Greek MythologyThe ancient Greeks used stories containing God’s to explain the way lifewas. Often times there were lessons to be learned that described human behavior.
To the Greeks the myths were looked at as examples of good and bad behavior andits effects. they worshipped the Gods and tried not to offend them in any way. The story of creation is a prime example of how the Greeks viewed the heavensand the earth. Zeus was the king of the sky, earth, and men. Zeus’ son Apollourged all Greeks to follow these words: “Nothing in excess” and “Know yourlimitations. ” These are words that even humans today should take to heart.
TheGreeks believed in manlike deities as well, whom were capable of spite,favoritism, and jealousy. The only difference being their ability to performsupernatural powers and immortality. The creation of the world according to the Greeks goes as follows:In the beginning there was only chaos. Out of this void appeared Erebus,the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night (Nyx). All else was empty,silent, endless, darkness.
Upon the birth of Love(Eros) brought a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea appeared. Gaea was the Earth goddess.
Erebus then slept with Night, producing Aether andDay. Aether was the heavenly light and Day was the light of the Earth. Nightsolely produced Death, Doom, Dreams, Fate, Nemesis, Sleep, among others thatcome to man out of the darkness. Meanwhile Gaea gave birth to Uranus. Uranuswas the sky god and first ruler who later became married to his creator, Gaea.
Together they proceeded to have the three Cyclopes, the three Hecatoncheires,and twelve Titans. However, Uranus was a bad father and husband. He disliked theHecatoncheires and expressed his hatred by imprisoning them into the hiddenplaces of the earth, Gaea’s womb. This angered Gaea and she plotted againstUranus. She tried to get her children to attack Uranus.
All were too afraidexcept, the youngest Titan, Cronus. Gaea and Cronus set up an ambush of Uranusas he lay with Gaea at night. Cronus grabbed his father and castrated him, witha sharp object, throwing the severed genitals into the ocean. After this Uranuseither died, withdrew from the earth, or exiled himself to Italy.
As he departedhe promised that. Cronus and the Titans would be punished. From his spilt bloodcame the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinyes. From the sea foam wherehis genitals fell came Aphrodite. She arose from the sea and walked to theshore in Cyprus.
She was the goddess of love, desire, and beauty. Along withher natural gifts she was able to compel whomever she desired with the use of amagica l girdle. After the absence of Uranus,Cronus became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and theHecatoncheires in Tartarus and married his sister Rhea.
Together the Titans hadmany offspring while Cronus ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus bothhad prophesied that he would be overthrown by a son. To avoid this Cronusswallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at thetreatment of the children and plotted against Cronus. When it came time to givebirth to her sixth child, Rhea hid herself, then she left the child to be raisedby nymphs. To conceal her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloths and passedit off as the baby to Cronus, who swallowed it.
The surviving child was Zeus. He was the lord of the sky and the raingod. His weapon was a thunderbolt which he threw at those who upset him, oftenpunishing those that lie or break oaths. He grew into a handsome youth onCrete.
He consulted Metis on how to defeat Cronus. She prepared a drink forCronus design to make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Cronus toaccept his son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as Cronus’scupbearer. This gave Zeus the opportunity to slip Cronus the specially prepareddrink. This worked as planned and the other five children were vomited up.
Beinggods they were unharmed. They were thankful to Zeus and made him their leader. Metis presided over all wisdom and knowledge. However, she was seduced by Zeusand became pregnant with Athena. Zeus became concerned over prophecies that hersecond child would replace him.
Out of this fear Zeus ate her. It is said thatshe is still the source of wisdom for Zeus. Cronus was yet to be defeated. He and the Titans, except Prometheus,Epimetheus, and Oceanus, fought to retain their power.
Since Cronus was old ofage, Atlas became their leader in battle and it looked for some time as thoughthey would win and put the young gods down. However, Zeus was cunning. He wentdown to Tartarus and freed the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Prometheusjoined Zeus as well. He returned to battle with his new allies.
The Cyclopesprovided Zeus with lighting bolts for weapons. The Hecatoncheires he set inambush armed with boulders. With the time right, Zeus retreated drawing theTitans into the Hecatoncheires’s ambush. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundredsof boulders with such a fury the Titans thought the mountains were falling onthem.
They broke and ran giving Zeus victory. Zeus exiled the Titans who had fought against him into Tartarus. Exceptfor Atlas, who was singled out for the special punishment of holding the worldon his shoulders. However, even after this victory Zeus was not safe. Gaeaangry that her children had been imprisoned gave birth to a last offspring,Typhoeus. Typhoeus was so fearsome that most of the gods fled.
However, Zeusfaced the monster and flinging his lighting bolts was able to kill it. Typhoeuswas buried under Mount Etna in Sicily. Much later a final challenge to Zeusrule was made by the Giants. They went so far as to attempt to invade MountOlympus, piling mountain upon mountain in an effort to reach the top. But, thegods had grown strong and with the help of Heracles the Giants were subdued orkilled.
The Gods and the stories of their being were important to the Greeks. To us these ideas are unheard of, but to the Greeks this was their way of life. In 2000 years from now our ideas may be unrealistic also. The creation storyallows us to see how they viewed they world and those in it.