Myths Of Ancient Times Greek myths are entertaining and meaningful, fictional and truthful. They tell stories of Gods, Goddess’s, children and animals. But most of all they teach a lesson. What was the point of Greek myths? What were some of the stories? Were they taken seriously? Why were they important? This paper will explain what Greek myths are all about. It will say why Greek myths were created, and what they mean. It will also give an example of a popular myth.
“A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes.” (James Feibleman) Although Greek myths are interesting and entertaining stories, they played a more important roll in the every day life of ancient civilization. “Greek Gods were simply the products of colorful imaginations.” (www.angelfire.com/mt/ahsb/intro.html) They were the imaginations of a civilization that told these stories as a way of explaining the unexplainable events that happened in their lives. These “unexplainable” things consisted of uncontrollable events, natural phenomenons and mind-boggling occurrences. The realization of these stories lead one to believe that they were “perfect humans”, but can benefit from being immortal as well. The Greeks gave them all the abilities, qualities and values that they themselves wanted. Once they did this, the Greeks idolized the existence of the Gods and they way they behaved.
The Greeks felt that these Gods and Goddesses had complete control and influence over their lives. “The poets were not alone in sanctioning myths, for long before the poets the states and the lawmakers had sanctioned them as a useful expedient. They needed to control the people by superstitious fears, and these cannot be aroused without myths and marvels.” (Mikhail Strabo) The Greeks were the first people to write myths. These myths were like parables; there was usually a “moral to the story”. There were heroes and Gods in these stories and as they were passed down from one generation to the next, they became accepted as logical explanations to situations and uncertainties that they didn’t understand. Greeks also relied heavily on these myths to inspire them, as well. They were inspired during their every day lives, but especially during battle. When dealing with human relationships and conflicts, a Greek would derive very evident morals on which to base their life and confront issues. These were taken very seriously. These myths were not only taught to other generations of Greeks, but to other cultures and civilizations as well.
The Greeks had many Gods and Goddesses, including twelve principal ones who lived on Mount Olympus. Zeus was the king and leader of the twelve. His symbol was thunder and when you see him as a statue, he appears to be holding one. Poseidon was the God of the sea and earthquakes. It was said that when he became angry, he used his trident to create massive waves and floods. Ares was the God of war. It was said that he was fiery tempered, bloodthirsty, brutal and violent. Hera was not a principal Goddess; her job was a subservient one. She was Zeus’ cupbearer. Athena was the Goddess of wisdom and the patron of Athens. Unlike Ares, she derived no pleasure from fighting, but preferred settling disputes peacefully using her wisdom. However, if need be, she went valiantly into battle. Hephaestus was worshiped for his matchless skills as a craftsman. When Zeus decided to punish men he asked Hephaestus to make a woman. So Hephaestus made Pandora from clay and water and, as everyone knows, she had a box from which sprang all the evils afflicting humankind. Apollo was the God of the sun and Artemis was the Goddess of the moon. They were the twins of Leto and Zeus. Apollo was also worshiped as the God of music and song which the ancient Greeks believed were only heard where there was light and security. Artemis was worshipped as the Goddess of childbirth and protector of children, yet strangely enough, she asked Zeus if he would grant her eternal virginity. Hermes was the God of the animals. His job was to protect the animal kingdom. Demeter was the Goddess of vegetation. Demeter was worshipped as the Goddess of earth and fertility. Aphrodite was the Goddess of love, who rose naked out of the sea. She had a magic girdle, which made everyone fall in love with its wearer. The girdle meant both Gods and Goddesses constantly pursued her because they wanted to borrow the girdle. Zeus became so fed up with her promiscuity that he married her off to Hephaestus, the u!
gliest of the Gods. Dionysos was the son of Hera and Zeus. He was so ugly at birth that he was horned and crowned with serpents. His parents boiled him in a cauldron, but he was rescued by Rhea and banished to Mount Nysa in Libya where he invented wine. He eventually returned to Greece where he organized drunken revelries and married Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos.
One very popular myth to the Greeks is “The Creation of Man by Prometheus.” Prometheus and Epimetheus were given the task of creating man, because they had not fought alongside their fellow Titans during the war with the Olympians. Prometheus used mud to shape man, and then Athena breathed life into the figure. Prometheus gave Epimetheus the task of creating the qualities of man, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, and wings. But by the time Epimetheus got to man, he had already given out all of the good qualities he was able to. Therefore he decided to make them stand straight up, as the gods did, and he gave them fire.
Prometheus loved man much more than the Olympians had, who banished his family, or most of it anyway, to Tartarus. Zeus decided that man had to present a portion of all the animals they sacrificed to the gods. Prometheus didn’t like this idea, and so he tricked Zeus. He created two piles, one had bones wrapped in fat, and the other with the good meat hidden in the hide. He then told Zeus to choose. He picked the pile of bones, and since Zeus gave his word, he was forced to accept this future sacrifices. Because of the anger he had for being tricked, he stole fire away from man. But the Prometheus lit a torch from the sun, and brought it back to man. This enraged Zeus, so he inflicted a terrible punishment on both man and Prometheus.
To punish man, Zeus told Hephaestus make a mortal of stunning beauty. The gods gave this mortal many gifts of wealth. Then Hermes gave it a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. This creation was then named Pandora, the first woman. The last gift was a jar that Pandora was told never to open. After completed, Zeus sent Pandora to Epimetheus who was staying amongst the men. Prometheus warned Epimetheus not to accept gifts from Zeus, yet Pandora’s beauty was too great and he allowed her to stay. Eventually, Pandora’s curiosity about the jar became too much. She opened the jar and all manors of evils, sorrows, plagues and misfortunes flew out. However, in the bottom of the jar there was one good thing- hope.
Zeus was angry with Prometheus for three reasons; being tricked on sacrifices, stealing fire for man and refusing to tell Zeus which of his children would dethrone him. Zeus forced his servants to seize Prometheus. They took him to the Caucasus Mountains and chained him to a rock with unbreakable chains. He was tormented day and night by a giant eagle tearing at his liver. He was given two ways out of this torment. He could either tell Zeus the name of the mother of the child that would dethrone him or meet two conditions: an immortal must volunteer to die for Prometheus and a mortal must kill the eagle and unchain him. Eventually, Chiron the Centaur, agreed to die for him and Heracles killed the eagle and unbound him.
My feelings about Greek Myth’s are that they are stories for amusement purposes only. They are not true, and they no longer serve as much a purpose as today. Most Greeks do not still believe in many of the stories, but some continue to live by them. Yet they are still read in countries around the world for enjoyment purposes.