Greek mythology is a collection of the religion and stories of the ancient Greeks. Many of these Greek beliefs have been preserved and passed down to us today. As was common in that time period in Europe and the Middle East (with the exception of Judaism) the concept of gods was usually as part of a pantheon that were basically more powerful forms of humans complete with petty rivalries and human frailties. They were worshipped just as much out of fear as out of reverence.
Stories also abounded of heroes and fantastical beasts. The most courageous acts of courage were from humans, or at least those who were half human. The concept of intermarriage or mating between gods and man caused many demi-gods who would then go on and continue to mate with humans themselves. Many parts of ancient Greece claimed some connection with godhood as did much of the world (again, except for Judaism).
The story begins in darkness. All was dark and empty before the world was created. The only being that existed was a bird called Nyx, a female bird with black wings. She laid a golden egg and sat atop it for years. Life began to evolve in the egg and out came Eros. Eros was the god symbolizing love. He was also known as the Protagonas. It is also said that Eurynome, the goddess of everything wanted to make order out of the chaos. By coupling with the snake Ophion she gave birth to Eros. Some believe that she coupled with the North wind and Eros was born. It is said that Eurynome separated the sky from the earth and created Nymphs, Furies, and Charites as also innumerable beasts and monsters.
Eros began to call the sky Uranus and he called Earth as Gaia. Uranus and Gaia fell in love with each other. Children born to them were called Titans. Their children were giants. They grew old and became grandparents. One of their sons Kronus swallowed his children. Kronus's wife Rhea protected their youngest child from Kronus. He was Zeus. She raised Zeus in a place far away. He returned home when he was a man and stood against his cruel father. He wanted his siblings back. Zeus's wife tricked Kronus to consume an emetic. Kronus vomited the children he had gulped. All of them under the leadership of Zeus battled against their father, Kronus. They were victorious.
Zeus 'created' life on Earth with the help of his brothers and sisters. He became the king but he ill-treated his subjects. He turned a deaf ear to their complaints. He hated anything that was not beautiful.
Prometheus and Epimetheus were Zeus's sons. Many myths say that Prometheus combined the aspects of various creatures and molded them to form a new race of the common man! Later he gave mankind the gift of fire by stealing it from the gods. He trained man to live. Angry about this act of Prometheus, Zeus commanded that his son Prometheus be chained to a mountain and arranged for a huge bird to injure him everyday. He sent Hephaestus to torture Prometheus.
Later, a beautiful woman came into being. She was named as Pandora. She became Epimetheus's wife. All the gods gifted Pandora. Zeus presented her a box, which he ordered to never be opened. But curiosity kills the cat! She could not resist opening the box and out fell all the evils. Epimetheus rushed to shut the box but by then all the negativities had fallen out. They still plague the human race. That night they heard a voice saying, "Let me out, I am hope". Some say the only gift to stay in the box was hope while others believe it was released.
The world's conception began with the creation of the 'God of love.' In the end of the creation process, life was cursed with pain, sorrow, greed and other sins with one thing due to which, things get better. It was hope!
The Greek creation myth has indeed some similarities with the biblical creation story found in the book of Genesis. It is interesting to note that most ancient civilizations have their own creation story that have similarities to Genesis.
From wicked gods and goddesses to rituals and heroics, one of the most captivating concepts of ancient Greek mythology is that of the Greek mythical creatures. Names like Centaur, Minotaur and Nemean lion have become quite popular over the period of time, but there are many more mythical creatures from Greek mythology who are not as popular.
Greek mythical creatures were basically, legendary creatures that were believed to exist at some point of time in ancient Greece. The legend behind each of these mythical creatures is as interesting as the myth of Greek creation. Mentioned below are some of the most amazing mythical creatures in ancient Greek mythology.
Calydonian Boar: Calydonian boar was a monster in Greek mythology, who was sent by Artemis to destroy the region of Calydon, when she felt disrespected as the king of Calydon failed to honor her.
Centaur: In Greek mythology, the Centaur were creatures who were half-human and half-horse, who inhabited the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion, Mount Pholoe and the Malean peninsula.
Cerberus: Cerberus was a three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades to prevent anyone who crossed river Styx, from escaping the Underworld.
Charybdis: Charybdis was a beautiful naiad (water nymph), who was changed into a sea monster by an enraged Zeus.
Cretan Bull: Cretan bull was a mythical bull who fell in love with the Greek goddess, Pasiphae. Their offspring was Minotaur.
Cyclopes: Cyclopes were primordial giants, from the Greek mythology, typically characterized by a single eye in the middle of their forehead.
Erymanthian Boar: The Erymanthian Boar was a gigantic, fiery Greek mythical creature who inhabited the wild regions near Mount Erymanthos.
Gigantes: Gigantes, also referred to as the giants, were the children of Gaia and Gaea, who were fertilized by the blood of Ouranos, after he was castrated by his son Cronus.
Gorgons: In Greek mythology, gorgons were the three sisters whose hair were made of live, venomous snakes, and had the ability to turn anyone to stone with their gaze.
Griffins: Griffins were Greek mythical creatures with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. According to a popular belief, they were assumed to be the guards of treasures.
Harpy: In ancient Greek mythology, harpy was a winged spirit, who used to steal food from Phineas, the Phoenician King of Thrace.
Hippocampus: Hippocampus was a legendary creature, normally depicted with the upper torso of a horse and lower torso resembling a fish.
Lernaean Hydra: One of the most fearsome Greek mythical creatures, Lernaean hydra was a serpent like water beast with nine heads and poisonous breath.
Laelaps: In Greek mythology, Laelaps was a dog, with an amazing ability of getting whatever he was hunting.
Manticore: Manticore was a Greek mythical creature, resembling the Egyptian sphinx, with a body of a red lion and a human head, with three rows of heads and a voice like a trumpet.
Mares of Diomedes: The Mares of Diomedes, also referred to as the Mares of Thrace in some accounts, were four man-eating horses who featured in ancient Greek mythology.
Mermaid: Mermaids were mythical aquatic creatures in Greek mythology, typically characterized by a human head, and torso and the tail of a fish.
Minotaur: Minotaur was yet another Greek mythical creature who inhabited the Cretan Labyrinth, typically characterized by the head of a bull and the body of a man.
Nemean Lion: Nemean lion was a mythical monster from ancient Greek mythology, who was eventually killed by Hercules.
Nymph: In Greek mythology, nymphs were female spirits most often associated with a particular location or a water-body.
Pegasus: Pegasus was an immortal winged horse, which rose from the blood of Medusa, when she was slain by Perseus.
Phoenix: The phoenix was a legendary bird which was believed to burn itself to death and emerge from ashes of the same fire, once every five hundred years.
Siren: The term 'siren' is used to refer to the three dangerous bird-women, from the island Sirenum scopuli, who were often portrayed as seductresses in ancient Greek mythology.
Stymphalian Birds: Stymphalian birds were the man-eating bird pets raised by Ares, the god of war. These birds were typically characterized by beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers.
Talos: In Greek history, Talos was a giant man-made of bronze, who guarded the island of Crete in order to protect the Phoenician princess, Europa.
Teumessian Fox: Teumessian fox was a huge fox born to Echidna, the 'Mother of All Monsters', and destined never to be caught.
Typhon: One of the most deadly mythical creatures in Greek mythology, Typhon was a monster who attempted to destroy Zeus - the Greek god, at the will of Gaia.
Of course, it is impossible to know how many of these ancient creatures were actually real and which one of them were demonic manifestations or fairy tales. However, we have some early Christian accounts of encounterings with different mythical creatures such as Centaurs, giant snakes, dragons and reptiles among many other unknown creatures of today. Indeed, the world was much different in the earlier time periods compared with today.
The Achaeans was a collective name for the ancient Greeks and their allies who fought against the Trojans during the Trojan War.
Aeacus was a son of Zeus, the father of Peleus, and grandfather of Achilles.
Aetolia is a region in northwestern Greece.
Agamemnon is a mythical king of Mycenae. During the Trojan War, as described in Homer's Iliad, Agamemnon was the Supreme commander of the Greek forces. He was a member of the House of Atreus, which is considered to have been cursed due to its violent history, and was brother to Menelaus, king of Sparta. With his wife, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon had four daughters: Chrysothemis, Electra, Iphianissa, and Iphigenia; he also had one son, Orestes. During the Trojan War, Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia to Artemis, to ensure strong winds for the voyage to Troy. During the war, he captured Priam's daughter, Cassandra, and brought her back to Mycenae with him. However, upon his return, he discovered that Clytemnestra had taken a new husband, Aegisthus. Clytemnestra killed both Agamemnon and Cassandra after luring them to a banquet.
Agrius was a prince of Calydon, the son of Portheus.
Altes was king of the Leleges and father of Laothoë (a wife of Priam).
Althaea was the mother of Meleager.
Antilochus was the son of Nestor, brother of Thrasymedes, and a favorite of Achilles after the death of Patroclus. He was killed by Memnon of Ethiopia during the Trojan War. Achilles was recovering Antilochus' body when Paris hit him with an arrow in his heel, killing him.
Antimachus was the father of the Trojans Pisander, Hippolochus, and Hippomachus.
Argissa was a city in Thessaly, in the kingdom of Polypoetes.
Argos was a city-state in ancient Greece, largely eclipsed by Sparta in prominence and importance. Argos played a role in the mythology of the Trojan War at which time it was said to be ruled by Diomedes. "Argos" could also refer to the entire Argolid, which was the kingdom of Agamemnon. As Agamemnon was the commander of the entire Greek force, "Argos" also could refer very generally to all of allied Greece during the Trojan War. The kingdom of Achilles was sometimes referred to as "Pelasgian Argos".
Bellerophon was the hero of Greek mythology who tamed and rode the flying horse Pegasus during his victory over the three-headed monster Chimera.
Bootes meaning, the ox-driver or wagoner, was a son of Ceres; inventor of the plough in the Greek mythology; and was said to have been translated along with his ox to become a constellation in the northern sky, the brightest star in which is Arcturus.
Caeneus was a Lapith hero of the generation of Nestor, father of Coronus.
Calydon was a city in Aetolia, the site of a legendary battle between Aetolians and Curetes.
Calypso, in Greek mythology was a nymph, and a daughter of Atlas, queen of the island of Ogygia, who by her fascinating charms detained Ulysses beside her for 7 of the 10 years of his wanderings home from Troy; she died of grief on his departure.
Charon, in Greek mythology was the ferryman of the ghosts of the dead over the Styx into Hades, a grim old figure with a mean dress and a dirty beard, peremptory in exacting from the ghosts he ferried over the obolus allowed him for passage-money.
The Chimera or Chimaera (pronounced keye-MIR-uh) was "a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail." The monster was slain by Bellerophon, riding the winged horse, Pegasus. The term has multiple uses in modern biology. One prominent definition is an animal that has multiple different populations of genetically distinct cells that originated from different zygotes. Some humans are naturally chimeric, sharing cells from a twin (often one that was never born) or a parent. In popular usage, a chimera means something deliberately created with a combination of human and animal cells. Such combination is often opposed on religious and ethical grounds.
Coronus was the son of Caeneus, father of the Achaean Leonteus.
The Curetes were Aetolians living in Pleuron, who made war on the Aetolians of Calydon.
The Cyclopes are members of the Greco-mythical race of giants with a single eye in the middle of their forehead, like monsters. The most famous of these was Polyphemus, descendant of Poseidon from Homer's Odyssey.
Dionysus ("twice-born") was the god of wine. He was known to the Romans as Bacchus.
Echo was a nymph in Greek mythology. Because of an affair she had with Zeus, she was cursed by Hera to be able to speak only by repeating what she heard.
Eurydamas was an interpreter of dreams, and father of the Trojans Abas and Polyidus.
The Gigantes (monstrous giants) are (according to the poet Hesiod) the children of Uranus and Gaia. The titans are as well often imagined to be of great size and strength, hence the word titanic. Also the Cyclopes, in mythology, are giants with one eye. Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, was a giant, as well as Gog the giant of the Amorites, (og in Hebrew means "gigantic").
Hercules was the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, and the mortal woman Alcmena. Possessing great strength, he was constantly tormented by Zeus' goddess wife, Hera, who sought to have him killed to blot out the reminder of Zeus' infidelity. Even as an infant two snakes were sent to kill Hercules in his crib, but instead he strangled them with his great strength. Hera later made Hercules insane so that he killed his family, and, once he recovered his sanity, planned to commit suicide until Theseus convinced him not to. The legends of Hercules are many, including his Twelve Labors, and his eventual death due to poison through trickery and his killing of a lion. Hercules has become a major part of western culture and has had TV shows based on the character as well as many movies. The Hercules of mythology is often more savage and his character more unstable than what is usually shown in these adaptations.
Jason was a person from pagan Greek mythology. He sailed (on his ship the Argo with Hercules and Orpheus and the other Argonauts) to Colchis to retrieve the Golden Fleece. King Aeetes of Colchis assigned Jason several tasks he had to perform before he could retrieve the Golden Fleece; these tasks were supposed to be impossible, but King Aeetes's daughter Medea had fallen in love with Jason so she aided him in the tasks. With Medea's aid (Medea was a powerful witch as well as being a princess), Jason won the Golden Fleece and he and Medea were married and he had two children by her. Later in his life, he divorced Medea so he could marry King Creon's daughter; in revenge for this betrayal Medea killed Jason's new bride and both of the children she had by him, leaving him to mourn their loss. Jason is also a Christian name for a boy.
In ancient Crete, the labyrinth was said to have been designed by Daedalus to hold the mythical monster, the Minotaur.
Laodamia was a daughter of Bellerophon, the mother of Sarpedon by Zeus, killed by the goddess Artemis
Leonteus was an Achaean, son of Coronus, co-commander with Polypoetes of the Lapiths from Argissa during the Trojan War.
Medea, (from the Greek for cunning), was a sorceress, daughter of Aeetes, king of Colchis. She helped Jason to obtain the Golden Fleece and married him. However, she was deserted in Corinth and avenged herself by killing their two children.
Medusa was one of the Gorgons. Legends said that she was the fairest of the beautiful Gorgon sisters- yet also the vainest. By means of deflating Medusa's ego, the goddess Athena changed the belle's gorgeous golden tresses into a mass of lethal snakes. Nevertheless, Medusa still continued to spend hours in front of the mirror, even though suitors shied away, because she was possessing of many more beautiful qualities as well. Outraged at Medusa's narcissism, Athena decided to punish all of the Gorgon sisters. She exiled them to a deserted, isolated island. Then she put an additional curse on them: if a mortal ever looked at them straight in the eyes, he/she would turn to stone. Over the years spent alone in their new domain, they eventually turned into monsters, with characteristics such as long, yellow fangs, clammy skin, and monstrous size. After many brave heroes had been reduced to statues by her lethal glare, Medusa was eventually slain by Perseus, who avoided looking at her eyes by instead observing her through her reflection in Athena's reflective shield. He succeeded in beheading the monster, and, when she died, Pegasus, the winged horse, flew out of her neck.
Melas was the son of Portheus, brother of Oeneus.
Meleager was the son of Oeneus and Althaea, prince of the Aetolians in Calydon.
Memnon was king of Ethiopia, allied to Troy, during the Trojan War.
The Minotaur was half-man and half-bull. It was the offspring of Pasipha, the wife of King Minos of Crete, and a bull. Poseidon had given a bull to Minos to sacrifice to the god, but it was so beautiful, the the king could not sacrifice it and kept it instead. As punishment, Poseidon made the queen, Pasipha, fall in love with the bull and their offspring was the minotaur. At first the minotaur wreaked havoc throughout Crete, but eventually Minos caught it and imprisoned in the labyrinth, a maze designed by the architect Daedalus that was so complex that no one could escape from it. For food, the minotaur was given fourteen Athenians every year who were put in the maze and hunted by the minotaur. After a time, however, the Athenian hero Theseus came to Crete to be fed to the minotaur, but instead, with the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne, killed it with his bare hands.
The Titan Mnemosyne was the mother of the Muses by Zeus.
Mount Olympus is the so called place of the gods in Greek mythology. It supposedly towers up from the center of the earth. Here at least twelve major gods are said to live and hold court. The myths are vague on whether it is an actual mountain that can be traveled to by foot or only a region of the heavens.
The Myrmidons were the people of Phthia in southern Thessaly. They were ruled by Peleus and commanded during the Trojan War by Achilles.
Narcissus was a man in Greek myth who fell in love with his own reflection. In the Roman poet Ovid's retelling of the myth, Narcissus is the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Tiresias, the seer, told his parents that the child "would live to an old age if it did not look at itself." Many nymphs and girls fell in love with him but he rejected them. One of these nymphs, Echo, was so distraught over this rejection that she withdrew into a lonely spot and faded until all that was left was a plaintive whisper (the origin of the word "echo"). The goddess Nemesis heard the rejected girl's prayers for vengeance and arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection. He stayed watching his reflection and let himself die. It is quite possible, however, that the connection between Echo and Narcissus was entirely Ovid's own invention, for there is no earlier references to this story in literature.
Neleus was the father of Nestor, former king of Pylos.
The Nereids were Greek sea-goddesses, daughters of Nereus.
Nereus was a sea-god of the Ancient Greeks, known as the "Old Man of the Sea." He was the father of Thetis and all the Nereids.
Oedipus, mythical king of Thebes who killed his father and married his mother in Oedipus Rex, a Greek tragedy by Sophocles.
Oeneus was king of Calydon, son of Portheus, father of Tydeus and Meleager.
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon, commander of all the Greek forces at Troy, and the grandson of Atreus. After his father was murdered by his mother, Orestes, who was very young, went into exile. Orestes was determined to avenge his father and when he had grown up, he returned to kill his mother Clytemnestra and her new husband Aegisthus, Orestes' uncle. Despite divine laws against killing family, Orestes killed them both and freed his sister Electra whom they had imprisoned. As punishment for the murders, Orestes was pursued by the Erinyes until Athena forgave him.
Orion was a handsome giant and hunter, who was struck blind by Dionysus for attempting an outrage on Merope, but recovered his eyesight on exposing his eyeballs to the arrowy rays of Aurora, and became afterwards the companion of Artemis on the hunting-field, but he fell a victim to the jealousy of Apollo, the brother of Artemis, and was transformed by the latter into a constellation in the sky, where he figures as a giant wearing a lion's skin and a girdle or belt and wielding a club.
Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the Myrmidons, father of Achilles, and husband of Thetis.
Pelops was the son of Tantalus who served him to the gods at a feast. Fortunately, the gods realized what was happening before eating Pelops, and so were able to re-assemble him. Pelops later married Hippodamia after beating her father in a chariot race. He had two sons: Atreus and Thyestes.
Perseus is a great hero, a demigod and the son of Zeus and Danae. He slays the gorgon Medusa and rescues Andromeda. In astronomy, Perseus is a not-very-conspicuous constellation located near Cassiopeia. The Perseids are an annual meteor shower, peaking on August 12th; the meteors in this shower appear to radiate from a center in Perseus, hence the name.
Phaeton was the son of the sun god, Helios. When his mother told him who his father was, he set out to meet him and discover whether he indeed was the sun god's son. He met Helios who confirmed what his mother said, and, to prove it, swore by the river Styx that he would grant any request of Phaeton's. Unfortunately, what Phaeton wanted most was to drive the god's chariot for a day. Although Helios knew that this would be deadly folly, he had sworn by the Styx and so had no choice but to leave his son to his fate. Phaeton began driving the chariot, but quickly lost control, threatening the Earth so that Zeus was forced to kill him. This myth was used to teach what happened when mortals forgot their place and thought that they were the gods' equals.
Phthia was a sector of southern Thessaly, the kingdom of Peleus, and home of Achilles and the Myrmidons.
Pirithous was a son of Zeus, king of the Lapiths, and father of Polypoetes.
Pleuron was a city in Aetolia.
Portheus was an Aetolian hero, father of Agrius, Melas, and Oeneus, grandfather of Tydeus.
Proteus was the king of Argos who plotted against the life of Bellerophon.
Sisyphus was a cunning and deceitful man who was known for his trickery. He is best known for his punishment of being forced to roll a boulder up a hill for all of eternity. Perhaps his greatest trick was tricking Thanatos, the personification of Death, to demonstrate a set of shackles on himself. Thanatos remained shackled under the care of Sisyphus for a period of time, during which no mortal could die. Ares, the god of war, became upset that his battles would not result in death, and finally rescued Thanatos. Before Sisyphus died, he asked his wife not to perform the sacrifice usually performed in such a situation. Once sent to the underworld, he then complained that his wife was neglecting this duty, and asked for permission to return to ask his wife to perform this duty. He received this permission, but once he came back, he would not return. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, brought Sisyphus back. As a punishment for his trickery, Sisyphus was sent to Tartarus, the worst part of Hades, and condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for all of eternity. The boulder would always roll back down the hill once Sisyphus brought it to the top. The myth of Sisyphus is used as a metaphor for repetitive and useless activities.
Tantalus was the father of Pelops, whom he cut up and served to the Greek gods at a feast. In punishment, the gods sent him to Tartarus, where he was always up to his waist in water and just out of reach of some delicious-looking grapes. From this myth we get the word tantalizing, and also one of Aesop's Fables.
Tethys can refer to several different things: the Greek Titan who was the mother of rivers: one of the Cassini moons of Saturn; and in evolutionary mythology: a post-Panthalassic ocean that separated Gondwana and Lorasia during the so-called Mesozoic Era.
Theseus was a mythological character, the son of Aegeus and Aethra of Athens. He was raised by his mother away from his father, but his mother had been instructed to send Theseus to claim his place as his father's heir once he was strong enough to roll away a boulder that was guarding a sword and shoes belonging to Aegeus. After a time, he rolled away the boulder and prepared to journey to his father's kingdom. Because the roads to Athens were filled with dangerous bandits, Theseus' mother and grandfather tried to convince him to take the safe route by sea, but Theseus was determined to prove his valor and become a hero by traveling over land. As he traveled, he encountered numerous outlaws, but he killed them all, and by the time he reached Athens he had built a reputation as a good and courageous fighter, so much so that his father, on the advice of Medea, initially tried to poison him before realizing that Theseus was his son. Theseus went on many other adventures, most notably sailing to Crete to kill the Minotaur. Periodically, the Athenians were forced by King Minos of Crete to give him seven young men and seven young women to be put into the Labyrinth and fed to the Minotaur. One year, Theseus volunteered and, instead of being eaten by the Minotaur, killed it. Unfortunately, this episode ended in the death of Aegeus. Before leaving, Theseus had told Aegeus that if he came back alive, he would raise white sails on his ship as he returned, but he forgot and instead kept the ship's usual black sails, causing Aegeus to think him dead. In grief the King killed himself.
Tydeus was the son of Oeneus, father of Diomedes.
Zeus was the leader of the gods.
As we have seen in this short presentation, the Greek so called gods, heroics and mythology are many times all but virtues and moral. The rapes of women or male youths, the lies and deceptions, jealousies and revenges, the committing of adulteries, fornications and incests, the murders, patricides and infanticides, are all common themes in Greek mythology. In the ancient writing "Recognitions of Clement", the writer states that the fables or myths about the pagan Roman and Greek gods and goddesses gave the pagans a false justification for living wicked lives ("Recognitions of Clement", Book 10, Chapter 23).
Wicked, Evil and Immoral Greek gods and goddesses