Definition of Ancient Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is defined specifically as the narration of mythical stories created by the ancient Greeks and concerning the gods of Olympus and the heroes, the nature of the world and the ritual practices of their worship.

Modern scholars refer to myths and study them to understand their symbolism, the religious and political institutions of the ancient Greeks and ancient Greek culture in general. The chronologically later Greek myths are included in the field of folklore and do not concern mythology in the narrow sense of the term.

Greek mythology consists of a rich collection of stories that refer to the origin of the world and narrate the life and adventures of a wide variety of gods, heroes, heroines and other mythological creatures. These stories were originally formed through the oral and poetic tradition, before being disseminated in writing through the works of Greek literature.

The oldest known literary sources are the two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer (8th century BC), which are dedicated to the events of the Trojan War and the adventures of Odysseus that followed. The poetic works of Hesiod (8th century BC), the Theogony and the Works and Days, which refer to the ancient Greek conception of the creation of the world, the succession of the divine rulers, the succession, are also considered to be an extremely valuable source of information. of human times, the origins of human drama and sacrificial practices.

Various myths have also been preserved from Homeric hymns, parts of poems of the epic cycle, lyric poems, works of tragedy of the 5th century BC, writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic period and texts by writers of Roman times, such as Plutarch and of Pausanias.

Zeus, transformed into a swan, seduces Leda, the queen of Sparta
The monumental elements in Mycenae and Minoan Crete helped to solve many questions arising from the Homeric epics and provided archaeological evidence for many of the mythological details concerning the gods and heroes. Greek mythology was also depicted on handicrafts.

The pottery of the 8th century BC depicts scenes from the Trojan cycle, as well as the adventures of Hercules. In the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes complement the existing literary elements.