Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to, and study, the myths, in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece, its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
Greek mythology is embodied, explicitly, in a large collection of narratives, and implicitly in Greek representational arts, such as vase-paintings and votive gifts. Greek myth attempts to explain the origins of the world, and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, andmythological creatures. These accounts initially were disseminated in an oral-poetic tradition; today the Greek myths are known primarily from Greek literature.
The oldest known Greek literary sources, the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus on events surrounding the Trojan War. 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 awesome origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths also are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments ofepic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Ageand in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology, with gods and heroes featured prominently in the decoration of many 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 succeedingArchaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence.
Greek mythology has exerted an extensive influence on the culture, the arts, and the 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 these mythological themes.
The Greeks didn’t have a “Top Ten” list of deities – but they did have the “Top Twelve” – those lucky deities living on top of Mount Olympus.
Aphrodite – Goddess of love, romance, and beauty. Her son wasEros, god of Love (though he is not an Olympian.)
Apollo – Beautiful god of the sun, light, medicine, and music.
Ares – Dark god of war who loves Aphrodite.
Artemis – Independent goddess of the hunt, the forest, wildlife, childbirth, and the moon. Sister to Apollo.
Athena – Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts. Sometimes spelled “Athene”.
Demeter – Goddess of agriculture and mother of Persephone (again, her offspring is not considered to be an Olympian.)
Hephaestus – Lame god of fire and the forge. Sometimes spelled Hephaistos. The Hephaestion near the Acropolis is the most beautifully preserved ancient temple in Greece. Mated to Aphrodite.
Hera – Wife of Zeus, protector of marriage, familiar with magic.
Hermes – The speedy messenger of the gods, god of business. The Romans called him Mercury.
Hestia – Calm goddess of home and homelife, symbolized by the hearth which holds the continually-burning flame.
Poseidon – God of the sea, horses, and of earthquakes.
Zeus – Supreme lord of gods, god of the sky, symbolized by the thunderbolt.
Mythology : Why do we call Athens the capital of our country?
Athena (one of the 12 Olympian Gods) was the daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts.
Athena was born fully-armed from the forehead of her father Zeus – according to one story, this is because he swallowed her mother, Metis, while she was pregnant with Athena. Although Zeus’s daughter, she could also oppose his plans and conspire against him.
Athena and her uncle, the sea god Poseidon, competed for the affections of the Greeks, each providing one gift to the nation. Poseidon provided either a wonderful horse or a salt-water spring rising from the slopes of the Acropolis, but Athena provided the olive tree, giving shade, oil, and olives. The Greeks preferred her gift and named the city after her and built the Parthenon on the Acropolis where Athena is believed to have produced the first olive tree.