Introduction to Greek Mythology

Greek mythology comprises the collected legends about Greek gods and goddesses and ancient heroes and heroines, originally created and spread within an oral-poetic tradition. Our surviving sources of greek mythology are either transcriptions of this spoken word, or are later literary reworkings.

In the various greek mythology legends, stories and hymns, the gods of ancient Greece are nearly all described as human in appearance, unaging, nearly immune to all wounds and sickness, capable of becoming invisible, able to travel vast distances almost instantly, and able to speak through human beings with or without their knowledge.

Each character in greek mythology has his or her own specific appearance, genaeology, interests, personality, and area of expertise; however, these descriptions do have local variants that do not always agree with the descriptions used in other parts of the Greek-speaking world of the time.

When these greek mythology gods were called upon in poetry or prayer, they are referred to by a combination of their name and epithets, with the epithets identifying them by these distinctions from the other gods.

In greek mythology legends, these beings are described as a large multi-generational family. Their oldest members created the world as we know it. The generation of the gods most current (and relevant) to ancient Greek religion are described in epic poems as having appeared in person to the Greeks during the “age of heroes,” understood to be a reference to the archaic dark age (ca. 1200 BC to 800 BC) that preceded the Greek classical civilization.

These greek mythology gods provided the struggling ancestors of the Greeks with a limited number of miracles, taught them a selection of useful skills, taught them the methods of worshipping the gods, rewarded virtue and punished vice, and fathered children by humans.

These half-human, half divine children are collectively known as “the heroes” in greek mythology, and until the establishment of democracy their descendents claimed the right to rule on the basis of their divine ancestry and presumed divinely inherited ability to rule well.