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The Greek mythology Portal

Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They are a part of religion in Greece. Modern scholars refer to the myths and study them in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece, its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Greek mythology is embodied explicitly in a large collection of narratives and implicitly in representational arts, such as vase-paintings and votive gifts. Greek myth explains the origins of the world and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, and other mythological creatures. These accounts initially were disseminated in an oral-poetic tradition; today the Greek myths are known primarily from Greek literature.

The oldest known Greek literary sources, the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus on events surrounding the Trojan War. 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 also are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians 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.

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Pandora

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.

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Gods and goddesses

Bust of Hades

Hades (Άδης or Ἀΐδας; from Greek ᾍδης, Hadēs, originally Ἅιδης, Haidēs or Άΐδης, Aidēs, meaning "the unseen") refers both to the ancient Greek underworld, the abode of Hades, and to the god of the underworld. Hades in Homer referred just to the god; the genitive ᾍδου, Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative, too, came to designate the abode of the dead.

In Greek mythology, Hades is the oldest male child of Cronus and Rhea. According to myth he and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the universe ruling the underworld, air, and sea, respectively; the solid earth, long the province of Gaia, was available to all three concurrently. Because of his association with the underworld, Hades is often interpreted by moderns as the Grim Reaper, even though he was not.

By the Romans Hades was called Pluto, from his Greek epithet Πλούτων Ploutōn (πλοῦτος, wealth), meaning "Rich One". In Roman mythology, Hades/Pluto was called Dis Pater and Orcus. The corresponding Etruscan god was Aita. Symbols associated with him are the Helm of Darkness and the three-headed dog, Cerberus.

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Io
Artist: John Hoppner

In Greek mythology, Io was the daughter of Inachus, a river god.

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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.
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Heroes

Perseus

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.

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Legendary creatures

In Greek mythology, Echidna was called the "Mother of All Monsters". Echidna was described by Hesiod as a female monster spawned in a cave, who mothered with her mate Typhoeus (or Typhon) almost every major horrible monster in the Greek myths,

Echidna was usually considered an offspring of Tartarus and Gaia, or of Ceto and Phorcys (according to Hesiod) or of Chrysaor and the naiad Callirhoe, or Peiras and Styx (according to Pausanias, who did not know who Peiras was aside from her father). Echidna was a drakaina, with the face and torso of a beautiful woman (depicted as winged in archaic vase-paintings) and the body of a serpent, sometimes having two serpent's tails.. She is also sometimes described as Karl Kerenyi noted an archaic vase-painting with a pair of echidnas performing sacred rites in a vineyard, while on the opposite side of the vessel, goats were attacking the vines thus chthonic Echidnae are presented as protectors of the vineyard.

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