Greek Mythology

Derived from the Greek term mythologia that means “the telling of stories”, mythology describes a group of stories that attempts to explain the nature of the world, from the existence of humans to the occurrence of natural disasters. Through history cultures around the world have framed their beliefs and actions around these stories.
Mythology came into being through observation and a dash of imagination. For example, before astronomers gave us a better understanding of planetary movement many peoples believed that solar eclipses happened when a demon or dragon ate the sun. While belief in ancient or native mythologies has waned, the stories continue to influence culture, particularly literature, today.
Writers find much creative content in the myths of old to imbue in their work. Many ancient works center on the mythology of the cultures in which they were written, from Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey on Greek gods and heroes to Virgil’s Aeneid on Roman deities to the Celtic epic Beowulf on the feats of that mighty warrior.
Even today mythology winds through literature. In the West, a main character’s weakness might be called his “Achilles heel”, a difficult task may be described as “Herculean”, or a matchmaker’s work may be compared to “playing Cupid.” All of these phrases come from ancient Greek mythology. In addition, fantasy novels such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings draw inspiration from the myths of Northern Europe and creatures like elves and dwarves found therein.
Learning about mythology from around the world expands your understanding of the history and cultures of others, and may also help you better understand and appreciate those allusions that you encounter in classic and contemporary literature.

  • The Origin of Man – Each civilization has an origin story for mankind. The ancient Greek interpretation begins with men sprouting the from the earth like a tender flower.
  • The Greek Olympians – The most well-known characters of Greek mythology are the Olympians, twelve gods who resided on Mount Olympus. Find out the stories behind this mighty pantheon.
  • The Labors of Hercules – The personification of strength and struggle for the ancient Greeks, the demigod Hercules had to perform twelve seemingly-impossible labors as punishment for a crime.
  • Greek Mythical Creatures – From the three-headed Cerberus to the long-lived phoenix, Greek mythology is rife with all different types of beings and beasts.
  • Religious Beliefs & Practices in Ancient Greece – Religion affected all parts of Greek life, embodying the idea of an unseparated church and state. An engaging video from National Geographic gives a fascinating overview of this relationship.