We explain what Greek mythology is and the gods that make up these ancient tales. In addition, its origin and main characters.
What is Greek mythology?
When we talk about Greek mythology, we refer to the set of stories, myths and legends belonging to Ancient Greece (c. 1200 BC-146 BC), considered as the cultural cradle of Western civilization.
It is collected in a diverse set of surviving texts to history , in which he realizes how the ancient Greeks explained the world, practiced their religion and represented their culture, as well as sculptures, illustrations, ceramics and other art forms They respond to the same imaginary.
The stories that make up Greek mythology were initially oral in nature , since in many cases they are prior to the invention of writing. These stories were recited by bards or aedas, and later expressed or written versioned.
Some of them are also the foundation of Greek literature , in particular Homer’s epic poems : the Iliad and the Odyssey , whose events occur around the Trojan War (1250 BC according to Herodotus), or also Hesiod’s poems about the genesis of the world and the Greek kingdoms: Theogony and the Works and days .
Another important source of these myths is the play of the great dramatists of Ancient Greece: Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. In these pieces episodes related to the mythical and heroic tradition were narrated , particularly in the form of tragedies: stories about the fall of the heroes before the gods.
Gods of Greek mythology
The ancient Greeks believed in a diverse pantheon of gods, known as Olympus, since they would reside at the top of a hill with that name. After defeating their parents – the Titans or titanic gods – they took control of the world and imposed their order.
The main Olympic gods were:
- Zeus (Jupiter) . King of the gods of Olympus and father of many of them, he was the god of heaven and thunder, brother of Hades and Poseidon. Hera’s brother and husband, he had many human and divine lovers, giving rise to various heroic lineages.
- Hera (Juno) . Wife of Zeus and mother goddess, of marriage and family unity, often charged revenge for her husband’s infidelities on their lovers or their offspring, so he was antagonistic to many heroes.
- Poseidon (Neptune) . God of water and oceans, earthquakes and horses. He was represented with a trident in hand.
- Dionis i or (Bacchus) . God of wine, celebration and ecstasy, patron of the theater and the youngest of Olympus, born from the belly of a mortal woman.
- Apollo (Febo) . Solar God, of light, of knowledge and medicine, of archery, music and prophecy. Son of Zeus and brother of Artemis.
- Artemis (Diana) . Virgin goddess, hunting, nature, childbirth and all animals. Twin sister of Apollo, she was represented accompanied by a fawn.
- Hermes (Mercury) . The messenger of the gods, patron of commerce, rhetoric, lies and thieves, always represented with a helmet and winged boots.
- Athena (Minerva) . Goddess warrior, of wisdom, crafts, defense and war strategy , often represented with an owl. He was born from the head of Zeus, after he swallowed his mother.
- Ares (Mars) . God of war, violence and bloodshed, despised by all other gods except for Aphrodite, with whom he had an affair.
- Aphrodite (Venus) . Goddess of carnal love, beauty and desire, born from the foam of the sea after Zeus cut his father’s testicles Cronos and threw them into the water. Hephaestus’ wife, he was unfaithful to many, including Ares.
- Hephaestus (Vulcan) . God of the forge, master blacksmith and craftsman, of fire and metal, son of Hera (with or without Zeus), fallen from Mount Olympus at birth, so he was left limp.
- Demeter (Ceres) . Goddess of fertility, climatic seasons, agriculture and nature .
- Hades (Pluto) . God of the kingdom of the dead, the underworld. Also of mining and terrestrial wealth, he is often not included among the Olympians for residing in his separate kingdom.
Origin of Greek mythology
There are various theories about the origin of Greek mythology . Some establish that the facts narrated come from real events that were narrated in an increasingly linked way to the divine, or that they were simply interpretations of the original religious sacred myths, or even that they are nothing more than complicated allegories of a much more cult. simple.
However, it is known for sure that the ancient Greeks were inspired by the imaginary of other neighboring civilizations of Asia Minor and Near East , or of civilizations prior to Hellenic, such as Mycenaean, Creetian, Minoan, etc.
Greek mythology characters
Apart from the gods, some of the most famous characters in Greek mythology are:
- Heracles or Hercules . Son of Zeus out of wedlock, he was a demigod hated by Hera, who pushed him to fulfill 12 jobs. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes.
- Helen of Troy . The trigger of the bloody Trojan War, fleeing the palace of her husband Menelaus with the young Trojan Paris.
- Aquiles . Demigod son of Zeus and a nymph, was invulnerable except for his heels. He perished in the Trojan War.
- Persephone . Daughter of Demeter, she was abducted by Hades to be his wife, and arrived with him to an arrangement: six months in the underworld and six months on earth, thus giving rise to the seasons.
- Oedipus . King of Thebes after murdering his own father by mistake and marrying his mother, with whom he had descendants. Upon learning of his crimes, he takes his eyes out and exiles himself.