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They thus follow Horace 's advice and Virgil's example: they rewrite a poem of Troy instead of telling something completely new. Mythology was at the heart of everyday life in Ancient Greece. They used myth to explain natural phenomena, cultural variations, traditional enmities and friendships. It was a source of pride to be able to trace the descent of one's leaders from a mythological hero or a god. Few ever doubted that there was truth behind the account of the Trojan War in the Iliad and Odyssey. According to Victor Davis Hanson , a military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor, and John Heath, a classics professor, the profound knowledge of the Homeric epos was deemed by the Greeks the basis of their acculturation.

Plato created his own allegorical myths such as the vision of Er in the Republic , attacked the traditional tales of the gods' tricks, thefts and adulteries as immoral, and objected to their central role in literature. But it is not worth taking seriously writers who show off in the mythical style; as for those who do proceed by proving their assertions, we must cross-examine them". Nevertheless, even Plato did not manage to wean himself and his society from the influence of myth; his own characterization for Socrates is based on the traditional Homeric and tragic patterns, used by the philosopher to praise the righteous life of his teacher: [76].

But perhaps someone might say: "Are you then not ashamed, Socrates, of having followed such a pursuit, that you are now in danger of being put to death as a result? For according to your argument all the demigods would be bad who died at Troy, including the son of Thetis , who so despised danger, in comparison with enduring any disgrace, that when his mother and she was a goddess said to him, as he was eager to slay Hector , something like this, I believe,.

Hanson and Heath estimate that Plato's rejection of the Homeric tradition was not favorably received by the grassroots Greek civilization. Yet the subjects of his plays were taken, without exception, from myth. Many of these plays were written in answer to a predecessor's version of the same or similar myth. Euripides mainly impugns the myths about the gods and begins his critique with an objection similar to the one previously expressed by Xenocrates : the gods, as traditionally represented, are far too crassly anthropomorphic.

During the Hellenistic period , mythology took on the prestige of elite knowledge that marks its possessors as belonging to a certain class. At the same time, the skeptical turn of the Classical age became even more pronounced. Rationalizing hermeneutics of myth became even more popular under the Roman Empire , thanks to the physicalist theories of Stoic and Epicurean philosophy. Stoics presented explanations of the gods and heroes as physical phenomena, while the Euhemerists rationalized them as historical figures.

At the same time, the Stoics and the Neoplatonists promoted the moral significations of the mythological tradition, often based on Greek etymologies. The antiquarian Varro , who regarded religion as a human institution with great importance for the preservation of good in society, devoted rigorous study to the origins of religious cults.

In his Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum which has not survived, but Augustine 's City of God indicates its general approach Varro argues that whereas the superstitious man fears the gods, the truly religious person venerates them as parents. Roman Academic Cotta ridicules both literal and allegorical acceptance of myth, declaring roundly that myths have no place in philosophy. It is difficult to know how far down the social scale this rationalism extended. In Ancient Roman times, a new Roman mythology was born through syncretization of numerous Greek and other foreign gods.

This occurred because the Romans had little mythology of their own, and inheritance of the Greek mythological tradition caused the major Roman gods to adopt characteristics of their Greek equivalents. In addition to the combination of the two mythological traditions, the association of the Romans with eastern religions led to further syncretizations. The Asiatic divinities Mithras that is to say, the Sun and Ba'al were combined with Apollo and Helios into one Sol Invictus , with conglomerated rites and compound attributes.

The traditional literary mythology was increasingly dissociated from actual religious practice. The worship of Sol as special protector of the emperors and of the empire remained the chief imperial religion until it was replaced by Christianity. The surviving 2nd-century collection of Orphic Hymns second century AD and the Saturnalia of Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius fifth century are influenced by the theories of rationalism and the syncretizing trends as well.

The Orphic Hymns are a set of pre-classical poetic compositions, attributed to Orpheus, himself the subject of a renowned myth.

Greek mythology

In reality, these poems were probably composed by several different poets, and contain a rich set of clues about prehistoric European mythology. In Saturnalia reappear mythographical comments influenced by the Euhemerists, the Stoics and the Neoplatonists.

The genesis of modern understanding of Greek mythology is regarded by some scholars as a double reaction at the end of the eighteenth century against "the traditional attitude of Christian animosity", in which the Christian reinterpretation of myth as a "lie" or fable had been retained. The development of comparative philology in the 19th century, together with ethnological discoveries in the 20th century, established the science of myth.

Since the Romantics, all study of myth has been comparative. Wilhelm Mannhardt , James Frazer , and Stith Thompson employed the comparative approach to collect and classify the themes of folklore and mythology.

Mythology 101: From Gods and Goddesses to Monsters and Mortals, Your Guide to Ancient Mythology

Sigmund Freud introduced a transhistorical and biological conception of man and a view of myth as an expression of repressed ideas. Dream interpretation is the basis of Freudian myth interpretation and Freud's concept of dreamwork recognizes the importance of contextual relationships for the interpretation of any individual element in a dream. This suggestion would find an important point of rapprochement between the structuralist and psychoanalytic approaches to myth in Freud's thought. Segal concludes that "to interpret a myth Campbell simply identifies the archetypes in it. An interpretation of the Odyssey , for example, would show how Odysseus's life conforms to a heroic pattern.

Jung, by contrast, considers the identification of archetypes merely the first step in the interpretation of a myth". In , he claimed that "the most important discovery which has been made during the nineteenth century with respect to the ancient history of mankind It appears that the Mycenaean religion was the mother of the Greek religion [] and its pantheon already included many divinities that can be found in classical Greece.

Archaeology and mythography have revealed influence from Asia Minor and the Near East. Adonis seems to be the Greek counterpart—more clearly in cult than in myth—of a Near Eastern "dying god". Cybele is rooted in Anatolian culture while much of Aphrodite's iconography may spring from Semitic goddesses. There are also possible parallels between the earliest divine generations Chaos and its children and Tiamat in the Enuma Elish.

In addition to Indo-European and Near Eastern origins, some scholars have speculated on the debts of Greek mythology to the indigenous pre-Greek societies: Crete , Mycenae, Pylos , Thebes and Orchomenus. Martin P. Nilsson asserts, based on the representations and general function of the gods, that a lot of Minoan gods and religious conceptions were fused in the Mycenaean religion.

The widespread adoption of Christianity did not curb the popularity of the myths. With the rediscovery of classical antiquity in the Renaissance , the poetry of Ovid became a major influence on the imagination of poets, dramatists, musicians and artists. In Northern Europe, Greek mythology never took the same hold of the visual arts, but its effect was very obvious on literature. Racine in France and Goethe in Germany revived Greek drama, reworking the ancient myths. By the end of the 18th century, Romanticism initiated a surge of enthusiasm for all things Greek, including Greek mythology.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Scenes from Greek mythology depicted in ancient art. Left-to-right, top-to-bottom: the birth of Aphrodite , a revel with Dionysus and Silenus , Adonis playing the kithara for Aphrodite, Heracles slaying the Lernaean Hydra , the Colchian dragon regurgitating Jason in the presence of Athena , Hermes with his mother Maia , the Trojan Horse , and Odysseus 's ship sailing past the island of the sirens.

Further information: Greek primordial gods and Family tree of the Greek gods.

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Further information: Heracles , Heracleidae , and Hercules. Further information: Argonauts. Further information: Trojan War and Epic Cycle. See also: Roman mythology. Further information: Modern understanding of Greek mythology. See also: Comparative mythology. Further information: Greek mythology in western art and literature. See also: List of films based on Greco-Roman mythology and Greek mythology in popular culture. Encyclopaedia The Helios. Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Retrieved 26 March City University of New York. An epic poem about the Battle of Troy.


In Guirand, Felix ed. New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Richard Aldington and Delano Ames.

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Burkert, Greek Religion , ; T. Cambridge University Press. Munich: C. Beck Verlag. Volume I, p. Retrieved 25 September Mallory , Douglas Q.

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  8. Aeschylus, The Persians. See original text in Perseus program. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound.

    Apollodorus, Library and Epitome. Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica , Book I. See original text in Sacred Texts. Cicero, De Divinatione.

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    See original text in the Latin Library. Cicero, Tusculanae resons. Herodotus, The Histories , I. See original text in the Sacred Texts. Hesiod, Works and Days.