This page is still under construction. Your comments will be much appreciated.
In this page I will attempt to present an outline of Greek mythology. For more details, click on each of the links as I add them.
There was never a single, official version of Greek mythology. Instead, the myths were passed down the generations from mouth to mouth, changing a little with each telling, as memory did its tricks or the teller improvised. Poets and singers adapted the myths to suit their creativity or audiences while, later, dramatists took this liberty even further.
In short, there is no single version of the Greek myths. Instead we have a multitude of different local versions with a good number of poetic adaptations for good measure. I will try to present the best-known version of each myth, adding some of the variants when they seem important.
Some names are given in both Greek and Latin. Greek and Roman mythology and religion shared many common traits, which became even more after Romans conquered the Greeks and began emulating them. As most people are more familiar with the Latin versions of the names, I will use them as a memory aid.
Cosmogony – how the world was made
The war with the Titans
The war with the Giants
The 12 gods
Their Latin equivalents, the ones most people are more familiar with, are given in parentheses. Greek and Roman mythology were not identical but shared many common traits, which became even more the more contact Romans (and the Etruscans before them) had with the Greeks.
First and foremost of all the gods, and father of many, Zeus was the indisputable lord of the world. He was the god of the sky, controlling thunder and lightning, responsible for storms and other weather phenomena. Addressed as ‘father’ by gods and mortals alike, he resides in Olympus, from where he rules the world when he is not busy fathering a truly impressive number of gods and heroes. Married to his godly sister, Hera, he finds himself unable to resist the beauty of other women – divine and mortal alike.
Hera is the wife (and sister) of Zeus, and first among goddesses. A mother-goddess, Hera is a protector of marriage and women. Unable to restrain her spouse’s infidelity, she wreaks wrathful vengeance to his partners and children. Faithful to her husband, Hera is the mother of several gods, among them Ares (Mars), Hephaestus (Vulcan) and Eris.
Brother of Zeus, Poseidon is the ruler of the seas and all waters on land. Trident in hand, he is terrible when angry and the fear of all sailors. He can also cause earthquakes and tsunamis.
Sister of all the above, Demetra is the goddess of earth and controls the fertility of soil, animals and people. She famously caused the near extinction of all life when she made the earth barren, in her sorrow after the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades. At the same time, she was the one who taught the secrets of agriculture to people. Her cult was tied with the calendar and her feasts coincided with important agricultural activities.
Son of Zeus (by Leto, a minor goddess) and twin brother of Artemis, Apollo was a sun god, prophet, purifier, musician and healer. Always youthful and handsome, Apollo is commonly presented as the ideal of male beauty. Father of many heroes and god Asclepius, Apollo nevertheless experienced some difficulties in his pursuit of love.
The making of humans
Legendary events and campaigns
The search for the Golden Fleece