Greek mythology meaning

What is Greek Mythology:

Greek mythology is the entire set of stories, myths and legends created to explain the origin of the world and nature in ancient Greece. These records include the narration of the life and actions of the Olympian gods, as well as demigods and heroes, who were an essential part of ancient Greek religion.

Although Greek mythology was generated and spread with oral tradition, the work of various poets of the time served to record these stories.

Hesiod and his work on the origin of the gods called Theogony, and Homer with his epic poems The Iliad Y The odyssey They were two of the most important exponents of what is now known as Greek literature.

However, these stories were not reduced to a literary register. They were also an essential part of Greek cultural expressions, as can be seen in the large number of decorative and utilitarian objects from that period that contain representations of mythological scenes.

Origin of Greek mythology

Greek myths and legends are believed to have originated in 3000 BC in Crete. Its inhabitants, originally from Asia Minor, believed that natural forces and certain objects were endowed with spirits or magic, giving rise to the first legends.

After several centuries of invasions by European peoples, a new reconfiguration of their beliefs was generated, and from that syncretism the myths arose that were finally collected in what is now known as ancient Greece.

Chronology in Greek mythology

The origin of the world is divided, according to Greek mythology, into three great periods:

The age of the gods

Prometheus and Athena create the first man, Prado Museum.

Collect all the stories about how the world was created, the rise of the first gods and human beings.

Here it is narrated how after Chaos came Gaia, the Earth, the fertile and safe space for living beings, product of the union of Tartarus (the spectral world) with Eros (the vital force of love).

Then came the darkness (Erebos), the night (Nix), the celestial and terrestrial light (Ether and Hemera) and the sky (Uranus). From there other gods and figures emerged that completed the first celestial dynasty, such as Hypnos (the dream), the Moiras, the Cyclops and the Hecatonchires (50-headed monsters).

Already at this stage the first conflicts between gods began to emerge, giving rise to a second dynasty headed by Zeus and accompanied by his brothers Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia and Poseidon, the best known deities in Greek mythology.

Athena, daughter of Zeus, would be the creator of the first human being.

The age of gods and humans

It is the moment when gods, demigods and humans shared feats and dramas.

In this stage, the gods reproduce with humans, as Aphrodite did with Anchises, and humans become aware of the gods, generally initiating conflicts with them, as when Prometheus steals divine fire.

The heroic age

It is the compilation of stories about demigods and humans, such as the Trojan War. In this period, the great gods lose prominence.

Here the literary record is focused on exalting the exploits of mortals who, fulfilling a heroic mission, must go through harsh trials, face mythological animals (Theseus and the Minotaur) or face death (Perseus).

Greek mythology in The Iliad and The Odyssey

Representation on a Roman sarcophagus of a scene from canto XXIV of The Iliad: Hector's body is taken to Troy.

The Iliad is a composition of 15,693 verses that narrates all the events unleashed in the last ten years of the Trojan War and what generates the wrath of Achilles.

While fighting in the Trojan War on the side of the Achaeans, Achilles lost his slave Briseida, who was kidnapped by him during the war and who is now in the hands of his enemy, Agamemnon, head of the Trojan army.

His disgust causes him to withdraw from the Trojan War, which disadvantaged the Achaeans, until a fatal event (the death of his cousin Patroclus), makes him intervene again.

On the other hand, in The Odyssey the epic of Odysseus is narrated in 24 songs, who after fighting ten years in the Trojan War undertakes the way back home, the island of Ithaca. However, the return takes another ten years, and while that happens, his wife and son give him up for dead.

Both works are attributed to the Greek poet Homer, and their significance lies in the fact that they are quite possibly the first texts of the Greco-Roman epic, which passed from the oral tradition of mythology to the written record, after the invention of the alphabet.

Greek mythology in the arts

Venus and Adonis by Peter Paul Rubens.

Throughout time, Greek mythology has served as a source of inspiration in multiple artistic manifestations, such as painting, theater and the audiovisual arts.

The Renaissance, in particular, was a period of rediscovery of the myths and legends of ancient Greece, as can be seen in the works Minerva and the Centaur, by Boticcelli, Diana and Actaeonby Titian or Venus and Adonisby Rubens.

The theater, for its part, has drawn on the varied and complex archetypes present in Greek mythology to represent modern conflicts, or to reinterpret tragedies, such as that of King Oedipus Y Sophocles' Antigone.

Literature, poetry, and even film and television have been influenced by Greek mythological stories, their gods and heroes. Troy (Wolfang Petersen, 2004); Wrath of the Titans (Louis Leterrier, 2010) or The legend of Hercules (Renny Harlin, 2014) are some contemporary cinematographic representations based on these myths.

You may also be interested in Greek tragedy.

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