Greek Mythology In order to explain certain natural events, such as earthquakes, windstorms, and thunder and lightning storms, The Greeks invented a collection of myths and characters. Just as with most modern religions, Greek Mythology bases most of its myths on morality and ethics issues. Unlike Egyptian Mythology, the Greeks did not focus on what was going to happen in their afterlife. They were more concerned with the here and now. There was no written special commandments in Greek Mythology. The Greeks did, however, base most of their moral and ethical ideals on the Iliad and the Odyssey, both written by Homer.
In his work, Homer says that man holds his own fate in his hands. He portrays that wrath will cause much suffering, pain, and even death. Homer formed the fundamental attitude of the Greek mind. He established the foundation of excellence for all aspects of life, and the Greeks put these into their reality. Nothing was known about Homer or any part of his life, so the question arises as to whether Homer was a single individual or was he, in actuality, a collection of authors. The Greeks had a polytheistic culture.
Unlike the religions of other ancient civilizations, the Greeks created the gods in their own image. They were holy deities that could make contact with humans, often in a disguise. The gods had the same desires and weaknesses as human beings and the myths often portrayed them as lustful, greedy and vengeful. There was no holy place that the Greeks went and prayed to the gods. Instead, the temples that were erected, were for the gods to come and visit.
Festivals were often held to praise the gods. During these festivals, no war could be fought. The gods spoke to humans through oracles and people often went to these oracles for advise on what the gods wanted. The gods were used to explain whether humans would have great fortune or hardships. They lived at the highest point of Greece, Mount Olympus.
According to the myths, there were three generations of gods. The first were the Titans. The second group of gods were the Olympians and the last were the Lessor Gods. Cronus was the leader of the Titans. He was married to Rhea. As the ruler of the Titans, he had been warned that one of his children would overthrow him.
To prevent this, he swallowed all five of them. Rhea became pregnant again, and did not want her sixth child to be swallowed. She hid away until the baby was born. This baby was Zeus, later to become the king of the Olympians. When Rhea returned, she deceived Cronus by giving him a rock wrapped in cloth to swallow.
After being raised by Nymphs, Zeus grew strong and went back to find Rhea. Gaea, the Earth goddess, gave Zeus a potion. Cronus was, once again, deceived and he drank the potion. The magic potion forced Cronus to vomit up all of Zeus brothers and sisters; Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon. A war broke out between the Titans and the Olympians.
It was a war of natural disasters and using thunder, lightning, rough seas and volcanoes, the Olympians were victorious over the Titans. Zeus sent his father and uncles to the underworld. Zeus was the god of the sky and the rain. His weapon was a thunderbolt. He married his sister, Hera, the goddess of marriage.
Zeus gained marriage to her through trickery. He pretended to be a bird to convince Hera to feel sorry for him. As soon as she comforted the little creature, he changed back into his normal form. He then raped her. Hera only married him because of the shame that she felt. Hera was often been portrayed as a jealous nuisance but Zeus repeatedly chased earth women and goddesses, having many affairs that bore many children.
The greatest temple in Greece was in honor of Hera. In actuality, the myths show that man worshipped her For before Zeus was worshipped. “god” originally was thought to have the form of the woman. Early man worshipped the female body either pregnant or of age to have children. The only power humans had was over reproduction, so this was sacred. Zeus had two brothers that helped him defeat his father Cronus.
Poseidon was the God of the sea, earthquakes and horses. He also had the ability to change shape, and, oftentimes, he changed into a horse. The trident was his weapon and although he was allowed to live on Mount Olympus, he spent most of the time underwater. Hades was Zeus other brother. He chose to rule the underworld. He possessed a helmet that made the wearer invisible to both gods and humans.
Aside from the many other gods that reigned in Mount Olympus, there were dozens of mythical , and sometimes frightening creatures. The Cyclopes were three brothers, Arges, Brontes and Steropes. They each had only one eye in the middle of their forehead. They were friends of Zeus because they made the lightning bolts, the trident and the helmet that later defeated Cronus. Another creature was the Sphinx.
She had the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the head of a woman. She would pose a question to passers-by who wanted to go into Thebes. “What being in one lifetime goes on four legs, at another time on two, and yet when it is old, goes on three?” A wrong answer would earn the travelers death by strangulation of the Sphinxs lion claws. One day, Oedipus came upon this hideous creature and she asked the question of him. His answer was, “Why the being is man, for as a baby he crawls on four legs and then, when he is grown up, he walks on two.
In old age, a walking stick becomes his third leg.” The Sphinx was furious at Oedipus because he guessed the answer correct. He broke the spell. One look at Medusa could turn any man to stone. She was once a beautiful girl turned into a monster, with snakes coming from her head, by Athena, the Goddess of wisdom. Ever wonder why the city of Atlantis was lost? The myth states that Poseidon, deeply in love with a mortal girl, made an island for her. He married her and they produced five sets of twins, all male. Atlantis was named after the eldest of the sons, Atlas, after he died.
Atlas sons made Atlantis the richest kingdom in all the world. It had a brass-covered wall around the kingdom and a temple built from solid gold. Soon this wealth became overwhelming. People were fighting and they became very greedy. Zeus, after finding what was happening to this city, ordered that something be done.
He sunk the island to the bottom of the ocean sea using a huge tidal wave. Whether or not Atlantis really existed is not proven, but many have tried to find it. Greek myths gave the Ancient Greeks answers to the unexplainable that they could relate to. They sent messages to the people that greed, lust, and wrath could have devastating consequences. Through myths about the gods and mythical creatures, man could see his own faults and, possibly prevent or correct them.
The Greeks had no idea why lightning burned a whole city to the ground or wind tore apart ships in the Mediterranean. They blamed themselves and their “gods,” the only way that they knew how to deal with everyday life. Bibliography Anis Greek Mythology Website. Online. Metacrawler.
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