Ancient Greek mythology and Religion

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Ancient Greek mythology and Religion

Like in any other areas, the Greeks felt the need to believe and to connect with superior beings/gods. This brought forth the mythology studied about ancient Greek. Mythology, which is derived from the word ‘Myth’, is the study of myths present in a given culture. A myth is portrays the origin of certain physical manifestations in a society or culture. Mythology in ancient Greek greatly portrays the relationship between the people/humans and the gods. They mostly depicted the heroic actions of people such as the Minotaur and Theseus, Odysseus’ heroic journey to his home in Ithaca, Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece, amongst other stories. The Greek mythology plays a major role in the ancient Greek religion.

The majority of the myths, if not all, were meant to bring explain the constant intervention of the gods in the lives of the humans. This would build a foundation in the worship of the gods. For example, Odysseus encountered the help of the gods through his journey to Ithaca. These meant that gods looked over the humans and they were ready to help them. These beliefs gave the humans a sense of protection and security. They provided the physical, spiritual and psychological care needed. However, the gods would also punish the evil humans just as they punished the rebelling gods knows as the Titans.

In these myths, the gods were in very interesting forms. Most of the gods were depicted as humans. The famous sculptures of such gods as Zeus and Apollo amongst other gods were depicted to have a human head and burst. In other cases, the gods had a mixed form of an animal and a human. For example, Minotaur was depicted as a half-bull, half-man creature, the centaurs, which are half man and half-horse; satyrs were half-goat and-half, amongst other beings. There was also the inclusion of other monsters, which were one-eyed such as Cyclopes, Scylla of the sea, Cahrybdis, just to mention but a few. Such beings emphasized that the gods were protecting the humans against very bad creatures, which would finish off the human race if they were allowed. The gods deserved the humans’ worship.

Some wars such as the Trojan War were believed to have been started the gods. In one of the paintings done by Peter P. Rubens, a depiction of the goddesses Athena, Aphrodite and Hera competing, is conveyed as a cause of the Trojan War. However, this painting was done post Renaissance. Other myths were just meant to explain the occurrences after the Trojan War. Homer’s lliad greatly focuses on the events surrounding the war. Apart from the wars and the worship of the gods, the physical interaction of the gods and the humans was quite often. The Greeks believed that some of the people were an offspring of the gods after having intercourse with a mortal woman. Such myths were meant to show the close relationships between the gods and the humans.

Unlike other communities, many myths did not give a clear explanation of the creation. However, only one myth gives a vague explanation of creation. The myth states that Chaos was the first primordial deity to be in existence. An offspring of various primordial gods were brought forth. They included Eros, Tartarus and Gaia. These gods brought forth the Titans. After this, the first Olympians were brought forth. Due to the lack of creation myths, one gets the perception that the Greeks were more interested with their relationship with the gods rather than knowing where they came from.

The Greek mythology was there to serve a number of purposes. It established a great foundation in their religion; it assured the Greeks of the presence of higher forces that were constantly checking on them and it explained some physical manifestations of things that were not scientifically proved by then. These myths encouraged the people to invoke the help of the gods during the various occasions and festivities and it founded the religion they follow in modern times.

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