Portal:Greek mythology

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Ludovisi throne Altemps Inv8570.jpg

Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

The Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most likely by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC; eventually the myths of the heroes of the Trojan War and its aftermath became part of the oral tradition of Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. 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, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.

Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods, heroes, and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. 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.

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.

Selected article

Homer bust

Homer (Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος, Hómēros) is a legendary ancient Greek epic poet, traditionally said to be the author of the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. The ancient Greeks generally believed that Homer was an historical individual, but modern scholars are skeptical: no reliable biographical information has been handed down from classical antiquity, and the poems themselves manifestly represent the culmination of many centuries of oral story-telling and a well-developed "formulaic" system of poetic composition. According to Martin West, "Homer" is "not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name."

The date of Homer's existence was controversial in antiquity and is no less so today. Herodotus said that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BC; but other ancient sources gave dates much closer to the supposed time of the Trojan War.The date of the Trojan War was given as 1194–1184 BC by Eratosthenes, who strove to establish a scientific chronology of events. For modern scholarship, "the date of Homer" refers to the date of the poems' conception as much as to the lifetime of an individual.

Featured deity

Ares

Ares (Ancient Greek: Ἄρης [árɛːs], Μodern Greek: Άρης [ˈaris]) is a major deity and a member of the Twelve Olympians, a son of Zeus and Hera, in Greek mythology. Though often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, he is more accurately the god of bloodlust, or slaughter personified: "Ares is apparently an ancient abstract noun meaning throng of battle, war." He also presides over the weapons of war, the defence and sacking of cities, rebellion and civil order, banditry, manliness and courage.

The etymology of his name is traditionally connected with the Greek word ἀρή (are), the Ionic form of the Doric ἀρά (ara), "bane, ruin, curse, imprecation". There may also be a connection with the Roman god of war Mars, via hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *M̥rēs; compare Ancient Greek μάρναμαι (marnamai), "to fight, to battle", or Hindi and Punjabi maarna (to kill).

He is an important Olympian god in the epic tradition represented by the Iliad. The reading of his character remains ambiguous, in a late 6th-century funerary inscription from Attica: "Stay and mourn at the tomb of dead Kroisos/ Whom raging Ares destroyed one day, fighting in the foremost ranks".

Selected image

Pallas Athena by Klimt
Artist: Gustav Klimt

Pallas Athena by Gustav Klimt. Athena, goddess of strength, is one of the twelve Olympians.

Did you know ...

  • Heracles already meet Theseus when the latter was only seven years old.  After Heracles had finished his labours, he came to visit Pittheus in Troezen where the young Theseus was under the care of his grandfather.
  • Theseus was related to his malefactors Cercyon, Procrustes and Sciron. They were all sons of his father Poseidon by other women which makes them technically Theseus' half-brother.
  • The daughters of Pelops married the sons of Perseus: Astydameia wedded to Alcaeus, Nicippe to Sthenelus, Lysidice to Mestor and Eurydice to Electryon. This was made by Pelops to extend to his political power over the whole Peloponesse. His sons also became great rulers, Pittheus and Troezen were kings in Troezen, Alcathous of Megara, Atreus and Thyestes of Mycenae and also Sciron who became a warlord of Megara.
  • Pleisthenes, son of Atreus was either a hermaphrodite or a transvestite.
  • Polydectes pretended that he was going to marry Hippodamia, daughter of Oenomaus and ordered the men in Seriphos to supply him with suitable gifts. This plan was hatched by the king to get rid of Perseus by sending him to fetch the head of Medusa because he wanted to marry the hero's mother Danae.
  • The couple, Admetus and Alcestis were actually half-cousins because Admetus's father, Pheres whose mother Tyro also bare Pelias, father of Alcestis.

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Featured hero

Heracles

Heracles (/ˈhɛrə.klz/ HERR-ə-kleez; Greek: Ἡρακλῆς, Hēraklēs, from Hēra, "Hera", and kleos, "glory"), born Alcaeus (Ἀλκαῖος, Alkaios) or Alcides (Αλκείδης, Alkeidēs), was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus (Ζεύς) and Alcmene , foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

Featured creature

Medusa

In Greek mythology, Medusa (Greek: Μέδουσα (Médousa), "guardian, protectress") was a gorgon, a chthonic female monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto; Only Hyginus, (Fabulae, 151) interposes a generation and gives another chthonic pair as parents of Medusa; gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion. She also has two gorgon sisters. The three Gorgon sisters—Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale—were children of the ancient marine deities Phorcys and his sister Ceto, chthonic monsters from an archaic world. Their genealogy is shared with other sisters, the Graeae, as in Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, who places both trinities of sisters far off "on Kisthene's dreadful plain",

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