Ancient Greece—Gods and Myths
Gaia and Uranus to Reign of the Olympians
Era Summary—Gods and Myths
The myths and legends of Ancient Greece are such an essential part of Greek culture that the first three units of the Ancient Greece Classical Curriculum are dedicated entirely to myth and folklore. Greek mythology is important, not only because it reflects the pagan religion of the Ancient world, but also because it gives great insight into Greek thought and expression. References to Greek Gods and folklore are present throughout the recorded history of the ancient world, in religious symbols and ceremonies, in literature, in poetry, in art, in archeological artifacts, and in day to day life.
The myths, heroes and legends of Ancient Greece are too numerous to list, but a few general categories of the types of heroes and stories can be given. The first category of Greek myths involves the Gods, or immortals, who have a human form, and decidedly human personality traits, but possess enormous powers over the earth. The twelve Olympians are the most important, and they include Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades who rule over the heaven, Sea, and Underworld respectively. Most of the rest of the Olympians are either sisters or children of Zeus, the King of Gods.
The Olympians are the third generation of Greek Gods, descended from the Titans, who in turn, descended from the Primordal "Mother Earth" and "Father Sky." Besides the twelve Olympians and their ancestors, there there are hundreds of other lesser gods, fairies, and demigods that preside over a vast variety of entities, such as field and stream, poetry, music and medicine. A list of the fields of influence of the Titans, Olympians, and lesser gods is provided here.
The second category of Greek myths involves human, or semi-human heroes, and a spectacular array of monsters and villains. Many legendary Greek heroes are demigods, who descended on one side from a human, and from the other from a God and have superhuman power. But others are merely humans, whose lives were blessed or cursed by the gods, and whose feats were immortalized in Greek folklore and literature. The final category of Greek legends involves the famous characters who appear in the Iliad and Odyssey, the two epic poems most closely associated with Ancient Greece.
This unit deals only with the legends surrounding the Greek Gods and Titans. It begins with the overthrow of the Titans by the Olympian descendents of Cronus and Rhea. It explains how Prometheus created the human race and gave it the gifts of craftsmenship, agriculture, and fire. The myth of Pandora's box, explaining how evil entered the world of man, is similar in some ways to the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, while the story of Decaulion and the Flood has some similarities to the story of Noah's flood. The section also covers the founding of several important cities in Greece, and how the race of Hellenes—the original Greeks, came into existence.
Characters—Gods and Myths
Olympians-Second Generation of Gods, related to Zeus
|Zeus (Jupiter)||God of Heavens, Weather, Lightning - King of Gods|
|Poseidon (Neptune)||God of the Sea, Rivers, Earthquakes, Horses|
|Hades (Pluto)||God of the Underworld,Dead, Precious Metals|
|Hera (Juno)||Goddess of Marriage, Women - Queen of Gods - Mother (with Zeus) of Ares, Hephaestus, Hebe, and Eris|
|Hestia (Vesta)||Goddess of the Hearth, Home, Chastity|
|Ares (Mars)||God of War, bloodshed, violence|
|Athena (Minerva)||Goddess of Wisdom, Strategy, Handcrafts, Skill|
|Apollo (Apollo)||God of Light,Prophecy,Music,Healing|
|Artemis (Diana)||Goddess of the Hunt,Forest,Wild Animals,Maidens|
|Aphrodite (Venus)||Goddess of Love,Beauty,Desire, mother of Cupid|
|Hermes (Mercury)||God of Travel, Commerce, Speed, Diplomacy, Trickery - Messenger of Gods|
|Hephaestus (Vulcan)||God of the Forge, Fire, Craftsmanship|
|Demeter (Ceres)||Goddess of Grain, Agriculture, Harvest, Fertility - Mother (with Zeus) of Persephone|
|Dionysus (Bacchus)||God of Wine, Revelry, Festivals, Madness|
| ||Goddess of Spring - Wife of Hades|
|Hebe (Juventus)||Goddess of Youth - Cupbearer of the Gods|
|Eris (Discordia)||Goddess of Discord - Sister of Ares|
|Eros (Cupid)||God of Love - Son of Aphrodite|
|Pan (Faunnus)||God of Nature, Shepherds, Flocks|