Essay – Greek Mythology And Its Influences
We have all grown up listening to stories about heroes and villains, about good and evil, about what’s right and what’s wrong. But have we ever wondered where these stories originated from? Given this wondrous opportunity I would like to enlighten you on a certain section of such stories namely -Greek Mythology!
A myth refers to a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon and typically involves supernatural beings or events.
All the way back in 1955, the poet and scholar Robert Graves, wrote that myths have two main functions. The first is to answer awkward questions such as ‘Who made the world?’ ‘Where do souls go after death’ and ‘Who was the first man?’. The second function is to justify an existing social system and account for traditional rites and customs.
Myths originated in prehistoric times, that is, before writing was invented. Without written records it is difficult for us to know specifically when or how myths came about. It is only through archaeological clues and prehistoric works of art that tentative assumptions about the nature of these early myths can be made.
Ancient Greece had stories about Gods, Goddesses, heroes and monsters that played an important part of everyday life. There is no original source in Greek mythology that introduces all of the myths’ characters and storylines, as there is in the Christian Bible or the Hindu Vedas. Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most likely by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. However, these stories explained everything from religious rituals to the weather, customs, institutions, or religious rites of people. They gave meaning to the world people saw around them.
Some of the most famous Gods and Goddesses of Greek mythology were:
• Zeus (king of the Gods, controlled the sky, thunder and the weather);
• Hera (Zeus’ wife, the Goddess of women, marriage and family);
• Poseidon (brother of Zeus, God of seas and earthquakes);
• Aphrodite (the Goddess of love and beauty);
• Hades (Zeus and Poseidon’s elder brother, he represented death);
• Hermes (A son of Zeus, messenger of the Gods);
• Demeter (Goddess of agriculture, vegetation and crop growth);
• Apollo (God of music, arts, light and medicine);
• Athena (Goddess of wisdom, skill and war).
It was believed that the family of Greek gods lived in a cloud palace above Mount Olympus which was the highest mountain in Greece. These gods were thought to have special powers, and each had control over a different aspect of life. Diving further into all these Gods and Goddesses would help us understand the roles and importance they played in ancient Greece.
Zeus was the king of the Gods. He was believed to be the most powerful as he was the God of the sky, thunder, and controlled the weather. He had different powers, his most famous being the ability to hurl lightning bolts at those who displeased him! He hated dishonesty, and would punish those who lied or broke promises.
Hera was Zeus’ wife and queen of the Gods. She would have been the second most powerful as being married to Zeus’ was no ordinary thing. She would have had to have not only beauty but also brains. She is believed to be the Goddess of women, marriage and family. Hera was well worshipped by the Ancient Greeks, and the oldest and most important temples of the region were built in honour of her.
Poseidon was the brother of Zeus, and God of the sea and earthquakes. Although one of the Gods of Mount Olympus, he spent most of his time in the ocean. His weapon was a trident which was said to be so powerful it could shake the earth and shatter any object! He had a reputation for being bad-tempered and moody, and would seek revenge on those who angered him.
Aphrodite was the Goddess of love and beauty. The Greeks believed Aphrodite was created from the foam of the sea on the shores of Paphos, Cyprus. She was considered the most beautiful of the gods, and later married Hephaestus, God of metalwork and fire.
Hades was Zeus and Poseidon’s elder brother. Although a God of Mount Olympus, Hades rarely left his dark kingdom, the underworld, where he ruled over the dead. Because he represented death, Hades was the most feared of the Ancient Greek Gods – some people even refused to say his name! Hades was aided in the underworld by his three headed dog, Cerberus.
A son of Zeus, Hermes was the messenger of the Gods. He was also responsible for guiding the dead to the underworld. Hermes was said to be the fastest of theGods and wore winged sandals and a winged hat. He was also known for his intelligence and wit, and would help Zeus with his important decisions.
Demeter was the Goddess of agriculture, vegetation and crop growth. She was also associated with the seasons. The Ancient Greeks believed that her daughter, Persephone, was taken from her for four months each year, during which Demeter would grieve and withdraw her gifts from the world, creating winter.
A son of Zeus, Apollo was the Greek God of music, arts, light and medicine. He was famous for playing the lyre (an instrument a bit like a small U-shaped harp) – and he was also believed to have invented the lute (a pear-shaped string instrument). Although associated with health and healing, together with his twin sister Artemis, he could bring disease and plague to humans.
Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, skill and war. She taught humans various skills and crafts such as weaving, and would protect heroes during war. She was said to be Zeus’ favourite daughter, so much so that he would allow her to use his weapons – even his thunderbolt!
So how has Greek mythology influenced modern society?
The influence of Greek mythology can be seen in many aspects of popular culture today. From the earliest days of literature, authors have drawn inspiration from the tales of Greek mythology. William Shakespeare’s plays often drew on elements of Greek mythology, and he was not alone in his use of these stories. Many modern authors have also used Greek mythology as a source of inspiration, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.
Greek mythology has had a profound influence on pop culture and the arts, as the stories, characters, and motifs of the myths have been adapted, interpreted, and reimagined in a wide variety of forms, from literature and film to music and visual art.
Greek mythology has also influenced some of our modern-day games such as the Olympics. The Olympic Games started in Ancient Greece in the city of Olympia. The participants were the city-states of Ancient Greece and its colonies.
The Olympic Games were held every four years in honour of Zeus, the King of the Gods. The prizes for winning were fame and glory. Statues of the winners were built and sometimes the winners’ faces were even put on coins. The Olympics of Ancient Greece lasted from the 8th century BCE to the 4th century BCE before dying out.
Inspired by the ancient Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the event by founding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on June 23, 1894, and the modern Olympic Games were born. Today, we still celebrate some of the old traditions, such as the olive leaf crowns on winners’ heads, the lighting of the Olympic flame, and the Opening and Closing celebrations.
Apart from this even the buildings and architecture we see today has been largely inspired by Greek mythology. Each Greek structure was inspired by the story and unique abilities of a specific God and each aspect and characteristic of Greek architecture was designed to complement and relate to one another.
The most famous example of Greek architecture is the Parthenon, a magnificent building with pillars located in Athens. It was a temple dedicated to Athena, Queen of the Gods, from the people of Athens. The columns or pillars we see on grand buildings are mostly inspired by Greek architecture. Today, pillars are used in many public buildings such as churches and libraries. One famous modern-day building is the White House in America where President lives.
Greek mythology has had a significant influence on the naming and branding of various products and companies in modern times. Many brands and businesses have used names and imagery from Greek myths to evoke feelings of strength, power, and prestige. For example, the name of the brand “Nike,” which is known for its athletic footwear and clothing, is taken from the Greek goddess of victory. The brand’s logo, featuring the winged goddess, further emphasizes this association. Similarly, the brand “Hermes” is known for luxury leather goods, and accessories. The brand name comes from the Greek god of commerce, thieves and messenger, it also features a logo with the caduceus – symbol of Hermes.
Even many famous car manufacturers have used names from Greek mythology for their luxury models, such as the Mercedes-Benz “S-Class”, which is named after the Greek god of the moon and music. Many ships, and other transportation are also named after Greek gods and heroes, as they are associated with power and protection.
The enduring legacy of Greek mythology has had a deep impact on the branding and naming of products and companies, as the names and imagery from myths continue to evoke feelings of strength, prestige, and power.
Greek mythology is still relevant today, as the stories, characters, and concepts from the myths continue to be a source of inspiration and influence in many areas of contemporary culture. They provide a way for people to understand and relate to their own experiences and emotions, and can offer a sense of connection to a deeper, timeless human experience.
Greek myths provide valuable insight into the human condition. The myths explore universal themes such as love, hate, power, jealousy, and mortality that are still relevant today. Most people will not really notice it unless they are told to do so, but there are so many Greek influences around the world today. In fact, it is impossible to go around to completely understand the basics of things like fine arts, literature, and performing arts without touching on some Greek myths.
To summarize, any modern person who reads or hears of Greek myths will be hard-pressed to stay unaffected. They are simply that good and hence have withstood the test
By Prisha Lopez
Visit our Facebook Page : Little Authors | Facebook