and the power of speed.
In Greek mythology, she is known for her association with victory in battles and for her close relationship with Zeus and Athena.
In Greek art she is often portrayed as Winged Victory in the motion of flight.
Ancient Greek Mythology
In Greek mythology, Adonis was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite and of Persephone.
Adonis was a youth of remarkable beauty and had the powers of super-human strength, stamina, regenerative abilities as well as immortality.
Adonis was the deity of plants and rebirth.
He is known as a god who was for ever youthful, the one who would live and die only to be reborn again.
Ancient Greek Mythology
Pegasus (Greek: Πήγασος) is a winged divine stallion, usually depicted as pure white in color.
He is could fly, is immortal and also had an array of supernatural powers.
He could pass between the mortal and immortal realms and create springs of water with his hooves.
Prometheus and the Gift of Fire
Greek mythology says that Prometheus created the human race from clay.
He is one of the Titans (elder gods who ruled earth before the Olympians overthrew them) supreme trickster, fire giver and a hero to humanity who defied the Olympian gods by stealing fire from them to give to humanity.
Without fire, humans were not going to last very long.
Fire was needed for heat, cooking, and many other things.
Prometheus gave humanity the gifts of fire and hope.
Hope helps human beings for a better future.
Fire is a source of progress and the spark of human intellect and knowledge in the form of reason that makes success possible.
Fire is symbolically referenced throughout Prometheus Bound in Aeschylus's play that Prometheus defiance of Zeus saved humanity with his gift of fire.
Prometheus was punished by Zeus by being chained to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains, and every day an eagle came and ate part of his liver.
Each night, his liver would regrow, which meant he had to endure his punishment for eternity.
In some myths, Prometheus was rescued by Heracles.
The name, Prometheus, means "foresight" because he always knew that humans would change the world for good or for ill.
Ancient Greek Mythology
In Greek mythology, Pandora (Greek: Πανδώρα) was the first human woman created by Hephaestus, the God of fire, on the instructions of Zeus.
As Hesiod relates, each god gave her unique gifts which included beauty, curiosity, charm, and cleverness, hence her name “Pandora,” meaning “all gifted.”
Pandora was sent to earth by Zeus who gave her a beautiful box saying, “This is my own special gift to you. Don't ever open it.” As Zeus anticipated, Pandora's curiosity got the best of her, and she opened the box, ending earthly paradise because it was filled with evil and misery.
Zeus avenged the betrayal of Prometheus, who stole the fire of the gods and unleashed on humanity the evil gifts of poverty, disease, pain, hunger, hatred, war, death, madness, violence and jealousy.
As the last evil was about to fly out, Pandora slammed the box shut leaving the gift of hope inside.
The story means that if someone or something opens a Pandora's box,they may cause problems to appear that did not exist or were not known about before.
Hesiod's interpretation of Pandora's story influenced both Jewish and Christian theology that perpetuated Pandora's reputation into the Renaissance.
Later poets, dramatists, painters and sculptors made her their subject.
Ancient Greek Mythology
Jason (Greek: Ἰάσων) is an enduring mythological legend of the Pan-Hellenic, hero and leader of the Argonauts, whose quest for the Golden Fleece in Kolchis on the Black Sea, featured in the classical world of Greek literature.
The Argonauts (Greek: Ἀργοναῦται -"Argo sailors") were a band of heroes who in the years before the Trojan War (around 1300 BC) accompanied Jason to Kolchis in his quest to find the fabled Golden Fleece and thus, rightly place him on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly.
The Golden Fleece (Greek: Χρυσόμαλλον δέρας) of a flying, winged ram is the symbol of authority and kingship that was nailed to a tree in a small garden and guarded by the Sleepless Dragon.
Jason and the Argonauts is a classic story of betrayal and vengeance with a tragic ending.
It begins when Jason's Uncle Pelias kills his father, the King of Iolkos, and takes his throne.
To rid himself of his nephew from claiming the throne Pelias sends Jason on a quest for the Golden Fleece.
With the help of the sorceress, Medea who suspected her father would do something evil, she agrees to help Jason get the Golden Fleece if he takes her with him.
Jason consents and also agrees to marry her.
Medea aided Jason in his search for the Golden Fleece by using her magic out of love.
Through music and sorcery, Media put the dragon to sleep while Jason quietly took the Golden Fleece and immediately set sail on their ship, the Argo, bound for home.
After the successful quest for the Golden Fleece Media abandons her native home of Kolchis, and goes with Jason, where they eventually settle in Corinth and marry.
Jason chose not to become the new ruler of Iolcos and instead gave the throne to Pelias' son Akastos.
Jason and the Argonauts may reflect historical expeditions made by the Mycenaeans in the 13th century BC as they explored lands to the east of the Greek world.
Ancient Greek Mythology
Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman myths) was the king of Ithaca (an Ionian island) and a Greek hero on his long journey home where his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, awaited him, following the ten-year, Trojan War waged by the confederated Greeks under Agamemnon to avenge the abduction of Helen of Sparta and wife of Menelaus, by Paris, son of the Trojan king Priam.
The Trojan War (1194–1184 BC)
Odysseus shrewdness, resourcefulness, and endurance is mentioned in Homer's, Odyssey of the Trojan Wars with the building of the wooden, Trojan Horse by the Greeks and left outside the city of Troy.
The Trojans, believing the horse to be a peace offering, dragged it inside their city with Greek warriors hidden inside and the rest pretending to sail back home.
That night, the Greeks crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under the cover of darkness and destroyed the city.
The adage "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" refers to an act of charity that masks a hidden agenda - it means, do not trust enemies who bring you presents.
The Odyssey highlights Odysseus' 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War and having to battle mystical creatures, face the wrath of the gods while his wife, Penelope and son, Telemachus had to stave off suitors vying for Penelope's hand and Ithaca's throne.
The Trojan War was based on real events but, encounters with monsters, giants and magicians are myths.
On his decade long journey home to Ithaca, Odysseus had to sail past an island where Sirens, often depicted as half-woman, half-bird who lured sailors to the rocky cliffs with songs that no man could resist.
On the advice of Circe, a lesser god and enchantress, Odysseus ordered his men to plug their ears with beeswax and bind him tightly with rope to the ship’s mast before they sailed.
On hearing the Sirens’ Odysseus became tempted and asked his men to loosen the rope because he could not resist their call.
Two of his sailors, tightened it still more and once they had passed beyond the Sirens’ call, the crew removed the wax from their ears and untied their leader.
Sirens were used as a symbol of the dangerous temptation embodied by women throughout Christian art of the medieval era.
The moral values of the story include loyalty, compassion, self-control and perseverance.
Loyalty, in particular, is an important moral value because Odysseus was devoted to his family and determined to return home to his wife.
Ancient Greek Mythology
Midas (Greek: Μίδας) was the name of a king in Phrygia popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold.
The story of King Midas is about the tragedy of extreme greed.
Midas wished that everything he touched would turn into gold.
This wish was not a blessing, but a curse.
Silenus, a man traveling in a group of the god Dionysus, strayed from his party and fell asleep.
Peasants found him and brought him before their king, Midas who recognized Silenus as a follower of Dionysus.
He treated his guest well, and then traveled with him until he re-joined Dionysus.
Dionysus, in grateful thanks offered to grant King Midas any wish.
Midas wanted wealth beyond all imagination.
So he asked Dionysus that anything he touched would turn to gold.
Dionysus granted Midas his wish.
Whenever Midas touched food,it turned to gold, wine raised to his lips, turned to gold.
When his daughter Marigold did not like the flowers in the rose garden had lost their fragrance as they were now gold.
King Midas went to console her by giving her a hug and she also turned to gold.
Realizing his mistake, Midas begged Dionysus to undo his wish.
Dionysus told Midas to go and wash in the spring at the source of the river Pactolus.
Through washing in the waters of the Pactolus, he was cured of his plight.
The Keen Traveler
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