Greek Mythology is the set of stories, legends and myths that belonged to the imagination of the civilization of Ancient Greece , populated by gods, legendary heroes and fantastic creatures. Related to religion, Greek mythology presented, in addition to the worshiped gods, explanations for fundamental themes, such as the emergence of the Universe and life. Greek mythology summary
Greek mythology is believed to have emerged around the 8th century BC, being based mainly on the telling of fantastic stories described in a series of narratives recorded mainly by Hesiod and Homer (Greek poets).
The Greek myths would have originated from the unification of a series of ancient stories and mythologies, especially those of Doric and Mycenaean origin.
The ancient Greeks were polytheistic , meaning they believed in the existence of many gods. In fact, the Greek deities are one of the most striking features of this mythology. Greek mythology summary
Greek mythology is very rich in supernatural characters and creatures, which represent inherent characteristics of the human personality and the forces of nature. Some of the main Greek mythological beings are:
- Gods: entities of superior power and immortal, but endowed with different characteristics typical of human beings, such as jealousy, envy, sexual desire, among others.
- Nymphs: they are predominantly female beings that inhabited the fields. They were famous for their beauty and joy.
- Heroes: Most of the heroes present in Greek mythology are “demigods”, that is, children of gods with human beings. Unlike the gods, heroes are mortal and star in most narratives about Ancient Greece.
- Centaurs: Legendary creatures that live in the forests, known to be half human and half horse.
- Medusa: a sorceress with snakes for hair. Legends say that if one looks directly at a jellyfish, he is transformed into a stone statue. Greek mythology summary
- Mermaids: Sea creatures, known to be half woman and half fish. Legends about mermaids tell of the magical song that lured sailors to the sea.
- Minotaurs: Fierce creatures that had the body of a man and the head of a bull. The legend of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth is one of the most popular stories about this mythological being.
There are several other fantastic beings that fill many legends and traditional stories of Greek mythology.
There are several gods and goddesses in Greek mythology, however, the most powerful were those who supposedly inhabited the region of Mount Olympus and, for this reason, they were known as the Olympian Gods .
There are 12 Olympic gods:
- Zeus: god of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus (abode of the superior gods). He is also considered the god of rain, sky and storms. Greek mythology summary
- Hera: goddess of marriage, childbirth and the family. She is the mate of Zeus and queen of Olympus.
- Aphrodite: goddess of love, beauty and sex. Considered the most beautiful goddess of all.
- Apollo: god of the sun and light, but he was also contemplated as the god of music and poetry. Known for driving a chariot that carries the sun.
- Athena: Goddess of Wisdom. Daughter of Zeus and Metia (his first mate).
- Ares: god of war. Son of Zeus and Hera.
- Poseidon: god of the oceans and seas. Older brother of Zeus and Hades.
- Hephaestus: god of fire and the forge. Considered the “architect of Olympus” and responsible for volcanic eruptions. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, but was abandoned by his mother because he was born too weak and ugly.
- Artemis: Goddess of hunting, wildlife and moonlit nights. She is also considered the protective goddess of animals.
- Hestia: Goddess of Fire. Daughter of Rhea and Kronos.
- Hermes: messenger of the gods, protector of travelers and traders. He is the son of Zeus and Maia, daughter of Atlas.
- Demeter: Goddess of plants, seasons and cultivated land. She is the daughter of Kronos and Rhea.
In some texts, Dionysus (god of wine, feasting and pleasure) also appears as an official member of the pantheon, replacing the goddess Hestia. Greek mythology summary
Hades , the god of the underworld and hell, is also considered one of the main gods in Greek mythology, however he does not have a guaranteed place on Mount Olympus, as he spends most of his time in the world of the dead.
And, according to the legends and stories that make up Greek mythology, there were still other lesser deities who were servants or descendants of the supreme gods. Among them are: Themis (goddess of laws), Eros (god of love), Eos (god of the dawn), Pan (god of wild nature), Dione (goddess of nymphs), Nemesis (goddess of revenge), Nice (goddess of victory), Hecate (goddess of magic, witchcraft and spells), among others.
Some of the main Greek heroes who star in the most famous legends and stories of mythology are:
Known for having defeated the minotaur in the labyrinth created by King Minos in Crete. With the victory, Athens began to get rid of the cruel impositions made by Minos (offering 14 young Athenians annually – 7 boys and 7 girls – to be devoured by the minotaur). Greek mythology summary
Protagonist of the story that narrates the hero’s adventure in the company of the Argonauts in search of the “golden fleece”. In the narrative, Jason and his companions have to face various monsters and mythological beings, in addition to the wrath of some gods.
He was known for having defeated the Chimera – a hybrid mystical creature – and dominated the legendary Pegasus, thanks to the golden rein offered by the goddess Athena, as a symbol of gratitude for having destroyed the Chimera.
Perseus managed to defeat Medusa, cutting off her head and preventing her from turning into a stone statue.
Popularly known as Hercules (a name given in Roman mythology), this demigod (son of Zeus) is known for the story of his 12 impossible labors. Greek mythology summary
- Kill the Nemean lion;
- Kill the Lerna hydra, a nine-headed creature;
- Capture the Crinean doe;
- Capture the Erymanthian Boar;
- Cleaning King Augeas’ stables (where more than three thousand animals lived);
- Kill the birds of prey of Lake Stymphalia;
- Capture the Cretan bull;
- Capture the wild horses of Diomedes;
- Take Hippolyta’s Belt (Queen of the Amazons);
- Capture Geryon’s oxen;
- Take the golden apples of the Hesperides;
- Defeat Cerberus, the guard of hell.
Greek Mythology and Roman Mythology
Most of the legends and deities of Roman mythology are based on Greek mythology, with only changing the name of the gods, for example. But the Romans were also influenced by the beliefs of the Etruscans, as well as syncretisms with Egyptian and Phoenician mythology, among others. Greek mythology summary
Below are the main gods of Roman mythology and their counterparts in Greek mythology:
- Jupiter (Zeus) – god of the gods, the sky and the Universe;
- Juno (Hera) – goddess of the gods and life force;
- Neptune (Poseidon) – god of the seas and oceans;
- Vesta (Hestia) – goddess of fire;
- Ceres (Demeter) – goddess of agriculture;
- Phoebus (Apollo) – god of music and poetry;
- Mars (Ares) – god of weapons, war and virility;
- Diana (Artemis) – goddess of hunting and wild animals;
- Mercury (Hermes) – god of commerce and eloquence;
- Pluto (Hades) – god of the underworld and the dead;
- Minerva (Athena) – goddess of wisdom;
- Venus (Aphrodite) – goddess of beauty and love;
- Bacchus (Dionysus) – god of parties, pleasure and wine. Greek mythology summary