Greek mythology was originally told by Ancient Greeks as a part of Greek folklore. It began in the Bronze Age. Around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written origin story of Greek mythology. These stories generally revolve around the origin and the nature of the world, the lives of the deities, heroes, mythological creatures, and the significance of the ancient Greek’s cultures, rituals, and religion. These mythical stories were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition.
Greek Mythology was mainly used to explain the environment in which mankind lived and the natural phenomena that they witnessed. It also advised on the best ways to lead a happy life. And finally, myths were used to re-tell historical events so that people could go back to their ancestors, the wars they fought, and the places they explored.
The main themes dominating the Greek mythology are the Wars – an inevitable part of existence; love – as examples of loyalty, trust, and eternal love; heroes – depicting marvelous achievements of virtue, strength, and honor; underworld – an expression of cultures of death; and the Mortality and Fate – representing visions of right and wrong behavior along with the repercussions.
Hesiod’s Theogony tells the story of the universe’s journey from nothingness, to a detailed and elaborate family tree of elements, Gods and Goddesses, who evolved and descended from Gaia (Earth), Ouranos (Sky), Pontos (Sea), and Tartaros (the Underworld). Later Greek writers have used this information and elaborated upon these sources in their works.
At the heart of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities who were said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. From there, they ruled every aspect of human life. The Gods and Goddesses looked like normal men and women but could morph themselves into animals and other things, meaning they could perform metamorphosis. The 12 main Olympians are:
- Zeus (the king of all gods, the god of weather);
- Hera (queen of all gods and goddess of marriage);
- Aphrodite (goddess of beauty and love);
- Apollo (god of prophecy, and knowledge);
- Ares (god of war);
- Artemis (goddess of hunting);
- Athena (Goddess of wisdom);
- Demeter (goddess of agriculture);
- Dionysus (god of pleasure, and festivity);
- Hephaestus (god of fire);
- Hermes (god of hospitality. Zeus’s manager); and
- Poseidon (god of the sea).
Now let’s have a quick run-through of some of the most well-known Greek Mythological stories and the suggested books.
- Story of Hercules – an adventurer who performed 12 impossible labors for King Eurystheus;
- Pandora – the first woman whose curiosity brought a curse and evil upon mankind;
- Pygmalion – a king who fell in love with an ivory statue;
- Arachne – weaver who was turned into a spider for her arrogance;
- Trojan Prince Ganymede who became the cup-bearer for the gods;
- Narcissus – a young man who fell in love with his reflection;
- Midas – the king with a boon of turning everything he touches to gold;
- The tale of the winged horse Pegasus;
- The cursed Prometheus whose liver is eaten every day for stealing fire from the Gods;
- The kidnap of Persephone by Hades;
- The Fall of Icarus, the man with wings of wax;
- The story of Achilles of Homer’s Iliad.
- Horse-man Centaur, the Lion-woman Sphinx, the Bird-woman Harpies, the One-eyed giant Cyclops, and many more.
There are many other interesting stories in Greek mythology that bring the imagination of a child to play. Mentioning them all would be one hard nut to crack. I hope this information has motivated you to delve deeper into Greek mythology. Go ahead and read the above-mentioned stories and let us know which mythological story is your favorite.