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Myths of Ancient Greek Mythology

THE MOST POPULAR GREEK MYTHS

People, young and old, always loved telling the stories of Greek mythology. They told them long before they were able to grasp the script, and since then, they have never stopped telling them.
In the cold countries of the north, they tell the stories, near the fireplace. But in the south and warm countries that do not know winter, they say them in the countryside, during the long warm nights.

From an island to an island, to the Aegean, to the Ionian, passed the fable tellers, following the winding trails on the mountain slopes of Crete and the Peloponnese.
They traverse as far as Asia and the Black Sea coasts. Eagerly welcomed in the villages. There is no feast at the fairs without their voice being heard.
There is a place for them even in the races, where young people compete in power, stumble, throw the javelin, stretch the bow, or walk by riding chariots.

When everyone is sweating from the summer heat and the cloud rises from the hooves of the horses and the runners and the larynx is all dried, then the rasps rise. And they start to say some old legend, accompanying their words with the lyre chords. So they have been passed down the years. Eather peacefully or with violence the kings came and went in city states who are dead today. Tiryns, Mycenae, ancient Argos, Iolkos, Sparta and so many others.

In those times, everything was a useful material for fiction writers: the wars and the misfortunes in the families of the strong ones, the states that were destroyed or fled, all gave them the opportunity to create their stories. Nothing, in any place, was inexplicable from a legend, both the shape of a rock and the tradition in a sacrifice. Hearing them there was no mystery left anymore, even in the sky.

ABOUT THE GREEK MYTHOLOGY

The Greek Mythology is an amazing collection from wonderful myths. Almost every Greek child will grow up with those famous stories. Among the most famous are the Epic poems of Homer, the Iliad, the story the Trojan war and the Odyssey who tells about the journeys of Odysseus after the end of the Trojan war. The Epics of Homer have kept alive the Greek Spirit alive for more than 3000 years. Great Alexander’s favourite book was the Iliad, but most of the Greeks have been grown up with those stories since then .The famous fables of Aesop was the first fables that had always a teaching meaning. Many fairy tale writers used the fables of Aesop as a base like the famous La Fontaine.

The story of Perseus has inspired also many fiction books and films with the adventures of Perseus in his quest to kill the Medusa in order to liberate Andromeda. In many Greek myths you will find as main heroes 2 persons like the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. There are myths and stories for almost every God of the Greek Pantheon. The mythology of the Greek gods is what made the Ancient Greek culture and civilisation so much different then any other civilisation of this time. The Ancient Greeks show their gods as humans with human feelings and passions. Their difference from the humans was the immortality and their power but they where personalised as humans and not as animals or nature creatures.

The apple of Eris

Zeus learned from Prometheus, after his liberation from Heracles, that like Cronus‘ father, he too would be dethroned by one of his sons. His fear was that a son of the sea deity Thetis, whom Zeus fell in love with, would become more important than his father. For one of these reasons, Thetis married the elderly mortal King Peleus, son of Aeacus, at the urging of Zeus. All the gods were invited to the wedding, and brought gifts except the Dispute, which by order of Zeus was not allowed to approach, because it always caused discord and upset. Infected, Eris threw a golden apple (the apple of contention) towards the wedding venue, which read: to the most beautiful. The apple was claimed by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.

Their quarrel was very intense and no other god was in danger of expressing an opinion in support of any of the three, because it would provoke the wrath of the other two. Finally, Jupiter ordered Hermes to lead the goddesses to Paris, the prince of Troy. Paris then lived as a shepherd on Mount Ida and did not know of his royal descent, because his family had abandoned him as an infant, due to an oracle that he said would cause the destruction of the city.

The goddesses appeared before him and because he was not able to choose, they offered him gifts in case he chose each one: Athena offered him wisdom and dexterity in battle, Hera gave him leadership skills to rule Asia and Europe, while Aphrodite offered him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, the beautiful Helen, queen of Sparta.
Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite. He later returned to Troy where his family recognized Helen as a member therefore her name became Helen of Troy.

The Trojan Horse

trojan-horseAthena advised Odysseus to commission Epius to build a huge wooden horse. This horse went down in history as the Trojan Horse. And indeed, Epios, using timber from the neighboring mountain Ida, managed to build a huge wooden horse with hidden openings on the right and left.

The Achaeans carve on the Trojan Horse the inscription “Danai Athena charistirion” that is “Dedicated to Athena by the Greeks”, for their return to their homeland and then enter the most courageous of the Achaean heroes, Odysseus, Dio Menelaus, Ajax , Neoptolemus, Teukros, Idomeneus, Mirionis and of course Epios, who knows how to open the hidden openings. Once the Trojan Horse is completed, the others set fire to their tents, drag their ships into the sea, board them, and sail for Tenedos, at a point not seen by Troy. They leave behind only one of Odysseus’ relatives, Sinon, who with his acting skills will try the next day to deceive the Trojans.

The next morning, the Trojans discover that the enemy camp has been abandoned. In their excitement they believed that the ten-year war was over and considered that they had to move the Trojan Horse inside the city. Sinon helped them in this decision, who told them a false story according to which he himself suffered at the hands of the Achaeans, who were forced to leave because they fell out of favor with the goddess Athena.

Some individual Trojans thought it was cursed and had to throw it off the cliff or burn it. Cassandra and Laocoon warned that it would only bring disaster to the city. Laocoon shouted “Fear the Danes and bring gifts”, that is, fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts. But Cassandra, while she had the insight, from Apollo to be able to predict events, she also had the curse of Athena, not to be able to convince anyone.

Laocoon and his two sons were attacked by huge sea snakes which drowned them in the sea. Aeneas and his followers, believing these predictions, withdrew to Mount Ida. The Trojans finally, full of enthusiasm, decided to carry the Trojan Horse inside the walls. In fact, because it was quite a large construction, they had to demolish part of the main gate of the city, the “shadow gates”. Shortly afterwards, they took to the streets of the city to celebrate the successful outcome of the war.

Pandora’s box

pandoraPandora, the first woman on Earth, was created by an act of revenge. Zeus, the king of heaven and the gods, was angry with Titan Prometheus for offering fire to humans. Zeus ordered the god Hephaestus to create Pandora to avenge Prometheus.

Pandora was placed in an idyllic version of Earth and Jupiter gave her a box that she told never to open. Pandora could not resist the temptation and opened the box, freeing a multitude of wounds in the world, such as sickness, old age and death.

Perseus and Andromeda

perseus-andromedaPerseus is one of the leading heroes of Greek mythology, best known for the murder of Medusa and Cetus, the sea monster guarding Princess Andromeda. Queen Cassiopeia, who ruled a mythical version of Ethiopia with her husband, boasted that she and her daughter Andromeda were as beautiful as the Nereids or sea nymphs.

This remark offended Poseidon, the god of the sea, and in an act of revenge against Cassiopeia, set Keto free in the kingdom. After consulting an oracle, Andromeda’s father, King Kipheus, in order to save the kingdom from Ketos, tied Andromeda to a rock on the shore, sacrificing it to the god Poseidon. So Perseus killed Ketus and made Andromeda his wife.

Minotaur

MinotaurThe Minotaur was a semi-human monster born to Queen Pasiphae of Crete. Half man, half bull. Daedalus, King Minos’ award-winning inventor, created a maze (Labyrinth) to hide the beast.
But Minotaur and King Minos required the payment of seven young men and seven virgins from Athens. The Greek hero Theseus eventually killed the Minotaur, but the mythical creature and his symbolism of forbidden desire, lust and greed live on.

Icarus

In addition to trapping the Minotaur in his labyrinth, Daedalus is also known for the tragic death of his son Icarus, who has inspired countless songs, poems and works of art. In order to escape from Crete, Daedalus created wings for himself and his son Icarus.

Despite his father’s warnings, Icarus flew very close to the sun and the wax that held his wings together melted, causing them to be cut and he to fall into the sea and drown. His story is often told as a warning, displaying the trap of excessive pride and ambition.

Leda and the Swan

ledaLeda and the Swan is perhaps one of the most enigmatic stories in Greek mythology for the modern reader. It is also one of the most important myths that resonates in the centuries of art history.

In the myth, Zeus takes the form of a swan to flirt with Leda, the Queen of Sparta, resulting in the birth of Helen. The story becomes even more frightening if we consider that Eleni became the occasion for the Trojan War.
The image of the woman and the bird, as well as the destruction it would bring, have been inspired various artists over the years.

The myth of King Midas and golden touch

king midasΚing Midas once, asked the gods of Olympus to gain power so that what he caught would become gold.
The gods listened to his desire and gave him this magical power.
Midas gained great strength from this ability. Knew knew that no one else could ever be richer. But when he was hungry and sat at the table, he realized that he could not eat because what he touched turned to gold: the meat, the spoon, the grape. At that moment, his daughter came in to greet him and by touching her, she became a golden statue.

Midas, regretting his decision but also realizing his tragic mistakes, asked Dionysus to take back this ability and he would change. He shared his goods with the world. Dionysus felt sorry for him and told him to touch the river Paktolos and his power would cross the river. So it happened. Midas, having lost his daughter for good, kept his word and became the fairest and most generous king the world has ever known.

The story of Achilles

achilesAchilles became a hero of the Trojan War, when he led the Greeks to a ten-year siege of Troy. One of his most notable achievements is the assassination of Hector to avenge the death of Patroclus’s alleged lover.

Achilles eventually falls victim to the prophecy that he will die in Troy. In most versions the god Apollo guides the arrow of Paris and strikes Achilles in the heel, his only vulnerable point. His story is central to Homer’s Iliad, along with other elements such as habits, heroism and deep human tragedy that have kept his story alive to this day.