The ancients Greeks were polytheistic — that is, they worshipped many gods. Their major gods and also goddesses lived at the top of Mount Olympus, the highest possible mountain in Greece, and myths explained their resides and actions. In myths, gods often proactively intervened in the day-to-day resides of humans. Myths were used to help define the unknown and also sometimes teach a leschild.

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For instance, Zeus, the king of the gods, lugged his favorite weapon, the thunderbolt. When it rained and tbelow was thunder and also lightning, the prehistoric Greeks thought that Zeus was venting his anger.

Many kind of stories about exactly how the Greek gods behaved and also connected with humans are found in the works of Homer. He developed two epic poems: the Iliad, which related the occasions of the Trojan War, and also the Odyssey, which thorough the travels of the hero Odysseus. These 2 poems were passed down orally over many kind of generations.


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Painting © M. Larrinaga
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia (recreated above) was one of the Seven Marvels of the Ancient World. Zeus was the ruler of the gods, the lord of the skies, and also the father of numerous deities and also demigods of the Greek pantheon.

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Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus" kid Achilleusand also its devaterminal, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,
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Botticelli
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, sits via the war god, Ares in this paint by the Renaissance artist Botticelli. Aphrodite is among a number of Greek goddesses, and also is frequently described by her Roguy name, Venus.
hurled in their multitudes to the home of Hades solid soulsof heroes, however gave their bodies to be the delicate feastingof dogs, of all birds, and also the will certainly of Zeus was accomplishedgiven that that time once initially tbelow stood in division of conflictAtreus" kid the lord of males and brilliant Achilleus.Homer, the Iliad (1951, translation by Ricdifficult Lattimore)
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A Soap Opera from Hellas


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Courtesy NASA and also Cislunar Aerospace, Inc.
Many type of Greek myths defined the mysteries of nature. The myth of Apollo, for instance, explains how the sunlight moves across the skies to increase and also set each day.
The Greeks produced gods in the image of humans; that is, their gods had actually many type of humale attributes even though they were gods. The gods constantly dealt with among themselves, behaved irrationally and unsensibly, and also were regularly jealous of each various other. Zeus, the king of the gods, was rarely faithful to his wife Hera. Hera plotted against Zeus and also punimelted his mistresses.

The Greek gods were extremely emotional and behaved inconsistently and also sometimes immorally. Greek faith did not have actually a standard collection of morals, tright here were no Judaic Ten Commandments. The gods, heroes, and also humans of Greek mythology were flawed.

In enhancement to Zeus and also Hera, tright here were many kind of various other major and minor gods in the Greek religion. At her birth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprang directly from the head of Zeus. Hermes, that had winged feet, was the messenger of the gods and can fly all over via excellent speed. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was the the majority of beautiful being in the world. Her brvarious other, Ares, the god of battle, was sinister, mean, and dischosen. Poseidon, ruled the sea from his underwater place and Apollo rode his chariot across the sky, bringing the sun via him.

Hades was in charge of the dead in the undercivilization. Almost all human being checked out Hades after they died whether they were good or poor. To get tbelow, the dead had actually to cross the river Styx. Charon was the name of the boatman who ferried the souls of the dead throughout the river Styx to Hades.

Generally, the gods puniburned those who were negative. For instance, Tantalus who killed his own kid and also served him to the gods for dinner was sent to Hades and made forever thirsty and also hungry. Although tright here was a pool of clear, fresh drinking water at his feet, whenever before Tantalus bent dvery own to drink, the pool would dry up and also disappear.

Likewise, over his head hung the most delicious fruit. However, whenever before Tantalus reached for them, a wind would blow them just out of his reach. The English word "tantalize" derives from the name Tantalus.

Pandora"s Box and Hercules" Labors

Myths assisted explain exactly how the human being happened the way it was. In one myth, Zeus developed an extremely beautiful and virtually perfect woguy called Pandora. Her one fregulation was that she was exceptionally curious and also suspicious. Hermes, Zeus"s messenger, gave Pandora a golden box. He warned her never to open it bereason destructive things would occur if she did.

But Pandora can hardly contain her curiosity and also eventually broke down and opened up the distinct box. Out from the box flew all the evils that torment humanity: famine, greed, pain, sorrow, and so on. Only one point stayed in the box — hope — which people regulated to hold on to. This myth describes the beginnings of humale misfortune. At the exact same time, it teaches a moral leskid by warning of the threats of curiosity.

In addition to myths around gods, the prehistoric Greeks additionally told stories about heroes. One of the the majority of famous Greek heroes was Hercules, the world"s strongest guy. Hercules was the illegitimate boy of a mortal woman and also Zeus, who tricked the woman by disguising himself as the woman"s husband also. Hera, Zeus"s wife, was angry around Zeus" affair and sought to punish Hercules. Hera tricked Hercules into believing that his entire family were dangerous beasts, which Hercules then proceeded to kill. When Hercules realized that he had actually eliminated his entire family, he agreed to perform 12 jobs to atone for his damaging actions. For among the work, Hercules had to slay the nine-headed monster dubbed the Hydra.

For an additional task, he had to clean the filth from Augean steady, which had actually not been attended to in 30 years. To carry out this, Hercules diverted the course of a river that wamelted away the mess. In the finish, he completed the so-called 12 Labors of Hercules and also comprised for the murder of his family.

God/GoddessImportant Attributes
ZeusKing of the gods, Zeus killed his father Chronos. He is likewise the god of thunder.
HeraThe wife of Zeus, Hera is the goddess of fertility.
PoseidonThe god of the sea.
HadesThe god of the underworld.
HestiaA little-well-known goddess, she is a sister of Zeus and also goddess of the hearth.
ChronosThe leader of the Titans and also father of the Olympians, Chronos ate all his kids except for Zeus, who killed him.
DemeterGoddess of the harvest and mother of Persephone.
ApolloGod of the sun, music, and also art, among the most functional gods.
ArtemisGoddess of the hunt, Moon, and childbirth. The sister of Apollo, she is additionally a really functional Olympian.
AphroditeThe goddess of love and the mom of Eros, well-known to the Romans as Cupid.
AresThe god of War.
AthenaSprang full-grvery own from Zeus"s head. She is the Goddess of wisdom. The city of Athens is named for her.
HaephestosThe god of the build. Thrvery own from the optimal of Mount Olympus by Zeus, Haephestos is likewise crippled. The husband also of Aphrodite.
HermesThe messenger god wears a winged helmet and winged sandals.
PersephoneThe daughter of Demeter, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades to be his bride. Due to the fact that she ate 3 pomegranate seeds, she is forced to spfinish three months of the year in Hades. This duration of time is recognized as winter.
DionysosThe god of wine and revelry. Dionysos had an huge complying with throughout the Greek civilization.

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ErosThe god of love. Often portrayed as a young son, Eros provided magical arrows can to cause human being to loss in love.