Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook
eBook - ePub

Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook

From Aphrodite to Zeus, a Profile of Who's Who in Greek Mythology

Liv Albert, Sara Richard

  1. 240 páginas
  2. English
  3. ePUB (apto para móviles)
  4. Disponible en iOS y Android
eBook - ePub

Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook

From Aphrodite to Zeus, a Profile of Who's Who in Greek Mythology

Liv Albert, Sara Richard

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Información del libro

Finally sort out who's who in Greek mythology—from gods, goddesses, heroes, monsters, and everyone in between! Greek mythology continues to appear in popular movies and books today but have you ever wondered about where these characters started out? Discover the origins of your favorite characters from Greek mythology with this collection of profiles to tell you who's who in classical lore!In Greek Mythology, you will discover the backstories of the heroes, villains, gods, and goddesses that enjoy popularity in today's shows and films. With comprehensive entries that outline each character's name, roles, related symbols, and foundational myths, you can get to know the roots of these personas and better understand the stories they inspire today. With this character-focused, handy reference, you will never be confused about Ancient Greece!

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Adams Media
Social Sciences

The Creation Myth: Gods and Titans

The world of Greek mythology began with Chaos, a mass of nothingness from which sprang Gaia. Also known as Mother Earth, Gaia was the personification of the earth itself. She quickly became lonely and created herself a husband, Ouranos (yes, like Uranus, the planet). Together they spawned:
  1. The Titans, a group very similar to the gods, humanlike and different mostly only in name and overall importance in the mythology; they are sometimes also referred to as gods.
  2. The Hecatonchires, a very cool, if rarely mentioned, race of monsters, each with one hundred hands and fifty heads.
One of the Titans, Kronos, became power hungry and obsessed with overthrowing those above him in the hierarchy of deities. Kronos castrated his father, Ouranos, and threw the body parts he’d removed from his father into the sea. From the falling droplets of blood were born two types of creatures:
  1. The Erinyes, better known as the Furies, three women whose lives were devoted to punishing those who broke the natural laws of the world.
  2. The Gigantes, a race of bloodthirsty giants.
So, Kronos had made a name for himself…but it wasn’t a good one. His mother, Gaia, was then hell-bent on overthrowing him and regaining her own power. And even Kronos’s wife, Rhea, another Titan, quickly tired of him. Not because she was angry about what he did to Ouranos (also her father; there were a lot of shared parents among couples in Greek mythology—it’s best not to think too hard about it) but because every time she gave birth to one of their children, Kronos simply ate the child whole. There was a prophecy that a child of Kronos would one day overthrow him just as he did his own father, and Kronos believed he could nip it in the bud by eating the children.
Rhea gave birth to five children, all of whom Kronos ate before they could utter a sound. Finally, fed up (rightfully so!) with all her children being eaten, Rhea arranged to have her next child whisked away before Kronos could see him and brought down to earth to Mount Ida, on the island of Crete. There the child would be raised far away from his father and, with any luck, would live to adulthood and be able to fulfill the prophecy that Kronos feared. When Rhea gave birth to her sixth child, he was whisked away as planned. In place of the baby, Rhea handed Kronos a large rock swaddled like a newborn, which he swallowed. The child, meanwhile, was brought to Crete and named Zeus.
In time, Zeus grew up to become the strong, powerful god who his father had always feared. As with nearly all prophecies in Greek mythology, the one feared by Kronos came true. Zeus, with the help of his mother, snuck up on Kronos and forced him to vomit up his children, Zeus’s siblings. One by one, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia were “reborn” from Kronos’s stomach. These children of the Titans overthrew and imprisoned Kronos and the Titans who sided with him in a war known as the Titanomachy. The children then positioned themselves on Mount Olympus, the new home to the gods, and gave themselves the name Olympians from it.
Eventually these original Olympians coupled up with each other and with other deities (stories of these couplings are told in their character entries), and with that, the Olympians were complete (sort of…details on that to come). They were Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Ares, Hermes, Dionysus, and Hestia.
There were technically only ever twelve Olympians at a time. Hestia eventually gave up her spot to Dionysus (she was never all that into their drama), and Demeter wasn’t always considered to be one, but as one of the original siblings, she deserves her place in the story (more on that later).
The Olympians went on to create the natural world on earth, including creating humans themselves (that story is told in the entries on Prometheus and Pandora). Once they had created that world, they decided to wreak havoc on it and its people any time the desire arose (and it arose often).

Gods, Heroes, Mortals, and Monsters

The Olympians were the most powerful of the Greek gods, but there were hundreds of other gods and deities in the mythology. The word deities is used broadly here: They were humanlike characters who were (for our purposes) not Olympians but also not mortals. There are a lot of characters in Greek mythology that fall under this category.
There were the Titans who weren’t imprisoned with Kronos, like Prometheus and Epimetheus, as well as other gods both major and minor that have important stories to be told, like Eros (Cupid). There were heroes, some the children of gods and others pure mortals with epic and famous histories (like Heracles, Perseus, Cadmus, and more!). Their stories are equally important and equally dramatic even when they don’t include encounters with the Olympians…though they usually do, in one way or another.
You’ll also encounter everyday humans who also figured into many stories of Greek mythology. These mortals were often used as the playthings of gods, as mothers of heroes by those gods, or as examples of hubris to be punished by the gods (Tantalus, anyone?).
And then there are the monsters. The nonhuman creatures and monsters of Greek mythology are some of the most memorable: Who hasn’t heard of the Cyclopes or the many-headed Hydra? Many of the most famous and murderous monsters of Greek mythology were the children of Typhon and Echidna, who were two of the original monsters (more on those two in their entry).

Other Important Deities

  • Nymphs were minor deities associated with different aspects of nature. There were a great many types of nymphs, grouped by where they lived and what they were devoted to. The most common types of nymphs were:
    • Naiads were nymphs of rivers, streams, and other bodies of fresh water. A subset of these were called Oceanids, freshwater nymphs who were specifically daughters of the Titan Oceanus, the personification of the great river that the Greeks believed encircled the world (yes, it’s confusing that Oceanids were freshwater nymphs).
    • Dryads and Hamadryads were nymphs of the forests; their job was to protect the trees of the woods. Hamadryads differ from Dryads in that these nymphs were each devoted to a specific tree.
    • Hesperides were nymphs of the sunset, daughters of the Titan Hesperis, the evening star. They guarded the Garden of the Hesperides, where famed golden apples grew.
    • Nereids were nymphs of the sea and typically daughters of various sea gods and Titans, including Nereus.
    • Lampades were the nymphs of the Underworld. They carried torches through the world of the dead and accompanied the goddesses Persephone and Hecate.
  • The nine Muses (Mousai in Greek; Musae in Latin) were goddesses of knowledge, music, and dance and were the inspiration for all artists, poets, and playwrights of ancient Greece. They were the daughters of Zeus and the Titan Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. Each muse was goddess of a specific aspect of inspiration: Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, Thalia of comedy, Euterpe of lyric poetry, Terpsichore of dance and choral song, Melpomene of tragedy, Polyhymnia of religious hymns, Erato of erotic poetry, Clio of history, and Ourania of astronomy.
  • The Fates, or the Moirae (their original Greek name), were the three goddesses who determined the fate of every individual on earth. The ancient Greeks believed a person’s fate was woven into a thread of life, all handled by the Fates. The goddess Clotho spun a person’s life thread, creating their life; the goddess Lachesis measured the person’s life thread, determining their life span; and the goddess Atropos handled the cutting of a person’s life thread and therefore their death. You may recognize this concept from the 1997 Disney film Hercules. In that version, the Fates are conflated with another trio of women from Greek mythology, the Graeae, three crones who shared one eye and one tooth between them.
  • The Furies, or the Erinyes (their original Greek name), as briefly mentioned earlier, were goddesses of vengeance and retribution. These goddesses were in charge of punishing humans for their crimes, particularly murder of family members. Their names were Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, and they were depicted as monstrous, with wings, and snakes for hair or snakes coiled around their limbs.
    One of the torturous professors in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Alecto Carrow, was named for one of the Furies. The name of Alecto’s brother, Amycus, also came from Greek mythology: Amycus was a man who killed people by imprisoning them in a box.
  • Sirens were monsters that were half women, half birds. They were both monstrous and beautiful, and were best known for their song, which they would use to lure sailors out of their boats and to their deaths. The only way to safely pass by the Sirens was to completely block your ears with wax so not a single note of their song could get through. Odysseus famously wanted to hear the Sirens’ song, so he tied himself to the mast of his ship so he could hear it without jumping in the water (the men on his ship used wax, so they were not affected).
  • Satyrs and centaurs were the most famous half-human creatures. Satyrs were top-half human, bottom-half goat, and were typically found causing trouble (both lighthearted and not!). Centaurs, meanwhile, were top-half human, bottom-half horse and, with the exception of Chiron (he trained many of the heroes and was the inspiration for the satyr named Phil in the 1997 animated film Hercules!), were horrible creatures.


Estilos de citas para Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook

APA 6 Citation

Albert, L., & Richard, S. (2021). Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook ([edition unavailable]). Adams Media. Retrieved from (Original work published 2021)

Chicago Citation

Albert, Liv, and Sara Richard. (2021) 2021. Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook. [Edition unavailable]. Adams Media.

Harvard Citation

Albert, L. and Richard, S. (2021) Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook. [edition unavailable]. Adams Media. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Albert, Liv, and Sara Richard. Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook. [edition unavailable]. Adams Media, 2021. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.