Introduction To Greek Mythology: Greek Myths And Legends

greek myths and legends

When it comes to ancient history, the first thing that people think of are the wars, timelines, stone ruins and so much more. However, Greek mythology is also included here. This is what the Greeks are mostly known for.

The different Greek myths and legends are stories so colourful and allegorical that almost everybody knows about it. These mostly include moral lessons and puzzles for people to mull over. They even include some western culture basics and human truths.

In a nutshell, the Greek myths and legends are all about the goddesses and gods and their history.

If you are interested in learning about the many Greek myths and legends, then you’re in the right place! This article is focused on the introduction to Greek mythology.

The Gods and Goddesses

Like other cultures’ myths, the Greek mythology revolves around the stories of different gods and goddesses, demigods, immortals, monsters, mythical creatures, ordinary people and extraordinary heroes.

Some of these gods and goddesses stay in Mount Olympus while ruling the earth. For this reason, they are referred to as the Olympians. In Greek mythology, there are a total of 12 Olympians, though some of them have multiple names.

How It All Began

When it comes to Greek mythology, the beginning only had nothing more but Chaos. If you think Chaos is a god, you’re mistaken. It’s simply just an elemental force. It is not composed of anything but itself and has existed way before anything else ever did.

This principle is somewhat considered to be similar to that of the New Testament where it is stated that “in the beginning was The Word”.

From Chaos, other elemental principles and forces came to be. These included Earth, Love, Sky and later on, Titans.

Titans in the Greek Myths And Legends

In Greek mythology, the first few generations consisted of The Titans who were much like humans. They were the children of Gaia (a mother earth deity) and Uranus (sky). Together, they completed the Earth and the Sky. Later on, the Olympian gods and goddesses were the children of Titans. As such, the Olympian gods and goddesses were the grandchildren of Gaia and Uranus.

As time went by, the Olympians and the Titans came into conflict. This time was referred to as the Titanomachy. The Olympians won the battle, but the Titans left a mark. It was Atlas, the Titan who was holding the world on his shoulders.

Where Did The Greek Gods Come From?

The elemental forces Gaia and Uranus produced around 100-armed monsters, the Titans and one-eyed Cyclops. Gaia became very sad because Uranus would not let their sons and daughters see the light of day. Because of this, Gaia forged a sickle, and her son Cronus unmanned his father.

Aphrodite, the love goddess, sprang from the foam coming from the severed genitals of Uranus. From Uranus’ blood dripping on Earth, the Erinyes or the spirits of Vengeance came to be. They are sometimes known as the Furies or the Kindly Ones.

The Greek god Hermes, on the other hand, was the great-grandson of the Titans. Since the Greek gods and goddesses were immortal, a grandparent could also become a parent as there are no limitations on their child-bearing years.

The Greek Myths And Legends of Creation

In Greek mythology, you might be a bit confused as to when are the beginnings of human life. Well, the Greek poet by the name of Hesiod is credited for creating the creation story called The Five Ages of Man in the 8th century BCE.

In this tale, it is described that humans fell and got further and further away from the ideal state of paradise and became closer to the trouble and toil of the world.  In the mythological time, you will find that mankind has been repeatedly destroyed and created. This was perhaps due to the effort to make things right over and over again. Well, this was in reference to the gods who created their human descendants.

Most of the Greek city-states had their very own local origin and creation stories which only pertains to the people in that city. An example of this is the women of Athens. They were said to be the descendants of Pandora.

Heroes and Villains

Well, the Greek myths and legends also had its fair share of heroes and villains. One of the most famous heroes is Odysseus, also known as Ulysses in the Odyssey’s Roman version. He was a hero during the Trojan War who was able to survive. This war was ten years long, and his trip back home took another ten years — good thing his family was still there waiting for his return.

Ulysses’ story is what makes up the second of the two works written by Homer, the Odyssey. In here, there are more encounters with several mythological characters compared to the Iliad.

There were other important members featured on the legend and tragedy. These were Europa, Cadmus and Oedipus. They were famous for violating the major societal laws.

You probably have heard of this name before – Hercules. Also called Herakles or Heracles, he was very popular during his time to the ancient Romans and Greeks. Nowadays, he’s still very famous. In ancient Egypt, there was a Hercules figure found by Herodotus. The behaviour of this demigod, however, wasn’t always that admirable. Despite this, he always paid the price without ever complaining. He then defeated the impossible odds over and over again and was known for getting rid of the horrible evils from the world.

All of the tastes of Hercules were superhuman. Well, that’s not surprising since he is the son of Zeus and a half-mortal (demigod).

It can’t be denied that despite the years and centuries that passed, the many Greek myths and legends still live on today. A lot of books, movies and comics have been based on these stories.

Well, what about you? Which one of the many Greek myths and legends is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

December 21st, 2018|