The Greek mythology portal
Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and 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.
The Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most likely by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC; eventually the myths of the heroes of the Trojan War and its aftermath became part of the oral tradition of Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain 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. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods, heroes, and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical, and 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.
In Greek mythology, Pandora (ancient Greek, Πανδώρα, derived from πᾶν "all" and δῶρον "gift", thus "giver of all", "all-endowed") was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to mould her out of Earth as part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus' theft of the secret of fire, and all the gods joined in offering her "seductive gifts". Her other name, inscribed against her figure on a white-ground kylix in the British Museum, is Anesidora, "she who sends up gifts," up implying "from below" within the earth. According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar (pithos), in modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as "Pandora's box" (see below), releasing all the evils of mankind— although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod — leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act. The myth of Pandora is ancient, appears in several distinct Greek versions, and has been interpreted in many ways.
Gods and goddesses
Hera (; Ancient Greek: Ἥρα, Hēra, equivalently Ἥρη, Hērē, in Ionic and Homer) was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of classical Greek Mythology. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. In Roman mythology, Juno was the equivalent mythical character. The cow, and later, the peacock were sacred to her. Hera's mother was Rhea and her father, Cronus.
Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. A scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, "Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos."
Hera was known for her jealous and vengeful nature, most notably against Zeus's paramours and offspring, but also against mortals who crossed her, such as Pelias. Paris offended her by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess, earning Hera's hatred.
Artist: Theodor Baierl
Ruhende Amazonen by Theodor Baierl. The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors.
Did you know ...
- Heracles already meet Theseus when the latter was only seven years old. After Heracles had finished his labours, he came to visit Pittheus in Troezen where the young Theseus was under the care of his grandfather.
- Theseus was related to his malefactors Cercyon, Procrustes and Sciron. They were all sons of his father Poseidon by other women which makes them technically Theseus' half-brother.
- The daughters of Pelops married the sons of Perseus: Astydameia wedded to Alcaeus, Nicippe to Sthenelus, Lysidice to Mestor and Eurydice to Electryon. This was made by Pelops to extend to his political power over the whole Peloponesse. His sons also became great rulers, Pittheus and Troezen were kings in Troezen, Alcathous of Megara, Atreus and Thyestes of Mycenae and also Sciron who became a warlord of Megara.
- Pleisthenes, son of Atreus was either a hermaphrodite or a transvestite.
- Polydectes pretended that he was going to marry Hippodamia, daughter of Oenomaus and ordered the men in Seriphos to supply him with suitable gifts. This plan was hatched by the king to get rid of Perseus by sending him to fetch the head of Medusa because he wanted to marry the hero's mother Danae.
- The couple, Admetus and Alcestis were actually half-cousins because Admetus's father, Pheres whose mother Tyro also bare Pelias, father of Alcestis.
Perseus (Περσεύς), the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians. Perseus was the Greek hero who killed Medusa and claimed Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster.
Perseus was the son of Danaë who, by her very name, was the archetype of all the Danaans. She was the only child of Acrisius, King of Argos. Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consulted the oracle at Delphi, who warned him that he would one day be killed by his daughter's son. Danaë was childless and to keep her so, he imprisoned her in a bronze chamber open to the sky in the courtyard of his palace. Zeus came to her in the form of a shower of gold, and impregnated her.
The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature, though some believe the griffin was the ancient misconception of a Protoceratops. Griffins are normally known for guarding treasure and well valued priceless possession. In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.
Most contemporary illustrations give a griffin legs like an eagle's with talons, although in some older illustrations it has a lion's forelimbs; it generally has a lion's hindquarters. Its eagle's head is conventionally given prominent ears.
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