Greek mythology


May 25, 2022

Greek mythology is the collection and study of myths belonging to the religious culture of the ancient Greeks and concerning, in particular, their gods and heroes. The Greek myths were collected in cycles concerning the different areas of the Hellenic world. The only unifying element is the composition of the Greek pantheon, consisting of a hierarchy of divine figures that also represent the forces or aspects of nature. Contemporary scholars study and analyze ancient myths in an attempt to shed light on the political and religious institutions of ancient Greece and, in general, of all ancient Greek civilization. It consists of a large collection of tales explaining the origin of the world and detailing the life and adventures of a large number of gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines and other mythological creatures. These stories were initially composed and disseminated in an oral poetic and compositional form, while they have come down to us mainly through texts written by the Greek literary tradition. The oldest known literary sources, the two epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus their attention on the events that revolve around the story of the Trojan War. Two other poems almost contemporary to the Homeric works, the Theogony and The works and days written by Hesiod, instead contain stories concerning cosmogony, the chronology of celestial rulers, the succession of the ages of man, the beginning of human suffering and the origin of sacrificial practices. Several myths are also contained in the Homeric hymns, in the fragments of the poems of the epic cycle, in the poems of Greek lyricists, in the works of the tragedians of the fifth century BC, in the writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic age and in writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias. . The topics narrated by Greek mythology were also represented in many artifacts: the geometric designs on the surface of vases and plates dating back to the 8th century BC. they portray scenes inspired by the cycle of the Trojan War or by the adventures of Heracles. Even later, scenes from Homer or other myths will be represented on the art objects, in order to provide scholars with additional material to support the literary texts. It had a great influence on the culture, arts and literature of Western civilization and its legacy is still very much alive in its languages ​​and cultures. It has always been present in the educational system, starting from the earliest degrees of education, while poets and artists of all eras have been inspired by it, highlighting the relevance and weight that classical mythological themes could play in all eras. of history.


Mýthos and Lógos: origin of the terms and proceeding of their meaning in Greek culture

The term "myth" (μῦθος, mýthos) in Homer and Hesiod has the meaning of "story", "speech", "history". A "true" story, pronounced in an authoritative way because "there is nothing more true and more real than a story recited by a wise old king". In Theogony it is μύθος what the Muses goddesses address to the shepherd Hesiod before transforming him into an "inspired singer". Different is the origin of the lógos (λόγος) which appears rather as a "calculated, reasoned speech" not necessarily "true": Only after the "Homeric" period is there a radical change in the meanings of the two terms: That said, with Plato the two terms intersect in mythology (ours also uses mythous légein, mythologein) to mean that kind of poiésis that deals with telling "about gods, divine beings, heroes and descents into the afterlife".

Singers "inspired" by the Muses: the sacred origin of Greek mythology

The most ancient attestations of Greek "mythology" correspond to the "Homeric" poems and to the Theogony of Hesiod, both of these contexts of sacred literature.