INTRODUCTION TO MYTHOLOGY GREEK ANCIENT GREECE Thousands of years ago, a civilization flourished in Greece whose accomplishments remain with us today. They first came up with the idea of democracy, designed tools that helped make life better and even figured out how to sail ships by looking at the stars. The ancient Greeks told stories to help explain how different parts of the world worked. Today we call them "myths." They're a lot like fairy tales, such as Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hoodor even like stories you read today about Batman or Spider-Man. To the Greeks, they were very important, and
they held wise lessons for those who heard them. LESSONS Greek myths were intended to provide a colorful explanation for things that went on in the world. For example, they explained thunderstorms as the god Zeus hurling lightning from his home in the heavens. Or whenever winter came, they said it was Demeter, the goddess of nature, who was sad because her daughter had gone away from her. Other myths were stories of heroes or kings: They were supposed to be entertaining, but also to give lessons about how to do the right thing or how
to live a good life THE GODS Greek myths featured 12 major gods (and a lot of minor ones) who ruled the world from their home on the top of Mount Olympus. Their leader was Zeus, the king of the gods. Each of them controlled a single part of the world. For example, Poseidon was god of the sea, while Hermes was the god of travelers and thieves. The Greek gods were often petty and immature. They would get angry over little things or take what they wanted without
asking other people. To the Greeks, that helped explain why life wasn't always fair, or why bad things sometimes happened to people who had done nothing HEROES The Greeks had their share of mythic heroes, just as we have heroes like Superman and Indiana Jones today. They weren't gods (though many of them had parents who were gods),
but rather men who fought to rid the world of monsters and other plagues. They were often aided by the gods, who gave them gifts such as magical swords, but in MONSTERS Monsters in Greek mythology fell into two rough categories. Some stood as obstacles to the heroes and their deedsabominations that needed to be destroyed. The bull-headed Minotaur and the
terrible Medusa are good examples of such monsters. Other Greek monsters were not slain by heroes, but rather existed eternally as part of some ongoing threat. The Sirens, who lured sailors to their deaths by wrecking their ships, are examples of this kind of monster. HUMANITY The Greek myths told about human nature. The myths showed admirable strength in characters like Hercules, but
also showed weaknesses. In the case of Hercules, he was not intelligent. Not only were humans given flaws, but even the gods in Greek myths were prone to mistakes and weakness. For example, many of the gods cheated on spouses. These flaws sought to explain human nature. TRAGEDY Some Greek myths ended sadly. The heroes would eventually die or learn their lessons too late.
Many times, they were killed by things that they should have seen but didn't, or by flaws that they couldn't recognize until it was too late. Death is a part of life, and the Greek stories tried to show the sad times with their characters as well as the happy ones.
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