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  Wikipedia: Greek mythology

Wikipedia: Greek mythology
Greek mythology
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Greek mythology is the set of myths which come from the religion of ancient Hellenic civilization. These stories were familiar to all ancient Greekss and, although some thinkers professed skepticism, they provided the people with both rituals and history. Like the religions of most of the neighboring groups, the Greeks believed in gods who were associated with specific aspects of life. For example, Aphrodite was the goddess of love and sex, while Ares was the god of war and Hades the god of the dead. Though there were hundreds of beings that could be considered "gods" in one sense or another, most figured only into obscure bits of folklore, perhaps as fragments of remembrances of more ancient deities. Actual worship was centered around only a few gods, mostly the Olympians (or thirteen gods in total) were the center of large pan-Hellenic cults, though Persephone (patroness of the Eleusinian mysteries) is a prominent exception. Many regions and even individual villages had their own cults centered around nymphs or minor patron deities virtually unknown elsewhere. Foreign gods like Cybele (a Phrygian goddess) were well-known in Greece, but not actively worshipped.

{| border="1" width="300" align="right" !align="center" bgcolor="slategray" colspan="2"|Topics in Greek mythology |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="paleturquoise"|Creation |align="left"|Chaos, Aether, Uranus and Gaia |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="cadetblue"|Titans |align="left"|Cronus and Rhea, Atlas, Prometheus and Epimetheus, Orion, Selene, Oceanus, Helios, Leto, Titanomachy |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="lightskyblue"|Olympians |align="left"|Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Apollo, Hermes, Demeter, Artemis, Athena, Ares, Hestia |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="cornflowerblue"|Other gods, nymphs and spirits |align="left"|Hades, Iris, Moirae, Pan, Hebe, Hecate, Asclepius, Persephone, Aeolus, Eros, Eos, Muses, Echo, nymphs |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="dodgerblue"|Trojan War and the Aftermath |align="left"|Eris and the Judgement of Paris; Helen and Menelaus; Trojan horse; Odysseus and the Odyssey; Ajax the great; Hector and Priam; Achilles, Briseis and Patroclus; Agamemnon, Cassandra and Orestes; Aeneas |-align-"center" |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="dodgerblue"|Major heroes |align="left"|Heracles and his Twelve Labors; Bellerophon and the Pegasus; Theseus, Minos and the Minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus; Jason, Medea and the Golden Fleece; Oedipus, Seven Against Thebes and Antigone |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="dodgerblue"|Other mortals and heroes |align="left"|Callisto, Tiresias, Arachne, Io, Castor and Pollux, Europa, Midas, Sisyphus and Tantalus, Orpheus, Pandora, Deucalion, Narcissus, Amazons, Pygmalion, Atalanta, Psyche, Actaeon, Perseus |-align-"center" !align="left" bgcolor="deepskyblue"|Worship |align="left"|Eleusinian mysteries, Herma, Panhellenic Games, Parthenon, Brauronia, Dodona, Maenad, Oracle, Delphi |}

Overview

In Greek mythology, the gods in the Greek pantheon are given human form, but are first and foremost personifications of the forces of the universe. As such they are more or less unchanging, and while they sometimes seem to have a sense of justice, they are often petty or vengeful. The gods' favors are won by sacrifices and piety, but this does not guarantee them, for the gods are known to be prone to frequent changes of mind. Their anger is harsh and their love can be just as dangerous.

The world of Greek mythology is quite complex. It is full of monsters, wars, intrigue, and meddling gods. Also there are heroes to help overcome these problems. Men and women were much greater in those days, of course, though the Greeks did not see any wide gulf between their history and their religion (see, for example, The Iliad and The Odyssey). The Greeks saw themselves as the direct descendants of the mythological heroes and their culture. In addition to the continuing use of and allusion to mythology in literature, Greek mythology today makes for some wonderful stories that remain enjoyable.

Greek mythology continues to be an important cultural reference long after the Greek religion with which it was entwined ceased to be practiced. There was, to be sure, a Christian move to deface or destroy idols and other images that reflected the public cult of the gods when Christianity replaced paganism as the official faith of the Roman Empire. Literature posed a harder problem to the Christians; it would be impossible to erase the influence of Greek mythology there without casting aside the Iliad and the other works of Homer, Theocritus, Vergil, Ovid, and hundreds of other authors that none but a few zealots were willing to cast aside. Greek mythology thus has persisted for more than a millennium after Greek religion became extinct. Even much classical Christian literature contains allusions to Greek and Roman mythology, as a glimpse at Milton's Paradise Lost makes plain:

By younger Saturn, he from mightier Jove
His own and Rhea's Son like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the Snowy top
Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle Air
Thir highest Heav'n; or on the Delphian Cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric Land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian Fields,
And ore the Celtic roam'd the utmost Isles.
--Paradise Lost, book I

Some important mythical places and characters

Primary sources

See also

External links


  

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona