Word Count: 1934The Ancient
Greeks believed in a series of myths which explained nature, set up a moral
code for the people, and were just folk lore of the people. In this paper,
the beginnings of myths, the Greek gods themselves, and several myths concerning
morals, nature, and old lore of the Ancients will be discussed. Because the
myths and details about the gods were passed along by word of mouth, some myths
or gods might be interchanged or different.
The Greek myths started
as folk lore until it began to explain nature and storytellers integrated a
moral code into the myths. Many myths started out as fairy tales. As new
and more efficient farming methods became available to the Greek people they
were faced with more time in which to do other things. A people who have waste
develop a culture all their own. Because Greece was divided into different
city- states, many of the myths are different. The culture of storytelling
began to involve explanations of nature such as the creation of the horse,
spider, and such changes as winter and fire along with the creation of man
himself. Slowly, as with any longstanding government, the morals and laws
of society leaked into Greek myths in the form of, “The slain shall be avenged
by Nemesis (a force which causes people to get revenge),” or just, “Kindness
and humbleness are rewarded by the gods.” Some myths were even created to
support other myths. The myths started with storytelling and developed into
complex system of morals and explanations.
The Greek myths were almost
fruitless without the intervention of the gods. The gods controlled nature
and fought their own battles on the earth, which sometimes caused problems.
The first god was the most powerful one until he had children. The first
god is called Oranos or in some myths Uranus. He was the first ruler among
the gods. Uranus was the heavens and Gaea was the earth and thus they were
married. The couple gave birth to many different and odd children but Uranus
was cruel to them. Then, Chronos was born as the youngest titan. Chronos
dethroned his father and soon after married his sister, Rhea. He didn’t want
his children to dethrone him so he ate them. However, Zeus overthrew Chronos
and established the first real empire of the gods. Zeus settled disputes between
the other gods and made sure the humans weren’t treated in the wrong way.
Zeus and Hera gave birth to Ares and Hermes along with other minor gods. Hera
was a cruel type person in most myths and in one she led a rebellio
Zeus and almost defeated him when he was rescued. Her favorite sign is the
peacock feather and that is her unique sign. Zeus and Hera were the first
lasting god couple.
Zeus had two brothers, Poseidon and Hades. After
Chronos had been defeated, the three brothers threw dice for who would rule
in which realm. Poseidon chose the sea because there was the source of the
most adventure. Zeus chose the sky where he would rule on Mount Olympus.
Hades had no choice and took the underworld because he was notoriously unlucky.
Poseidon created many odd sea creatures and the dolphin. He also created
the horse and horselike animals. Poseidon had many children by two nymphs
and his first son, Achilles, was greater than himself. Hades ruled the underworld
and chose what to do with the souls of the people who came across the River
Styx. They were judged on what they did in life. He was unloving and terrible
and he rarely left the underworld. His only wife was Persephone. She was the
daughter of Demeter, goddess of corn, grain, and weather to an extent. Demeter
is a minor god except for the great influence she has on the earth. Because
her daughter, Persephone, is abducted
every year, the crops wither and winter
takes control of the land.
There were quite a few lesser gods who ruled
over small parts of nature. Aphrodite is the goddess of love and passion.
She was formed of the foam off the genitals of Neptune which fell into the
sea. She manipulated men and was known for her enchanted golden apples. Her
son was Eros, where we get the word erotic. Eros is the Greek form of Cupid,
the Roman god of love. Aphrodite also has a magical girdle that makes anyone
she wishes to love her. Aphrodite is married to Hephaestus, the ugly god of
the forge. He and Aphrodite are Olympian gods but have limited control. Ares
is the god of war. He rules all war and provokes men to war. He plays a vital
role in provoking hatred among men. He is the son of both Zeus and Hera.
Hermes is the messenger god. The myths say that he was born of Zeus alone.
Hermes is vital in settling disputes between the gods and has done so quite
often. He is the swiftest of the gods and is known to carry messages of great
importance for mortals. Helios was the sun g
od. Every day he rides his
flaming chariot across the sky high in the heavens to the Island of the Blessed.
He is the Greek explanation of the sun.
There are three more godlike
creatures that stand out in mythology. The first creature is a demigod. A
demigod is a human/god mix and because Zeus and Poseidon were promiscuous there
were many demigods. Hercules is among one of the most popular demigods. He
was the strongest and lived the longest. He was the mythological Superman
to the Ancients. The Cyclops were a menace in many myths and Hercules slew
many. The Cyclops, as a race, were around during the battle of the Titans.
The Titans were huge, odd, creatures created by Gaea and Neptune. Chronos
was a Titan. Though the Titans aren’t mentioned much in the most popular myths,
there were hundreds of them who were kept pent up inside the mountains. There
were many gods and godlike creatures.
The Ancient Greek myths had explanation
of nature in mind but also the spread of a moral law. The first Greek myth
dealt with the creation of the universe. It starts out with an explanation
of how the universe was. “In the beginning there was chaos….” It then talks
about how Gaea was born of nothing and she created the heavens, Uranus. She
and Uranus then created everything else. However, Uranus was an evil father
and she and Chronos plotted against him. Chronos took a sickle made of flint
and castrated his father. His father fled away in shame. The genitals fell
into the sea and from their blood came the giants, and from the foam against
the genitals was born Aphrodite. However, as Neptune fled, he said that Chronos
would be dethroned by his son and that crime begets crime. Chronos married
his sister and started to have children. As they were born, Chronos swallowed
his children one by one. Rhea, his wife, finally grew tired of having fruitless
children. When she gave birth to Zeus, she
stole him away and gave him to
some shepherds to raise. They raised him and, in return, she would keep their
sheep safe. She wrapped up a stone to look like a baby and Zeus swallowed
the stone whole. After a few years, Rhea became lonely and brought Zeus back
to be the cupbearer of Chronos.Then, Rhea and Zeus plotted against Chronos
and Zeus slipped a regurgitory mixture into Zeus’s cup. Zeus vomited up his
previous children and they sided with Zeus. They waged a huge war and Zeus’s
army of gods and Titans won the battle. From then on, Zeus was the undisputed
ruler of the gods. This myth shows how evil begets evil along with how the
universe was created.
Prometheus created man and all other animals.
He gave all the animals different gifts and the ability to heal themselves.
He gave so many gifts to the animals that he had nothing to give to man.
Prometheus decided to allow the man to walk upright like the gods and stole
fire from Mount Olympus. However, Zeus was angry with Prometheus for stealing
the fire and giving it to man. Zeus had Prometheus chained up atop a mountain
to have his intestines be picked by vultures. Zeus stripped Prometheus of
his ability to heal himself and gave that gift to men. And since then, men
have been able to heal themselves and have had fire to protect them.
The horse was not created along with the rest of creation, according to Greek
myths. Poseidon was the ruler of the seas. He chose the sea after his father
was dethroned because it contained many unventured adventures. While he was
in the sea, he married a Nereid and his son was Achilles. Poseidon made many
creatures to scare little Nereids. However, his wife asked him to make her
something beautiful and he created the dolphin. Poseidon wanted land to become
his kingdom se he began to sink Athens but Athene interfered. There was almost
war but Zeus and Hermes were able to settle the fight and Athene got Athens.
This anger of Poseidon toward the Athenians causes all their naval battles
to fight poorly. Poseidon sought a new wife and chose Demeter. She would
have him only if he could make the most beautiful land animal ever seen. Poseidon
took many days and created many animals close to his goal but not close enough.
Finally, he created the horse and gave it to Demeter. She thought he would
ever create something so beautiful and would then not have to marry him.
However, she married him and rode on the horse all day long. However, in
the process of making the horse, he had made other animals such as the camel
and mule. He did not destroy the misfits but set them aside. They found their
way back into this world and are the horselike animals we know of today. This
myth explains the creation of the horse and other horselike animals.
The gods control the seasons as we know them today in this Greek myth. Hades
was on the surface of the earth on business when Eros shot him with an arrow.
Hades fell in love with Persephone and stole her away into the Underworld.
Demeter, Persephone’s mother, searched for her daughter and when she could
not find her, froze the earth. Zeus didn’t want the earth to wither and die
so he sent Hermes to fix the situation. Since Persephone ate part of a pomegranate,
she would stay with Hades part of the year and live on the world the rest of
the year. All the time she would be gone, Demeter would weep and snow would
fall. Fall is caused by her anticipation of her daughter leaving. This myth
demonstrates the power of the gods, the power of love, and how fall and winter
The Greek gods and myths were a vital part to the ancient Greeks.
The myths do explain nature and set up an orderly manner in which people should
act. The myths, however, use gods to explain nature in order to substitute
for pure logic. All the myths have meanings or explanations in which all the
ancient questions are answered. The Greek myths were vital to Grecian society.