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Introduction to Mythology

Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths

is a body of myths describing the Gods of the people, demigods and legendary
human beings in stories which involve supernatural elements.
Myths are stories about supernatural beings, in early times handed down orally from one
generation to another
Myths attempt to Explain such ideas as
Nature Where did earth come from?
Man .. Where did man come from?
Gods.. How many? Role of gods?
A usually traditional story of events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a
people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon . Myths often involve divine,
supernatural, and/or heroic characters.
A collection of stories about a set of gods, based upon oral tradition, as told and recorded by the
ancient Greeks
Myths served as entertainment, a sense of national/regional pride, and religious education
The purpose of the myth is to explain matters in the science of a prescientific age.

Believed that the ancient Gods were pattered after heroes who actually lived at one time.


People who study the growth of language.

This study claims that man repeating things their ancestors said, understood them in a
different sense and because of that, misunderstanding created myths.


People who study the history of the human race.

They tried to explain the cause of natural phenomenon.

Emile Durheim

French sociologist

Explained that myths came from society as a whole.

He believed that people got so excited during their tribal festivities that they thought that
a great power came to them from an object in their camp.

Greek and Roman mythology
The Romans had no system of mythology of their own. They adopted the mythology of
the Greeks, but changed the name of the Gods. The Romans and Greeks had not only the
same Gods, but the same demigods.
came from Scandinavian countries.
In here, the ruler of the heavens and earth is ODIN. FREYA corresponds to
APHRODITE, Greek goddess of love, THOR to MARS.
The home of the Gods was the great Hall of Valhalla in Odins Palace. Odins
maiden messenger, the Valkyries, brought the souls of heroes slain in battle to live forever in
honor and glory in the hall of Valhalla.

The names of ditties in German myths differ only slightly from those of the Norse.
Odin becomes Wotan, Sigurd and Brynhild become Siegfried and Brunhilde as in the Wagnerian
why stories
Why the Sunflower turns to the Sun
Why the Woodpecker Has a Red Head
Why Archne Was Changed into a Spider
Symbolic story
An acceptable story for children is the story of King Midas who wanted everything that
he touched would turn into gold.

A type of myth story deals with the ways of the gods with other Gods and with
men. This is a complex type of story and is not suitable for young children.
The Classicists
Greek mythology existed for hundreds of years before these stories were ever recorded with
written words.
The scholars/poets who recorded the myths are known as classicists.
The major classicists of Greek Mythology include Virgil, Homer, and Ovid.
The Importance of Myths
Myths were critical to the ancient Greeks
These stories touched all aspects of Greek life, including art, music, architecture, military
endeavors, religion, and education.
Greek myths and sunlight are represented by moral quality. Heroes are set in sunlight, monsters
belong to the darkness.
Categories of Myths
Myths of creation: these explain the beginning of time, space, and man
Myths of explanation: these explain the great questions of the universe
Myths of morality: these teach lessons and reinforce cultural morality
Why Study Mythology?
Greek myths are the foundations for the arts as we know them, including movies, television,
commercial products, sports, music, and comic books.
A knowledge of Greek mythology enhances a persons ability to understand and appreciate the
world as a whole.
Mythology: A Brief Timeline
The beginning: according to popular belief

Uranus was the First One, and he created the universe.

Uranus created and married Gaia, otherwise known as Mother Earth.

They lived on Mt. Olympus

Uranus and Gaia had many children:

Some were human-like giants, called the Titans

Some were hideous, disfigured monsters

The Titans lived for many years under Uranuss cruel reign

Uranuss most powerful son would soon challenge his rule.

Cronus killed his cruel father and assumed his role as king of the Titans.

Before Uranus died, he predicted that Cronus would be killed by one of his sons, just as
he had been.

What is the logical solution to this problem?

Because he feared his sons, Cronus ate his first two sons whole

Fed up with his baby-gobbling, Rhea gave birth to her third son in secret

Rhea dressed a boulder up as a baby and Cronus ate the rock unknowingly

Zeus was sent as an infant to be raised in secret by human shephards

Cronus married his sister, Rhea, and had:

-Three daughters: Hestia(goddess of earth) , Demeter(fertility), Hera

-Three sons: Posiedon, Hades, and Zeus

These offspring were considered Titans, but would later become the gods and
goddesses of Greek Mythology

Zeus returned to Mt. Olympus as a young man and poisoned Cronus

Cronus vomited up brothers Poseidon and Hades

Zeus was celebrated as a hero

An epic battle ensues between Cronus and his sons for the right to rule Mt. Olympus and
the universe.

The Great Battle!

Cronus is assisted in battle by his Titan brothers

Zeus and his brothers are assisted by the monsters Cronus had abused and tortured for
years in captivity.

These monsters included the Cyclopes (3) and the Hundred-Handed Ones (3)

Mythology and Classic Art

The Battle Between the Gods and the Titans by Wtewael Art Institute of Chicago,

Cronus is Defeated!

The three sons roll dice to divide Cronus kingdom

Zeus wins, and chooses the empty sky.

Poseidon secretly wanted the sea.

Hades is left to bitterly receive leftovers In the underworld.

Enter the Gods

Magically and mysteriously, the children of Cronus become immortal, and become gods
and goddesses.

Mythology offers no explanation for this important transformation!

The twelve main gods and goddesses are known as the Pantheon.

The Pantheon

There are many gods, goddesses, demi-gods (half-gods) and supernatural beings in
Greek Mythology.

The twelve main gods and goddesses are known as the Pantheon.


King of the gods, ruler of Mt. Olympus

Also god of lightning

Was a powerful and aggressive ruler

Struck Earth with lightning bolt when upset

Waged constant war with wife and sisterHera

Cheated on wife countless times, and had numerous children with mortals, gods, and
other creatures


Was a master of disguise, which aided him in his philandering

Was a complex character: capable of unspeakable acts of immorality and occasional

acts of mercy


Queen of immortals, goddess of marriage and childbirth

Unhappy wife of Zeus

Disapproved of Zeus constant cheating

Held grudges against Zeus children

Often punished Zeus with childish pranks and vengeful schemes


Goddess of wisdom and warfare, mistress of strategy

Taught men how to use an ax, plough, wheel, sail. Taught women how to spin and
weave (Arachne story...)

Mother was Metis, a Titaness

Zeus became paranoid that his child would harm him, so he eats her whole.

Zeus developed a splitting headache

Hephaestus split his head open with a chisel, and

The Rebirth of Athena

Athena jumped out of Zeus skull, full-grown and wearing battle armor.

One of the most popular and respected immortals

Athens, Greece is named for her


God of water

Never had children with sea nymph-Thetis because any son of Thetis would be greater
than Poseiden

Thetis had a son from Peleus whose name was Achilles therefore the prophecy came

Difficult, quarrelsome, greedy, liked jokes

Thought up creature...octopus, squid, jellyfish, swordfish, dolphin, etc.

Was trying to perfect the horse for Demeter and that is why we have the camel, hippo,
giraffe, donkey, and zebra

Ruled over seas, oceans, rivers and all the sea creatures

Did not live in the lost city of Atlantis

Invented many of the fish and sea monsters of mythology

Created the horse for Demeter (*)



God of the Underworld

Greeks buried their dead with a coin so that when they entered "Hades" they
could pay the fare on their way to the river Styx

Cerberus- 3 headed dog that guarded the gate

3 judges awaited the dead - Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aeacus.

> if judges were displeased - bad punishments

> if judges were pleased - Elysian Fields

Palace grounds were called Erebus- deepest part of the underworld


Lived with his kidnapped wife, Persephone

The Eumenides or the " kindly ones" would wander the earth in search of evil-doers and
ones that escaped punishment and their attention persuaded people to suicide


Goddess of the cornfield, mistress of planting and growing things

One of Zeus favorite females (also sister)

Had a daughter named Persephone

Demeter's daughter Persephone was kidnapped by Hades

Responsible for the winter and summer seasons, since Persephone ate the 6
pomegranate seeds, she will have to stay in the underworld with Hades for 6 months,
and nothing will grow on earth because Demeter will mourn.


Born of Zeus and Leto (a nymph)

Zeus granted her whatever she wanted: remain a maiden, many names, silver bow and
arrow, deerskin tunic, 50 ocean nymphs, 20 wood nymphs, hounds, mountains, and one

Was Zeus favorite daughter

Went by Goddess of the Moon, Maiden of the Silver Bow, Lady of the Wild Things,
Huntress, Maiden


God of the sun, patron of music, math, medicine and poetry. Preached moderation

Artemis twin brother

Hunted python who hunted his mother

Showed no mercy against the musician Marsyas ( unfair competition)

The Flaying of Marsyas



Stole Apollo's cattle and named himself the 12th god

Taught Apollo to play the lyre and traded Apollo pipes for his herdsman's golden staff

Apollo took Hermes to meet Zeus

Hermes became Zeus's messenger and known as the patron of liars, thieves, and
gamblers, God of Commerce, framer of treaties, guardian of travelers, took newly dead
to Tartarus

Invented the alphabet, scales, playing cards and card games

Told Zeus to disguise himself and join in on many adventures of the mortals


Messenger god, god of gambling, theivery and trickery

Has a sketchy creation:

Zeus child with a nymph

Zeus child with a goddess (unnamed)

Son of two enchanted mortals

*Oral tradition is contributed to the many different creations of Hermes


Son of Zeus and Hera

Was born ugly and fitful

Hera kicked him from Mt. Olympus

Was reinstated by Hera for his masterful skill of jewelry-making

Hera gave him Cyclops for helpers and Aphrodite for a bride

Hephaestus Strikes Gold

Married to Aphrodite, the most beautiful of all goddesses

Had no children with his wife

Endured Aphrodites many affairs and constant flirtations

Was emotionally scarred by Aphrodites affair with Ares, the god of war


Goddess of love and beauty, desire

Never distracted from her duties

Born out of primal murder - when Cronus killed his father Oranus/Uranus a body floated
up from the foam and taken to Olympus

Hera wanted her married immediately, Aphrodite chose Hephaestus because he worked
late ( though she planned to meet her other suitors)

Aphrodites Creation

Version #1: Aphrodite was the son of Zeus and a Dione

Version #2: Aphrodite was born of Zeus and the daughter of one of his arch enemies

But both of these stories are less-than-accurate twists on the real version

Discovered by fishermen and taken to Mt. Olympus as a gift to Zeus

Hera, fearing a relationship between Zeus and Aphrodite, insisted that she marry
Hephaestus, her ugliest child

Aphrodite serves as a constant temptation for gods and mortals alike.

Her name literally means from the foam

The Real Creation of Aphrodite

Aphrodite was born from the death of Uranus

Cronus castrated his father before death, and threw the part into the ocean

From the bubbling, boiling, bloody foam, Aphrodite appeared

She was accompanied at birth by sea nymphs and doves

Often depicted as having hatched from a seashell


God of warfare

Was violent, aggressive, and unlikeable

Was Hera and Zeuss most despised son

Had an awkward love affair with Aphrodite

Was actually a coward (traitor)

Was feared, but not respected by Greeks

Roman Mythology
The Origin of the Milky
In The Origin of the Milky Way (1575-1580; National Gallery, London, England) by Italian
artist Tintoretto, the Roman god Jupiter places his infant son Hercules on the goddess
Junos breast. According to legend, Junos milk spilled up while feeding the boy, and the
Milky Way was formed. In Roman mythology, Juno was the queen of the gods.
The Romans based their religion on Greek Mythology
They were also polytheistic
Many of the gods/goddesses were the same, but the Romans changed their names
The gods explained human qualities and life events
The Roman Gods
God of light and sky
Supreme ruler of the gods

Jupiter was the king of the gods. He was responsible for law and order.

He was the father of Mars.

He often carried a thunderbolt in his hand.

Queen of the Gods

God of music, light and healing
Goddess of fertility and hunt

Diana was the goddess of hunting and the moon. She was Apollos twin sister.

She usually carried a bow and arrow.

Goddess of Wisdom
Goddess of love and beauty

She was Jupiters daughter.

She was famous for seducing other gods, like Mars or Vulcan.

Her symbol was an apple.


Mars was the god of war. He was one of Romes most popular gods.

He usually carried a shield and a spear and he wore a helmet.


Mercury was the messenger of the gods. He had wings on his sandals and carried a
staff with two snakes around it.

Neptune was the god of the sea. His symbol was a trident, which he used to control the

He was responsible for all the creatures in the sea.

Norse Gods and Goddesses

Yggdrasil World Tree

Asgard heaven

Odin/ Woden/ Wotan

Midgard Earth

Chief of the gods

Father of Thor, Balder, and other

Odin pierces himself with a spear
and hangs on Yggdrasil for 9 days
and nights to learn the secret
knowledge of runes
Has one eye because he traded it
for a drink from the spring of
Valkyries and Valhalla
Valkyries are female spirit warriors
that ride the battlefields and find
worthy slain warriors and takes them
to Valhalla where they will train until
The northern lights are light shining
off of their shields
Valhalla is the Hall of the Slain. It
exists in Asgard, home of the gods
Thor/ Thunor
God of thunder and lightning
Mjolnir (the destroyer) an axhammer that can destroy giants and
mountains in a single blow
Has a chariot pulled by two goats.
He can kill these goats and eat them
and they will come back to life.

God of mischief and fire

Trickster figure
Unknown parentage
Responsible for Balders death and
punished by having snake venom
drip on his forehead
Jormungand, Hel, and Fenrir are his
Will begin Ragnorak
God of poetry and eloquence
Loki calls him Braggart and the
verb to brag comes from his name.
Married to Idun
Goddess of immortality
Keeps the golden apples of youth
Major story deals with a giant who,
with Lokis help, stole the apples,
causing the gods to wither
Freyr / Frey
God of agriculture, fertility, and

Is constantly fighting the World

Serpent Jormungand

Twin to Freyja (they are VERY close)

He is capable of drinking an ocean

Unlike the other gods, Freyr and

Freyja are earth dieties


Has a sword that can fight by itself

The Beautiful and The Good

The boar is his symbol

Primarily known for his death and



The favorite child


Goddess of love and fertility

Twin sister of Frey

Slept with four dwarves to get a

flaming necklace, which becomes
her symbol of fertility
Leader of the Valkyries

Is the look out on Bifrost (the

rainbow bridge to Asgard)
God of winter and darkness

She takes some of the dead warriors

for herself


Has a chariot drawn by cats

Tricked by Loki into killing Balder

Frigg / Frigga / Frea

Vali killed Hod in revenge for Balder

Mother Goddess

Will return during Ragnarok

Wife of Odin


Weaves clouds

Daughter of Loki

She knows events


in the present and future,

but is powerless to
change them
Learning of her sons (Balder) death,
she makes everything promise not to
harm him except the mistletoe

Goddess of death and the

Half black/ half white
Her face and body are human but
the legs are of a corpse
Has two servants: Ganglati and

God of war and justice

Spread the plague with a rake or a


Precursor of Odin

Hel / Helheim

Boldest of the gods

The underworld

Lost his hand to Fenrir, Lokis wolfson

The road to Hel is an icy river (Gjoll)

full of weapons

His symbol is the spear which has

become a symbol of justice

Guarded by a large dog (Garm) and

Modgud (an ugly goddess)


Nothing can leave Hel, not even


World Brightener
God of the dawn
Great hearing (can hear grass grow)
and eyesight

The wicked go here and the people

who do not die a glorious death in

A giant in the form of an eagle sits

and flaps his wings, making a
freezing wind. His name is
Hraesvelg (corpse eater)
Garm guards the entrance to Hel
Has four eyes and a bloody chest

Could be appeased with cake as

long as they gave the poor bread in
Will join the giants in Ragnorak