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Introduction to Greek Mythology
What is mythology?
Mythology can be defined as "a collection of fictitious tales, legends, stories, tradition which belongs to particular religion or social group."
There are many mythologies around the world which is based on different countries, civilizations, religions and societies. The major mythologies in the world are; Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Hindu etc.
Out of them, Greek mythology is one of vastest and ancient mythology. It describes beliefs of ancient Greek people in gods, nature spirits, heroes, magical creatures and elemental beings. It depicts the beliefs of Greek people in creation of world, man and everything that exists.
Ancient Greece was the civilization that existed in southern Europe from 800 BC to about 600 AD. Unlike Rome, Greece was not a single kingdom but a group of many islands, kingdoms and cities like Crete, Athens, Sparta etc. Greek Civilization is a major milestone in the evolution of art, science and philosophy in human history.
Ancient Greece gave birth to many philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, scientists like Archimedes and artists like Agatharchus. Ancient Greece had its own religion, tradition and beliefs. They worshiped gods like Zeus, Ares, Athena etc in the same way we worship Jesus, God, Buddha and Allah today. Now, we know them as Greek Mythology.
Greek mythology is a vast and fascinating collection of folklore and legend which shows us the type of people ancient Greeks were. Legends and stories of Greek myth are still popular among us today as stories, folklore and even in movies.
Every mythology has got its own ideas and beliefs about creation of the universe and world. They have their own idea who or what created them. So, its obvious that even people of Ancient Greece had their own beliefs about creation of universe. I have my own blog about all mythologies here.
Greek people believed that in the beginning, there was only void and darkness called Chaos which was surrounded by a huge mass of water called Oceanus. Then out of Chaos, Erebus appeared which was the place where death resided. Then Love was created out of Chaos. Then from Love, Light and Day was born. Then from light and day, Gaea (Earth) was created.
Then Erebus slept with Night and from them, heavenly light and light of Earth were created. Then night created out of darkness, Doom, Fate, Sleep, Death, and much feelings that terrified men. Then Gaea created Uranus, the heaven. Uranus surrounded Gaea and mated with her to produce three Cyclopes, three Hecatoncheires and twelve Titans. Then Uranus imprisoned Hecatoncheires in dark corners of Earth which angered Gaea. Then she made a flint sickle and handed it to Cronus, who then ambushed Uranus and cut his manhood which fell into the ocean producing large amount of foam which gave birth to the Giants, the Tree Nymphs and Greek goddess of love Aphrodite.
Then Cronus ruled the world and imprisoned the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Then Gaea prophesied that he would be overthrown by his own son. So, Cronus swallowed every children that his wife Rhea bore. But Rhea hid her youngest son Zeus and gave Cronus a stone to swallow. Then Zeus killed Cronus with his own sickle and rescued his other god lings. Then he imprisoned Titans in Tartarus.
Zeus, King of Gods.
List of Olympian Gods!
Mount Olympus was the high place of gods and goddesses. Although many say that there were 12 Olympians but this is not case in many times. But Hades , brother of Zeus wasn't a Olympian as he was exiled to Underworld by both of his brothers after the war with Titans.
The Olympian gods are:
- Zeus, god of air and thunder.
- Poseidon, god of seas and oceans.
- Hera, goddess of marriage.
- Hermes, god of travelers and thieves.
- Ares, god of war.
- Apollo, god of music, healing, bow and sun.
- Aphrodite, goddess of love.
- Demeter, goddess of harvest and crops.
- Dionysus, god of wine.
- Artemis, goddess of hunting, maiden and moon.
- Athena, goddess of wisdom and battle strategy.
- Hephaestus, god of fire and blacksmith
Hestia was also an Olympian but left her throne for Dionysus.
The Underworld or commonly known as Hell is considered the domain of Hades in Greek Myth. It is the place where the souls go after death of a person. The Underworld is also referred as the kingdom of death or even the name Hades itself. It was considered to be at the deep end of the earth.
It was said to be drained by five rivers; Stynx, Acheron, Lethe, Cocytus and Phlegethon.
I have made a separate hub about Greek Underworld here.