Greek myths

Greek mythologybody of stories concerning the gods, heroes, and rituals of the ancient Greeks. That the myths contained a considerable element of fiction was recognized by the more critical Greeks, such as the philosopher Plato in the 5th—4th century bce. In general, however, in the popular piety of the Greeks, the myths were viewed as true accounts. Greek mythology has subsequently had extensive influence on the arts and literature of Western civilization, which fell heir to much of Greek culture.

Greek myth takes many forms, from religious myths of origin to folktales and legends of heroes. This list sometimes also includes Hades or Hestia. Other major figures of Greek myth include the heroes OdysseusOrpheusand Heracles ; the Titans ; and the nine Muses. Some of the most important and well-known works of Greek mythology are the epic poems of Homer : the Iliad and the Odyssey. In these, many of the characteristics of the Olympian gods and notable heroes are outlined.

The fullest and most important source of myths about the origin of the gods is the Theogony of Hesiodwhich also includes folktales and etiological myths. Hesiod also contributed Works and Daysan epic poem about the agricultural arts which includes elements of myth.

Greek mythology

It is difficult to know when Greek mythology started, as it is believed to have stemmed from centuries of oral tradition. It is likely that Greek myths evolved from stories told in the Minoan civilization of Crete, which flourished from about to BCE.

greek myths

Although people of all countries, eras, and stages of civilization have developed myths that explain the existence and workings of natural phenomena, recount the deeds of gods or heroes, or seek to justify social or political institutions, the myths of the Greeks have remained unrivaled in the Western world as sources of imaginative and appealing ideas. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in Classical mythological themes.

The 5th-century- bce Greek historian Herodotus remarked that Homer and Hesiod gave to the Olympian gods their familiar characteristics. Few today would accept this literally. In the first book of the Iliadthe son of Zeus and Leto Apolloline 9 is as instantly identifiable to the Greek reader by his patronymic as are the sons of Atreus Agamemnon and Menelausline In both cases, the audience is expected to have knowledge of the myths that preceded their literary rendering. Little is known to suggest that the Greeks treated Homer, or any other source of Greek myths, as mere entertainment, whereas there are prominent Greeks from Pindar to the later Stoa for whom myths, and those from Homer in particular, are so serious as to warrant bowdlerization or allegorization.

The fullest and most important source of myths about the origin of the gods is the Theogony of Hesiod c. The elaborate genealogies mentioned above are accompanied by folktales and etiological myths. The orthodox view treats the two poems as quite different in theme and treats the Works and Days as a theodicy a natural theology.

It is possible, however, to treat the two poems as a diptych, each part dependent on the other. The Theogony declares the identities and alliances of the gods, while the Works and Days gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, and Hesiod urges that the most reliable—though by no means certain—way is to be just.

Fragmentary post-Homeric epics of varying date and authorship filled the gaps in the accounts of the Trojan War recorded in the Iliad and Odyssey ; the so-called Homeric Hymns shorter surviving poems are the source of several important religious myths. Many of the lyric poets preserved various myths, but the odes of Pindar of Thebes flourished 6th—5th century bce are particularly rich in myth and legend. The works of the three tragedians— AeschylusSophoclesand Euripidesall of the 5th century bce —are remarkable for the variety of the traditions they preserve.

In Hellenistic times —30 bce Callimachusa 3rd-century- bce poet and scholar in Alexandria, recorded many obscure myths; his contemporary, the mythographer Euhemerussuggested that the gods were originally human, a view known as Euhemerism. Apollonius of Rhodesanother scholar of the 3rd century bcepreserved the fullest account of the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.

In the period of the Roman Empirethe Geography of Strabo 1st century bcethe Library of the pseudo-Apollodorus attributed to a 2nd-century- ce scholarthe antiquarian writings of the Greek biographer Plutarchand the works of Pausaniasa 2nd-century- ce historian, as well as the Latin Genealogies of Hyginus, a 2nd-century- ce mythographer, have provided valuable sources in Latin of later Greek mythology.Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore.

These stories concern the origin and the nature of the worldthe lives and activities of deitiesheroesand mythological creaturesand the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiodthe Theogony and the Works and Dayscontain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices.

Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literaturepictorial representations of gods, heroes, and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. In the succeeding ArchaicClassicaland Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language.

Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today primarily from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c.

Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. Nevertheless, the only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus. This work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends.

His writings may have formed the basis for the collection; however the "Library" discusses events that occurred long after his death, hence the name Pseudo-Apollodorus.

Among the earliest literary sources are Homer 's two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these later and lesser poems now are lost almost entirely.

Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer. They are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod's Works and Daysa didactic poem about farming life, also includes the myths of PrometheusPandoraand the Five Ages.

The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets often took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became gradually less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including PindarBacchylides and Simonidesand bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bionrelate individual mythological incidents. The tragic playwrights AeschylusSophoclesand Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War.

Many of the great tragic stories e. Agamemnon and his children, OedipusJasonMedeaetc. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculusand geographers Pausanias and Strabowho traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends, often giving little-known alternative versions. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was primarily composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise. Nevertheless, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost.The story of Persephone, the sweet daughter of goddess Demeter who was kidnapped by Hades and later became the Queen of the Underworld, is known all over the world.

It is actually the way of the ancient Greeks to explain the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of the Nature's death and rebirth. Persephone is understood in people's mind as a naive little girl who flows between the protection of the mother and the love of her husband. The myth of Persephone was very popular in the ancient times and it is said that her story was represented in the Eleusinian Mysteries, the great private and secret celebrations of ancient Greece.

According to Greek Mythology, Persephone, the queen of the underworld, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. She was also called Kore, which means "maiden" and grew up to be a lovely girl attracting the attention of many gods. However, Demeter had an obsessed love for her only daughter and kept all men away from her. The most persisting suitor of Persephone was Hades, the god of the Underworld.

He was a hard, middle-aged man, living in the dark, among the shadows of the Dead. But his heart softened when he saw Persephone and was amazed by his youth, beauty and freshness.

When he asked Demeter to marry her daughter, Demeter got furious and said there wasn't the slightest chance for that to happen. Hades was heart-broken and decided to get Persephone no matter what. One day, while the young girl was playing and picking flowers along with her friends in a valley, she beheld the most enchanting narcissus she had ever seen.

As she stooped down to pick the flower, the earth beneath her feet suddenly cleaved open and through the gap Hades himself came out on his chariot with black horses. Hades grabbed the lovely maiden before she could scream for help and descended into his underworld kingdom while the gap in the earth closed after them. The other girls had not seen anything because everything happened very quickly. They didn't have a clue for the sudden disappearance of Persephone. The whole incident, however, had been witnessed by Zeus, father of the maiden and brother of the abductor, as well as by Helios, god of the Sun.

Zeus decided to keep silent about the whole thing to prevent a fight with his brother while Helios wisely thought it better not to get involved in anything that didn't concern him. A distraught and heartbroken Demeter wandered the earth looking for her daughter until her good friend Hecate, goddess of wilderness and childbirth, advised her to seek for the help of Helios, the all-seeing Sun god, in order to find her daughter.

Helios felt sorry for Demeter, who was crying and pleading him to help her. Thus she revealed her that Persephone had been kidnapped by Hades.

When she heard that, Demeter got angry and wanted to take revenge but Helios suggested that it was not such a bad thing for Persephone to be the wife of Hades and queen of the dead. Demeter, however, could not let it gone. She was furious at this insult and deeply believed that Hades, who after all had only dead people for company, was not the right husband for her sweet daughter.

She also got angry at Zeus for not having revealed this to her.

The myth of Icarus and Daedalus - Amy Adkins

To punish gods and to grief, Demeter decided to take a long and indefinite leave from her duties as the goddess of harvest and fertility, with devastating consequences. The earth began to dry up,harvests failed, plants lost their fruitfulness, animals were dying for lack of food and famine spread to the whole earth, resulting in untold misery.

The cries of the people who were suffering reached Olympus and the divine ears of Zeus. The mighty god finally realized that if he wouldn't do something about his wife's wrath, all humanity would disappear. Thus he tried to find another solution to both calm Demeter and please Hades.

He promised Demeter to restore Persephone to her if it can be proved that the maiden stays with Hades against her will. Otherwise, Persephone belongs to her husband. The crafty Hades learned this agreement and tricked his reluctant bride, who was crying all day and night from despair, to eat a few seeds of the pomegranate fruit. This was the food of the Underworld and every time someone ate even a few seeds of this, then, after a while, he would miss life in the Underworld.

When the gathering in front of Zeus took place and Persephone was asked where she would like to live, she answered she wanted to live with her husband. When Demeter heard that, she got infuriated and accused Hades that somehow he had tricked her daughter.This is a list of gods, goddessespeople and other figures from Greek mythology.

They are sorted into sections below. The immortals include gods deitiesspirits and giants. Being immortal means that they live forever. The mortals include heroeskings, Amazons and other people.

The list does not include creatures.

greek myths

These figures are described by ancient writers, the oldest of which are Homer and Hesiod. A temple would house the statue of a god or goddess, or several deities. The statue might be decorated with relief scenes depicting myths. These were also often painted on pottery and minted on coins. Roman mythology includes many of the same figures, but uses different names: calling Zeus by the name of Jupiter and Aphrodite by the name of Venusfor example.

This is called the Venetian creole language. It is called Venetian band. The main and most important gods were the Twelve Olympians. The home of these gods is at the top of Mount Olympus. There was some variation as to which deities were included in the Twelve.

It includes all those who are commonly named as one of the Twelve in art and poetry. Dionysus was a later addition; in some descriptions, he replaced Hestia. Hades is not usually included among the Olympians, because his home was the underworld. Some writers, however, such as Platonamed him as one of the Twelve. Goddess of lovebeauty and desire. She was married to Hephaestusbut she had many lovers, including AresAdonis and Anchises.

She was depicted as a beautiful woman and often naked. Her symbols include roses and other flowers, the scallop shell, and myrtle wreath. Her sacred animals are doves and sparrows.

The Roman version of Aphrodite was Venus. Image: Cnidian Aphroditea Roman work based on an original by Praxiteles.How will it end? Who was the first man? Where do souls go after death? They explained everything from religious rituals to the weather, and they gave meaning to the world people saw around them.

Instead, the earliest Greek myths were part of an oral tradition that began in the Bronze Ageand their plots and themes unfolded gradually in the written literature of the archaic and classical periods.

They do not, however, bother to introduce the gods and goddesses who are their main characters, since readers and listeners would already have been familiar with them.

greek myths

Later Greek writers and artists used and elaborated upon these sources in their own work. For instance, mythological figures and events appear in the 5th-century plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and the lyric poems of Pindar. Writers such as the 2nd-century BC Greek mythographer Apollodorus of Athens and the 1st-century BC Roman historian Gaius Julius Hyginus compiled the ancient myths and legends for contemporary audiences. At the center of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities who were said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece.

From their perch, they ruled every aspect of human life. Olympian gods and goddesses looked like men and women though they could change themselves into animals and other things and were—as many myths recounted—vulnerable to human foibles and passions.

Greek mythology does not just tell the stories of gods and goddesses, however. Human heroes—such as Heracles, the adventurer who performed 12 impossible labors for King Eurystheus and was subsequently worshipped as a god for his accomplishment ; Pandora, the first woman, whose curiosity brought evil to mankind; Pygmalion, the king who fell in love with an ivory statue; Arachne, the weaver who was turned into a spider for her arrogance; handsome Trojan prince Ganymede who became the cupbearer for the gods; Midas, the king with the golden touch; and Narcissus, the young man who fell in love with his own reflection—are just as significant.

Many of these creatures have become almost as well known as the gods, goddesses and heroes who share their stories. The characters, stories, themes and lessons of Greek mythology have shaped art and literature for thousands of years.

But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. In around B. Most of all, Pericles paid artisans to build temples The warrior Achilles is one of the great heroes of Greek mythology. In the year B.

It was the first known democracy in the world.

Myths about the Ancient Greek Gods for Kids

This system was comprised of three Hercules known in Greek as Heracles or Herakles is one of the best-known heroes in Greek and Roman mythology.

His life was not easy—he endured many trials and completed many daunting tasks—but the reward for his suffering was a promise that he would live forever among the gods The story of the Trojan War—the Bronze Age conflict between the kingdoms of Troy and Mycenaean Greece—straddles the history and mythology of ancient Greece and inspired the greatest writers of antiquity, from Homer, Herodotus and Sophocles to Virgil.

Since the 19th-century The Greek philosopher Aristotle B. Though overshadowed in classical times by the work of his teacher Plato, from late antiquity The Athenian philosopher Plato c.Read more.

Part of the Mythic Creatures exhibition. Zeus and the other Greek gods on Mount Olympus, from Aphrodite to Poseidon, are familiar characters to many readers. The Greek stories of gods, heroes and monsters are told and retold around the world even today. The earliest known versions of these myths date back more than 2, years, appearing in written form in the works of the Greek poets Homer and Hesiod.

But some of these myths are much older. Indeed, the Greeks borrowed some of their best material from other, more ancient stories. Long ago, the young Greek hero Perseus set out on a seemingly impossible quest: to slay the hideous Medusa.

With a head covered in snakes instead of hair, Medusa was so ugly that anyone who looked at her turned to stone. For many days, Perseus traveled in search of Medusa. Finally, he found her and her two sisters resting among the statues of other heroes, all turned to stone by Medusa's gaze.

But Perseus had consulted the gods and knew how to defeat the monster. Looking only at Medusa's reflection in a polished shield, Perseus chopped off her horrible head with a sickle.

The winged horse Pegasus sprang from Medusa's neck. Medusa's two sisters were furious and chased after Perseus. But Pegasus allowed the hero to climb on his back, and the two flew away to safety.

The white, winged horse Pegasus is only a minor character in Greek myths, serving as the loyal steed and companion to the heroes Perseus and Bellerophon as they battle with monsters.

Although Pegasus doesn't show up in many myths, he was a favorite subject of Greek artists. Even today, Pegasus is among the most popular images from Greek myth, appearing on everything from corporate logos to figures on carousels. Indeed, Pegasus is so well known that today all winged horses are called "pegasi. A long time ago, the Greek hero Bellerophon set out to kill the fire-breathing Chimera, a beast with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.The ancient Greeks told stories about their gods.

These stories are called myths short for mythology, or stories about gods.

Greek Myths

Stories about the ancient Greek gods are still told today. Each storyteller told the stories in their own way, but whatever power and personality a god had was consistent from story to story. For example, Zeus was the king of all the gods, and only Zeus could throw lightning bolts. The magical world of the ancient Greek gods was a world full of bickering and fights and wars and compromise and fear and fun and punishment and love.

Many myths were based on the fact that gods, like mortal men, could be punished or rewarded for their actions. Here are some ancient Greek myths for kids, retold by the storyteller Lin Donn:. Zeus, Hera, and Little Io. The Competition, Athena and Poseidon.

greek myths

Theseus, the Minotaur, and the Maze. Dionysus and Ariadne. Hades, Zeus, and the King of Corinth. Icarus and Daedalus, Wings. Demeter and Persephone, Reason for the Seasons. Apollo's Oracle at Delphi. Apollo and Cassandra. The Magic Rocks - a myth about Ares, the god of war, and a battle he did not win. Perseus, Andromeda, and the sea god, Poseidon. Orpheus and Eurydice.


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