When we speak of Greek mythology, we refer to the set of tales, myths, and legends belonging to Ancient Greece (C.1200 BC-146 BC), considered to be the cultural cradle of Western civilization.
It is collected in a diverse set of texts surviving history, in which he realizes how the ancient Greeks explained the world, practiced their religion and represented their culture, as well as in sculptures, illustrations, ceramics and other forms of art that respond to the same imaginary.
The accounts that make up Greek mythology were initially oral, as in many cases they predate the invention of writing. These stories were recited by bards or ideas and subsequently written or versioned.
Some of them are also the foundation of Greek literature, in particular Homer’s epic poems: The Iliad and The Odyssey, whose events occur around the Trojan War (1250 BC according to Herodotus), or also Hesiod’s poems about the genesis of the world and the Greek kingdoms: Theogony and works and days.
Another important source of these myths is the play of the great playwrights of Ancient Greece: Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus. In these pieces, episodes related to the mythical and heroic tradition, particularly in the form of tragedies: stories about the fall from grace of heroes before the gods.
Gods of Greek mythology
The ancient Greeks believed in a variegated pantheon of gods, known as Olympus, as they would reside on top of a mountain with that name. After defeating their progenitors-the Titans or Titanic, gods-they took control of the world and imposed their order.
The main Olympic gods were:
- Zeus (Jupiter). King of the gods of Olympus and father of many of them, he was the God of heaven and thunder, brother of Hades and Poseidon. Brother and husband of Hera, he had many human and divine lovers, giving rise to various heroic lineages.
- Hera (Juno). Wife of Zeus and mother goddess, of marriage and the family unit, often gained revenge for the infidelity of her husband on their lovers or in the offspring of these, so he was the antagonist for many heroes.
- Poseidon (Neptune). God of water and oceans, earthquakes, and horses. It is represented with a trident in hand.
- Dionysus (Bacchus). God of wine, celebration, and ecstasy, patron of the theatre and the youngest of Olympus, born from the womb of a mortal woman.
- Apollo (Febo). Solar god, of light, knowledge, and medicine, of archery, music, and prophecy. Son of Zeus and brother of Artemis.
- Artemis (Diana). Virgin goddess, hunting, nature, childbirth and all animals. Apollo’s twin sister, she was depicted accompanied by a fawn.
- Hermes (Mercury). The messenger of the gods, patron of Commerce, rhetoric, lies, and thieves, always depicted with a helmet and winged boots.
- Atenea (Minerva). Warrior goddess, of wisdom, craftsmanship, defense and war strategy, often represented with an owl. He was born from the head of Zeus after he swallowed his mother.
- Ares (Mars). God of war, violence, and bloodshed, despised by all other gods except Aphrodite, with whom he had an affair.
- Aphrodite (Venus). Goddess of sensual love, beauty, and desire, born from the foam of the sea after Zeus cut off her father’s testicles Cronos and threw them into the water. Hephaestus ‘ wife, she was unfaithful to many, including Ares.
- Hephaestus (Vulcan). God of the Forge, master blacksmith, and craftsman, fire and metal, son of Hera (with or without Zeus), fallen from Mount Olympus at birth, leaving him a limp.
- Demeter (Ceres). Goddess of fertility, climatic seasons, agriculture, and nature.
- Hades (Pluto). God of the kingdom of the dead, the underworld. Also from mining and land wealth, he is often not included among the Olympians for residing in his separate country.