Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It was a part of the religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to and study the myths in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself. Sony PCG-31211T Battery
Greek mythology is explicitly embodied in a large collection of narratives, and implicitly in Greek representational arts, such asvase-paintings and votive gifts. Greek myth attempts to explain the origins of the world, and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, and mythological creatures. Sony PCG-31311T Battery
These accounts initially were disseminated in anoral-poetic tradition; today the Greek myths are known primarily from Greek literature.
The oldest known Greek literary sources, Homer's epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus on the Trojan War and its aftermath. Sony PCG-51111T Battery
Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, Sony PCG-81111T Battery
in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of thetragedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of theRoman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology, with gods and heroes featured prominently in the decoration of many artifacts. Sony PCG-81311T Battery
Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Sony VPCF138FC Battery
Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Sony VPCF219FC Battery
Greek mythology is known today primarily from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900–800 BC onward. In fact, literary and archaeological sources intergrade, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict; however, in many cases, the existence of this corpus of data is a strong indication that many elements of Greek mythology have strong factual and historical roots. Sony VPCS135EC Battery
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. Nevertheless, the only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was, the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus. This work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Sony VPCS136EC Battery
Apollodorus of Athens lived from c. 180–125 BC and wrote on many of these topics. His writings may have formed the basis for the collection; however the "Library" discusses events that occurred long after his death, hence the name Pseudo-Apollodorus.
Among the earliest literary sources are Homer's two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Sony VPCS138EC Battery
Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these later and lesser poems now are lost almost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer. They are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, Sony VPCS139GC Battery
offers in his Theogony (Origin of the Gods) the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world; the origin of the gods, Titans, and Giants; as well as elaborate genealogies, folktales, and etiological myths. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life, also includes the myths of Prometheus, Pandora, and the Five Ages. Sony VPCYA15EC Battery
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods.
Lyrical poets often took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became gradually less narrative and more allusive. Sony VPCYA16EC Battery
Greek lyric poets including Pindar, Bacchylides, Simonides and bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama. The tragic playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripidestook most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Sony VPCYA25EC Battery
Many of the great tragic stories (e.g. Agamemnon and his children, Oedipus, Jason, Medea, etc.) took on their classic form in these tragedies. The comic playwright Aristophanes also used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs.
Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, and geographers Pausanias and Strabo, Sony VPCYA26EC Battery
who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends, often giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East. Sony VPCYB15JC Battery
Herodotus attempted to reconcile origins and the blending of differing cultural concepts.
The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was primarily composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise. Nevertheless, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: Sony VPCYA17GH/R Battery
- The Roman poets Ovid, Statius, Valerius Flaccus, Seneca,Homer and Virgil with Servius's commentary.
- The Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, and Quintus Smyrnaeus.
The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, and Parthenius. Sony VPCCW2S8E/W Battery
- The ancient novels of Greeks and Romans such as Apuleius, Petronius, Lollianus, and Heliodorus.
The Fabulae and Astronomica of the Roman writer styled as Pseudo-Hyginus are two important, non-poetical compendiums of myth. TheImagines of Philostratus the Elder and Philostratus the Younger and the Descriptions of Callistratus, are two other useful sources that were drawn upon for themes. Sony VPCCW2Z1E/B Battery
Finally, Arnobius and a number of Byzantine Greek writers provide important details of myth, much derived from earlier now lost Greek works. These preservers of myth include a lexicon of Hesychius, the Suda, and the treatises of John Tzetzes and Eustathius. The Christian moralizing view of Greek myth is encapsulated in the saying, Sony VPCY11S1E Battery
ἐν παντὶ μύθῳ καὶ τὸ Δαιδάλου μύσος / en panti muthōi kai to Daidalou musos ("In every myth there is also the defilement of Daidalos"). In this fashion, the encyclopedic Sudas reported the role of Daedalus in satisfying the "unnatural lust" of Pasiphaë for the bull of Poseidon: "Since the origin and blame for these evils were attributed to Daidalos and he was loathed for them, he became the subject of the proverb." Sony VPCY11S1E/S Battery
The discovery of the Mycenaean civilization by the German amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, in the nineteenth century, and the discovery of the Minoan civilization in Crete by British archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, in the twentieth century, helped to explain many existing questions about Sony VPCW1 Battery
Homer's epics and provided archaeological evidence for many of the mythological details about gods and heroes. Unfortunately, the evidence about myth and ritual at Mycenaean and Minoan sites is entirely monumental, as the Linear B script (an ancient form of Greek found in both Crete and Greece) was used mainly to record inventories, although the names of gods and heroes doubtfully have been revealed. Sony VPCW1E8R/BU Battery
Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle, as well as the adventures of Heracles. These visual representations of myths are important for two reasons. For one, many Greek myths are attested on vases earlier than in literary sources: Sony VPCY11AGJ Battery
of the twelve labors of Heracles, for example, only the Cerberus adventure occurs in a contemporary literary text. In addition, visual sources sometimes represent myths or mythical scenes that are not attested in any extant literary source. In some cases, the first known representation of a myth in geometric art predates its first known representation in late archaic poetry, by several centuries.Sony VPCY11AHJ Battery
In the Archaic (c. 750–c. 500 BC), Classical (c. 480–323 BC), and Hellenistic (323–146 BC) periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence.
Greek mythology has changed over time to accommodate the evolution of their culture, Sony VPCY11AVJ Battery
of which mythology, both overtly and in its unspoken assumptions, is an index of the changes. In Greek mythology's surviving literary forms, as found mostly at the end of the progressive changes, is inherently political, as Gilbert Cuthbertson has urged.
The earlier inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula were an agricultural people who, using Animism, Sony VPCY11M1E Battery
assigned a spirit to every aspect of nature. Eventually, these vague spirits assumed human forms and entered the local mythology as gods. When tribes from the north of the Balkan Peninsula invaded, they brought with them a new pantheon of gods, based on conquest, force, prowess in battle, and violent heroism. Sony VPCY11S1E Battery
Other older gods of the agricultural world fused with those of the more powerful invaders or else faded into insignificance.
After the middle of the Archaic period, myths about relationships between male gods and male heroes became more and more frequent, indicating the parallel development of pedagogic pederasty (eros paidikos, παιδικὸς ἔρως), Sony VPCY11V9E Battery
thought to have been introduced around 630 BC. By the end of the fifth century BC, poets had assigned at least one eromenos, an adolescent boy who was their sexual companion, to every important god except Ares and to many legendary figures.Previously existing myths, such as those of Achilles and Patroclus, also then were cast in a pederastic light. Sony VPCY11V9E/S Battery
Alexandrian poets at first, then more generally literary mythographers in the early Roman Empire, often readapted stories of Greek mythological characters in this fashion.
The achievement of epic poetry was to create story-cycles and, as a result, to develop a new sense of mythological chronology. Sony VPCY219FJ/S Battery
Thus Greek mythology unfolds as a phase in the development of the world and of humans. While self-contradictions in these stories make an absolute timeline impossible, an approximate chronology may be discerned. The resulting mythological "history of the world" may be divided into three or four broader periods: Sony VPCY21AFJ Battery
- The myths of origin or age of gods (Theogonies, "births of gods"): myths about the origins of the world, the gods, and the human race.
The age when gods and mortals mingled freely: stories of the early interactions between gods, demigods, and mortals. Sony VPCY21AGJ Battery
- The age of heroes (heroic age), where divine activity was more limited. The last and greatest of the heroic legends is the story of the Trojan War and after (which is regarded by some researchers as a separate fourth period).
While the age of gods often has been of more interest to contemporary students of myth, Sony VPCY21AHJ Battery
the Greek authors of the archaic and classical eras had a clear preference for the age of heroes, establishing a chronology and record of human accomplishments after the questions of how the world came into being were explained. For example, the heroic Iliad and Odyssey dwarfed the divine-focused Theogony and Homeric Hymns in both size and popularity. Sony VPCY21AVJ Battery
Under the influence of Homer the "hero cult" leads to a restructuring in spiritual life, expressed in the separation of the realm of the gods from the realm of the dead (heroes), of the Chthonic from the Olympian. In the Works and Days, Hesiod makes use of a scheme of Four Ages of Man (or Races): Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. Sony VPCY21S1E/L Battery
These races or ages are separate creations of the gods, the Golden Age belonging to the reign of Cronos, the subsequent races the creation of Zeus. The poet regards it as the worst; the presence of evil was explained by the myth of Pandora, when all of the best of human capabilities, save hope, had been spilled out of her overturned jar. Sony VPCY21S1E/P Battery
In Metamorphoses, Ovid follows Hesiod's concept of the four ages.
"Myths of origin" or "creation myths" represent an attempt to render the universe comprehensible in human terms and explain the origin of the world. The most widely accepted version at the time, although a philosophical account of the beginning of things, is reported by Hesiod, Sony VPCY21S1E/SI Battery
in his Theogony. He begins with Chaos, a yawning nothingness. Out of the void emerged Gaia (the Earth) and some other primary divine beings: Eros (Love), the Abyss (the Tartarus), and the Erebus. Without male assistance, Gaia gave birth to Uranus (the Sky) who then fertilized her. From that union were born first the Titans—six males: Sony VPCCW1E8R/WU Battery
Coeus, Crius, Cronus,Hyperion, Iapetus, and Oceanus; and six females: Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis, and Tethys. After Cronus was born, Gaia and Uranus decreed no more Titans were to be born. They were followed by the one-eyed Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires or Hundred-Handed Ones, who were both thrown into Tartarus by Uranus. Sony VPCCW1S1E Battery
This made Gaia furious. Cronus ("the wily, youngest and most terrible of Gaia'schildren"), was convinced by Gaia to castrate his father. He did this, and became the ruler of the Titans with his sister-wife Rhea as his consort, and the other Titans became his court.
A motif of father-against-son conflict was repeated when Cronus was confronted by his son, Zeus. Sony VPCCW1S1R Battery
Because Cronus had betrayed his father, he feared that his offspring would do the same, and so each time Rhea gave birth, he snatched up the child and ate it. Rhea hated this and tricked him by hiding Zeus and wrapping a stone in a baby's blanket, which Cronus ate. When Zeus was full grown, he fed Cronus a drugged drink which caused him to vomit, throwing up Rhea's other children and the stone, which had been sitting in Cronus's stomach all along. Zeus then challenged Cronus to war for the kingship of the gods. At last, with the help of the Cyclopes (whom Zeus freed from Tartarus), Zeus and his siblings were victorious, while Cronus and the Titans were hurled down to imprisonment in Tartarus.
Zeus was plagued by the same concern and, after a prophecy that the offspring of his first wife,Metis, would give birth to a god "greater than he"—Zeus swallowed her. She was already pregnant with Athena, however, and she burst forth from his head—fully-grown and dressed for war. Sony VPCCW1S1T Battery
The earliest Greek thought about poetry considered the theogonies to be the prototypical poetic genre—the prototypicalmythos—and imputed almost magical powers to it. Orpheus, the archetypal poet, also was the archetypal singer of theogonies, which he uses to calm seas and storms in Apollonius' Argonautica, and to move the stony hearts of the underworld gods in his descent to Hades. Sony VPCCW1S1T/R Battery
When Hermes invents the lyre in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the first thing he does is sing about the birth of the gods. Hesiod's Theogony is not only the fullest surviving account of the gods, but also the fullest surviving account of the archaic poet's function, with its long preliminary invocation to the Muses. Sony VPCCW1S1T/W Battery
Theogony also was the subject of many lost poems, including those attributed to Orpheus, Musaeus, Epimenides, Abaris, and other legendary seers, which were used in private ritual purifications and mystery-rites. There are indications that Plato was familiar with some version of the Orphic theogony. Sony VPCCW1Z4E Battery
A silence would have been expected about religious rites and beliefs, however, and that nature of the culture would not have been reported by members of the society while the beliefs were held. After they ceased to become religious beliefs, few would have known the rites and rituals. Allusions often existed, however, to aspects that were quite public. Sony VPCCW12EN/BU Battery
Images existed on pottery and religious artwork that were interpreted and more likely, misinterpreted in many diverse myths and tales. A few fragments of these works survive in quotations by Neoplatonist philosophers and recently unearthed papyrusscraps. One of these scraps, the Derveni Papyrus now proves that at least in the fifth century BC a theogonic-cosmogonic poem of Orpheus was in existence. Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery
The first philosophical cosmologists reacted against, or sometimes built upon, popular mythical conceptions that had existed in the Greek world for some time. Some of these popular conceptions can be gleaned from the poetry of Homer and Hesiod. In Homer, the Earth was viewed as a flat disk afloat on the river ofOceanus and overlooked by a hemispherical sky with sun, moon, and stars. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/B Battery
The Sun (Helios) traversed the heavens as a charioteer and sailed around the Earth in a golden bowl at night. Sun, earth, heaven, rivers, and winds could be addressed in prayers and called to witness oaths. Natural fissures were popularly regarded as entrances to the subterranean house of Hades and his predecessors, home of the dead. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/B Battery
Influences from other cultures always afforded new themes.
According to Classical-era mythology, after the overthrow of the Titans, the new pantheon of gods and goddesses was confirmed. Among the principal Greek gods were the Olympians, residing on Mount Olympus under the eye of Zeus. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13/S Battery
(The limitation of their number to twelve seems to have been a comparatively modern idea.) Besides the Olympians, the Greeks worshipped various gods of the countryside, the satyr-god Pan, Nymphs (spirits of rivers), Naiads (who dwelled in springs),Dryads (who were spirits of the trees), Nereids (who inhabited the sea), river gods, Satyrs, and others. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/S Battery
In addition, there were the dark powers of the underworld, such as the Erinyes (or Furies), said to pursue those guilty of crimes against blood-relatives. In order to honor the Ancient Greek pantheon, poets composed the Homeric Hymns (a group of thirty-three songs). Gregory Nagy regards "the larger Homeric Hymns as simple preludes (compared with Theogony), each of which invokes one god". Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/S Battery
In the wide variety of myths and legends that Greek mythology consists of, the gods that were native to the Greek peoples are described as having essentially corporeal but ideal bodies. According to Walter Burkert, the defining characteristic of Greek anthropomorphism is that "the Greek gods are persons, not abstractions, ideas or concepts". Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13/Q Battery
Regardless of their underlying forms, the Ancient Greek gods have many fantastic abilities; most significantly, the gods are not affected by disease, and can be wounded only under highly unusual circumstances. The Greeks considered immortality as the distinctive characteristic of their gods; this immortality, as well as unfading youth, was insured by the constant use of nectar and ambrosia, by which the divine blood was renewed in their veins. Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery
Each god descends from his or her own genealogy, pursues differing interests, has a certain area of expertise, and is governed by a unique personality; however, these descriptions arise from a multiplicity of archaic local variants, which do not always agree with one another. When these gods are called upon in poetry, prayer or cult, Sony VAIO VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery
they are referred to by a combination of their name and epithets, that identify them by these distinctions from other manifestations of themselves (e.g., Apollo Musagetes is "Apollo, [as] leader of the Muses"). Alternatively the epithet may identify a particular and localized aspect of the god, sometimes thought to be already ancient during the classical epoch of Greece. Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery
Most gods were associated with specific aspects of life. For example, Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, Ares was the god of war, Hades the ruler of the underworld, and Athena the goddess of wisdom and courage. Some gods, such as Apollo and Dionysus, revealed complex personalities and mixtures of functions, while others, Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery
such as Hestia (literally "hearth") and Helios (literally "sun"), were little more than personifications. The most impressive templestended to be dedicated to a limited number of gods, who were the focus of large pan-Hellenic cults. It was, however, common for individual regions and villages to devote their own cults to minor gods. Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery
Many cities also honored the more well-known gods with unusual local rites and associated strange myths with them that were unknown elsewhere. During the heroic age, the cult of heroes (or demi-gods) supplemented that of the gods. Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery
Bridging the age when gods lived alone and the age when divine interference in human affairs was limited was a transitional age in which gods and mortals moved together. These were the early days of the world when the groups mingled more freely than they did later. Sony VGP-BPS21A/b Battery
Most of these tales were later told by Ovid'sMetamorphoses and they are often divided into two thematic groups: tales of love, and tales of punishment.
Tales of love often involve incest, or the seduction or rape of a mortal woman by a male god, resulting in heroic offspring. Sony VGP-BPS26 Battery
The stories generally suggest that relationships between gods and mortals are something to avoid; even consenting relationships rarely have happy endings. In a few cases, a female divinity mates with a mortal man, as in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, where the goddess lies with Anchises to produce Aeneas. Sony VGP-BPL26 Battery
The second type (tales of punishment) involves the appropriation or invention of some important cultural artifact, as whenPrometheus steals fire from the gods, when Tantalus steals nectar and ambrosia from Zeus' table and gives it to his own subjects—revealing to them the secrets of the gods, when Prometheus or Lycaon invents sacrifice, Sony VGP-BPS26A Battery
when Demeter teachesagriculture and the Mysteries to Triptolemus, or when Marsyas invents the aulos and enters into a musical contest withApollo. Ian Morris considers Prometheus' adventures as "a place between the history of the gods and that of man". An anonymous papyrus fragment, Sony VGP-BPS22 Battery
dated to the third century, vividly portrays Dionysus' punishment of the king of Thrace,Lycurgus, whose recognition of the new god came too late, resulting in horrific penalties that extended into the afterlife. The story of the arrival of Dionysus to establish his cult in Thrace was also the subject of an Aeschylean trilogy. Sony VGP-BPL22 Battery
In another tragedy, Euripides' The Bacchae, the king of Thebes, Pentheus, is punished by Dionysus, because he disrespected the god and spied on his Maenads, the female worshippers of the god.
In another story, based on an old folktale-motif, and echoing a similar theme, Demeterwas searching for her daughter, Persephone, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, Sony VGP-BPS22A Battery
and received a hospitable welcome from Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make his son Demophon a god, but she was unable to complete the ritual because his motherMetanira walked in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter, who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual. Sony VAIO PCG-3B1M Battery
The age in which the heroes lived is known as the heroic age. The epic and genealogical poetry created cycles of stories clustered around particular heroes or events and established the family relationships between the heroes of different stories; they thus arranged the stories in sequence. According to Ken Dowden, "there is even a saga effect: We can follow the fates of some families in successive generations". Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M Battery
After the rise of the hero cult, gods and heroes constitute the sacral sphere and are invoked together in oaths and prayers which are addressed to them. In contrast to the age of gods, during the heroic age the roster of heroes is never given fixed and final form; great gods are no longer born, but new heroes can always be raised up from the army of the dead. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery
Another important difference between the hero cult and the cult of gods is that the hero becomes the centre of local group identity.
The monumental events of Heracles are regarded as the dawn of the age of heroes. To the Heroic Age are also ascribed three great events: the Argonauticexpedition, the Theban Cycle and the Trojan War. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery
Some scholars believe that behind Heracles' complicated mythology there was probably a real man, perhaps a chieftain-vassal of the kingdom of Argos. Some scholars suggest the story of Heracles is an allegory for the sun's yearly passage through the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery
Others point to earlier myths from other cultures, showing the story of Heracles as a local adaptation of hero myths already well established. Traditionally, Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, granddaughter ofPerseus. His fantastic solitary exploits, with their many folk-tale themes, provided much material for popular legend. Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery
He is portrayed as a sacrificier, mentioned as a founder of altars, and imagined as a voracious eater himself; it is in this role that he appears in comedy, while his tragic end provided much material for tragedy — Heracles is regarded by Thalia Papadopoulou as "a play of great significance in examination of other Euripidean dramas". Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery
In art and literature Heracles was represented as an enormously strong man of moderate height; his characteristic weapon was the bow but frequently also the club. Vase paintings demonstrate the unparalleled popularity of Heracles, his fight with the lion being depicted many hundreds of times. Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery
Heracles also entered Etruscan and Roman mythology and cult, and the exclamation "mehercule" became as familiar to the Romans as "Herakleis" was to the Greeks. In Italy he was worshipped as a god of merchants and traders, although others also prayed to him for his characteristic gifts of good luck or rescue from danger. Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery
eracles attained the highest social prestige through his appointment as official ancestor of the Dorian kings. This probably served as a legitimation for the Dorian migrations into the Peloponnese. Hyllus, the eponymous hero of one Dorian phyle, became the son of Heracles and one of the Heracleidae or Heraclids (the numerous descendants of Heracles, Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery
especially the descendants of Hyllus — other Heracleidae included Macaria, Lamos, Manto, Bianor, Tlepolemus, and Telephus). These Heraclids conquered the Peloponnesiankingdoms of Mycenae, Sparta and Argos, claiming, according to legend, a right to rule them through their ancestor. Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery
Their rise to dominance is frequently called the "Dorian invasion". The Lydian and later the Macedonian kings, as rulers of the same rank, also became Heracleidae.
Other members of this earliest generation of heroes, such as Perseus, Deucalion, Theseus and Bellerophon, have many traits in common with Heracles.
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Like him, their exploits are solitary, fantastic and border on fairy tale, as they slay monsters such as the Chimera and Medusa. Bellerophon's adventures are commonplace types, similar to the adventures of Heracles and Theseus. Sending a hero to his presumed death is also a recurrent theme of this early heroic tradition, used in the cases of Perseus and Bellerophon. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery
The only surviving Hellenistic epic, the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes (epic poet, scholar, and director of the Library of Alexandria) tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the mythical land of Colchis. In the Argonautica, Jason is impelled on his quest by king Pelias, who receives a prophecy that a man with one sandal would be his nemesis. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery
Jason loses a sandal in a river, arrives at the court of Pelias, and the epic is set in motion. Nearly every member of the next generation of heroes, as well as Heracles, went with Jason in the ship Argo to fetch the Golden Fleece. This generation also included Theseus, who went to Crete to slay the Minotaur; Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery
Atalanta, the female heroine,atlanta and Meleager, who once had an epic cycle of his own to rival the Iliad and Odyssey. Pindar, Apollonius and the Bibliotheca endeavor to give full lists of the Argonauts.
Although Apollonius wrote his poem in the 3rd century BC, the composition of the story of the Argonauts is earlier than Odyssey, Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery
which shows familiarity with the exploits of Jason (the wandering of Odysseus may have been partly founded on it). In ancient times the expedition was regarded as a historical fact, an incident in the opening up of the Black Sea to Greek commerce and colonization. It was also extremely popular, forming a cycle to which a number of local legends became attached. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M Battery
The story of Medea, in particular, caught the imagination of the tragic poets.
In between the Argo and the Trojan War, there was a generation known chiefly for its horrific crimes. This includes the doings of Atreus and Thyestes at Argos. Behind the myth of the house of Atreus (one of the two principal heroic dynasties with the house of Labdacus) Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M Battery
lies the problem of the devolution of power and of the mode of accession to sovereignty. The twins Atreus and Thyestes with their descendants played the leading role in the tragedy of the devolution of power in Mycenae.
The Theban Cycle deals with events associated especially with Cadmus, the city's founder, and later with the doings of Laius and Oedipus at Thebes; Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery
a series of stories that lead to the eventual pillage of that city at the hands of the Seven Against Thebes and Epigoni. (It is not known whether the Seven Against Thebes figured in early epic.) As far as Oedipus is concerned, early epic accounts seem to have him continuing to rule at Thebes after the revelation thatIokaste was his mother, Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery
and subsequently marrying a second wife who becomes the mother of his children — markedly different from the tale known to us through tragedy (e.g. Sophocles' Oedipus the King) and later mythological accounts.
Greek mythology culminates in the Trojan War, fought between the Greeks and Troy, and its aftermath. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M Battery
In Homer's works, such as the Iliad, the chief stories have already taken shape and substance, and individual themes were elaborated later, especially in Greek drama. The Trojan War also elicited great interest in the Roman culture because of the story of Aeneas, a Trojan hero whose journey from Troy led to the founding of the city that would one day become Rome, Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M Battery
as recounted in Virgil's Aeneid (Book II of Virgil's Aeneid contains the best-known account of the sack of Troy). Finally there are two pseudo-chronicles written in Latin that passed under the names of Dictys Cretensis and Dares Phrygius.
The Trojan War cycle, a collection of epic poems, starts with the events leading up to the war: Sony VAIO PCG-7171M Battery
Eris and the golden apple of Kallisti, the Judgement of Paris, the abduction of Helen, the sacrifice of Iphigeniaat Aulis. To recover Helen, the Greeks launched a great expedition under the overall command of Menelaus' brother, Agamemnon, king of Argos or Mycenae, but the Trojans refused to return Helen. Sony VAIO PCG-7186M Battery
The Iliad, which is set in the tenth year of the war, tells of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles, who was the finest Greek warrior, and the consequent deaths in battle of Achilles' beloved comrade Patroclus and Priam's eldest son, Hector. After Hector's death the Trojans were joined by two exotic allies, Sony VAIO PCG-81112M Battery
Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, and Memnon, king of the Ethiopians and son of the dawn-goddess Eos. Achilles killed both of these, but Paris then managed to kill Achilles with an arrow in the heel. Achilles' heel was the only part of his body which was not invulnerable to damage by human weaponry. Sony VAIO PCG-31111M Battery
Before they could take Troy, the Greeks had to steal from the citadel the wooden image of Pallas Athena (the Palladium). Finally, with Athena's help, they built the Trojan Horse. Despite the warnings of Priam's daughter Cassandra, the Trojans were persuaded by Sinon, a Greek who feigned desertion, to take thehorse inside the walls of Troy as an offering to Athena; Sony VAIO PCG-31311M Battery
the priest Laocoon, who tried to have the horse destroyed, was killed by sea-serpents. At night the Greek fleet returned, and the Greeks from the horse opened the gates of Troy. In the total sack that followed, Priam and his remaining sons were slaughtered; the Trojan women passed into slavery in various cities of Greece. Sony VAIO PCG-8152M Battery
The adventurous homeward voyages of the Greek leaders (including the wanderings of Odysseus and Aeneas (the Aeneid), and the murder of Agamemnon) were told in two epics, the Returns (the lost Nostoi) and Homer's Odyssey. The Trojan cycle also includes the adventures of the children of the Trojan generation (e.g., Orestes and Telemachus). Sony VAIO PCG-61111M Battery
The Trojan War provided a variety of themes and became a main source of inspiration for Ancient Greek artists (e.g. metopes on theParthenon depicting the sack of Troy); this artistic preference for themes deriving from the Trojan Cycle indicates its importance to the Ancient Greek civilization. Sony PCG-71213M Battery
The same mythological cycle also inspired a series of posterior European literary writings. For instance, Trojan Medieval European writers, unacquainted with Homer at first hand, found in the Troy legend a rich source of heroic and romantic storytelling and a convenient framework into which to fit their own courtly and chivalric ideals. Sony PCG-71311M Battery
12th century authors, such as Benoît de Sainte-Maure (Roman de Troie [Romance of Troy, 1154–60]) and Joseph of Exeter (De Bello Troiano [On the Trojan War, 1183]) describe the war while rewriting the standard version they found in Dictys and Dares. They thus follow Horace's advice and Virgil's example: they rewrite a poem of Troy instead of telling something completely new. Sony PCG-71312M Battery
Mythology was at the heart of everyday life in Ancient Greece. Greeks regarded mythology as a part of their history. They used myth to explain natural phenomena, cultural variations, traditional enmities and friendships. It was a source of pride to be able to trace one's leaders' descent from a mythological hero or a god. Sony PCG-71212M Battery
Few ever doubted that there was truth behind the account of the Trojan War in the Iliad and Odyssey. According to Victor Davis Hanson, a militaryhistorian, columnist, political essayist and former Classics professor, and John Heath, associate professor of Classics at Santa Clara University, Sony VAIO PCG-5J4M Battery
the profound knowledge of the Homeric epos was deemed by the Greeks the basis of their acculturation. Homer was the "education of Greece" (Ἑλλάδος παίδευσις), and his poetry "the Book".
After the rise of philosophy, history, prose and rationalism in the late 5th century BC, the fate of myth became uncertain, Sony VAIO PCG-5K1M Battery
and mythological genealogies gave place to a conception of history which tried to exclude the supernatural (such as theThucydidean history). While poets and dramatists were reworking the myths, Greek historians and philosophers were beginning to criticize them.
A few radical philosophers like Xenophanes of Colophon were already beginning to label the poets' tales as blasphemous lies in the 6th century BC; Sony VAIO PCG-5K2M Battery
Xenophanes had complained that Homer and Hesiod attributed to the gods "all that is shameful and disgraceful among men; they steal, commit adultery, and deceive one another". This line of thought found its most sweeping expression in Plato's Republic and Laws. Plato created his own allegorical myths (such as the vision of Er in theRepublic), Sony VAIO PCG-5J5M Battery
attacked the traditional tales of the gods' tricks, thefts and adulteries as immoral, and objected to their central role in literature. Plato's criticism was the first serious challenge to the Homeric mythological tradition,referring to the myths as "old wives' chatter". For his part Aristotle criticized the Pre-socratic quasi-mythical philosophical approach and underscored that Sony VAIO PCG-5L2M Battery
"Hesiod and the theological writers were concerned only with what seemed plausible to themselves, and had no respect for us ... But it is not worth taking seriously writers who show off in the mythical style; as for those who do proceed by proving their assertions, we must cross-examine them". Sony VAIO PCG-6S4M Battery
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