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Greek mythology

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Body of myths originally told by ancient Greeks

Scenes from Greek mythology depicted in ancient art. Left-to-right, top-to-bottom: the birth of

Aphrodite

, a revel with

Dionysus

and

Silenus

,

Adonis

playing the

kithara

for Aphrodite,

Heracles

slaying the

Lernaean Hydra

, the

Colchian dragon

regurgitating

Jason

in the presence of

Athena

,

Hermes

with his mother

Maia

, the

Trojan Horse

, and

Odysseus

‘s ship sailing past the island of the

sirens

Greek mythology is the body of

myths

originally told by the

ancient Greeks

, and a

genre

of

Ancient Greek folklore

. These stories concern the

origin

and

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 to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece, and to better understand the nature of myth-making itself.

[1]

The Greek myths were initially propagated in an

oral-poetic tradition

most likely by

Minoan

and

Mycenaean

singers starting in the 18th century BC;

[2]

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.

[3]

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.

[4]

: 43 

Achilles

and

Penthesileia

by Exekias, c. 540 BC,

British Museum

, London

Sources

Greek mythology is known today primarily from

Greek literature

and representations on visual media dating from the

Geometric period

from

c.

 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward.

[5]

: 200  In fact, literary and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict; however, in many cases, the existence of this corpus of data is a strong indication that many elements of Greek mythology have strong factual and historical roots.

[6]

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Literary sources

Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. Nevertheless, the only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the

Library

of Pseudo-Apollodorus. This work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends.

[7]

: 1 

Apollodorus of Athens

lived from c. 180 BC to c. 125 BC and wrote on many of these topics. His writings may have formed the basis for the collection; however, the “Library” discusses events that occurred long after his death, hence the name Pseudo-Apollodorus.

Prometheus

(1868 by

Gustave Moreau

). The myth of Prometheus first was attested by

Hesiod

and then constituted the basis for a tragic trilogy of plays, possibly by Aeschylus, consisting of

Prometheus Bound

,

Prometheus Unbound

, and

Prometheus Pyrphoros

.

Among the earliest literary sources are

Homer

‘s two epic poems, the

Iliad

and the

Odyssey

. Other poets completed the

Epic Cycle

, but these later and lesser poems now are lost almost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the

Homeric Hymns

have no direct connection with Homer. The oldest are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called

Lyric age

.

[8]

: 7 

Hesiod

, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his

Theogony

(Origin of the Gods) the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world, the origin of the gods,

Titans

, and

Giants

, as well as elaborate genealogies, folktales, and aetiological myths. Hesiod’s

Works and Days

, a didactic poem about farming life, also includes the myths of

Prometheus

,

Pandora

, and the

Five Ages

. The poet advises on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods.

[3]

Lyrical poets often took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became gradually less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including

Pindar

,

Bacchylides

and

Simonides

, and bucolic poets such as

Theocritus

and

Bion

, relate individual mythological incidents.

[9]

: xii  Additionally, myth was central to classical

Athenian drama

. The

tragic

playwrights

Aeschylus

,

Sophocles

, and

Euripides

took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories (e.g.

Agamemnon

and his children,

Oedipus

,

Jason

,

Medea

, etc.) took on their classic form in these tragedies. The comic playwright

Aristophanes

also used myths, in

The Birds

and

The Frogs

.

[8]

: 8 

Historians

Herodotus

and

Diodorus Siculus

, and geographers

Pausanias

and

Strabo

, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends, often giving little-known alternative versions.

[9]

: xii  Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.

[10]

: 60 

[11]

: 22  Herodotus attempted to reconcile origins and the blending of differing cultural concepts.

The poetry of the

Hellenistic

and

Roman

ages was primarily composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise. Nevertheless, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of:

  1. The Roman poets

    Ovid

    ,

    Statius

    ,

    Valerius Flaccus

    ,

    Seneca

    and

    Virgil

    with

    Servius

    ‘s commentary.

  2. The Greek poets of the

    Late Antique

    period:

    Nonnus

    ,

    Antoninus Liberalis

    , and

    Quintus Smyrnaeus

    .

  3. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period:

    Apollonius of Rhodes

    ,

    Callimachus

    , Pseudo-

    Eratosthenes

    , and

    Parthenius

    .

Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths include

Apuleius

,

Petronius

,

Lollianus

, and

Heliodorus

. Two other important non-poetical sources are the Fabulae and Astronomica of the Roman writer styled as Pseudo-

Hyginus

, the Imagines of

Philostratus the Elder

and

Philostratus the Younger

, and the Descriptions of

Callistratus

.

Finally, several

Byzantine

Greek writers provide important details of myth, much derived from earlier now lost Greek works. These preservers of myth include

Arnobius

,

Hesychius

, the author of the

Suda

,

John Tzetzes

, and

Eustathius

. They often treat mythology from a Christian moralizing perspective.

[12]

Archaeological sources

The Roman poet

Virgil

, here depicted in the fifth-century manuscript, the

Vergilius Romanus

, preserved details of Greek mythology in many of his writings.

The discovery of the

Mycenaean civilization

by the German amateur

archaeologist

Heinrich Schliemann

in the nineteenth century, and the discovery of the

Minoan civilization

in

Crete

by the British archaeologist

Arthur Evans

in the twentieth century, helped to explain many existing questions about Homer’s epics and provided archaeological evidence for many of the mythological details about gods and heroes. Unfortunately, the evidence about myths and rituals at Mycenaean and Minoan sites is entirely monumental, as the

Linear B

script (an ancient form of Greek found in both Crete and mainland Greece) was used mainly to record inventories, although certain names of gods and heroes have been tentatively identified.

[3]

Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth-century  BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle, as well as the adventures of Heracles.

[13]

These visual representations of myths are important for two reasons. Firstly, many Greek myths are attested on vases earlier than in literary sources: of the twelve labors of Heracles, for example, only the

Cerberus

adventure occurs in a contemporary literary text.

[14]

Secondly, visual sources sometimes represent myths or mythical scenes that are not attested in any extant literary source. In some cases, the first known representation of a myth in geometric art predates its first known representation in late archaic poetry, by several centuries.

[5]

In the Archaic (c. 750 – c. 500 BC), Classical (c. 480–323 BC), and Hellenistic (323–146 BC) periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence.

[3]

Survey of mythic history

Phaedra

with an attendant, probably her nurse, a fresco from

Pompeii

, c. 60 – c. 20 BC

Greek mythology has changed over time to accommodate the evolution of their culture, of which mythology, both overtly and in its unspoken assumptions, is an index of the changes. In Greek mythology’s surviving literary forms, as found mostly at the end of the progressive changes, it is inherently political, as Gilbert Cuthbertson (1975) has argued.

[i]

[15]

The earlier inhabitants of the

Balkan Peninsula

were an agricultural people who, using

animism

, assigned a spirit to every aspect of nature. Eventually, these vague spirits assumed human forms and entered the local mythology as gods.

[16]

: 17  When tribes from the north of the Balkan Peninsula invaded, they brought with them a new

pantheon

of gods, based on conquest, force, prowess in battle, and violent heroism. Other older gods of the agricultural world fused with those of the more powerful invaders or else faded into insignificance.

[16]

: 18 

After the middle of the Archaic period, myths about relationships between male gods and male heroes became more and more frequent, indicating the parallel development of

pedagogic pederasty

(παιδικὸς ἔρως, eros paidikos), thought to have been introduced around 630 BC. By the end of the fifth-century  BC, poets had assigned at least one

eromenos

, an adolescent boy who was their sexual companion, to every important

god

except

Ares

and many legendary figures.

[17]

Previously existing myths, such as those of

Achilles

and

Patroclus

, also then were cast in a

pederastic light

.

[18]

: 54  Alexandrian poets at first, then more generally literary mythographers in the early Roman Empire, often re-adapted stories of Greek mythological characters in this fashion.

The achievement of epic poetry was to create story-cycles and, as a result, to develop a new sense of mythological chronology. Thus Greek mythology unfolds as a phase in the development of the world and of humans.

[19]

: 11  While self-contradictions in these stories make an absolute timeline impossible, an approximate chronology may be discerned. The resulting mythological “history of the world” may be divided into three or four broader periods:

  1. The myths of origin or age of gods (Theogonies, “births of gods”): myths about the origins of the world, the gods, and the human race.
  2. The age when gods and mortals mingled freely: stories of the early interactions between gods,

    demigods

    , and mortals.

  3. The age of heroes (heroic age), where divine activity was more limited. The last and greatest of the heroic legends is the story of the Trojan War and after (which is regarded by some researchers as a separate, fourth period).

    [8]

    : 35 

While the age of gods often has been of more interest to contemporary students of myth, the Greek authors of the archaic and classical eras had a clear preference for the age of heroes, establishing a chronology and record of human accomplishments after the questions of how the world came into being were explained. For example, the heroic Iliad and Odyssey dwarfed the divine-focused Theogony and Homeric Hymns in both size and popularity. Under the influence of Homer the “hero cult” leads to a restructuring in spiritual life, expressed in the separation of the realm of the gods from the realm of the dead (heroes), of the

Chthonic

from the Olympian.

[20]

: 205  In the Works and Days, Hesiod makes use of a scheme of Four

Ages of Man

(or Races): Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. These races or ages are separate creations of the gods, the

Golden Age

belonging to the reign of Cronos, the subsequent races to the creation of

Zeus

. The presence of evil was explained by the myth of

Pandora

, when all of the best of human capabilities, save hope, had been spilled out of her overturned jar.

[21]

In

Metamorphoses

, Ovid follows Hesiod’s concept of the four ages.

[22]

Origins of the world and the gods

Amor Vincit Omnia

(Love Conquers All), a depiction of the god of love, Eros. By

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

, circa 1601–1602.

“Myths of origin” or “

creation myths

” represent an attempt to explain the beginnings of the universe in human language.

[9]

: 10  The most widely accepted version at the time, although a philosophical account of the beginning of things, is reported by

Hesiod

, in his

Theogony

. He begins with

Chaos

, a yawning nothingness. Out of the void emerged

Gaia

(the Earth) and some other primary divine beings:

Eros

(Love), the

Abyss

(the

Tartarus

), and the

Erebus

.

[23]

Without male assistance, Gaia gave birth to

Uranus

(the Sky) who then fertilized her. From that union were born first the

Titans

—six males:

Coeus

,

Crius

,

Cronus

,

Hyperion

,

Iapetus

, and

Oceanus

; and six females:

Mnemosyne

,

Phoebe

,

Rhea

,

Theia

,

Themis

, and

Tethys

. After Cronus was born, Gaia and Uranus decreed no more Titans were to be born. They were followed by the one-eyed

Cyclopes

and the

Hecatonchires

or Hundred-Handed Ones, who were both thrown into Tartarus by Uranus. This made Gaia furious. Cronus (“the wily, youngest and most terrible of

Gaia’s

children”),

[23]

was convinced by Gaia to castrate his father. He did this and became the ruler of the Titans with his sister-wife, Rhea, as his consort, and the other Titans became his court.

A motif of father-against-son conflict was repeated when Cronus was confronted by his son,

Zeus

. Because Cronus had betrayed his father, he feared that his offspring would do the same, and so each time Rhea gave birth, he snatched up the child and ate it. Rhea hated this and tricked him by hiding Zeus and wrapping a stone in a baby’s blanket, which Cronus ate. When Zeus was full-grown, he fed Cronus a drugged drink which caused him to vomit, throwing up Rhea’s other children, including

Poseidon

,

Hades

,

Hestia

,

Demeter

, and

Hera

, and the stone, which had been sitting in Cronus’s stomach all this time. Zeus then challenged Cronus to

war

for the kingship of the gods. At last, with the help of the Cyclopes (whom Zeus freed from Tartarus), Zeus and his siblings were victorious, while Cronus and the Titans were hurled down to imprisonment in

Tartarus

.

[24]

Attic black-figured

amphora

depicting Athena being “reborn” from the head of Zeus, who had swallowed her mother

Metis

, on the right, Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, assists, circa 550–525 BC (

Musée du Louvre

, Paris).

Zeus was plagued by the same concern, and after a prophecy that the offspring of his first wife,

Metis

, would give birth to a god “greater than he”, Zeus swallowed her.

[25]

: 98  She was already

pregnant

with

Athena

, however, and she burst forth from his head—fully-grown and dressed for war.

[25]

: 108 

The earliest Greek thought about poetry considered the theogonies to be the prototypical poetic genre—the prototypical mythos—and imputed almost magical powers to it.

Orpheus

, the

archetypal

poet, also was the archetypal singer of theogonies, which he uses to calm seas and storms in Apollonius’

Argonautica

, and to move the stony hearts of the underworld gods in his descent to

Hades

. When

Hermes

invents the

lyre

in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the first thing he does is sing about the birth of the gods.

[26]

Hesiod’s Theogony is not only the fullest surviving account of the gods but also the fullest surviving account of the archaic poet’s function, with its long preliminary invocation to the

Muses

. Theogony also was the subject of many lost poems, including those attributed to Orpheus,

Musaeus

,

Epimenides

,

Abaris

, and other legendary seers, which were used in private ritual purifications and

mystery-rites

. There are indications that

Plato

was familiar with some version of the Orphic theogony.

[27]

: 147  A silence would have been expected about religious rites and beliefs, however, and that nature of the culture would not have been reported by members of the society while the beliefs were held. After they ceased to become religious beliefs, few would have known the rites and rituals. Allusions often existed, however, to aspects that were quite public.

Images existed on pottery and religious artwork that were interpreted and more likely, misinterpreted in many diverse myths and tales. A few fragments of these works survive in quotations by

Neoplatonist

philosophers and recently unearthed

papyrus

scraps. One of these scraps, the

Derveni Papyrus

now proves that at least in the fifth-century  BC a theogonic-cosmogonic poem of Orpheus was in existence.

[20]

: 236 

[27]

: 147 

The first philosophical cosmologists reacted against, or sometimes built upon, popular mythical conceptions that had existed in the Greek world for some time. Some of these popular conceptions can be gleaned from the poetry of Homer and Hesiod. In Homer, the Earth was viewed as a flat disk afloat on the river of

Oceanus

and overlooked by a hemispherical sky with sun, moon, and stars. The Sun (

Helios

) traversed the heavens as a charioteer and sailed around the Earth in a golden bowl at night. Sun, earth, heaven, rivers, and winds could be addressed in prayers and called to witness oaths. Natural fissures were popularly regarded as entrances to the subterranean house of Hades and his predecessors, home of the dead.

[28]

: 45  Influences from other cultures always afforded new themes.

Greek pantheon

Zeus, disguised as a

swan

, seduces

Leda

, the Queen of

Sparta

. A sixteenth-century

copy of the lost original by Michelangelo

.

According to Classical-era mythology, after the overthrow of the Titans, the new

pantheon

of

gods

and

goddesses

was confirmed. Among the principal Greek gods were the Olympians, residing on

Mount Olympus

under the eye of Zeus. (The limitation of their number to twelve seems to have been a comparatively modern idea.)

[29]

: 8  Besides the Olympians, the Greeks worshipped various gods of the countryside, the satyr-god

Pan

,

Nymphs

(spirits of rivers),

Naiads

(who dwelled in springs),

Dryads

(who were spirits of the trees),

Nereids

(who inhabited the sea), river gods,

Satyrs

, and others. In addition, there were the dark powers of the underworld, such as the

Erinyes

(or Furies), said to pursue those guilty of crimes against blood-relatives.

[30]

In order to honor the Ancient Greek pantheon, poets composed the Homeric Hymns (a group of thirty-three songs).

[31]

Gregory Nagy

(1992) regards “the larger Homeric Hymns as simple preludes (compared with Theogony), each of which invokes one god.”

[32]

: 54 

The gods of Greek mythology are described as having essentially corporeal but ideal bodies. According to

Walter Burkert

, the defining characteristic of Greek anthropomorphism is that “the Greek gods are persons, not abstractions, ideas or concepts.”

[20]

: 182  Regardless of their underlying forms, the Ancient Greek gods have many fantastic abilities; most significantly, the gods are not affected by disease, and can be wounded only under highly unusual circumstances. The Greeks considered immortality as the distinctive characteristic of their gods; this immortality, as well as unfading youth, was insured by the constant use of

nectar

and

ambrosia

, by which the divine blood was renewed in their veins.

[29]

: 4 

Each god descends from his or her own genealogy, pursues differing interests, has a certain area of expertise, and is governed by a unique personality; however, these descriptions arise from a multiplicity of archaic local variants, which do not always agree with one another. When these gods are called upon in poetry, prayer, or cult, they are referred to by a combination of their name and

epithets

, that identify them by these distinctions from other manifestations of themselves (e.g., Apollo Musagetes is “

Apollo

, [as] leader of the

Muses

“). Alternatively, the epithet may identify a particular and localized aspect of the god, sometimes thought to be already ancient during the classical epoch of Greece.

Most gods were associated with specific aspects of life. For example,

Aphrodite

was the goddess of love and beauty,

Ares

was the god of war,

Hades

the ruler of the underworld, and

Athena

the goddess of wisdom and courage.

[29]

: 20ff  Some gods, such as

Apollo

and

Dionysus

, revealed complex personalities and mixtures of functions, while others, such as

Hestia

(literally “hearth”) and

Helios

(literally “sun”), were little more than personifications. The most impressive

temples

tended to be dedicated to a limited number of gods, who were the focus of large pan-Hellenic cults. It was, however, common for individual regions and villages to devote their own cults to minor gods. Many cities also honored the more well-known gods with unusual local rites and associated strange myths with them that were unknown elsewhere. During the heroic age, the cult of heroes (or demigods) supplemented that of the gods.

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Age of gods and mortals

Bridging the age when gods lived alone and the age when divine interference in human affairs was limited was a transitional age in which gods and mortals moved together. These were the early days of the world when the groups mingled more freely than they did later. Most of these tales were later told by Ovid’s

Metamorphoses

and they are often divided into two thematic groups: tales of love, and tales of punishment.

[8]

: 38 

Dionysus

with

satyrs

. Interior of a cup painted by the

Brygos Painter

,

Cabinet des Médailles

.

Tales of love often involve incest, or the seduction or rape of a mortal woman by a male god, resulting in heroic offspring. The stories generally suggest that relationships between gods and mortals are something to avoid; even consenting relationships rarely have happy endings.

[8]

: 39  In a few cases, a female divinity mates with a mortal man, as in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, where the goddess lies with

Anchises

to produce

Aeneas

.

[33]

The second type (tales of punishment) involves the appropriation or invention of some important cultural artifact, as when

Prometheus

steals fire from the gods, when

Tantalus

steals nectar and

ambrosia

from Zeus’ table and gives it to his subjects—revealing to them the secrets of the gods, when

Prometheus

or

Lycaon

invents sacrifice, when

Demeter

teaches agriculture and the

Mysteries

to

Triptolemus

, or when

Marsyas

invents the

aulos

and enters into a musical contest with

Apollo

. Ian Morris considers Prometheus’ adventures as “a place between the history of the gods and that of man.”

[34]

: 291  An anonymous papyrus fragment, dated to the third century, vividly portrays

Dionysus

‘ punishment of the king of

Thrace

,

Lycurgus

, whose recognition of the new god came too late, resulting in horrific penalties that extended into the afterlife.

[35]

: 50  The story of the arrival of Dionysus to establish his cult in Thrace was also the subject of an Aeschylean trilogy.

[36]

: 28  In another tragedy, Euripides’

The Bacchae

, the king of

Thebes

,

Pentheus

, is punished by Dionysus, because he disrespected the god and spied on his

Maenads

, the female

worshippers

of the god.

[37]

: 195 

Demeter

and

Metanira

in a detail on an Apulian red-figure hydria, circa 340 BC (

Altes Museum

, Berlin).

In another story, based on an old folktale-motif,

[38]

and echoing a similar theme,

Demeter

was searching for her daughter,

Persephone

, having taken the form of an old woman called Doso, and received a hospitable welcome from

Celeus

, the King of

Eleusis

in

Attica

. As a gift to Celeus, because of his hospitality, Demeter planned to make his son

Demophon

a god, but she was unable to complete the ritual because his mother

Metanira

walked in and saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright, which angered Demeter, who lamented that foolish mortals do not understand the concept and ritual.

[39]

Heroic age

The age in which the heroes lived is known as the

Heroic age

.

[40]

The epic and genealogical poetry created cycles of stories clustered around particular heroes or events and established the family relationships between the heroes of different stories; they thus arranged the stories in sequence. According to

Ken Dowden

(1992), “there is even a saga effect: We can follow the fates of some families in successive generations.”

[19]

: 11 

After the rise of the hero cult, gods and heroes constitute the sacral sphere and are invoked together in oaths and prayers which are addressed to them.

[20]

: 205  Burkert (2002) notes that “the roster of heroes, again in contrast to the gods, is never given fixed and final form. Great gods are no longer born, but new heroes can always be raised up from the army of the dead.” Another important difference between the hero cult and the cult of gods is that the hero becomes the centre of local group identity.

[20]

: 206 

The monumental events of Heracles are regarded as the dawn of the age of heroes. To the Heroic Age are also ascribed three great events: the

Argonautic

expedition, the

Theban Cycle

, and the

Trojan War

.

[40]

[41]

: 340 

Heracles and the Heracleidae

Heracles

with his baby

Telephus

(

Louvre Museum

, Paris).

Some scholars believe

[41]

: 10  that behind Heracles’ complicated mythology there was probably a real man, perhaps a chieftain-vassal of the kingdom of

Argos

. Some scholars suggest the story of Heracles is an allegory for the sun’s yearly passage through the twelve constellations of the zodiac.

[42]

Others point to earlier myths from other cultures, showing the story of Heracles as a local adaptation of hero myths already well established. Traditionally, Heracles was the son of Zeus and

Alcmene

, granddaughter of

Perseus

.

[43]

His fantastic solitary exploits, with their many

folk-tale

themes, provided much material for popular legend. According to Burkert (2002), “He is portrayed as a sacrificer, mentioned as a founder of altars, and imagined as a voracious eater himself; it is in this role that he appears in comedy.

[20]

While his tragic end provided much material for tragedy—

Heracles

is regarded by Thalia Papadopoulou as “a play of great significance in examination of other Euripidean dramas.”

[44]

[20]

: 211  In art and literature Heracles was represented as an enormously strong man of moderate height; his characteristic weapon was the bow but frequently also the club. Vase paintings demonstrate the unparalleled popularity of Heracles, his fight with the lion being depicted many hundreds of times.

[20]

: 211 

Heracles also entered Etruscan and Roman mythology and cult, and the exclamation “mehercule” became as familiar to the Romans[

clarification needed

] as “Herakleis” was to the Greeks.

[20]

: 211  In Italy he was worshipped as a god of merchants and traders, although others also prayed to him for his characteristic gifts of good luck or rescue from danger.

[43]

Heracles attained the highest social prestige through his appointment as official ancestor of the

Dorian

kings. This probably served as a legitimation for the Dorian migrations into the

Peloponnese

.

Hyllus

, the eponymous hero of one Dorian

phyle

, became the son of Heracles and one of the Heracleidae or Heraclids (the numerous descendants of Heracles, especially the descendants of

Hyllus

—other Heracleidae included

Macaria

, Lamos,

Manto

,

Bianor

,

Tlepolemus

, and

Telephus

). These Heraclids conquered the

Peloponnesian

kingdoms of

Mycenae

,

Sparta

and

Argos

, claiming, according to legend, a right to rule them through their ancestor. Their rise to dominance is frequently called the “

Dorian invasion

“. The Lydian and later the Macedonian kings, as rulers of the same rank, also became Heracleidae.

[45]

[20]

: 211 

Bellerophon

riding

Pegasus

and slaying the

Chimera

, central medallion of a

Roman mosaic

from

Autun

,

Musée Rolin

, 2nd to 3rd century AD

Other members of this earliest generation of heroes such as Perseus,

Deucalion

,

Theseus

and

Bellerophon

, have many traits in common with Heracles. Like him, their exploits are solitary, fantastic and border on

fairy tale

, as they slay monsters such as the

Chimera

and

Medusa

. Bellerophon’s adventures are commonplace types, similar to the adventures of Heracles and Theseus. Sending a hero to his presumed death is also a recurrent theme of this early heroic tradition, used in the cases of Perseus and Bellerophon.

[46]

Argonauts

The only surviving Hellenistic epic, the

Argonautica

of Apollonius of Rhodes (epic poet, scholar, and director of the

Library of Alexandria

) tells the myth of the voyage of

Jason

and the Argonauts to retrieve the

Golden Fleece

from the mythical land of

Colchis

. In the Argonautica, Jason is impelled on his quest by king

Pelias

, who receives a prophecy that a man with one sandal would be his

nemesis

. Jason loses a sandal in a river, arrives at the court of Pelias, and the epic is set in motion. Nearly every member of the next generation of heroes, as well as Heracles, went with Jason in the ship

Argo

to fetch the Golden Fleece. This generation also included

Theseus

, who went to

Crete

to slay the

Minotaur

;

Atalanta

, the female heroine, and

Meleager

, who once had an epic cycle of his own to rival the

Iliad

and

Odyssey

.

Pindar

,

Apollonius

and the

Bibliotheca

endeavor to give full lists of the Argonauts.

[47]

[48]

[49]

Although Apollonius wrote his poem in the 3rd century BC, the composition of the story of the Argonauts is earlier than Odyssey, which shows familiarity with the exploits of Jason (the wandering of Odysseus may have been partly founded on it).

[50]

[51]

In ancient times the expedition was regarded as a historical fact, an incident in the opening up of the

Black Sea

to Greek commerce and colonization.

[50]

It was also extremely popular, forming a cycle to which a number of local legends became attached. The story of

Medea

, in particular, caught the imagination of the tragic poets.

[51]

House of Atreus and Theban Cycle

In between the Argo and the Trojan War, there was a generation known chiefly for its horrific crimes. This includes the doings of

Atreus

and

Thyestes

at Argos. Behind the myth of the house of Atreus (one of the two principal heroic dynasties with the house of

Labdacus

) lies the problem of the devolution of power and of the mode of accession to sovereignty. The twins Atreus and Thyestes with their descendants played the leading role in the tragedy of the devolution of power in Mycenae.

[52]

The Theban Cycle deals with events associated especially with

Cadmus

, the city’s founder, and later with the doings of

Laius

and

Oedipus

at Thebes; a series of stories that lead to the war of the

Seven against Thebes

and the eventual pillage of that city at the hands of the

Epigoni

.

[7]

: 317  (It is not known whether the Seven figured in early epic.) As far as Oedipus is concerned, early epic accounts seem to have him continuing to rule at Thebes after the revelation that

Iokaste

was his mother, and subsequently marrying a second wife who becomes the mother of his children—markedly different from the tale known to us through tragedy (e.g. Sophocles’

Oedipus Rex

) and later mythological accounts.

[7]

: 311 

Trojan War and aftermath

El Juicio de Paris

by

Enrique Simonet

, 1904. Paris is holding the golden apple on his right hand while surveying the goddesses in a calculative manner.

In The Rage of Achilles by

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

(1757, Fresco, 300 x 300 cm, Villa Valmarana,

Vicenza

)

Achilles

is outraged that

Agamemnon

would threaten to seize his warprize,

Briseis

, and he draws his sword to kill Agamemnon. The sudden appearance of the goddess Athena, who, in this fresco, has grabbed Achilles by the hair, prevents the act of violence.

Greek mythology culminates in the Trojan War, fought between Greece and

Troy

, and its aftermath. In Homer’s works, such as the Iliad, the chief stories have already taken shape and substance, and individual themes were elaborated later, especially in Greek drama. The Trojan War also elicited great interest in the

Roman culture

because of the story of

Aeneas

, a Trojan hero whose journey from Troy led to the founding of the city that would one day become Rome, as recounted in Virgil’s

Aeneid

(Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid contains the best-known account of the sack of Troy).

[53]

[54]

Finally there are two pseudo-chronicles written in Latin that passed under the names of

Dictys Cretensis

and

Dares Phrygius

.

[55]

The

Trojan War cycle

, a collection of

epic poems

, starts with the events leading up to the war:

Eris

and the

golden apple

of

Kallisti

, the

Judgement of Paris

, the abduction of

Helen

, the sacrifice of

Iphigenia

at

Aulis

. To recover Helen, the Greeks launched a great expedition under the overall command of

Menelaus

‘s brother, Agamemnon, king of Argos, or

Mycenae

, but the Trojans refused to return Helen. The Iliad, which is set in the tenth year of the war, tells of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles, who was the finest Greek warrior, and the consequent deaths in battle of Achilles’ beloved comrade

Patroclus

and

Priam

‘s eldest son,

Hector

. After Hector’s death the Trojans were joined by two exotic allies,

Penthesilea

, queen of the

Amazons

, and

Memnon

, king of the

Ethiopians

and son of the dawn-goddess

Eos

.

[54]

Achilles killed both of these, but Paris then managed to kill Achilles with an arrow in the heel. Achilles’ heel was the only part of his body which was not invulnerable to damage by human weaponry. Before they could take Troy, the Greeks had to steal from the citadel the wooden image of Pallas Athena (the

Palladium

). Finally, with Athena’s help, they built the

Trojan Horse

. Despite the warnings of Priam’s daughter

Cassandra

, the Trojans were persuaded by

Sinon

, a Greek who feigned desertion, to take the horse inside the walls of Troy as an offering to Athena; the priest Laocoon, who tried to have the horse destroyed, was killed by sea-serpents. At night the Greek fleet returned, and the Greeks from the horse opened the gates of Troy. In the total sack that followed, Priam and his remaining sons were slaughtered; the Trojan women passed into slavery in various cities of Greece. The adventurous homeward voyages of the Greek leaders (including the wanderings of

Odysseus

and Aeneas (the Aeneid), and the murder of Agamemnon) were told in two epics, the Returns (the lost

Nostoi

) and Homer’s Odyssey.

[53]

The Trojan cycle also includes the adventures of the children of the Trojan generation (e.g.,

Orestes

and

Telemachus

).

[54]

The Trojan War provided a variety of themes and became a main source of inspiration for Ancient Greek artists (e.g.

metopes

on the

Parthenon

depicting the sack of Troy); this artistic preference for themes deriving from the Trojan Cycle indicates its importance to the Ancient Greek civilization.

[53]

The same mythological cycle also inspired a series of posterior European literary writings. For instance, Trojan Medieval European writers, unacquainted with Homer at first hand, found in the Troy legend a rich source of heroic and romantic storytelling and a convenient framework into which to fit their own courtly and chivalric ideals. Twelfth-century authors, such as

Benoît de Sainte-Maure

(Roman de Troie [Romance of Troy, 1154–60]) and

Joseph of Exeter

(De Bello Troiano [On the Trojan War, 1183]) describe the war while rewriting the standard version they found in Dictys and Dares. They thus follow

Horace

‘s advice and Virgil’s example: they rewrite a poem of Troy instead of telling something completely new.

[56]

Some of the more famous heroes noted for their inclusion in the Trojan War were:

On the Trojan side:

  • Aeneas
  • Hector
  • Paris

On the Greek side:

  • Ajax (there were two Ajaxes)
  • Achilles
  • King Agamemnon
  • Menelaus
  • Odysseus

Greek and Roman conceptions of myth

Mythology was at the heart of everyday life in Ancient Greece.

[16]

: 15  Greeks regarded mythology as a part of their history. They used myth to explain natural phenomena, cultural variations, traditional enmities, and friendships. It was a source of pride to be able to trace the descent of one’s leaders from a mythological hero or a god. Few ever doubted that there was truth behind the account of the Trojan War in the Iliad and Odyssey. According to

Victor Davis Hanson

, a military historian, columnist, political essayist, and former

classics

professor, and John Heath, a classics professor, the profound knowledge of the Homeric

epos

was deemed by the Greeks the basis of their acculturation. Homer was the “education of Greece” (Ἑλλάδος παίδευσις), and his poetry “the Book”.

[57]

Philosophy and myth

Plato in

Raphael

‘s

The School of Athens

.

After the rise of philosophy, history, prose and

rationalism

in the late 5th century BC, the fate of myth became uncertain, and mythological genealogies gave place to a conception of history which tried to exclude the supernatural (such as the

Thucydidean

history).

[58]

While poets and dramatists were reworking the myths, Greek historians and philosophers were beginning to criticize them.

[8]

By the sixth century BC, a few radical philosophers were already beginning to label the poets’ tales as blasphemous lies:

Xenophanes

of Colophon complained that Homer and Hesiod attributed to the gods “all that is shameful and disgraceful among men; they steal, commit adultery, and deceive one another.”

[5]

: 169–70  This line of thought found its most sweeping expression in

Plato

‘s

Republic

and

Laws

. Plato created his own allegorical myths (such as the vision of Er in the Republic), attacked the traditional tales of the gods’ tricks, thefts, and adulteries as immoral, and objected to their central role in literature.

[8]

Plato’s criticism was the first serious challenge to the Homeric mythological tradition,

[57]

referring to the myths as “old wives’ chatter.”

[59]

For his part Aristotle criticized the pre-Socratic quasi-mythical philosophical approach and underscored that “Hesiod and the theological writers were concerned only with what seemed plausible to themselves, and had no respect for us … But it is not worth taking seriously writers who show off in the mythical style; as for those who do proceed by proving their assertions, we must cross-examine them.”

[58]

Nevertheless, even Plato did not manage to wean himself and his society from the influence of myth; his own characterization for

Socrates

is based on the traditional Homeric and tragic patterns, used by the philosopher to praise the righteous life of his teacher:

[60]

But perhaps someone might say: “Are you then not ashamed, Socrates, of having followed such a pursuit, that you are now in danger of being put to death as a result?” But I should make to him a just reply: “You do not speak well, Sir, if you think a man in whom there is even a little merit ought to consider danger of life or death, and not rather regard this only, when he does things, whether the things he does are right or wrong and the acts of a good or a bad man. For according to your argument all the demigods would be bad who died at Troy, including

the son of Thetis

, who so despised danger, in comparison with enduring any disgrace, that when

his mother

(and she was a goddess) said to him, as he was eager to slay

Hector

, something like this, I believe,

My son, if you avenge the death of your friend

Patroclus

and kill Hector, you yourself shall die; for straightway, after Hector, is death appointed unto you. (Hom. Il. 18.96)

he, when he heard this, made light of death and danger, and feared much more to live as a coward and not to avenge his friends, and said,

Straightway may I die, after doing vengeance upon the wrongdoer, that I may not stay here, jeered at beside the curved ships, a burden of the earth.

Hanson and Heath estimate that Plato’s rejection of the Homeric tradition was not favorably received by the grassroots Greek civilization.

[57]

The old myths were kept alive in local cults; they continued to influence poetry and to form the main subject of painting and sculpture.

[58]

More sportingly, the 5th century BC

tragedian

Euripides often played with the old traditions, mocking them, and through the voice of his characters injecting notes of doubt. Yet the subjects of his plays were taken, without exception, from myth. Many of these plays were written in answer to a predecessor’s version of the same or similar myth. Euripides mainly impugns the myths about the gods and begins his critique with an objection similar to the one previously expressed by

Xenocrates

: the gods, as traditionally represented, are far too crassly

anthropomorphic

.

[5]

: 169–70 

Hellenistic and Roman rationalism

Cicero

saw himself as the defender of the established order, despite his personal skepticism concerning myth and his inclination towards more philosophical conceptions of divinity.

During the

Hellenistic period

, mythology took on the prestige of elite knowledge that marks its possessors as belonging to a certain class. At the same time, the skeptical turn of the Classical age became even more pronounced.

[61]

: 89  Greek mythographer

Euhemerus

established the tradition of seeking an actual historical basis for mythical beings and events.

[62]

Although his original work (Sacred Scriptures) is lost, much is known about it from what is recorded by Diodorus and

Lactantius

.

[7]

: 7 

Rationalizing

hermeneutics

of myth became even more popular under the

Roman Empire

, thanks to the physicalist theories of

Stoic

and

Epicurean

philosophy. Stoics presented explanations of the gods and heroes as physical phenomena, while the Euhemerists rationalized them as historical figures. At the same time, the Stoics and the

Neoplatonists

promoted the moral significations of the mythological tradition, often based on Greek etymologies.

[63]

Through his Epicurean message,

Lucretius

had sought to expel superstitious fears from the minds of his fellow-citizens.

[64]

: xxvi 

Livy

, too, is skeptical about the mythological tradition and claims that he does not intend to pass judgement on such legends (fabulae).

[61]

: 88  The challenge for Romans with a strong and apologetic sense of

religious tradition

was to defend that tradition while conceding that it was often a breeding-ground for superstition. The antiquarian

Varro

, who regarded religion as a human institution with great importance for the preservation of good in society, devoted rigorous study to the origins of religious cults. In his Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum (which has not survived, but

Augustine

‘s

City of God

indicates its general approach) Varro argues that whereas the superstitious man fears the gods, the truly religious person venerates them as parents.

[64]

: xxvi  According to Varro, there have been three accounts of deities in the Roman society: the mythical account created by poets for theatre and entertainment, the civil account used by people for veneration as well as by the city, and the natural account created by the philosophers.

[65]

The best state is, adds Varro, where the civil theology combines the poetic mythical account with the philosopher’s.

[65]

Roman Academic Cotta ridicules both literal and allegorical acceptance of myth, declaring roundly that myths have no place in philosophy.

[61]

: 87 

Cicero

is also generally disdainful of myth, but, like Varro, he is emphatic in his support for the state religion and its institutions. It is difficult to know how far down the social scale this rationalism extended.

[61]

: 88  Cicero asserts that no one (not even old women and boys) is so foolish as to believe in the terrors of Hades or the existence of

Scyllas

,

centaurs

or other composite creatures,

[66]

but, on the other hand, the orator elsewhere complains of the superstitious and credulous character of the people.

[67]

De Natura Deorum is the most comprehensive summary of Cicero’s line of thought.

[64]

: xxvii 

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Syncretizing trends

Apollo (early Imperial Roman copy of a fourth-century Greek original,

Louvre

Museum).

In

Ancient Roman

times, a new Roman mythology was born through syncretization of numerous Greek and other foreign gods. This occurred because the Romans had little

mythology

of their own, and inheritance of the Greek mythological tradition caused the major Roman gods to adopt characteristics of their Greek equivalents.

[61]

: 88  The gods

Zeus

and

Jupiter

are an example of this mythological overlap. In addition to the combination of the two mythological traditions, the association of the Romans with eastern religions led to further syncretizations.

[68]

For instance, the cult of Sun was introduced in Rome after

Aurelian

‘s successful campaigns in

Syria

. The Asiatic divinities

Mithras

(that is to say, the Sun) and Ba’al were combined with Apollo and Helios into one

Sol Invictus

, with conglomerated rites and compound attributes.

[69]

Apollo might be increasingly identified in religion with Helios or even Dionysus, but texts retelling his myths seldom reflected such developments. The traditional literary mythology was increasingly dissociated from actual religious practice. The worship of Sol as special protector of the emperors and the empire remained the chief imperial religion until it was replaced by Christianity.

The surviving 2nd-century collection of

Orphic Hymns

(second century AD) and the Saturnalia of

Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius

(fifth century) are influenced by the theories of rationalism and the syncretizing trends as well. The Orphic Hymns are a set of pre-classical poetic compositions, attributed to Orpheus, himself the subject of a renowned myth. In reality, these poems were probably composed by several different poets, and contain a rich set of clues about prehistoric European mythology.

[70]

The stated purpose of the Saturnalia is to transmit the Hellenic culture Macrobius has derived from his reading, even though much of his treatment of gods is colored by Egyptian and North African mythology and theology (which also affect the interpretation of Virgil). In Saturnalia reappear mythographical comments influenced by the Euhemerists, the Stoics and the Neoplatonists.

[63]

Modern interpretations

The genesis of modern understanding of Greek mythology is regarded by some scholars as a double reaction at the end of the eighteenth century against “the traditional attitude of Christian animosity”, in which the Christian reinterpretation of myth as a “lie” or

fable

had been retained.

[71]

In Germany, by about 1795, there was a growing interest in Homer and Greek mythology. In

Göttingen

,

Johann Matthias Gesner

began to revive Greek studies, while his successor,

Christian Gottlob Heyne

, worked with

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

, and laid the foundations for mythological research both in Germany and elsewhere.

[5]

: 9 

Comparative and psychoanalytic approaches

Max Müller

is regarded as one of the founders of comparative mythology. In his Comparative Mythology (1867) Müller analysed the “disturbing” similarity between the mythologies of “savage races” with those of the early Europeans.

The development of comparative philology in the 19th century, together with ethnological discoveries in the 20th century, established the science of myth. Since the Romantics, all study of myth has been comparative.

Wilhelm Mannhardt

,

James Frazer

, and

Stith Thompson

employed the comparative approach to collect and classify the themes of folklore and mythology.

[72]

In 1871

Edward Burnett Tylor

published his Primitive Culture, in which he applied the comparative method and tried to explain the origin and evolution of religion.

[73]

[74]

: 9  Tylor’s procedure of drawing together material culture, ritual and myth of widely separated cultures influenced both

Carl Jung

and

Joseph Campbell

.

Max Müller

applied the new science of comparative mythology to the study of myth, in which he detected the distorted remains of

Aryan

nature worship

.

Bronisław Malinowski

emphasized the ways myth fulfills common social functions.

Claude Lévi-Strauss

and other

structuralists

have compared the formal relations and patterns in myths throughout the world.

[72]

Sigmund Freud

introduced a transhistorical and biological conception of man and a view of myth as an expression of repressed ideas. Dream interpretation is the basis of Freudian myth interpretation and Freud’s concept of dreamwork recognizes the importance of contextual relationships for the interpretation of any individual element in a dream. This suggestion would find an important point of rapprochement between the structuralist and psychoanalytic approaches to myth in Freud’s thought.

[75]

Carl Jung

extended the transhistorical, psychological approach with his theory of the “collective unconscious” and the archetypes (inherited “archaic” patterns), often encoded in myth, that arise out of it.

[3]

According to Jung, “myth-forming structural elements must be present in the unconscious psyche.”

[76]

Comparing Jung’s methodology with

Joseph Campbell

‘s theory, Robert A. Segal (1990) concludes that “to interpret a myth Campbell simply identifies the archetypes in it. An interpretation of the Odyssey, for example, would show how Odysseus’s life conforms to a heroic pattern. Jung, by contrast, considers the identification of archetypes merely the first step in the interpretation of a myth.”

[77]

Karl Kerényi

, one of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology, gave up his early views of myth, in order to apply Jung’s theories of archetypes to Greek myth.

[5]

: 38 

Origin theories

Max Müller attempted to understand an

Indo-European

religious form by tracing it back to its Indo-European (or, in Müller’s time, “

Aryan

“) “original” manifestation. In 1891, he claimed that “the most important discovery which has been made during the nineteenth century concerning the ancient history of mankind … was this sample equation:

Sanskrit

Dyaus-pitar

= Greek Zeus = Latin

Jupiter

= Old Norse

Tyr

“.

[74]

: 12  The question of Greek mythology’s place in

Indo-European studies

has generated much scholarship since Müller’s time. For example, philologist

Georges Dumézil

draws a comparison between the Greek

Uranus

and the Sanskrit

Varuna

, although there is no hint that he believes them to be originally connected.

[78]

In other cases, close parallels in character and function suggest a common heritage, yet lack of linguistic evidence makes it difficult to prove, as in the case of the Greek

Moirai

and the

Norns

of

Norse mythology

.

[79]

It appears that the

Mycenaean religion

was the mother of the

Greek religion

[80]

and its pantheon already included many divinities that can be found in classical Greece.

[81]

However, Greek mythology is generally seen as having heavy influence of

Pre-Greek

and Near Eastern cultures, and as such contains few important elements for the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European religion.

[82]

Consequently, Greek mythology received minimal scholarly attention in the context of Indo-European

comparative mythology

until the mid 2000s.

[83]

Archaeology and mythography have revealed influence from Asia Minor and the Near East.

Adonis

seems to be the Greek counterpart—more clearly in cult than in myth—of a Near Eastern “dying god”.

Cybele

is rooted in

Anatolian

culture while much of Aphrodite’s

iconography

may spring from Semitic goddesses. There are also possible parallels between the earliest divine generations (Chaos and its children) and

Tiamat

in the

Enuma Elish

.

[84]

[85]

According to Meyer Reinhold, “near Eastern theogonic concepts, involving divine succession through violence and generational conflicts for power, found their way…into Greek mythology.”

[86]

In addition to Indo-European and Near Eastern origins, some scholars have speculated on the debts of Greek mythology to the indigenous pre-Greek societies:

Crete

, Mycenae,

Pylos

,

Thebes

and

Orchomenus

.

[20]

: 23  Historians of religion were fascinated by a number of apparently ancient configurations of myth connected with Crete (the god as bull, Zeus and

Europa

,

Pasiphaë

who yields to the bull and gives birth to the

Minotaur

, etc.). Martin P. Nilsson asserts, based on the representations and general function of the gods, that a lot of

Minoan gods and religious conceptions

were fused in the Mycenaean religion.

[87]

and concluded that all great classical Greek myths were tied to Mycenaean centres and anchored in prehistoric times.

[88]

Nevertheless, according to Burkert, the iconography of the Cretan Palace Period has provided almost no confirmation for these theories.

[20]

: 24 

Motifs in Western art and literature

Botticelli’s

The Birth of Venus

(

c.

 1485–1486, oil on canvas,

Uffizi

,

Florence

)—a revived Venus Pudica for a new view of pagan

Antiquity

—is often said to epitomize for modern viewers the spirit of the Renaissance.

[3]

The widespread adoption of

Christianity

did not curb the popularity of the myths. With the rediscovery of classical antiquity in the

Renaissance

, the poetry of Ovid became a major influence on the imagination of poets, dramatists, musicians and artists.

[3]

[89]

From the early years of Renaissance, artists such as

Leonardo da Vinci

,

Michelangelo

, and

Raphael

, portrayed the

Pagan

subjects of Greek mythology alongside more conventional Christian themes.

[3]

[89]

Through the medium of Latin and the works of Ovid, Greek myth influenced medieval and Renaissance poets such as

Petrarch

,

Boccaccio

and

Dante

in Italy.

[3]

The Lament for Icarus

(1898) by

Herbert James Draper

In Northern Europe, Greek mythology never took the same hold of the visual arts, but its effect was very obvious on literature.

[90]

The English imagination was fired by Greek mythology starting with

Chaucer

and

John Milton

and continuing through

Shakespeare

to

Robert Bridges

in the 20th century.

Racine

in France and

Goethe

in Germany revived Greek drama, reworking the ancient myths.

[3]

[89]

Although during the

Enlightenment

of the 18th century reaction against Greek myth spread throughout Europe, the myths continued to provide an important source of raw material for dramatists, including those who wrote the

libretti

for many of

Handel

‘s and

Mozart

‘s operas.

[91]

By the end of the 18th century,

Romanticism

initiated a surge of enthusiasm for all things Greek, including Greek mythology. In Britain, new translations of Greek tragedies and Homer inspired contemporary poets (such as

Alfred Tennyson

,

Keats

,

Byron

and

Shelley

) and painters (such as

Lord Leighton

and

Lawrence Alma-Tadema

).

[92]

Christoph Gluck

,

Richard Strauss

,

Jacques Offenbach

and many others set Greek mythological themes to music.

[3]

American authors of the 19th century, such as

Thomas Bulfinch

and

Nathaniel Hawthorne

, held that the study of the classical myths was essential to the understanding of English and American literature.

[9]

: 4  In more recent times, classical themes have been reinterpreted by dramatists

Jean Anouilh

,

Jean Cocteau

, and

Jean Giraudoux

in France,

Eugene O’Neill

in America, and

T. S. Eliot

in Britain and by novelists such as

James Joyce

and

André Gide

.

[3]

References

Xem thêm: [Đam mỹ] thương tiến tửu-tập 29 hoàn

Notes

  1. ^

    Cuthbertson (1975) selects a wider range of epic, from

    Gilgamesh

    to Voltaire’s

    Henriade

    , but his central theme—that myths encode mechanisms of cultural dynamics structure community by the creation of moral consensus—is a familiar mainstream view that applies to Greek myth.

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    help

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  • Miles, Geoffrey (1999). “The Myth-kitty”. Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology. University of Illinois Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-415-14754-5

    .

  • Morris, Ian (2000). Archaeology As Cultural History. Blackwell Publishing.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-631-19602-0

    .

  • “myth”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002.
  • Nagy, Gregory (1992). “The Hellenization of the Indo-European Poetics”. Greek Mythology and Poetics.

    Cornell University Press

    .

    ISBN

     

    978-0-8014-8048-5

    .

  • Nilsson, Martin P. (1940).

    “The Religion of Eleusis”

    . Greek Popular Religion. Columbia University Press.

  • North John A.; Beard Mary; Price Simon R.F. (1998). “The Religions of Imperial Rome”. Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology. Cambridge University Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-521-31682-8

    .

  • Papadopoulou, Thalia (2005). “Introduction”. Heracles and Euripidean Tragedy. Cambridge University Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-521-85126-8

    .

  • Percy, William Armostrong III (1999). “The Institutionalization of Pederasty”.

    Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece

    . Routledge (UK).

    ISBN

     

    978-0-252-06740-2

    .

  • Poleman, Horace I. (March 1943). “Review of “Ouranos-Varuna. Etude de mythologie comparee indo-europeenne by Georges Dumezil“. Journal of the American Oriental Society. 63 (1): 78–79.

    doi

    :

    10.2307/594160

    .

    JSTOR

     

    594160

    .

  • Reinhold, Meyer (20 October 1970). “The Generation Gap in Antiquity”. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 114 (5): 347–65.

    JSTOR

     

    985800

    .

  • Rose, Herbert Jennings (1991). A Handbook of Greek Mythology. Routledge (UK).

    ISBN

     

    978-0-415-04601-5

    .

  • Segal, Robert A. (1991). “A Greek Eternal Child”. Myth and the Polis edited by Dora Carlisky Pozzi, John Moore Wickersham. Cornell University Press.

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    978-0-8014-2473-1

    .

  • Segal, Robert A. (4 April 1990).

    “The Romantic Appeal of Joseph Campbell”

    . Christian Century. Archived from

    the original

    on 7 January 2007.

  • Segal, Robert A. (1999). “Jung on Mythology”. Theorizing about Myth. Univ of Massachusetts Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-1-55849-191-5

    .

  • Stoll, Heinrich Wilhelm (translated by R. B. Paul) (1852). Handbook of the religion and mythology of the Greeks. Francis and John Rivington.
  • Trobe, Kala (2001). “Dionysus”.

    Invoke the Gods

    . Llewellyn Worldwide.

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    978-0-7387-0096-0

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  • “Trojan War”.

    Encyclopaedia The Helios

    . 1952.

  • “Troy”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002.
  • “Volume: Hellas, Article: Greek Mythology”. Encyclopaedia The Helios. 1952.
  • Walsh, Patrick Gerald (1998). “Liberating Appearance in Mythic Content”. The Nature of the Gods. Oxford University Press.

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    978-0-19-282511-7

    .

  • Weaver, John B. (1998). “Introduction”. The Plots of Epiphany. Walter de Gruyter.

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    978-3-11-018266-8

    .

  • Winterbourne, Anthony (2004). “Spinning and Weaving Fate”. When the Norns Have Spoken.

    Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

    .

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    978-0-8386-4048-7

    .

  • Wood, Michael (1998). “The Coming of the Greeks”. In Search of the Trojan War. University of California Press.

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    978-0-520-21599-3

    .

Further reading

  • Gantz, Timothy

    (1993).

    Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources

    . Johns Hopkins University Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-8018-4410-2

    .

  • Graves, Robert

    (1993) [1955]. The Greek Myths (Cmb/Rep ed.). Penguin (Non-Classics).

    ISBN

     

    978-0-14-017199-0

    .

  • Hamilton, Edith

    (1998) [1942]. Mythology (New ed.). Back Bay Books.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-316-34151-6

    .

  • Kerenyi, Karl (1980) [1951].

    The Gods of the Greeks

    (Reissue ed.). Thames & Hudson.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-500-27048-6

    .

  • Kerenyi, Karl (1978) [1959].

    The Heroes of the Greeks

    (Reissue ed.). Thames & Hudson.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-500-27049-3

    .

  • Luchte, James (2011). Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn. Bloomsbury.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-567-35331-3

    .

  • Morford M.P.O., Lenardon L.J. (2006). Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-19-530805-1

    .

  • Pinsent, John

    (1972). Greek Mythology.

    Bantam

    .

    ISBN

     

    978-0-448-00848-6

    .

  • Pinsent, John (1991). Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece. Library of the World’s Myths and Legends. Peter Bedrick Books.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-87226-250-8

    .

  • Powell, Barry

    (2008). Classical Myth (6th ed.). Prentice-Hall.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-13-606171-7

    .

  • Powell, Barry (2001).

    A Short Introduction to Classical Myth

    . Prentice-Hall.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-13-025839-7

    .

  • Ruck Carl, Staples Blaise Daniel (1994). The World of Classical Myth. Carolina Academic Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-89089-575-7

    .

  • Smith, William

    (1870),

    Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

    .

  • Veyne, Paul

    (1988).

    Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? An Essay on Constitutive Imagination

    . (translated by Paula Wissing). University of Chicago.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-226-85434-2

    .

  • Woodward, Roger D. (editor) (2007).

    The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology

    . Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

    ISBN

     

    978-0-521-84520-5

    .CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (

    link

    )

External links

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  • Media related to

    Greek mythology

    at Wikimedia Commons

  • Greek Myths

    on

    In Our Time

    at the

    BBC

  • Library of Classical Mythology Texts

    translations of works of classical literature

  • LIMC-France

    provides databases dedicated to Graeco-Roman mythology and its iconography.

  • Martin P. Nilsson,

    The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology

    , on Google books

  • Greek mythology, the age of gods, myths and heroes

    , Hellenism.Net

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