Greek Myths

From the Titans to Icarus and Odysseus

Fully illustrated guide to Ancient Greek myths and legends Les mer
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Fully illustrated guide to Ancient Greek myths and legends




The stories and gods of Greek mythology and how it compared with mythologies of other cultures of the time.
Mythology was at the heart of everyday life in Ancient Greece. Greeks regarded mythology as a part of their history. They used myth to explain natural phenomena.

1. Origin Myths
The creation of the world and the first gods. Out of Chaos was born Gaia (the Earth) along with Eros (Love), the Abyss (the Tartarus), and the Erebus (darkness).
Gaia gave birth to the six male, including Cronos, and six female Titans. Fearing that Cronos would be betrayed by his children - as he had betrayed his own father - Cronos ate all his offspring as soon as they were born. But his wife Rhea hated this and tricked Cronos when Zeus was born, substituted a stone wrapped in a blanket for their son. Then when Zeus was fully grown he challenged his father, who vomited up all his children. Cronos and the other Titans were banished to Tartarus (the Underworld). Zeus later ate his own wife and his daughter Athena was born from his head.
The Cosmology of the Greek myth: it was believed that the Earth was a flat disk afloat on the river of Oceanus and overlooked by a hemispherical sky with sun, moon, and stars. The Sun (Helios) traversed the heavens as a charioteer and sailed around the Earth in a golden bowl at night.

2. The Olympian Gods
After Cronos and the Titans were overthrown, a new pantheon of gods was established. This is the best-known pantheon, led by Zeus with Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes and either Hestia, or Dionysus.

3. Other Gods
Including the Gods of the Countryside - Beside the Olympians, the Greeks also worshipped satyr-god Pan, Nymphs (spirits of rivers), Naiads (who dwelled in springs), Dryads (who were spirits of the trees), Nereids (who inhabited the sea), river gods, Satyrs, and others.

4. The Age of Gods and Mortals
Between the age when the deities lived alone on Earth and the time when the mortals were on Earth and the gods distant on Mount Olympus, was a time when deities and mortals mixed on Earth. From this time in Greek mythology, we have tales of love, where gods fathered children with mortals, tales of punishment, such as Prometheus stealing fire from the gods.

5. Heroes and War
The Heroic Age included stories of heroes such as Heracles, Odysseus, Theseus and the Minotaur, and Jason and the Argonauts and their numerous voyages and adventures. Also in this age are the tales related to The Trojan War, such as Helen of Troy, Achilles and the Trojan Horse. BOX: What fact is there behind Greek myths? There was a Troy but was there a Trojan War. There might have been a hero warrior Heracles.

6. Literature
How do we know what we know about Greek mythology? Much comes from literature sources, Hesiod's Theogony, which describes the beginnings and origins of the gods and goddesses, Euripedes' play The Bacchae
Homer's epic poems The Iliad, about the end of the Trojan War and The Odyssey, about Odysseus's adventures on his journey home from the war
Apollonius's Argonautica, written in 3rd century BC but based on older tales. In ancient times the expedition was regarded as a historical fact, an incident in the opening up of the Black Sea to Greek commerce and colonization.

7. Legacy
Originally, the myths were adopted by Roman culture, and then throughout the Renaissance, particularly within art. Constellations and celestial bodies have been named after elements of Greek mythology, such as Pegasus, Scorpius and Capricorn. Greek mythology has had a direct influence on modern Western culture, most notably in the 19th century revival of the Olympic Games. Medieval and renaissance writers such as Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare all took inspiration from Greek myths. The influence on modern literature is immense, ranging from James Joyce's Ulysses to Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy, which reworks the story of Athenians paying tribute to King Minos by sacrificing young men and women to the Minotaur.



Om forfatteren

Martin J. Dougherty is a freelance writer specializing in military and defence topics. He is the author of Medieval Warrior, SAS and Elite Forces Guide Extreme Unarmed Combat, and SAS and Elite Forces Guide Sniper, Small Arms: From the Civil War to the Present Day, and books on personal self-defence. He lives in northern England.