Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Celeste.
Ancient Greek mythology is the body of stories and myths which the ancient Greeks told. The myths come in the form of Religious stories signifying the roles of the Gods. These include folktales that would imbibe wisdom in those who learned or heard of them. And legendary mythology stories of heroes and their exploits would entertain and show the path of glory to those who heard of them.
Ancient Greek Mythology | Sources of Ancient Greek mythology
The Homeric poems – The Iliad and the Odyssey
The Works of Hesiod – “Theogony” and “Works and Days”
The discovery of the Mycenaean civilization in the 19th century preserved the Mycenaean culture’s records, dating back to 1600 – 1200 BC.
The discovery of the Minoan civilization in Crete in the 20th century preserved the records of the Minoan culture, which dated back to 2200 – 1450 BC.
The Religious Myths
The religious myths of the Greeks were centered around their Gods. This was mainly composed of the adventures and the impact of the 12 Olympian Gods.
The 12 Gods were the major deities of the Greek pantheon. They are commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.
These would include the tales of the Genesis of the Gods. And the world out of the primary Chaos. It even includes the struggles of the Gods to establish their supremacy over the Titans. The event culminated in the rise of Zeus as the ruler of the Gods at Mount Olympus.
The Tales of Zeus would include his numerous amours with Goddesses and mortal women. And would result in the birth of many lesser deities, Gods, and mortal heroes. These would result in many famous figures who would be the children of Zeus establishing their own legends in due course of time.
The tales of Hera, Zeus’s wife and the chief Goddess of Olympus, would include mostly her keeping an eye out on her Husband’s Frivolous affairs. And trying to thwart most of his schemes.
Then there are the tales of Apollo. There are tales about how he established himself as the chieftain of oracles and predictions. And his multiple victories over his enemies.
The tales of God Hermes wherein he acted as the messenger of the Gods. And as a portal of connection between the divine and the mortals.
Every minor and major God had many ancient Greek mythology stories associated with their name. Most of which would be intertwined with other stories and legends. These would then find their way into folklore and legends to be passed on to the next generation.
The list of ancient Greek mythology narratives also includes the heroics of legendary figures and demigods such as Heracles, Achilles, Jason, Perseus, and many more.
The stories and legends of the mighty Heracles(Hercules) are quite popular. Heracles and his twelve labors, the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, The Trojan War, and the heroics of Achilles are all part of ancient Greek legends. These are still utilized as a form of entertainment in the modern-day world.
Ancient Greek Mythology: The Greek Tales
The tales are usually divided into the tales of love and the tales of Punishment.
The tales of love involve any union between Gods and Goddesses or between Gods and mortals. This would result in the birth of heroic offspring who would go on to build the fulcrum of Greek society and legends. These tales would form the major crux of the rich mythological spectrum. Their influence over the culture and legends of the entirety of Greek civilization for thousands of years was enormous.
The Tales of Punishment would usually delve around the appropriation or invention of an artifact. For example, when Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and gave it to the Mortals. It attracted a strict punishment for him from the Gods. The tale of how Dionysus punished a king for disrespecting him and not giving favor to a God. The tale of Demeter searching for her daughter Persephone.
The story resulted in her not giving enough importance to the Earth itself, causing almost all life to become extinct due to her sorrow. These are tales that were celebrated by the ancient Greeks. And had numerous meanings which were interpreted from them to be passed on as wisdom to future generations.
One of the most important tales which prominent and marked in Greek history and with mythological references would be the Trojan war. And the events leading up to it. The events leading up to the abduction of Helen, the declaration of the war by the Greeks on the trojans, the refusal of the Trojans to return Helen, the legendary walls of Troy, and the battles. And the exploits of the warrior Achillies to his eventual death.
The trojan horse strategy and the final sacking of Troy are all tales that are mentioned in the epic poems of the ancient Greek poets. These tales have inspired and entertained generations of people. The modern-day arts still celebrate these epic tales in the form of movies and cultural references.
The daily life in Ancient Greece
The daily life of Mortals in ancient Greece would include mainly following the routine of completing one’s duties as a citizen. Later they would then devote their time to praising and worshiping their preferred deity. This was dependent on which city they lived in and which God they owed their allegiance to. The life of the average Greek person would mostly be spent earning their keep. And once accomplished, it would end with the tales and exploits of the Gods and the Heroes to brighten up their evenings with a cup of wine.
Homage was paid to the Gods by the construction of pristine monuments and sanctuaries to the Gods. This is where priests would pay homage to them by sacrifices and pray to the Gods to guide them in their daily lives. The common man would look up to the priests. They would guide them with the help of oracles to live their lives in ways beneficial to society and acceptable to the Gods.
The days of the Gods in ancient Greece were spent living atop Mount Olympus. They observed the life of the mortals, drinking Ambrosia to quench their thirst and maintain their immortality. The Gods would have the power to influence the life of the mortals, and they would do that at their whim. Often it would alter the natural course of things and bring about a disturbance in the daily peaceful narrative. It thus gave rise to many myths and legendary stories. These were passed down in generations and are still celebrated today in different forms of art and literature.
Ancient Greek history is one of the richest sources of insight. Using them, historians can understand the life of an average human being and their thought process nearly four thousand years ago from the modern age. It also tells how these factors influenced their daily life to the extent that they became etched in the annals of history and time. These historical accounts thus cemented the legendary status of the Ancient Greece civilization. They are also known for their tremendous contribution to nursing and developing a section of the Human race. The one that still exists and thrives in the same location after four thousand years.
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Celeste was born and raised in the Netherlands but lives in Greece for 25 years. She studied at the Dutch Institute of Athens underneath the Acropolis and currently lives with her family in an Athenian suburb. Celeste is the founder of Family Experiences Blog. Whether you and your family live in Greece or are visiting, this blog will show you the very best ways in which to celebrate family life here.